Advice Please: THE THRILL IS GONE (Veteran Gamer Blues)


Advice

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In some ways, this is an impossible to answer question.


What Tin Foil said:
***
Why don't you take a break from playing until you get an itch again?
***

Don't do this. It will always end bad:

1/ you actually don't miss it that much and disconnect completely...
2/ You miss it, you start again after a while, but that doesn't bring the spark back...

I've seen it happen to multiple players before.

What I would recommend:

1/ Take the GM chair for a while and rule the world (sort of)
2/ Switch system for a while. Discover a new thrill. Maybe you'll like the new system and you're hooked to it, or you realize the 'old' system which didn't spark you anymore suddenly does so again.

What I tought I'd recommend is to play epic/mythic, but reverting back to 'normal play' afterwards hurts and seems so bland, so I'd skip that :-)


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Sorry, lost connection.

Wall of text alert since it is a big topic.

To the OP, in some ways, this is an impossible to answer question.

Problem being, that different people like different things. Some people really like to optimize, role-play intense relationships, play joe average thrust into the heroic spotlight, gritty realism, light-fluffy fantasy, political intrigue, running a kingdom, etc…

In addition what people like changes over time.
A few years ago, my original gaming group got together to play an old ‘blue book’ game. We all had fun getting back together again. However we each expressed the same thing. “I had fun but the game just didn’t seem as good as it used to.” It was kinda confusing until I thought about it some more.
I eventually realized, I just don’t like that rules-lite type of a system anymore. One of the other guys just doesn’t like the simplistic good heroes and everyone lives happily ever after, even though he used to love it. Etc…

Having said that, we can make some suggestions of things that might more might not help some people.

A) One of the things you mentioned was related to the speed of the game. The game really does run slower than the original version. Some of that is inevitable due to it being a much more complex system. The original red and blue book together was everything you had and much less than just the CRB by itself. That is a heck of a lot of crap to learn and keep track of. There are orders of magnitude more options for build, items to purchase, spells to understand, combat choices.

On the other hand, there is a lot that can be done to alleviate some (but not all) of that.

A1) Preparation by both the GM and the players is a huge factor.
I’m not sure why, but many people seem to think that only the GM needs to prepare and know the rules. They show up at the game and only then begin to look at their character sheet, figure out what to purchase, how to advance the next level, etc… Also they seem to expect that only the GM needs to really need to know the rules very well. They will just say “I want to do X” and the GM will take it from there.
Folks, the GM already has a huge job. Please don’t pile more on him.
Figure out how to advance your character before game night. Maybe get advice on these forums or from a fellow player. If you do want to discuss it with the GM (which isn’t unreasonable), don’t do it while he is trying to run the game.
If you want to run a reach combatant, it makes sense that the GM and other players can expect that you have read/understood the reach rules. And if you summon creatures, you sure as heck better have all those complexities understood and prepared for.
This may be just a statistical blip, but recently I’ve seen several GM’s that appear to be reading the adventure for the first time while they are running it. How can anyone expect that to go well.
When I GM; I try to have my maps, minis, and monster print out ready the night before. I’ve read everything that I think will apply several times until I’m pretty sure I’ve got it down.
When I am a player: I have my character ready, I’ve read all my spells, checked the section for the combat maneuvers I know, have printouts of all my spells/monsters/weird items, etc…
I am well aware that things happen that you can’t prepare for. Recently a player tried to throw a caster into the black tentacles that he had created because it sounded kool. The PC wasn’t built for combat maneuvers, so wasn’t real familiar with them.
Once I had a caster that did NOT summon creatures. But we found a scroll of summon natures ally IV and really needed a distraction. Yeah, that went slower since I needed to look up the lists of possible and the choice’s stats.
Sometimes the party goes way off the rails and the GM needs to really adlib.
None of that is prepared for and it is not a problem. It is just the way the game goes sometimes.

A2) While the game is underway, there are a lot of things that help things go quicker.
Don’t shout over each other. That just makes things missed and have to be repeated. It slows things down as well as being rude.
Think about your actions while someone else is taking their actions and get ready. Occasionally the actions of the guy before you will change what you were going to do. But that is not usually the case.
Organize your dice. If I have a iterative attacking martial I have several sets of dice ready.
Red dice are my first attack, the black dice are the second attack, and the blue dice are the third attack. The d6 with pips instead of numerals is the energy damage. This is clearly written on my character sheet!
I roll them all at once. I give the GM the to-hit totals. I can quickly start adding the results.
Last week at a public venue, there was a guy with a high level two-weapon fighter with frost and holy on his weapons. He had one set of dice and rolled 1 die at a time, wrote down the result, added the total after he was done. It took him forever to full attack.
If you are bad/slow at math, consider running a build that doesn’t have much of it. For a friend of mine I built a caster that mostly uses buff and SOD spells. I also made him a skill/martial that usually charges (single attack) with the lawful property to take 10 on the die roll and the rest are static bonuses. He rarely rolls a die or has to do very much math for either character.

A3) Wing it. (I admit I have a lot of trouble with this one.)
Just because the is a rule doesn’t mean you have to find/follow it if it isn’t all that critical. I have seen groups that will spend 30 to 40 minutes looking up how to use every single aspect of a niggly rule for something really minor.
“If you don’t give us a name, I will feed you your own fingers!” Rolled an intimidate of 30+ vs the 2nd level pickpocket. You succeed. You don’t have to look up every single bonus to tell if it is a 36 or a 38. What is the exact rules interpretation of switching between diplomacy and intimidate (or if there is one). Etc… It doesn’t matter. Make a ruling and move on. If you feel it is needed, look it up later (not game night) so that if it comes up again it can be handled accurately quicker.

B) The ‘new’ feel.
I’ve noticed that a lot of AP’s and home campaigns do have a feel of sameness about them. There is a lot to be said for running with a theme, but sometimes it is too much. Let alone from one campaign to the next.
I used to know a GM that only wanted to run a combination of Ravenloft/Cthulu games. Almost only undead and horror/insanity checks. It got boring. After awhile. Pretty soon almost everyone wanted to run at least part cleric and max the wisdom saves. We had figured out the pretty much optimal set of buff and attack spells in each level range. Same-old-same-old…
But even within a single campaign it can be too much. If you campaign is “Battle against the forces of X” and that is all that happens it can get old. Ok, now you have 3 iterative attacks. What do you know; it still takes about 2-3 rounds to wipe out the encounter, we still lost about 1/4 of our hitpoints, and used up about 1/5 of our spells. What a coincidence.
Try to have section of the campaign that are significantly different in what challenges are occurring how they are to be resolved.
A campaign about a war could be sections for:
Learning that the kingdom is under attack and defending against the initial strike.
Trying to alert the king while others are trying to stop you.
Evacuate Bob’s Town and protect the slow moving train of refugees.
Make some spoiling attacks to slow down the enemy until winter sets in.
Garner allies from surrounding city-states during the winter.
Figure out who is the traitor in the royal palace.
Escort the prince on some actions against the enemy and make him come out looking like the hero.
Snatch the enemy’s holy relic.
Take out the god-king that sent them on this crusade against your home.
Then they are not all a seemingly endless stack of fights against very similar but slightly more powerful foes than the last time.

Other people don’t run AP’s or traditional campaigns. They run a series of modules/adventures and invent some reason to link them for the group. That usually forces a level of ‘difference’ that can keep it from becoming too stale for many people.
Every so often within a campaign, throw in a 1-shot that is a completely different sour of set-up.
Switch out who is GM sometimes. Even if it is the same campaign, let someone else run for a while. It is rare that two people run a game similar enough not to seem new.
Don’t run the same types of characters all the time. And be sure to play them with very different personalities.
Have your character grow and change as the game progresses.

C) Change games and/or groups every so often. Now this one isn’t for me, but I do know it works for some others.
I know a few people that change gaming groups every so often. They don’t necessarily have a problem with a group and they might come back to it in a couple years. Or if possible, they are in a few different groups at the same time.
Play PF for a couple of months. Switch to d20 modern. Maybe a Dresden files. Then the old d6 starwars. Mix in a little Space Heresy. Then back to PF. On to gamma world. Etc…
As I said, I don’t prefer these options for myself. Though I can deal with it if the group wants to change game systems or if a couple of players come and go every so often.
.
.
So that was wall of text of general suggestions. Without more details on exactly what is causing you to be dissatisfied with your games, I don’t think I can be more specific.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Play B.B. King during games?


