On to the Next: My 2013 Gutsy Game Changers

Celebrate the dawn of a new year with some exciting game changers!

Celebrate the dawn of a new year with some exciting game changers! (‘Party hats at dawn 2‘ by Derek John Lee via Flickr)

In celebration of the new year, all of us at Intwischa have made some RPG resolutions for 2013.  If you go back and read the posts Chase and I put up on this topic, they have pretty similar talking points; we want to play and/or run and/or buy more role playing games.  Adding some specifics to that wish list, like succeeding with a certain type of character or actually making it through a whole story-based campaign as the GM, certainly gives the resolutions an air of validity.  However, I’m pretty sure that Chase and I would make many of these things happen in the next 12 months, whether we ‘resolved to’ or not.  I think sharing them with each other and with you faithful readers through this site will start dialogues that will allow them to come to fruition, but let’s be honest: I don’t have to resolve to buy more RPGs to spend my money on games; that happens all the time!

Most resolutions indicate a commitment to start doing something, or in other cases to stop doing something, that is challenging for us, or outside or normal behavior.  One may resolve to start an exercise program, to work toward a healthier weight.  One may resolve to stop biting one’s nails, and start reading about techniques that will help them avert this habit.  In any case, resolutions seem to carry a certain significance to them, and result in some long term effects.  They change the game up, so to speak.

However, as I don’t bite my nails, and get a cramp just thinking about exercise, my game-changing resolutions for 2013 will have to focus on conquering challenges in another arena: RPGs.

Get 4 New People Role Playing Regularly

As you may have noticed from recent posts, my particular interest in sharing the hobby and converting new role players was an underlying theme for the end of 2012.  Even as recently as this week, I detailed my efforts to bring two coworkers into the gaming fold.  And just to be fair to the new year, I’m only going to count one of them toward my target number of four!

That last sentence is a perfect example of why I should clarify a couple of important parameters for this resolution; otherwise, I’m liable to rationalize my way into success by the end of the month.

  1. New: I’m not talking about individuals who may have gamed in high school, and haven’t picked up dice in a decade.  Nor am I talking about persons who have bought books and follow forums but haven’t yet found an outlet for their role playing tendencies.  I mean ‘new’ as in “unaccustomed to, or having only now come into knowledge of”‘ role playing games.  I’m going to allow myself to count one of my new recruits from last year because their comments are essentially the template of what I’m looking for in ‘new’ gamers: I’ve always been interested to hear more or try that, but I never knew where to start.  That is, until now!
  2. Role Playing: When I think of role playing, I have a certain expectation here of actual pencil-and-paper RPGs.  I’m not going to count tabletop war games, or running a new character on one of the Role Playing servers at Wow.  I want these new gamers to be able to read a rule book, make some characterful choices, and build their own PC from the ground up.  (Keeping them alive sold separately.)
  3. Regularly: In order to count these new gamers toward my resolution, they need to participate in a group or campaign that is “recurring at fixed times or with normal frequency.”  I would prefer that group include me in it, but if I end up preparing a new gamer for someone else’s campaign, there seems to be some bittersweet victory there too.

Avoid the ‘Next’ Big Thing

Some years ago, when I worked for a hobby manufacturer that produces high quality war game miniatures, I would get equally parts saddened and frustrated when I’d hear someone express a sentiment like this: “I used to like the game, but I quit playing when they switched to X Edition.  I hated the way they (nerfed my army/buffed a certain army I don’t play/made me learn new rules/expected me to buy new books) every few years, so I’m just gonna go play Xbox instead.”

Likewise, I have a few friends who feel the same way about D&D.  They militantly cling to their favorite edition, and lament the increased commercialization and simplification of what used to be a complex and intriguing hobby.  That’s not to say that I think they’re wrong to use their favorite edition to the exclusion of all else, or that their insight as to the nature of the RPG community (or more accurately, the publishing community) is flawed.  Especially now, as it appears that I’ve become one of them.

So at the risk of angering the three-hundred-pound gorilla in the room, I’m not playing D&D Next.  I’m just now starting to fully realize the potential of 4E, even while I still hold onto the nostalgia and mechanical simplicity of D&D 3.5.  I have a horde of books for both systems, including an almost equal number of 3.5 compatible volumes published during the golden age of the Open Gaming License.  More than either of these, however, I honestly enjoy the existing incarnations of D&D.  They each have their strengths and deficiencies, certainly, but my ability to game with them will not magically disappear when they publish a new series of books.  Much like my friends who remain 2nd Ed faithful, I’m drawing the line in the sand here.

That doesn’t even address the myriad other non-D&D games that we have tried/will try as part of our Intwischa experiments.  As per our earlier posts on resolutions, all of us here have a wish list of completely undiscovered systems that we want to try. In addition, we’re branching out into other related products, like model-based combat games.  At long last, my “Hey have you guys seen this awesome skirmish game called Malifaux?” seeds have now borne fruit, and four of us have crews of models in the process of being completed.  In short, there are so many other types of donuts out there that I want to try those first.  I’ve already tried the cake donut with sprinkles that is D&D, and I really like the taste.  However, that doesn’t mean that I need to eat another one simply because WotC decided to change up the color of sprinkles.

Finish My Original Game Design

This is a challenge that has haunted me for all of 2012.  As such, I am to conquer it in 2013.

Far from an abstract goal like “Let’s open a bar,” this resolution already has some legs.  In a fit of inspiration and creativity some months ago, I laid down about 12 typed pages of rules, mechanics, and backstory for a sci-fi RPG that was inspired by a trip to the movie theater.  I even began play-testing the numbers, just to make sure that the combat system I came up with would function, and function in an exciting way.  As some point, however, I hit that inevitable wall.

I’m not sure if the wall was put up by shortcomings in the design itself, or real-life responsibilities eclipsing my hobby time, or new game systems distracting me from my original one.  No matter the origin, the seeds of my game have been in hibernation for quite some time.

Fortunately, I’ve had some inspiration on the story end of things recently, described in the post linked below.  Additionally, my experience in planning and chronicling a new campaign setting has taught me some tricks about how to approach an original project like this one.  So I resolve to use all that information to my advantage, and finally create a workable, playable, testable version of my original RPG so that our Intwischa group can give it a go before 2014.

Related Post: What Games May Come: A Dream Inspired RPG Moment

Keep watching, because you’ll be hearing a lot from me on these game changing resolutions in 2013!

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