27 December 2014

Burning Out


Back in the day (college, and for a few years after) I ran an insane schedule.  There was a time I had four campaigns going at once – three fantasy campaigns with GURPS, one Champions campaign – and I was prone to frequent burnout.  I had to take a few months off every two to three years.

Then I discovered fantasy combat LARPing.  I'd been a GM for twenty years.  I did that about ten times as often as I was ever a player.  Not only did I want to play, but there was the sheer exhilaration of not merely sitting back in an armchair, holding dice and telling a GM what my character was doing, but by-God working my way through a forest, holding a cutlass and leading an actual attack against the bad guys.  Being physical again, as I hadn't been since I was a teenager.

It was full of awesome ... and it also took place on the weekends.  The summer I went full-on, starting a long stretch of 15-20 events a year, my carefully balanced two-weekends-a-month groups went blooey.  I called another "hiatus" -- this one lasted nearly a decade.

But ... combat LARPing is a young adventurer's game.  I'd been LARPing 14 years all told by the early 2000s, and I was a few years older than most of the others when I'd started.  The politicking had long since gotten to me, it was eating my life, and at age 42 (the oldest player in the game), the six hours of fight practice I was inflicting upon my deteriorating joints each week wasn't doing more than slowing the erosion of my skills. I got out.

So I wasn't being creative, I was bored out of my gourd, our social circle had almost all been in the LARP (and promptly vanished when we did), and my fiancee suggested I haul the dusty crates full of papers and gamebooks out of the basement and GM again. That was eleven years ago.

And that's the way to do it.  Burned out?  Your game just isn't satisfying, and hasn't been for a while?  Take six months off and walk in the woods.  Take in some hockey or soccer matches.  Play board games.  Do that volunteer work your gaming schedule sabotaged. Catch up on your reading, go bowling, hit a museum a day a week, whatever.  The official rules of that LARP were ceremonially read before every event, and Rule #1 started with "We should all be doing this to have fun."

I keep that in mind.  We should all be doing this to have fun.  If we're not, we should do something that is, and if that isn't playing RPGs, then it isn't.  No harm, no foul.  Honest.

Seriously, your friends will understand.  Heck, two of the players at the end in 1994 came back, and are in my group today.

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