I started with D&D in 1977, and then went on to AD&D (which I still have a fondness for). I've DM'd most of the time, and simply get frustrated with the bloat all systems seem to develop, and so I take a break.

Lately, I've been holding PF as a board game, with all the mechanics that you simply have to abide by, and we get together to play just like we'd sit down to play RISK or Monopoly. People can carry over a character if they want, or make up a new one. We're varying the games - some urban, some dungeon - and that helps. AP's are good, but still require a lot of work as the GM to ensure your group doesn't roll over everything.

But it comes down to: what are you looking to get out of the experience? If you want more RP than your group is doing, then you should try a different group. If you want more combat and less RP, again, maybe a different group. Different systems support different styles of play. Try some out.

I always end up coming back to some form of RPG, even if I take a break for a while. I just have too many ideas and too many characters I want to try out to not play!

Breaks are natural, and probably healthy.

Grand Lodge

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Pax Veritas wrote:
Question: What can be done to re-ignite the flame of these veteran gamer blues?

The simplest advice I can give for both players and DMs:

For players: Stop making characters designed only to win. You will get bored with characters who are built to deal maximum damage, have the highest skill checks, or know every spell. Instead, build a mechanically viable character around a robust personality.

For DMs: Stop writing your adventures to tell a story and start writing them to tell the players' stories. When your games thrive on collaboration instead of exposition, they will be more engaging, last longer, and end up requiring less work to design and maintain.


This thread is awesome.
Kudos to everyone contributing


Like a lot of folks in this thread I started a long time ago too (1980). I've gotten burned out many times. During these times here's what I've done to get the feeling back:

1. Play another system: my backup has always been Marvel Super Heroes from the 1980's, but I've also run through most of the White Wolf systems, Cyberpunk, GURPS and the Chaosium stuff (Rifts, TMNT, etc.); another fun one is classic Call of C'Thulu.

2. Play other games entirely: for a while in my current group we had a standing 1/mo board game night. As a kid I hated board games; either they were boring (Parker Bro's) or way too hard for a strategy-challenged brain like mine (Axis and Allies, Risk). About decade ago I met a board-game enthusiast who introduced me to lots of stuff I didn't even know existed: Fantasy Flight Games, Carcassone, Catan, and Cards Against Humanity. Some other stuff I've done outside RPGs is to do tournaments of Mortal Kombat or Unreal Tournament, tabletop wargaming and even just good old poker nights.

3. Have hobbies related to the game: I build miniature terrain with Hirst Arts molds. Some folks paint minis, others build foam terrain. There's also writing and art related to the games, LARPing that you put a video of online, or whatever. The terrain making lets me build for something I want to experience in the game or allows me to make a visual of something that was cool in a session.

4. Take a night out with the gaming friends: What if, on one of your weekly sessions you just grabbed a pizza and hung out? I do this every once in a while and it's a great way to dial back into why you play with THIS particular group in the first place. Go grab a beer/coffee together; dinner out somewhere like a Chinese place that accommodates a big group; I hear there's lots of super hero films out there that the kids like (I'm one of them!)

5. Go to a con: seriously, I would advise EVERY old-skool gamer to do this. Remember that thrill you got as a kid of finding other people like you, enthusiasts that DIDN'T make fun of your hobby? I think a lot of us have been to cons but some of us haven't and others don't go any more. Well, make time for it once in a while. There's something... primal about going into a big, loud, crowded exhibition hall and seeing vendors hawking their stuff. You can network with other local gamers, jump in and try new games, chat with the vendors about trends and older stuff or just people watch from the lobby. Whatever you do though this might help drop more fuel in the tank.

As for sprucing up the game, there's some fun stuff you can do there too:

1. Different storytelling tools: what if you flat out told them, in a cutscene, what the villain was doing at the beginning or end of a session? Think about it; the players like completing something in an adventure. How much more satisfying would it be for them if they knew (even if their PCs didn't - no metagaming allowed!) that the BBEG was sitting in their lair monologuing about these treacherous interlopers and musing to their lieutenant who the PCs later face in battle? Other devices include doing flashbacks, Downtime sessions or parallel story lines.

2. Theater of the mind fights: One of the things in PF is that fights take so long and one of the reasons for this is maps, minis and 3d terrain. Lots of folks use these tools because of flanking and such. Challenge your players and yourself to just be descriptive and play out fight scenes the way you did as a kid: with your words, your actions and some dice. You as the GM just jot down some cursory stats: not a whole block if you don't need it, but if you do then the whole stat block. Keep it handy as a reference but otherwise don't put anything out, then just go. Tell the players where they are when the fight starts and run with it.

3. Low level fights: put together CR-1 fights for your PCs. Lots of them. Then make a dungeon where monsters/villains can reinforce one another in numbers. Finally... unleash. Say the party's level 3; make a pack of 3 goblin warrior 1 plus one mounted on a goblin dog. PCs come in, goblins surprise them and one of the baddies hits a gong. 2 rounds later as the party is mopping up the goblins a bugbear appears and takes a shot. Then 5 more warriors from another hall. Sure, the PCs can tear through the individual fights without breaking a sweat but what if they all suddenly converge on the party at once?

4. Different kinds of challenges: take 3 insect swarms and make a humanoid villain out of them. First the party has to beat the humanoid form, then the individual swarms... but then the swarms re-surge and the humanoid starts to re-form. The reality is there are hives in the walls that also need to be destroyed or the fight never ends. Challenges like in video games where the PCs need to solve a puzzle to end a fight or the invincible villain has some Achilles' Heel. Used sparingly they can really pep things up.

5. Terrain: it gets really boring to fight in 2d. PCs charge, villains do the same, and they stand toe-to-toe and beat each other into submission. If you're using minis, toss some small d6's on the map. Tell the players they're piles of rubble, skeletons, or stalagmites; x2 movement obstacles for them to use. Some of these obstacles are mobile; show them this by having a giant grab a normal-sized table in the area and use it as an improvised weapon. Encourage the players to use EVERY ounce of their environment by including an interactive environment in your games. See-saw floors, swinging chains hanging from the ceiling, even just ledges on cave walls all serve as a way to give players a new perspective on the fight. Further incentivize them by granting Circumstance bonuses like a +2 Climb to reach that ledge which in turn gives the player a +1 Attack bonus from higher ground or a boulder which can be thrown as an improvised weapon (-4 to hit) but if it DOES hit deals 2d10 damage!

6. Play shorter campaigns: What if your campaign was only designed from level 1-6? Not that you couldn't ADD more later, but imagine: you final villain is a dark folk summoner (CR 8 foe) who wants to blanket an entire region in magical darkness and complete a rite that then shunts the whole area into the Plane of Shadow. You plot out a few adventures with some twists and turns leading to a final showdown with the dude. Once the fight's over you just kind of shrug and go, "that's it." If the players WANT to keep things going its on them to do it.

My final bit of advice is this: push some of this back on your players. Even with a couple weeks off now and then it's hard being the perpetual GM. Make sure your players are helping you with the game. I don't just mean one's tracking initiatives for you or whatever. I mean that the players are honestly helping drive the game forward.

Their characters should have goals, all the time. Take 4 1st level characters, a cleric, fighter, rogue and wizard. Sure they all want adventure and loot, that's a given, but what SPECIFICALLY do they want? Maybe the rogue wants to run a thieve's guild. GREAT! How do you do that? Well you'll need capital, a base of operations, other thieves, and maybe to eliminate the competition. None of that should be on YOU to provide; the rogue's player should be seeking that out themselves.

In the case of the rogue, imagine that at level 1 he knows he wants a guild. The party comes together to go into the wilderness and explore a neighboring hex; the rogue player should be using this plot to further his own subplot. They might ask you if there's any suspected phat lewts in the hex they're exploring; maybe he rounds up some beggars before leaving town and tells them to watch for rival gangs; perhaps he scouts rumors of a ruin nearby as a possible headquarters and hijacks the whole adventure. Whatever the case, so long as he's pursuing a goal and is engaged then every session is a chance to accomplish SOMETHING toward that goal and give him the feeling of getting somewhere.

