Getting Back Into The Game

It has been quite some time since I last posted on this blog. For me writing about the hobby always is easiest when I actually play in or run games. Something comes up in a game or I stumble upon something interesting while preparing a game which inspires me to write about. Sometimes there’s drama on the internet which I want to comment on. But in these last months I just didn’t feel like it.

My situation has also slightly changed since January. I was elected into the staff council of the university I work for and since May about half of my weekly work hours are dedicated to that new position. It’s an exciting new job, but it’s also totally different to what I’ve done before. The positive side effect is that I am feeling more confident, and in general, my mood has improved. I haven’t had any anxiety attack or depressive episode in quite a long time.

I still have been gaming irregularly over the last months, but because of COVID-19 we stuck to online gaming. Recently I’ve got my second vaccine shot and I am seriously thinking about getting a few players together to play face-to-face again. I’m still excited for a lot of games – new and old – and I’d love to run something for my friends. Unfortunately I am still suffering from option paralysis (not helped by the fact that I supported way too many RPG-related Kickstarters lately).

At the moment I think Old-School Essentials is probably the best game for me to get into DMing again. I am pretty familiar with old-school D&D, so that that’s one hurdle out of the way. I am also pretty excited about the new Advanced Fantasy books which should arrive at my doorstep this month. While playing JRPGs on my new Nintendo Switch I also stumbled upon a couple of elements I’d love to borrow for a D&D campaign, so I might have enough inspiration to get things started.

Unfortunately my confidence in my GM capabilities always take a nose dive when I actually start preparing a game. Hopefully I can avoid it this time. How have you folks dealt with something like this? Have you continued playing during the pandemic or have you basically stopped playing altogether? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.

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.

7 thoughts on “Getting Back Into The Game”

  1. It happens to me almost every time I set up a new campaign. I’ve got imposter syndrome going on, and it can strike me hard. What I use to get by it is focus on all the amazing sessions I’ve run, and how almost every player I’ve had has complimented me on my games. It doesn’t matter what I think of them… it’s what the players think. It usually helps me muscle through it.

  2. Our group switched to Zoom gaming in March of last year and did that for about 3 months. But I was unsatisfied with the experience so we put the game on hiatus and started getting together outside to fish instead. It was super fun. We all love to get together no matter what we’re doing and we all like to fish so it was a great summer. In the fall of last year we were able to get into a local clubhouse of an apartment complex that was being built. It was very large so we were all about 10 feet apart so we could play without masking. Only problem is a map. When you’re far apart you can’t all look at a map together so I decided to run a game that is easy to run purely theater of the mind. That game was B/X or Labyrinth Lord, which is the same as Old School Essentials. I love love LOVED it. I had forgotten how easy the prep was. The game is so simple and easy to run and we all had a blast. We have been playing that since Nov of last year in person. Now that those in the group who wish to vaccinate are vaccinated, we have returned to the basement where we usually play. We will be returning to 4E D&D which is our preferred system. But in the mean time, we are taking a small break by playing Esoterrorists, a really fun Gumshoe derivative to cleanse the D&D pallet. I think going straight from Basic to 4E might be somewhat jarring. Anyway, we’re having a blast again and everyone is super thrilled to be back in our normal playspace.

    Congrats on the new job! I’m sure you’ll be great.

  3. Similarly I haven’t been playing for a while and so haven’t been thinking much about gaming! Welcome back.

    We moved our games online last year and switched to Blades in the Dark, eventually, on roll20 – no maps, no minis, less complex sheets to manage – but stopped a few months back.

    Just getting back on the horse now with a friend running some 5e. To be honest I’m looking forward to DMing again sometime but also glad to be playing instead for now!

    Never feel particularly confident before I run a game but I usually warm to it while we’re playing and find my groove. Then worry about how it went afterwards. I think it’s natural, and healthy, to lack confidence, the overconfident DMs I know are the ones who aren’t actually very good…

  4. I’ve actually been role-playing more during the pandemic, with fewer hours per week spent commuting to and from work and fewer competing events on weekends. My groups are starting to return to face-to-face gatherings now that we’re all vaccinated.

    I agree with keeping things simple and starting small, particularly for online games. Sure, there are plenty of cool virtual tabletops (VTTs) out there, but most have a steep learning curve, and I’d rather spend time preparing the story than troubleshooting technology with remote players on various platforms.

    I also like a healthy mix between improvisation and preparation. There are things that are easier to do online, like sharing images of Non-Player Characters, locations and maps, and even the occasional sound or video clip!

    To ease your path back into Game Mastering, maybe plan for a few one-shots or a miniseries. That’s a good way to try different genres, settings, and rules systems without feeling the burden of a long-term story. It’s also OK to sit in on other people’s games, although the G.M.’ing itch may strike after that….

  5. We are almost in our Green code here which means dropping our provincial emergency measures act so will be organizing a group using S&W Core Rules in a homebrew sandbox.

    Whenever starting back into anything my motto is “ain’t nothin’ to it but to do it!” 😀

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