When you are a player, you probably don’t need much material to be able to participate in a roleplaying game. You need a pen, some paper and a couple of dice and you’re pretty much set. In most cases you don’t need any books, miniatures, etc. because the GM provides these things. But when you are a GM you often have whole bookshelves filled with rulebooks, campaign settings, supplement, miniatures and many more thing, you may or may not need in your game.
Now imagine you want to travel and take some of your gaming stuff with you. Most players can travel light, their stuff probably fits into a pencil case, small bag or pouch. When the GM travels he probably needs a moving truck, if he wants to bring most of his gaming materials along. 😉
I don’t own a car, so when I don’t run games at my place I have to lug all the books I need around in my backpack. I think that is one reason why I tend to prefer rules-light systems nowadays. When I was still running D&D 3.5 I needed at least my campaign notes, some paper, pens, my dice and three to five full-sized hardcover books. And we all know how heavy paper is. When I left the house with my gaming materials it looked like I was moving or at least going on an extended vacation. I sometimes felt even Nodwick has less weight to lug around. 😀
What can GMs do to travel more lightly?
Pick a rules-light game
A game like Savage Worlds or perhaps one of the retro-clones works perfectly here. You just need your dice, your notes and a single book. When you run a Savage Worlds campaign you sometimes need a second book, but that’s it.
Another perfect game for the travelling GM is Tunnels & Trolls. The boxed set for the 7.5 Edition is small enough that you could probably carry it around wherever you go. Or have a look at Microlite20. It doesn’t get smaller and lighter than that!
Get a netbook
Netbooks are light-weight and surprisingly powerful for their size and prize. You can carry around vast libraries of RPG products in PDF format, your notes, music, and more without breaking a sweat. Some people prefer to have their rules in print but bring the netbook as some kind of fancy GM screen. And a netbook and a single hardcover book are still much easier to carry than all the D&D corebooks plus two campaign books.
Rely on your friends’ books
That’s of course the easiest way. When you are a GM and want to run at someone else’s place, make sure someone else brings the books. Then you just need to pack your personal notes and your dice. But this also has some serious drawbacks. You are screwed when the person who should have brought the rules can’t come or has forgot the books. So this is probably the worst solution.
These days I usually ask my friends to come over to my place when I run a game. It’s just easier that way. I have all my books, dice, miniatures, music, etc. at my disposal and I don’t have to decide what I can’t use today because it doesn’t fit into my backpack anymore. And when I plan to run a game elsewhere I make sure it’s a game I can easily carry along. I think T&T could become one of my new favorite games in that regard, since all I need fits neatly into the small box.
By the way, recently we played on the train. We didn’t manage to finish the game on time before we had to catch a train, so we played through the rest of the adventure on the train. We couldn’t roll the dice so the GM and the players had to rely on Rock-Scissors-Paper for task resolution. But if you don’t mind throwing all the rules out of the windows, this actually works perfectly. Just make sure you don’t frighten the innocent bystanders. 😉
This post is my second contribution to this month’s blog carnival hosted by The Game Traveler. I have to admit I am really curious about what the other RPG bloggers have written on “Gamers Traveling”. In my post I’ve focused on how to travel lightly as a GM. But I am sure other people might have written about how they see their travels through the gaming lens or how foreign cultures they experienced first-hand in their travels influenced their gaming hobby.
P.S.: The quote in the title is from the 2001 movie ”The Fellowship of the Ring”. The complete quote is as follows: “We will not abandon Merry and Pippin to torment and death. Not while we have strength left. Leave all that can be spared behind. We travel light. Let’s hunt some Orc.”