And when your players feel good about the game, you feel good about it too!


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Headfirst wrote:
Pax Veritas wrote:
Question: What can be done to re-ignite the flame of these veteran gamer blues?

The simplest advice I can give for both players and DMs:

For players: Stop making characters designed only to win. You will get bored with characters who are built to deal maximum damage, have the highest skill checks, or know every spell. Instead, build a mechanically viable character around a robust personality.

For DMs: Stop writing your adventures to tell a story and start writing them to tell the players' stories. When your games thrive on collaboration instead of exposition, they will be more engaging, last longer, and end up requiring less work to design and maintain.

Remember though that for the "For DMs" section to work there has to be collaboration. If the players are just reactionary, looking to be entertained and aren't engaging in the game world, this is kind of a moot point. If however the players have come up with not only "robust personalities" but are playing TOWARD something like a goal or achievement then you've got your collaboration.

Everyone needs buy in and everyone needs to be driving the plot forward.


Just wanted to comment on a few of these points.

Mark Hoover wrote:

...

5. Go to a con: seriously, I would advise EVERY old-skool gamer to do this. Remember that thrill you got as a kid of finding other people like you, enthusiasts that DIDN'T make fun of your hobby? I think a lot of us have been to cons but some of us haven't and others don't go any more. Well, make time for it once in a while. There's something... primal about going into a big, loud, crowded exhibition hall and seeing vendors hawking their stuff. You can network with other local gamers, jump in and try new games, chat with the vendors about trends and older stuff or just people watch from the lobby. Whatever you do though this might help drop more fuel in the tank. ...

I really recommend this. Even if you only play/watch one game. You see how someone else runs tings a bit differently and get some new ideas. It does seem to charge up the enthusiasm a bit for most people.

Mark Hoover wrote:

...

2. Theater of the mind fights: One of the things in PF is that fights take so long and one of the reasons for this is maps, minis and 3d terrain. Lots of folks use these tools because of flanking and such. Challenge your players and yourself to just be descriptive and play out fight scenes the way you did as a kid: with your words, your actions and some dice. You as the GM just jot down some cursory stats: not a whole block if you don't need it, but if you do then the whole stat block. Keep it handy as a reference but otherwise don't put anything out, then just go. Tell the players where they are when the fight starts and run with it. ...

I mostly have to disagree with this one. Unless the fight is really very simple, I find it takes much longer. People are constantly asking and re-asking a bunch of questions that could be answered by a relatively quick glance at a map. Is there cover anywhere? Can I get to him in a charge? Where is the hill? Which ones are behind the wall? how far out of the way is the bridge.

Mark Hoover wrote:

...

My final bit of advice is this: push some of this back on your players. Even with a couple weeks off now and then it's hard being the perpetual GM. Make sure your players are helping you with the game. I don't just mean one's tracking initiatives for you or whatever. I mean that the players are honestly helping drive the game forward.

Their characters should have goals, all the time. Take 4 1st level characters, a cleric, fighter, rogue and wizard. Sure they all want adventure and loot, that's a given, but what SPECIFICALLY do they want? Maybe the rogue wants to run a thieve's guild. GREAT! How do you do that? Well you'll need capital, a base of operations, other thieves, and maybe to eliminate the competition. None of that should be on YOU to provide; the rogue's player should be seeking that out themselves.

In the case of the rogue, imagine that at level 1 he knows he wants a guild. The party comes together to go into the wilderness and explore a neighboring hex; the rogue player should be using this plot to further his own subplot. They might ask you if there's any suspected phat lewts in the hex they're exploring; maybe he rounds up some beggars before leaving town and tells them to watch for rival gangs; perhaps he scouts rumors of a ruin nearby as a possible headquarters and hijacks the whole adventure. Whatever the case, so long as he's pursuing a goal and is engaged then every session is a chance to accomplish SOMETHING toward that goal and give him the feeling of getting somewhere.
...

OH YES! It really helps if the players will help with anything like this.

Dark Archive

5-7 imaginative people gathered together round a gaming table (and grooming with a Pict? - no, scratch that) should be able to provide entertainment value for themselves as long as the rpg is working in the way it should be.

It's not about the GM entertaining the players, it's about creating an environment in which everyone is both a supplier and consumer of a gestalt fantasy gaming experience.

The reason why I still play 30+ years on is because that gaming gestalt is magical and irreplaceable.

For it to work, though, you have to ensure that everyone can add their imagination and input into your collaborative fantasy vision.

It has to be more than just a tactical game in a fantasy setting.

It has to be "role play".

(but of course, you know that, don't you :-) all of us old grognards do)

IMO, APs have moved us away from collaborative story-telling into participative story-telling; the scene is set, the players play their parts like actors in a play. The challenge and the fun comes out of the rules, out of the pleasure of "winning" what is basically a "game" with a bit of fantasy fluff.

That's nothing like as much fun as true immersive role play.

Richard

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Pawns Subscriber

I know some of you will hate this comment, but it's anecdotal truth based on my experience (started playing in 1987 I think).

Games/groups/campaigns where I observed the LEAST DM burnout and the MOST players enjoyment is when the players covered the classic four:
- one fighter
- one cleric
- one rogue
- one wizard

I don't know exactly why, but I think it has to do with how the game was designed early on, and how the party can meet an wide array of challenges in the long-run.

Games/groups/campaigns that ran short or imploded most often:
- lack of a cleric (and no, oracles don't count as clerics, I'm sorry... as they had no mitigating effect against campaign implosion... whatsoever...)


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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

One thing I have found really effective is to rotate games. Wether your group plays weekly, monthly, or whatever, get 2-3 games going (each run by a different member of the group), and rotate them in and out of play.

It can take a bit more work to keep track of everything, but it also keeps everything fresh, and you look forward to getting back to each game more. It also gives each gm more time to prepare, and lets them relax when they are just the player for a session or two. Even if your preference is to run exclusively, its good to take off the dm hat every now and then.

It also helps to build the idea of collective storytelling as opposed to single sided story telling. Even more so if you are all working in the same game world. Nothing is more fun (in my mind) then seeing an organization you created for one game show up in another campaign. That has definately helped me recharge and stay excited for a game.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

One of the most successful campaigns I've ever run (in terms of the enjoyment and satisfaction of the players and myself) was designed sort of like a TV show... every session was a self-contained adventure with the threat/conflict/resolution you'd expect in an adventure of any size (think the 22 minute version of the heroes journey*), but there were also recurring characters (NPCs that were allies or enemies, and occasionally really hard to tell which) and threads that wound through multiple sessions (like a seed that gets planted in one session, and may even seem like background noise, that comes to fruition several sessions later). For us that was a great way to get that sense of accomplishment each week but also to feel like it was part of something bigger and more substantial.

It's also worth noting that for that specific campaign we switched from our normal mostly-european-fantasy style game to a very oriental feeling game. That change of style was refreshing too (though I think it was the format that really made the difference).

*the heroes journey and other inspirations:
I'm a huge proponent of GMs (and writers, players, people in general) learning about the heroes journey. Joseph Campbell is the most famous/successful teacher on it and you can easily find a lot of information on what he terms "the monomyth". Basically there is a specific structure that underlies the journey of all heroes, and using it formulate adventures/campaigns makes your work easier but also helps ensure the journey you take the players on will resonate with them and provide some sense of triumph.

There are also some other literary/mythopoeic influences that I think can be very helpful... the ring structure, or chiastic structure, can make for a compelling (and easier to design) adventure/campaign; and literary alchemy can (in its ideal application) provide the ultimate gaming experience- real katharsis through a players identification with their character's desolation and consolation.

Grand Lodge

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richard develyn wrote:

5-7 imaginative people gathered together round a gaming table (and grooming with a Pict? - no, scratch that) should be able to provide entertainment value for themselves as long as the rpg is working in the way it should be.

It's not about the GM entertaining the players, it's about creating an environment in which everyone is both a supplier and consumer of a gestalt fantasy gaming experience.

The reason why I still play 30+ years on is because that gaming gestalt is magical and irreplaceable.

For it to work, though, you have to ensure that everyone can add their imagination and input into your collaborative fantasy vision.

It has to be more than just a tactical game in a fantasy setting.

