On the weekend I realised two things. One is that my main rpging group was finished, and the other is that some people just don't see the world the way you do.
I have been running a fortnightly game on a Saturday evening for quite a few years now, and on occassion I get burned out. To solve this I have changed games, changed GMs (swapped with one of the players) and changed games again. Some of these measures have worked somewhat. About a year ago roughly, and continuing into this year (and into next year) several of the guys have become fathers. This understandably puts extra demands on them, but what actually happened, I think, is that their focus in life changed - understandably.
Girlfriends and children do not mix with roleplaying, especially not the later. If you are lucky enough to have a gaming female partner then live in the moment while you can.
Anyway, the dynamic of the group has been changing over the last year and it was becoming obvious that things were just going downhill slowly. I remember reading an article (http://critical-hits.com/tag/the-4-stages/) where he covered the various stages of a group, and to me it really feels like we are in the 5th stage. We went through a stagnation phase where our efficiency in actual role playing dropped from 2-3 main encounters a night to 1. It really became more of a social evening where role playing was something to fill in the gaps. Which isn't terribly surprising as a few of the players had openly stated that they were there for that very reason and role playing wasn't a priority for them.
Now that was fine, we had got by on that for several years. But over the last year I have increasingly become unsatisfied with the return for investment I was getting. Players who have never GM'd don't always realise how much work you can put into a story/adventure, many hours. Until recently this hadn't been an issue but over the last year it has grown.
So two things collided maybe, peoples lack of interest and my satisfaction with peoples effort. Really they are both linked, in hindsight its a fairly obvious tandem.
Anyway we had our last session for the year and only 3 of the normal six people showed up. It was time to end it all. So next year I won't be re-starting the games. We might revert back to a board/card games night just to be social, but to be honest, at this time I'm not feeling terribly social. I actually really like role playing games and that is what I would like to do with my allowed time.
The only real option is to form a new group and hope that I have not been poisoned by the experience with this group. Only where I am it isnt all that easy to find total stranger replacements, so it may take some time. Maybe I should look into virtual gaming some more, I did a lot of work on a Savage Worlds campaign environment using Maptool, I could drag that out again?
The second thing I learned, and continued to learn over the next two days, was that there are actually people in the world who completely dont see the world the same way I do. Quite the opposite in fact. Its really surprising (I'm so perfect after all). My other role playing group, where I am a player, has been having off and on discussions on what game we might play when the current game ends. Initially I threw out a lot of ideas for games that had interested me, and a few of the others thought a couple of them look quite interesting (in particular Squawk). There was a break for a few weeks. Then the GM came out with a list of 3 games he was interested in, and of course none of them were any of mine. My god, how could you not want to play my games! (sarcasm off). Two of the three games I was not even in the slightest bit interested, one of them was ok. Oh well, he didnt like any of my suggestions, move on please.
Recently I got a copy of Dungeon World and I thought it would be fun to play. So I suggested that to everyone as an option. Shortly after he suggested that Dungeon World was a nice looking game and maybe we could try that. Err didnt I just say that 2 days ago? Move on, at least we are making progress. He then advises that he was interested in using Ptolus as the campaign setting for the game. I wrote back and suggested that the game itself suggested using a completely open setting, where the players and the GM develop the world on the fly, freeform, as we go along. This was one of the very things that attracted me to the game. He replied that he totally disagreed with this, that he didnt like the way DW suggested you run DW and he would go with the pre-set campaign module.
This is not the only time we have exchanged posts where we have stood in completely opposite corners, in fact over the last two years, or more, I cant recall a single time where he has agreed with anything I have suggested with regards to gaming. Its sort of been building up in the back of my head for a time and now it is really annoying me. Well, like I said above, how could anyone not see the world the way I do? Obviously not my fault. Is it?
Which raises another issue now that I think about it, flexibility in your rpging. Over the last few years I have been reading a LOT (HEAPS) of stuff on gaming, gaming theory, gaming styles, gaming this gaming that. I love reading this shit as it broadens your gaming vistas, even if you dont agree with it. Narrativist vs simulationist styles, wow doesnt that sound intellectual and very high brow. Anyway I thought it was worth a try about a year ago so I dropped SOTC (fate) on my group after doing a lot of work to try to make sure it would be as easy as possible. I ran really simple scenarios to ease them into it. Long story short, didnt work. We are all pretty set in our gaming ways (we are simulationists) and most of them found it required too much paying attention and concentration (remember we are in the stagnation phase during this).
The more I think about it the more I think the other group are similar. Maybe I am similar too.
Its really really hard to change the basis of how you play games, especially in a group you have gamed with for some time. The sheer momentum of history and all the background you have all been through makes it almost impossible to change. I think you have to crush the continuity in some manner to break free from it. Not sure if I can be bothered. (lol).