As we enter 2012 I have a new and rising tension to resolve: how to invest my free time.
The Broad Path
I love playing games and really enjoy the company of my current gaming group, cunningly referred to as the Friday Roleplay group. Over the last 13 years or so we have met to roleplay and run some truly awesome sessions (as well as some of the not-so-awesome ones, usually GMed by me). Time has often been tight, especially for a group that counts its membership as including a doctor, a teacher, an accountant and many folk who work shifts. We game when we can.
As we finish up 2011 it has to be mentioned that Friday Roleplay almost fell out of my life a few months back. The combination of beginning a new teaching job, the group playing what I felt was a very ho-hum D&D4e campaign, and not being able to GM left me out in the cold.
That changed back in September when we started to fire up the parachronic projectors and, coincidentally, I started this blog. Well, the dates might be off, but you get the idea: something changed. We started to put together our existing GURPS Infinite Worlds campaign.
As we run into the beginning of 2012 I am highly keen to keep this campaign alive and see where it leads. I don't have many expectations that it will survive the year, although I certainly hope that it might, but I one thing is sure - I am really excited about the fact that we're playing something fresh and interesting. As GM I've been finding the whole thing highly stimulating... and a lot of fun.
So, what's the problem?
Well... there isn't one, as such... except that I keep dwelling on the "might-have-been" alternatives that we didn't play yet. With associate players asking me when we might try a little more Mykovnia or Dark Reich it can be hard to remain focused.
And then there is the other project on my mind...
The Narrow Path
When I got into gaming, way back in the late 1970s and early 1980s, it wasn't hip and cool to roll polyhedral dice and talk about slaying dragons. I doubt that, even 30 years on, it's hip and cool today either. The thing is, though, that I've always considered it a great privilege and honour to have the the opportunity to introduce new folk to both wargaming and roleplaying games.
When I went to interview at my current teaching post I was asked by the pupil interview panel what extra-curricular activities I might be able to offer the school. The conversation quickly ran into a discussion of running a hobby games club at the school, which the panel was very excited to hear about... especially given my former existence as a hobby games employee.
As the Christmas holidays opened I turned my mind to whether I really was going to get around to running such a club. Having agonised over it on and off for weeks, I decided to talk to the boss about it when we get back in January. In my heart of hearts, I want to offer a roleplaying club. Once a week playing something light and fun is really appealing.
To this end, I've been investigating the Pathfinder RPG, been reading the Pathfinder Beginner's Box and generally getting my head back into the frame of mind to run some good ol' fashioned beginner games. And the practical upshot? I'm really excited about the possibility of running a light-hearted RPG session aimed at young newbie players. Knowing my luck, of course, no-one will be interested... but that's not the point.
The tension is that, what with work and spending time with my lovely wife, my free time is limited. If I run a club it'll be even more limited... and running a Friday Roleplay campaign will be taking things to the utter limit. But then... who am I kidding? I'm going to want to do it all anyway.
The question comes down to how best to manage my hobby time.
Here are my current thoughts on how best to juggle two campaigns with very different player needs.
1. Keep It Simple
The first thing I've decided is that I'm going to keep it simple and focused. Friday night is about GURPS and any possible club is for beginners. Nothing fancy, nothing complicated.
Friday Roleplay needs some stability and consistent gaming. I have generated a simple campaign premise and I aim to keep delivering straight-forward gaming sessions within the campaign setting. Wherever possible I am going to steal and adapt ideas from the myriad GURPS supplements that I own. We are going to figure out how to run good, clean games of GURPS. Period.
Beginners need simple. I'm going to run games with the Pathfinder Beginner's Box set within the Golarian Pathfinder setting. I've got 4 or 5 interesting adventures to kick things off with and we'll see if we can tempt a group of 4-6 players to develop some heroes through to 5th level. After that... well, we'll switch to Pathfinder proper and use the pre-written campaign arcs that I own to keep things going. Along the way, if things take off, I will help any interested newbie to try their hand at GMing.
2. Keep It Regular
The next priority is to set up the regular gaming slots and do everything in my limited power to prep and turn up to run those games. Only by continuing to play will I become better at GMing and keep the players interested. Of all the banes of campaigns in the past it has been regular game play failures that have ruined the fun.
3. Finesse Those Systems
GURPS and Pathfinder. That's it for now, guys. I really can't afford to get distracted by other systems. As I wrote back last year, the real advantage of running games in consistent systems is that you really get good at playing those games. Both systems deserve the attention and the players deserve the stability.
Overall, although no New Year's Resolution ever really survived contact with the work schedule, this is my plan: deliver on your promises and make sure the dice keep rolling.
Here's hoping that this makes some sense when I read it back.