It has to be "role play".

(but of course, you know that, don't you :-) all of us old grognards do)

IMO, APs have moved us away from collaborative story-telling into participative story-telling; the scene is set, the players play their parts like actors in a play. The challenge and the fun comes out of the rules, out of the pleasure of "winning" what is basically a "game" with a bit of fantasy fluff.

That's nothing like as much fun as true immersive role play.

Richard

I really like what Richard is pointing out here. With the video game culture taking over, and Patherfinder games starting to make their way to almost main stream, it's almost like no one has an imagination anymore. I have had plenty of players that just coast now expecting the world to bring adventure to them.

I recently went with an old school sandbox view in an urban area. Now some of the blame could be on me, but I had a set of 5 or 6 players who did alot of sitting around doing a whole lot of nothing. Or if they did do something it was to cause some trouble in the poor quarter. Not a single one went seeking any sort of adventure. Most NPC's I introduced were met with aggression instead of a potential plot hook. I tire of having to make achievement happen for the players.

I miss the days of being able to sit down with a blank sheet and both I and the players would work together and cultivate a great story. Now it just seems like if I were to sit down with a blank sheet I'd just get a bunch of blank stares. end rant.

Now back on topic. Perhaps you need a shake up. You pointed out starting new characters is something that excites you. Maybe it would be as simple as starting a new character in an existing game. Or convince the Co-DM to start something fresh with an entire new set of faces in the party as well as on the opposing team. You also point out that the game feels slow. At higher levels the game does slow down as the characters can do more. This is a double edged sword though, as some players love having new abilities while other struggle to keep up with tracking all the resources.

Many have suggested switching systems, as this is the paizo board I am against advocating other systems, especially when pathfinder is so adaptable. I haven't looked at unchained yet, but look at the beginner box and see how different that looks than what you are playing today. Switching faces might also help, especially if you can get some less experienced to new people in. You have a lot to teach them but everything is new to them and you can feed off of their excitement. Also us old guys end up just making each other feel older than we are because the whole "back in my day it was like X".

Another thing you pointed out, back in the old days everything was "sit down, pull out a character sheet and play" and you knew the story would start and end that very session. For me at least, we used to have much longer blocks of time set aside for gaming. Now I am lucky to get to play for a few hours once a week. I couldn't imagine having a fulfilling story that started and ended every week that spanned a mere 3 or 4 hours. If you wanted that then you are just playing PFS (which I have nothing against, just isn't my style.)

No matter what, I am liking this thread. Can't wait to read more.


Tormad wrote:

...

With the video game culture taking over, and Patherfinder games starting to make their way to almost main stream, it's almost like no one has an imagination anymore. I have had plenty of players that just coast now expecting the world to bring adventure to them.

I recently went with an old school sandbox view in an urban area. Now some of the blame could be on me, but I had a set of 5 or 6 players who did alot of sitting around doing a whole lot of nothing. Or if they did do something it was to cause some trouble in the poor quarter. Not a single one went seeking any sort of adventure. Most NPC's I introduced were met with aggression instead of a potential plot hook.
...

I think you may be combining a couple of things here. I know the 'all-holy-sandbox' game was always touted as the ultimate gaming experience. Especially so back in ye oldin days.

But I have know quite a few players in all the versions of the game that really didn't like those games and were only marginally successful in them. (Honestly, it was usually the fairly experienced players and the at least competent GM's who liked them.)
The players who are poor as GM, intimidated by the responsibility and will never try GM'ing, those with limited experience, or even just fairly introverted personalities tend to not do well and just dither about doing nothing.

I was in a group of very experienced players a while back. Most had been playing nearly as long as me. But if I as GM didn’t give them a pretty clear ‘do this next’ they simply couldn’t decide on what to do next. They once spent 30+ minutes arguing about which direction to go and start searching for the lost child in the woods. Just to get things moving I eventually had to say “Direction doesn’t matter, as soon as you get in the woods I will have one of you make a pretty easy tracking check.” That was a pretty common occurrence. They didn’t have a recognized leader and just were not decisive or driven personalities. They always read/hear how wonderful the sandbox games are, so they kept asking me to run that. We tried to run a few more sandbox-ish adventures. Every time it quickly stalled in “what should we do now? I don’t know, what do you think we should do?”

The success of a sandbox game really relies very heavily on matching it up to the correct group of players. They really are not right for all players.

I do think video games have hurt RPG’s in some ways (they’ve helped in others). The biggest thing I have noticed it the likely hood of trying something completely ‘outside the box’ as a solution to a problem.
Video games have a fairly defined and limited choice of possible actions you can take. Since they have to be programmed in, the only things allowed are those that the programmers put in to it. When someone spends a lot of time on video games they have a tendency to get out of the habit of trying something off the wall.

I’ve had groups do some weird things over the years.
- Once a group suddenly realized they didn’t have any LG members. So instead of the job/favor the seneschal wanted, they hired a prostitute to ‘honey trap’ the official to make him stop being an obstruction.
- Another animated skeletons to continuously drop big rocks in to a section of the river and create a dam. Flood 1 area, drought in another. Then eventually the dam would break through and flash flood the down river towns.
- Strapped nearly 100 alchemist fire and acid vials to an intelligent zombie and have it use glide (when shot out of a catapult) to come down just over the enemy ship. It had a permanent no magic zone, so the zombie fell and detonated.
- Intelligent (but not very) evil bow minor artifact - couldn’t be destroyed by magic though it could allow itself to be strengthened. They convinced it they would revere and strengthen it so it would be even more indestructible. They gave it a permanent Iron Wood so no one would ever be able to use it. Then hid it inside the statue of a revered dwarven hero.

I love it when those kind of things happen.

It is admittedly a very small and personal sample size, but I almost never hear any of these weird ideas from the guys that spend lots of time playing lots of video games. It is obviously not 1 to 1, but there does seem to be some correlation there.

Though I am starting to wonder of some of that will go away now. Some of the newer games offer such a huge range of possibilities and complexity that I can't see them stifling creativity very much.


Tormad wrote:
I tire of having to make achievement happen for the players.

This. A thousand times this. This is the source of MUCH of my own GM fatigue. Ironically my latest one also came from a sandbox campaign.

I had a player a few campaigns ago that sadly moved away. He was truly old-skool, like me. I told him I was going to be running a sandbox and he said "That's awesome!" and dove right in.

His first PC was a paladin. Everyone groaned but instead of being lawful stupid he really played up the Charisma angle of the PC. The guy was designed from level 1 to utilize diplomacy (Skill Focus: Diplomacy) and skill at striking at key moments when necessary (Combat Expertise). The paladin was bold, intelligent and outgoing.

Most of the other players just kind of sat there. This player from session one took charge. He asked NPC names and names of the adventure sites we were going. He also researched the slums, found that slavery there was legal and that child slave labor was very popular. Rather than just saying "ho hum, that's nice..." like the rest of the so-called "heroes" the paladin, also a trained weaponsmith, painted a target on his back and spent nearly all his resources leveling to level 2 to build a weapon making shop in the slums and hire on 6 orphans on the streets... at full apprentice pay.

Suddenly every game was basically just him and me playing and the other players spectating or jumping in at combats. His paladin unfortunately died but in a way so epic that, even though he was only 2nd level his grave site outside the dungeon became infused with holy power and in my game world will henceforth be a shrine associated with him and his deity.

TL/DR; the bottom line is if your players are passive or think the adventure is YOUR job then you're not getting anywhere. Likewise if your players talk over you and try to control ALL the action their characters will likely get killed foolishly. There needs to be give and take.

Nearly every GM I've talked to says some version of "I run a good game when my players are into it." How can the players be into it, and THEN it's good? Shouldn't it be the other way around? No. If the players sit there with their character sheets like a PS3 controller in their hands, its likely no one is having fun.

Currently I'm running a weeknight game and sessions only last 3 hours. We're only level 2 but I have prepped my players that there will be some exploration/investigation with the missions they receive. They are also free to leave the mission if there's no time crunch.

Most of the players around the table are asking questions and getting involved. Even though their only 3hr sessions we're always getting SOMETHING done. One player has a long-term agenda; 2 others have backstory goals they're actively pursuing. I on the other hand have basically a 1 page, roughly bullet-pointed outline of the first few levels worth of plot points.

