Wednesday, October 29, 2008

GM Block

Like most gamers I got my start playing D&D. As a matter of fact I was the DM/GM for the first game in which I ever played and have been doing so in almost every game I have played since. As fantasy gaming was my intro to RPGs I admit to having a fondness, even a preference for that genre. While I enjoy playing/running sci-fi, superhero, horror, modern and my personal favorite pulp era games, I have found I have a hard time running a good long term campaign, unless it is fantasy.

Granted I have run some memorable games in non-fantasy settings, but they seem to fizzle out once the initial adventure is over. I don't know exactly why this is, but I seem to run out of steam and develop GM block. I simply can't come up with enough interesting adventures. You would think some one who loves movies, comics, and books and owns as many of them as I do would have an endless stream of ideas for campaigns, but when it comes time to create the next adventure they end up being crap.

Maybe I just set my standards too high, or maybe I can't see the forest for the trees, but either way I never end up happy with the follow up adventures I come up with. The hardest genre for me to GM is superheroes. I don't know why, but I have an extremely difficult time with this one. There is just no genre that I am as adept at as fantasy. I know that fantasy isn't any easier to GM than any other type of game, but it sure feels like it when I try to come up with something interesting for my players.

The components for any campaign/adventure are fairly simple; heroes, villian/conflict, quest, resolution. How come I can't apply these to a sci-fi game as easily as I can a fantasy one? While I do think the answer lies in part with the players and the fact they feel secure in playing a setting they know like the back of their hand, the responsibility falls mostly on my shoulders.

So to solve my little dilemma I have decided to put D&D on hold for a while. The next time we game it will be in another system/genre, it will be a one shot game. The follow up games will also use the new system and consist of one shot adventures as well, which I will hopefully be able to tie together into a larger campaign without it being obvious, just like in the old days. I will also spend much more time developing the adventure than normal. With D&D I can pretty much adlib the entire game with an idea summed up by a few sentences that I jot down, but with the new campaign I will actually plan things out.

I think that part of the problem is that I have become a lazy DM/GM. Setting up fantasy adventures has become so easy that I no longer have to think about it. Instead I will do it like I did when I was a kid and first started gaming. I will prepare the adventure's framework at least one week in advance. Pick out all my villians/enemies and have their stats ready and copied on note cards with any important information. I also use to keep a list of alternatives just in case my group decided to severely alter my planned adventure by killing an important NPC or missing an important clue. Hopefully this will allow me to quit running on auto pilot and get the creative juices flowing once again. It may take me a while to get in the swing of running something other than fantasy, but I think I can do it.

Does anyone else have this problem or have any suggestions?

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