The Sorcerer’s Apprentice
Even though our mean time between gaming encounters can be measured in months instead of weeks, there are still many ways that a man can find enjoyment from the gaming world.
Specifically, I have been watching my good buddy Vanir take his first steps into the world of being a Dungeon Master himself. Most of these steps, missteps, and musings are chronicled in his Dire Flailings column at Critical-Hits. He has been doing a tremendously good job at forging boldly ahead into the world of running games, but even moreso in the transparency he brings to his post-game show. One particular column struck me, because he was recounting experiences that he had in a game that I was running for him. He recounts a particular look that ran across my face when he rolled a 3 on the third chance I had given him to avoid the environmental hazard to escape the scene alive. I realized in reading this sentence that, by God, he gets it now.
For me, running a game is about ensuring that the players have a good time but at the same time you don’t fight reality hard enough that people can see the puppet strings. I rarely set out to kill the entire party. Instead, I set out to present encounters that stretch them and if they fall they get the experience of getting back up and getting themselves out of a hard situation. I’ve had moments when only one member of the party “survived” and usually their first action was to try to recover the remains of their friends and embark on the process of restoring them to life. Sometimes that works out, and sometimes it doesn’t but every time it makes for a rich story and it invests the player with some level of control over their destiny. Just like in real life, however, sometimes our destinies are unclear to us in the moment. Vanir’s doing a great job of finding his way in these shoes, concerned desperately with the enjoyment of his players. He’s on the right path.
While our gaming has slowed as our gaming group experiences the realities that busy life and childbearing brings, I am encouraged by those that I have played with going out and doing their own thing. In fact, it makes me hungry to game again myself and I can promise one thing: GenCon Indy is coming, and our family will be there. Gaming will occur, and rust will be shaken off. I might even put Vanir through his paces as a player in his world for a change, and that would suit me just fine.