One session I showed up and had nearly nothing. I knew the PCs were going to be resting up to assault a nearby kobold dungeon so I grabbed some random tables and made a roll; I came up with a blood-stained small cave in the wilds. One of the backstory guys is like "Do I recognize it? Is it like the one from the group in my past?"

It took me a minute but I remembered his backstory so I'm like "yeah, there's some religious symbols that look similar, though not EXACTLY the same." That spawned a side-plot that took that session and another to resolve but in the end they defeated a cult of Lamashtu. When it was all said and done though I made another point to say it was similar but not the same cult as in the PCs backstory.

Currently I've got the PCs hunting up the stuff in that guy's story since they finished off the kobolds for now. I've dropped a hint that the original cult from his past may have splintered. From one random roll and some conversation with the player I've created a whole second storyline where, even if they finish off the monster they seek there's still more Lamashtan villains out there and they're building toward something.

What? I don't know. But that's the result of some collaboration.

Everyone who's a player out there this is what good GMs feed on. They NEED your engagement, your collaboration. When you contribute to the narrative and are willing to play into the stuff your GM sets up for you the game world both gets bigger and, at the same time becomes less the GM's and a little bit more yours.


I hear you on the "I don't know what's changed!" thing. It seems like - for me anyway - combat in PF just takes forever. So many rules, and interactions of feats and spells, etc., that it's not like my old AD&D days where things were simpler. You had an attack - one swing or spell - and the rest was really just assumed (moving into position and so on). This leads to the "couple of encounters/rooms per week" that the OP mentions. We simply can't get much done.

I was able to keep my group involved in my story-based campaign for over a year. But Real Life eventually pulled one member away, and then another, and it fell apart. So now I am trying a shorter-term, almost no Story, sequence of games, with switching off of the GM role, and that seems to be working. People can just sit and have fun without trying to build their "ultimate character!" They try new things, new builds, classes they've never played before, and sometimes they like it and sometimes they hate it, but they're not locked into it and so it doesn't disturb them so much.

Variety is the spice of gaming, it seems!

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Pawns Subscriber
Mark Hoover wrote:
If the players sit there with their character sheets like a PS3 controller in their hands, its likely no one is having fun.

I agree. When the players start brandishing their character sheets like a Wii controller, now you're getting somewhere! ;) :P

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Pawns Subscriber
Otherwhere wrote:
I hear you on the "I don't know what's changed!" thing. It seems like - for me anyway - combat in PF just takes forever.

Agreed. Remember when fighters could make one swing per level against hordes of low hit dice creatures like goblins and orc? it sped up the game considerably... ;)

Edit: I don't really mind the longer combats though, as they are now higher quality combats, with a more realistic feel, and some kind of spatial awareness is good in my case. Honestly, when I DM'ed AD&D 2nd edition, I often lost track of which character hit this or that ogre, so much so that towards the end (*guilty as charged*), if say I had 5 giants at 50 hp each, I would just write down a pool of 250 hp on my DM scribble pad and tell 'em "one down!" every time the party would do 50 hp in damage... :P


Purple Dragon Knight wrote:
Otherwhere wrote:
I hear you on the "I don't know what's changed!" thing. It seems like - for me anyway - combat in PF just takes forever.

Agreed. Remember when fighters could make one swing per level against hordes of low hit dice creatures like goblins and orc? it sped up the game considerably... ;)

...

Other than prep, I think one of the biggest delays is people taking forever on their turn. I don't allow you 15 minutes to measure, read, and consider you 6 second action. If you can't decide in about 30 seconds (plus all the time you should have spent during the other peoples turn), well then "Dortmund is confused by the wild melee raging about him." If the player can figure it out before the round is over, he can come out of delay.

Note: I cut a lot of slack for newer players or if someone has a new character with mechanics he isn't yet real familiar with.

I also don't allow the players to discuss tactics out-of-character. If they want to in-character yell short statements across the battlefield, "Swarm the caster, I'll hold off the others!" that is fine. But the bad guys might hear and understand.

Purple Dragon Knight wrote:

...

Edit: I don't really mind the longer combats though, as they are now higher quality combats, with a more realistic feel, and some kind of spatial awareness is good in my case. Honestly, when I DM'ed AD&D 2nd edition, I often lost track of which character hit this or that ogre, so much so that towards the end (*guilty as charged*), if say I had 5 giants at 50 hp each, I would just write down a pool of 250 hp on my DM scribble pad and tell 'em "one down!" every time the party would do 50 hp in damage... :P

For shame. BAD GM PDK! Just kidding. ;) I think we all did that sometimes.


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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Otherwhere wrote:

I hear you on the "I don't know what's changed!" thing. It seems like - for me anyway - combat in PF just takes forever. So many rules, and interactions of feats and spells, etc., that it's not like my old AD&D days where things were simpler. You had an attack - one swing or spell - and the rest was really just assumed (moving into position and so on). This leads to the "couple of encounters/rooms per week" that the OP mentions. We simply can't get much done.

I dont know about you, but I think this is a case of rose colored glasses in alot of cases. The games I remember from ye old edition still took a long time, I just had more of it. I remember we played after school on fridays, and often transfered to the game store when the club teacher had to go home, then to someone's house, and then on until morning. And it was only then that we got 'lots done'. I think gamers in general are getting older and realizing with families and work, and other responsibilities, you dont have the option of playing all night twice a week, and then wondering why you arent getting the same experience.


Kolokotroni wrote:
Otherwhere wrote:

I hear you on the "I don't know what's changed!" thing. It seems like - for me anyway - combat in PF just takes forever. So many rules, and interactions of feats and spells, etc., that it's not like my old AD&D days where things were simpler. You had an attack - one swing or spell - and the rest was really just assumed (moving into position and so on). This leads to the "couple of encounters/rooms per week" that the OP mentions. We simply can't get much done.

I dont know about you, but I think this is a case of rose colored glasses in alot of cases. The games I remember from ye old edition still took a long time, I just had more of it. I remember we played after school on fridays, and often transfered to the game store when the club teacher had to go home, then to someone's house, and then on until morning. And it was only then that we got 'lots done'. I think gamers in general are getting older and realizing with families and work, and other responsibilities, you dont have the option of playing all night twice a week, and then wondering why you arent getting the same experience.

Not so much. Still only get to play once a week, which has been true ever since I started - short of a very few "marathon sessions" as a twenty-something. And PF is more complex than AD&D. Not that that is bad, but it does change the pace of the game. At least, in my experience.

Given that my time is more limited now, shorter encounters and combats are a blessing. Plus, my group has been 6-7 players plus me, which also tends to take longer. But all of our time is important, so shortcuts and time savers (and hand-waiving rules) has become increasingly needed. That's one reason why I like 5e right now - it isn't as rules heavy as PF. Builds are simpler, and play is more intuitive.

Grand Lodge

ElterAgo wrote:


Other than prep, I think one of the biggest delays is people taking forever on their turn. I don't allow you 15 minutes to measure, read, and consider you 6 second action...

I think this is a huge thing. The difference in combat length between players that have everything already figured out and just roll dice, compared to players that don't really makes the combat two or three times as long.

If I as the GM took 15 minutes per turn on every single monster, we'd have 1 combat in the night, and then be out of time. I am not sure the solution to this issue though because one complaint people have is too many rules. But I love having rules for every option, just have to know how they work.

Purple Dragon Knight wrote:


I agree. When the players start brandishing their character sheets like a Wii controller, now you're getting somewhere! ;) :P

This gave me a good smile.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Pax Veritas wrote:

This is what I hope will become a very long thread of community input regarding the elephant in the room.

Backstory: As a veteran gamer (since 1982) I've hit a wall that nearly every gamer including you has hit, or will hit at some point--and we (I) need your help!

The Problem: For years, gaming session provided a "gaming buzz" i.e. a happy wholesome high of joy (you know what I mean). However, home games in Pathfinder drag on too long. Campaigns run too long. Players get bored. A few encounters/rooms per week is NOT enough content to reach that gaming thrill (and I don't know what's changed).

Observation: I still observe rare moments when that "feeling" returns: a) new campaign first sessions with new characters b) when we play a 1-shot adventure with all new characters and c) for a few sessions after when we bring in a new player. But that's it.

