Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Slow Death

There's something about me that a lot of my players can't grok. I don't know if anyone else feels this way—particularly other DMs. It's something deeply ingrained in my play style. That is, if a game goes unplayed for an extended period of time (usually around a month), I lose all desire to play it in the future, possibly for all time. My notes still exist: I just have trouble interpreting them. All the thoughts that were at the forefront of my mind as to how this party is going to handle x, y, and z, or what their plans, fears, and thoughts are, all of that erodes over time and dissipates into strands of morning mist. In a sense, the campaign deconstructs itself.

I've tried to explain this several times, but its always to an audience that can understand but not appreciate the feeling. They grasp the idea that I would feel this way, but they are unable to completely interpenetrate it with their thoughts. This leads me to believe that my own predilection for abandoning games is rare or possibly unique in the world of roleplaying. They have all expressed a profound regret at characters who are never officially retired or killed in any capacity. They feel a lack of closure in a sense. I don't ever feel that about abandoned games. Instead, I feel that they are narratively closed somehow. In the same sort of way that Sartre talks about all potential futures becoming an accretion of already-realized pasts, this is what I feel like abandoned games become. Their futures have spun out already, have been drained of possibility, resulting in the calcified now.

Are there others out there who've experienced this? Is it a private insanity? Perhaps it's something DMs feel more than players do. I don't know the answers. That's why I appeal to you.


  1. I can totally relate. But let's talk about life circumstance: I am 38 years old with a demanding job and a wife and two kids to support and also enjoy/entertain. Therefore, I have very little time to prepare for game sessions, and I also have a tendency to have to cancel a weekly session on a somewhat regular basis, so that it turns out that weekly sessions become biweekly or, worse, monthly. For me, if I don't have at least weekly sessions, my interest cannot be sustained. I'm not sure if that's a flaw on my part, but I get down on myself and start believing I'm flawed, have ADD, etc. But whatever the reason, I have to have regular sessions or I just get too disconnected from the campaign.

    Ultimately, you aren't alone, but I wonder if you have similar circumstances to mine. If you don't, then you have to explore what your own unique circumstances are doing to your ability to sustain interest in your campaigns. Good luck!

    1. Well, I'm 29 and just heading into Law School, so the times for sessions are getting squeezed tighter and tighter. I've got a very unfocused group that can get off task easily (think of another game? Let's play!) and we only have a once-a-week D&D game. This is all fine by me, but without someone that has a laser-like focus to keep us on track, we tend to wander.

      Beyond which, we play on IRC, which somehow seems to have less mental "pull" if you will. People get upset about missing in-person sessions... less so about not showing up online at a particular time. I don't know if there IS a solution, but I figured it was something that happens to us a lot, so there must be other people out there experiencing it as well. I guess its less of a cry for help, and more of a pledge of solidarity.