How I Stopped Worrying And Just Played The Game …

Sometimes being me sucks. If there’s something I am really good at then it’s worrying. I can worry about the most minor things all the time. And don’t me started on the really serious stuff. It’s probably not a surprise if I tell you that I worry about my hobby a lot. I fear my players might not like the game I picked. I worry about my choices as a GM. I worry about rules, about settings… Unfortunately things haven’t gotten a lot better since I started blogging. I eventually became quite well-known in the RPG blog community and my game Warrior, Rogue & Mage is probably among the better known free roleplaying games out there.

Recently I had the urge to run some White Box and to my big surprise it went extremely well. What surprised me the most was that I was actually able to enjoy the game without worrying too much. Even when I ran my Ultima-based game I didn’t worry too much about the fact that the classes, the magic system, and a few other aspect didn’t fit perfectly. Sure, my perfectionism regularly poked me, and I seriously considered rewriting the whole magic system, to fit the source material more closely, but at this moment I am more like “stop worrying and just run the game”. We all were having a blast even with D&D magic shoehorned into the Ultima world. It was a huge relief when I was finally able to stop worrying. The game was fine as it is. No, I don’t need to “fix” it.

I actually think this change started with me running Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 1st Edition a while ago. I know that the game has its problems. The magic system is definitely wonky and there’s the “Naked Dwarf Syndrome” (in WFRP dwarves often have ridiculous high Toughness values which means they can’t easily be harmed even if they are not wearing any armor). Nostalgia probably helped me ignore this issues and just enjoy the game.

I noticed that something has changed when I was looking into other games to run. Games which I would have discarded outright earlier now become viable choices. Just weeks ago I wouldn’t have even thought about running a game like Shadowrun 3rd Edition (or any edition for that matter). As I see it now, it’s definitely playable and I can easily run it. My players usually don’t mind if I don’t get every rule right at the first time, and we usually just improvise and move one when a rule is unclear. So why should I worry about not knowing any single rule and exception? It just doesn’t make that much sense. Suddenly even crunchier games become more interesting again. I think for a long time I avoided rules-heavy games because I worried getting things wrong. But is making mistakes really that bad if you are a GM?

I know that I am a pretty good GM. I can improvise like the best of them and my characters are usually memorable. My players keep coming back and openly share their excitement about my games. Of course I still worried I might suck. But right now, I am not worrying that much anymore. And this is a very, very good thing!

Michael Wolf is a German games designer and enthusiast best known for his English language role-playing games blog, Stargazer's World, and for creating the free rules-light medieval fantasy adventure game Warrior, Rogue & Mage. He has also worked as an English translator on the German-language Dungeonslayers role-playing game and was part of its editorial team. In addition to his work on Warrior, Rogue & Mage and Dungeonslayers, he has created several self-published games and also performed layout services and published other independent role-playing games such as A Wanderer's Romance, Badass, and the Wyrm System derivative Resolute, Adventurer & Genius, all released through his imprint Stargazer Games. Professionally, he works as a video technician and information technologies specialist. Stargazer's World was started by Michael in August 2008.

3 thoughts on “How I Stopped Worrying And Just Played The Game …”

  1. Play, have fun, hang out with your friends and tell stories together. Those are the important things and use the game to facilitate that, if it does not, change the game or move to a new one. It generally works for my groups.

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