Caveat about PFS: Let's leave PFS out of this equation without any value judgment of that style of game. Let's just say we're focusing on home games, with homebrew content.

Question: What can be done to re-ignite the flame of these veteran gamer blues?

If you're the GM I recommend the following 3 step program.

1. End your current campaign. Plan a good windup arc that gives everyone satisfaction at the blow-off, tie up the character handles, end the plots and give everyone a good feeling about bringing down the curtain. And don't let anyone sway you with tear-filled. "I wanna keep playing my character objections"

1b. If you're the player than tell your GM you'd like him to give you an exit ramp in a few sessions.

2. Take a month long break from any gaming whatsoever. If you've got another hobby, indlulge it in a way you haven't been up to now. If you don't either find someone, or take the advantage that summer is here and do something you haven't been doing for awhile.

3. I lied... there is no set step 3 because much can happen in Step 2. You might find that new interests keep you from coming back.. and that's okay.. You might find as I did that the ultimate answer was taking a 10 year break from D+D and D+D like games. You aren't me, and I'm not you, so I can't give you a roadmap beyond step 2... only food for thought.

The Exchange

Kolokotroni wrote:

One thing I have found really effective is to rotate games. Wether your group plays weekly, monthly, or whatever, get 2-3 games going (each run by a different member of the group), and rotate them in and out of play.

It can take a bit more work to keep track of everything, but it also keeps everything fresh, and you look forward to getting back to each game more. It also gives each gm more time to prepare, and lets them relax when they are just the player for a session or two. Even if your preference is to run exclusively, its good to take off the dm hat every now and then.

It also helps to build the idea of collective storytelling as opposed to single sided story telling. Even more so if you are all working in the same game world. Nothing is more fun (in my mind) then seeing an organization you created for one game show up in another campaign. That has definately helped me recharge and stay excited for a game.

This is excellent advice. I tend to do that in my groups, lets me stop being a DM for a couple weeks so I can just enjoy a story without making up all the details and during those weeks I can also use the extra free time to prep for my own campaign's return which makes it run better and allows me to toss in more interesting and creative stuff.


Anonymous Visitor 163 576 wrote:


You know, it actually sounds like we agree.

Yeah, pretty much. Greater awareness of all participants' expectations and agreement on them is better. All I was saying is that for some folks, the encounters are, in fact, the be all and end all.

Dark Archive

Although I do understand the anti-sandbox kind of lost-in-space problems that you can get, particularly with novice players, sandbox adventures do not have to be quite so directionless.

Sandboxes can vary in size from a dungeon through to a world or even a universe. There is a style of playing which I have seen and wondered at whereby players roll up PCs and the GM effectively starts the campaign by telling them something like "you've just arrived at Absalom; it's a bright sunny day - what do you want to do next?"

Wow! That takes particular skill both to play and GM, and in my opinion is less sandbox more cosmos-box.

My idea of a sandbox isn't quite so huge or freeform. In The Horn of Geryon, for example, the PCs arrive at an island in order to look for 8 tokens which they need in order to complete a set of 10 necessary to enter the final encounter area. The island isn't all that big and there is a very definite task to perform. What makes the adventure a sandbox is that the whole thing can be explored in whatever manner the PCs want. They have that freedom which engenders role playing. In Holy Island, another island adventure, the goal is to escape, and additionally most of the encounters there have RP solutions as well as combat ones, which allows an even greater freedom in play.

What I like as a GM with these sorts of adventures is that you can watch the PCs negotiate, decide and sort of "live" the environment that they've found themselves in, almost like watching a story unfold; the PCs own story, not the story of the adventure writer. And if there is enough of a structure and boundary to the decision making, the PCs should have enough of a focus to role-play around. 30 minutes arguing about what to do next, as long as it's in-game arguing, and good-natured, is great RP, and great fun.

Richard


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For the record, I am not anti-sandbox. I actually really like it some of the time.

I'm just saying it is not necessarily the ultimate gaming experience for some players. I could not begin to guess the fraction, but there is a significant portion of the community for whom a sandbox just doesn't click. They don't get it, they don't know what to do, and they only get frustrated.

Many people (especially in these forums) seem to be under the impression that a sandbox is the goal for everyone. Anytime it doesn't work there is either something wrong with the GM or with the players. I don't believe that to be true. It simply isn't a good match some of the time.

richard develyn wrote:
... 30 minutes arguing about what to do next, as long as it's in-game arguing, and good-natured, is great RP, and great fun.

It wasn't really in-game, wasn't really RP, it was really just ponderous.

Liberty's Edge

Burnout can be a real issue. I have burnt out on PFS completely and our home group is just about to finish our third AP. We enjoy the game time together but I think the entire group is getting a little burnt out on the current path. Reasons include - Pathfinder has taken 3.5 bloat to the extreme. The game is far to complex and you spend more time away from the table working on characters than actually playing them. It slows up the game and the enjoyment factor. The AP's drag on too long. We decided we will not do another AP. Maybe some modules or something. We will also blend in other games during our game nights, card games, board games, etc. We will try some Savage Worlds and give D&D 5.0 a short as well. We have talked about playing some classic modules with the older systems too. Time will tell. There are some good recommendations in this thread. Take a little break and try something new! Good luck!

Sovereign Court

I believe a large part of the problem in my case, is too much focus on the rules, and less on the character development / story.

I mean, with all the options available today, any moderately experienced group is going to have everything covered, and surprises don't happen. This is bad. Memorable games are the ones where you are surprised by something new, and win anyways after lots of effort.

The difficulty level does not scale up with the abundance of new rules options, because the authors do not follow in the arms war, and do not use situational modifiers to the fullest.

That, and a portion of the audience whines whenever the heat turns up.


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ElterAgo wrote:

For the record, I am not anti-sandbox. I actually really like it some of the time.

I'm just saying it is not necessarily the ultimate gaming experience for some players. I could not begin to guess the fraction, but there is a significant portion of the community for whom a sandbox just doesn't click. They don't get it, they don't know what to do, and they only get frustrated.

Many people (especially in these forums) seem to be under the impression that a sandbox is the goal for everyone. Anytime it doesn't work there is either something wrong with the GM or with the players. I don't believe that to be true. It simply isn't a good match some of the time.

Sandboxes have their place, but they don't necessarily work for everyone, or even every circumstance.

Linear games work very well for college-age groups, who generally only have a single school year's worth of time to play.

Other people simply prefer linear stories.

Sandbox games are like Elder Scrolls games.

Linear/railroady games are like most JRPGs.

Sometimes, DMs find a way to have both, and make a Metroidvania-style game, which plays like a Sandbox, but has everything pretty much planned out from the get-go.

Even most Sandbox games are more-than-likely going to have linear quest lines that the DM either makes up on the fly or plans a few weeks in advance once he knows what the players want to do. PURE Sandbox is very hard to do, and relies very heavily on lots and lots of tables to randomly generate terrain, dungeons, monsters, etc.

It's all a matter of figuring out what the group likes best, and what people are comfortable playing in.


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Another way to combat the speed, bloat etc is... just play CRB Pathfinder. Tell your players up front that you're just going Core. There's nothing bad/wrong with it and you can still reach some pretty insane power levels. In the mean time, try make the fun of the game less about how many cool tricks your optimized Brawler has and more about all the things you can think of to use Profession: Woodcutter for other than answering questions or earning a daily wage. For example, did you know that under alternate scroll materials you can make birchbark paper with Profession: Woodcutter?

I guess my point is it comes back to player/GM engagement, again. Both sides have to buy in and say its ok, and then really play with what they agree to. It also comes down to this: want what you have, and don't worry about having what you want.

Sure, everyone wants a hybrid of rangers and rogues who are full BAB, get talents and ranger fighting styles every level and get scaling attack/damage bonuses, but too bad. Play a ranger, add some rogue skills, call it a day; you'll STILL have fun.

If on the other hand you feel like you can't ever achieve the real vision of your character and thus your fun without deviating from core, then maybe the problem isn't the character or rules bloat. The thing about system bloat is: it's only bloated if you use all the new rules/options.

Back in 1e and 2e we used to make up custom stuff all the time, at least in my group. We made up hybrid classes, new spells, and used Marvel Super Heroes to give super powers to characters to make them more interesting. Now in 3x/Pathfinder we have expanded skills, spells and the mechanic of Feats and Traits to quantify this stuff. Don't want to use the ones outside the CRB? Don't.

And I agree with folks upthread. Pure sandbox ("You've met at the tavern... go.") is an acquired taste and not for all. That being said I've never really had the desire to play an AP becuase to me it feels too scripted. Rather I prefer something in the middle; sandbox but with plot hooks.


*blink*

Sovereign Court

I'm caught up on reading-thanks to those who are contributing!

I like the part about players stepping up. When players get re-energized so does the GM. I like hearing that its just not the responsibility of the GM to bring the story.

I like the ideas to give more structure to the game stories. I've been reading up on story structure, and trying to get back to basics.

The coGM and I have been chatting about wrapping up campaigns. We've determined that attention spans for modern games are about 6 months, after which campaigns should end.

He's wrapping up his. I sent out a 4-page summary document that the players are loving. It appears there's been a lot of chaos in my campaign. I accept this. That's why I'm getting back to stronger modular adventure design within the context of a campaign--in this way I hope to deliver conclusions, and endings, and successes more strongly along the way, without blurring them in the ongoing saga.

I'm also watching this thread closely for the many things that spark ideas. The one thing I choose not to do is quit for a while. I'm fortunate to have a good group, good location to play (my game room), and I'm not hurting for ideas.

Right now I'm trying to decide to continue my campaign by adding 3 more modules then ending it, OR, just stopping abruptly and sending out a summary of things that might have happened. I told my players openly, "If I'm bored with it, chances are you are too. This summary will either ignite your interest to play it more, or toll the death knell for the campaign in favor of starting a new one."

So far:
1 vote - move on (from the coGM)
1 vote - continue only if there's consensus
1 vote - please continue, too good a story to end by mail

3 votes are still outstanding. I will keep you all posted.

But seriously though, WHAT'S CHANGED IN MODERN GAMES? WHAT HAPPENED? IS THIS A FACTOR OF HAVING SOOOO MUCH FANTASY CONTENT EVERYWHERE YOU TURN? HAS SOMETHING HAPPENED IN GAMING CULTURE?

Or is this just some normal phenomenon. I truly don't feel "burnt out", this feels a bit like that ennui that was mentioned, or perhaps I'm just fishing for more player support??? In a way, if suddenly all the players walked in totally jazzed to play, and gave 100% participation and preparation... I would probably get excited again too, but I can't be sure.

***NEW THOUGHT:
Just this second... I'm having an insight.

...

*sigh*

...

It feels like 2 things: 1) players can't or aren't able to appreciate the story and 2) I own dragging things on too long (caveat: each session has been jam-packed with adventure! So when I say dragged out, I don't mean lack of action or progress in sessions, I mean the over-arching plot has been very long and there have been some crazy lacks of understanding of what's happening in the mega-arc. And THAT'S something I own. Something I should definitely fix.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber
Pax Veritas wrote:
But seriously though, WHAT'S CHANGED IN MODERN GAMES? WHAT HAPPENED? IS THIS A FACTOR OF HAVING SOOOO MUCH FANTASY CONTENT EVERYWHERE YOU TURN? HAS SOMETHING HAPPENED IN GAMING CULTURE?

There is more options. There is a broader, more accepting community. Gaming culture is accepted much more by society, in general.

I don't really see that as a bad thing.

By the way...

Have you checked out Mouseguard?

It is pretty awesome, and gives more to the players, with a system built to handle it.

Grand Lodge

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Pax Veritas wrote:
WHAT'S CHANGED IN MODERN GAMES? WHAT HAPPENED? IS THIS A FACTOR OF HAVING SOOOO MUCH FANTASY CONTENT EVERYWHERE YOU TURN? HAS SOMETHING HAPPENED IN GAMING CULTURE?

Here's why I think modern fantasy RPGs just aren't as special to us as they used to be: Over the last twenty years, the industry has tried as hard as possible to turn RPGs into tabletop wargames so they can sell us miniatures, paints, battle mats, adventure maps, and terrain pieces. Remember back in the olden days when all the battles took place entirely in your imagination? Ever wonder why those battles seem to stick with you years later, while you can't remember anything about the grid battle between plastic elves you ran last weekend? Hmm...

Turns out when you fight a battle in your head, it stays in your head, and when you fight it on a tabletop grid, it stays there, too; it gets packed up with the rest of the toys and put away when the game is over.

It kinds of makes me want to finish a little side project I started a while back aimed at getting RPGs off the kitchen table and back onto the sofa. Instead of drawing a battle on the grid, describe it with words. Instead of using feet and squares for measurements, go back to abstractions. "Close" range is enough to reach the other side of the tavern, "Medium" range can hit someone down the street, "Long" range can nail someone halfway across town. Luckily, all the spells are already setup like this, all you have to do is convert the ranged weapons over and crank out a house rule to handle reach weapons. Sure, there would still be some kinks to work out, but overall, I think a system like this would really help bring RPGs back to where they worked best: in your imagination.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

No.

There are an enumerable amount of TRPGs that require no miniatures, paints, battle mats, adventure maps, terrain pieces, etc.

I grow tired of old gamers throwing these "degradation of the imagination" accusations around like glitter at a unicorn rave.

Nostalgia makes all you memories of early gaming way more awesome, then they actually were.

They might of been great, but not the glorious ecstasy some play them up to be.

I have been playing over 12 years, and whilst some newer versions of some of my favorite systems, have left me very disappointed, I have been finding more, and more systems I like.

The biggest problem, is we, humans, are uncomfortable with change.

Even if it is for the better.

If you are unable to change, adapt, and mature as a gamer, you will find your hobby drained of all the fun you have, and ever will have.


I am currently out of ideas to fix burn out as so many have been mentioned.
But also being a gamer since the 80's and reading this thread I truly hope that the good folks at Paizo are also reading it and taking notes.

And Headfirst I have to agree for many years all the players I knew refused miniatures and mats enjoying keeping the game imagination based


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

My group deals with burnout by changing systems. We've been a group for closing on 20 years now and have had several times when we were quite simply tired of D&D. (or PF)

Sometimes a one shot, sometimes an adventure arc, sometimes a full campaign, but the changing of the underlying setting mechanics and rules can do wonders to recatch interest in 'what's next, what's over that hill"

Starting with a good module in whatever other system also greatly helps shake up and recapture interest. Even doing that, my group still drifts back to the d20 engine eventually. We have had year+ alternates playing Earthdawn, Mechwarrior, Rifts, Shadowrun, Fantasy Hero, Champions, plus others over the years. None of the long running ones were ever felt like a waste because they are ongoing due to the fact folks are enjoying it. If they stop enjoying it's time to change again or switch back to a previous.

Hopefully the shared perspective helps if only a little bit.

Hope you recapture your fun!

Scarab Sages

blackbloodtroll wrote:


I grow tired of old gamers throwing these "degradation of the imagination" accusations around like glitter at a unicorn rave.

I'm confused. How do they throw glitter with their hooves?


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Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

I can offer some of the same advice that I've seen here repeated several times, and some observations about campaigns.

I'm another long-timer, 35+ years. It can help to change things up every now and then, and have a...
Board Game Night
Movie Night
Alternate DM/System/One-shot Night
Run some One-shots with old characters from earlier editions

- There has been some comments on ending campaigns. I've never really ENDED a campaign - things players did in '82 have still had an effect on the game environment that players played in last week, even if none of those players from '82 are still at the table. The players know that. I like to think it makes a difference.

- I CAN see how the use of APs can suck some of the life out of a campaign.
When running a series of scripted adventures, it could become easy for it to feel like a SCRIPT. Like a list of challenges to overcome (or as a DM a list of challenges to present the players with). This could sap some of the creativity out of the game play experience. I've seen may questions here in these forums where someone will ask:

Will Class X be good for Adventure Path Y?
My players made A, B, C, D; what should I worry about in Adventure Path Q?
My players are in Book T of AP Z, and have gone off the rail, how do I get them back on track?

If there's a one way path to completion of a story, as a player, that's dull to me.
"Here, here's my character sheet, you can just tell me what happens."
There's really very little room for variations in experience. ME, I need to be able to feel that my success or failure made a change in how things play out.

- Players need to be involved in their characters - to care about them. Players should be creating a character concept and background before they start mechanically making a character. A party of murderhobos bores me as a player and as a DM.

- While it is good to try to keep things challenging, it's also good to let the players feel powerful. I've played and run in lots of games. But to me, there's nothing worse than being a ultra high level/Epic/Mythic Character and feel like you're on another dungeon crawl just with tougher monsters. "Yea, I need a 10 or better to hit just like at 1st level...Zzzzzzzz.". Put on some Drowning Pool and let the players wipe out whole tribes/armies/whatever of things.

TL;DR? Ehh...I get bored too.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Companion Subscriber
B. A. Robards-Debardot wrote:
blackbloodtroll wrote:


I grow tired of old gamers throwing these "degradation of the imagination" accusations around like glitter at a unicorn rave.
I'm confused. How do they throw glitter with their hooves?

Sneezing.


Headfirst wrote:
Pax Veritas wrote:
WHAT'S CHANGED IN MODERN GAMES? WHAT HAPPENED? IS THIS A FACTOR OF HAVING SOOOO MUCH FANTASY CONTENT EVERYWHERE YOU TURN? HAS SOMETHING HAPPENED IN GAMING CULTURE?

Here's why I think modern fantasy RPGs just aren't as special to us as they used to be: Over the last twenty years, the industry has tried as hard as possible to turn RPGs into tabletop wargames so they can sell us miniatures, paints, battle mats, adventure maps, and terrain pieces. Remember back in the olden days when all the battles took place entirely in your imagination? Ever wonder why those battles seem to stick with you years later, while you can't remember anything about the grid battle between plastic elves you ran last weekend? Hmm...

Turns out when you fight a battle in your head, it stays in your head, and when you fight it on a tabletop grid, it stays there, too; it gets packed up with the rest of the toys and put away when the game is over.

...

Very much disagree. It was almost never "entirely in your imagination" at least for anyone that I gamed with. (Unless it was just a ridiculously simple situation.)

The DM would describe something in a way that seemed complete and clear to him. We would each take something different from that description and get confused. We would ask questions, it would go back and forth. We would end up sketching something on a piece of paper or stacking whatever was at hand on the table to show the environment. Pretty soon mapping the stuff on grid paper just became pretty standard. The maps are a huge time saver.
Most people just don't have the talent to accurately and completely describe what they have in mind.

The only real change was we now use 1" grid instead of the 1/8" grid so we can show each PC's location instead of just "we're in that square."

Oh about 7-8 years ago, we had a GM and 1 player that hated maps and never wanted to draw anything out because it just wasn't necessary. But then they would get irritated when we would constantly asking for more details or to re-describe something. They kept saying we were listening, paying attention, or using our imagination. So we tried doing it without asking questions. Then they would get confused about the stupid things we were doing (fireballing our allies) or bored at our lack of tactics since we would just stand toe-to-toe (because we couldn't understand the environment).
So for a couple of nights we had an experiment. Each person made a map based on his understanding of the environment description and jotted down placements and movements as described. But no one showed anyone else their map until it was done.
None of them were really all that close to each other. Characters and monsters were in different starting and ending locations. On some maps PC's were fighting monsters from opposite sides of a closed door. On some of the maps, the archer couldn't see any of the targets he was shooting.
"I said I was heading straight for the archer."
"Yeah but the archer was over there and there is a fountain in the way."
"You said he was behind the corner."
"I meant the corner of the building not the corner of the yard wall."
"How did he get all the way over there?"
"That's where he started."
Ect...

Everyone could eventually see how we each got confused by the others descriptions. We all did learn a bit about being more clear. But it is a heck of a lot more work to try and completely and clearly describe something like that. I don't think almost anyone would ever get it correct. We all wanted to use maps after that.

Try the experiment your self sometime with any even slightly complex environment, opposition groups, and involved tactics. I would be astonished if very many of you come up with the same thing in anywhere close to the same amount of time.

Now I tend to draw real detailed 'fussy' maps and some draw really rough general sketches. That's fine. I know the level of detail I put in is rarely needed, but I like the level of completeness and clarity. It doesn't hold up the game because I almost always have them drawn out prior to game night.

Dark Archive

1st (and I think 2nd ed) D&D were based on 1 minute rounds and the concept of "the telling blow" rather than a blow-by-blow, move-by-move simulation.

You were either "in combat" or "out of combat". If you were "in", you couldn't cast spells, and I don't think you could fire ranged weapons either, and anyone could hit anyone within the group.

If you were "out", you could target other people who were "out" with ranged stuff and spells. You could single people in combat, I think, with spells.

(all this is from memory)

And that was it - no need for figures or grids.

Richard

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

I think the Marvel Heroic System is perfect for these no grids/minis/maps guys.

It is easily fitted for any genre.

We used it to play Rise of the Runelords.

Grand Lodge

blackbloodtroll wrote:
Nostalgia makes all you memories of early gaming way more awesome, then they actually were.

I don't think this applies to my personal experiences in this case. I've played Battletech as long as I've been playing D&D, and very few of the mech brawls that went down on the hex map have stuck with me as being memorable.

For that matter, I've been playing board games (Monopoly, Risk, etc) my entire life, and I can't remember a single one of those experiences that stand out from the rest.

Yet for some reason, the D&D games I've played (recently and back in the day) that didn't use tabletop grids or miniatures are crystal clear in my memory.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber
Pax Veritas wrote:

For years, gaming session provided a "gaming buzz" i.e. a happy wholesome high of joy (you know what I mean). However, home games in Pathfinder drag on too long. Campaigns run too long. Players get bored. A few encounters/rooms per week is NOT enough content to reach that gaming thrill (and I don't know what's changed).

Observation: I still observe rare moments when that "feeling" returns: a) new campaign first sessions with new characters b) when we play a 1-shot adventure with all new characters and c) for a few sessions after when we bring in a new player. But that's it.

I was starting to feel that way about my semi-homebrew Pathfinder game. You've been playing for as long as I have, and what I was missing was the Old School mentality: when the game was less predictable, and the GM would make a lot of table rulings rather than thumbing through books to find the "official" rules.

While I'm still running a Pathfinder game, I've decided to bring in more of an old-school flair by encouraging out-of-the-box thinking by making on-the-fly table rulings when the PCs get creative. I'm also encouraging the PCs to take risks via generous use of Hero Points. I also decided to take a page from improv comedy: always say, "Yes, and..." to what the players want to do. No rule for that? Make it up on the spot!

So, when the barbarian wanted to jump off the 30-foot tower, sword pointed down, to land on the evil priestess standing below, impaling her with the extra momentum, I said, "Cool! Make an Acrobatics check. Then make your attack roll. If you success on the check and then hit, your attack also adds 3d6 falling damage to your attack. You'll both need to make Reflex saves or be knocked prone."

Totally made it up on the spot, didn't crack a book, and everyone loved it! I even awarded a Hero Point for the audacity and danger of the move.

I recently read Frog God Games' A Primer on Old-School Gaming. It's free, and highly recommended. The advice in this book really improved my own game, even though I'm running a modern system and not a D&D retro-clone.

And if you really want to go old-school: try running a Swords & Wizardry game for a little while!


Headfirst wrote:
Here's why I think modern fantasy RPGs just aren't as special to us as they used to be: Over the last twenty years, the industry has tried as hard as possible to turn RPGs into tabletop wargames so they can sell us miniatures, paints, battle mats, adventure maps, and terrain pieces. Remember back in the olden days when all the battles took place entirely in your imagination?

You mean back in the day, when the 1st Edition Player's Handbook REQUIRED you to not only use graph paper but MINIATURES as well, especially those meant for Chainmail?

Newsflash, buddy - your Nostalgia Filter is on full-opaque.

D&D has always needed miniatures, and even listed movement in INCHES.

3rd/3.5/Pathfinder actually goes out of its way to mention miniatures, grids, etc. AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE, so as to accommodate Theater Of The Mind in the easiest ways possible.

Grand Lodge

chbgraphicarts wrote:
Newsflash, buddy - your Nostalgia Filter is on full-opaque.

Wow, a couple of you are really upset about my personal anecdotes here. Let's try to calm down, okay?

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