Friday, September 19, 2014

Trying To Get Started...Again, for the Umpteenth Time

For all of you Dungeon Masters, Game Masters, Storytellers, etc. out there, having a creative block is something we have all experienced. I've had many, but none like I've had the last several years. Yes, years.
So, in an effort to, yet again, try and break out of this funk, I'm blogging.  If for no other reason than to get back into the swing of writing, I'm hoping that I might get some feedback (provided I can get this blog posted, so the audience I hope to find will read it).

Why, Why, Why?

Why has this block been so long and so hard to get passed? Several factors likely play a part in it.  I'll list what I've been thinking and feel free to criticize me, constructively, for being an idiot on any of these points.  I'm making excuses most likely on all of these, but they all are on my mind.

Burned Out

  • I was running a fabulous D&D 3.5 campaign in my own Almebezbik campaign setting with a great group of players from all over North America, which lasted for three years and was by far the best documented campaign I've ever run thanks to Google Apps and Fantasy Grounds. (see http://ageofchaos.almebezbik.com)
    • There was great participation from the players who advanced their characters to epic level
    • The group completed a long running quest dreamed up by myself and shaped by the players
    • Got through the climactic "end-game" adventure and then just couldn't bring myself to continue, exacerbated by other points below
  • I was running a table top campaign hosted at my house for a local group of friends
    • Was D&D 4e (not my strong point)
    • Dynamics between a couple of players (cousins, I think) was distractedly competitive
  • I was the organizer of the Milwaukee Dungeons & Dragon Meetup Group (now The Metro Milwaukee Organized Role Playing Guild) and the West Bend Dungeons & Dragons Meetup Group (now Kettle Moraine Gamers) for several years
    • Had to ban a member from the Milwaukee group who seemed to have lost his mind
      • Damaged my reputation
      • Damaged my psyche
    • Became too hands-on and then too hands-off
    • Handed over the Milwaukee group to new blood
      • Expanded beyond D&D
      • Doing very well

Resistant to Change

  • Wizards of the Coast/Hasbro is a typical, misguided corporation serving its shareholders and not its customers, IMHO
    • They basically handed D&D 3.5 to Paizo to become Pathfinder (several poor business decisions led to this, again IMHO)
    • D&D 4e and now D&D Next are NOT improvements to the imagination-expanding, flexible D&D 3.0/3.5. They are, in fact, huge steps backwards compared to what D&D 3.x was to 2nd Edition AD&D
  • Find it too difficult the get players to play D&D 3.5 (my favorite rule set of any kind)
  • Spent thousands of dollars on D&D 3.x (as well as the other d20 offerings such as d20 Modern and Star Wars Saga Edition) and no longer inclined to buy any more game systems

Distracted by Others' Creativity

  • Facebook
    • Was playing eight different games at once, daily on Facebook
    • Finally kicked this habit at the beginning of this year after reducing to two for several months
    • Thought dropping this entirely might be the solution to relieving the block...nope
  • Wizard/Pirate101
    • Clever, well done
    • Currently my pastime

Work

  • Banging my head against the wall daily in an IT position where the "business" refuses to spend any money to get/stay modern, and continues customizing best-of-breed applications to the point of un-usability
  • Finding that I need to be more social than technical, which is a challenge I intend to overcome

Who, What, When, Where, How?

So, it's been well over three years and many attempts have been made to try and get back into the swing of DMing...all failing miserably.

Take a Break...and Another...and Another

I initially resolved to take a break from DMing. However, I became consumed with Facebook games. Nothing destroys creativity like mindless clicking.  I ran out of options in some games and others were pulled.  The lull lead me to my next point.

Develop New Campaign Idea(s)

I have dozens of ideas for campaigns floating around in my head, so I picked one (or two) to develop. I quickly found I still didn't have any interest in working on them. The drive still wasn't there...another break?

Post on Google Group 

One of my ideas stuck in my head and one day I posted it to the Google Group I created for my campaign setting, invited all my close gaming contacts that weren't already members to it and posted the idea. Work took my attention away from it and I never drove it...another break.

Novelize Previous Campaign(s)

I have hoards of material for multiple novels based on the campaign setting I've been working on and the campaigns I've run in it for almost four decades. One particular novel I've been working on (more thinking over than writing) for over twenty years, I made an earnest attempt at writing.  I tasked myself with writing at least a page a day (modest, but attainable).  I kept that up for a few weeks...and life happens.
It was good life happening, though.  The Suzuki instructor with which my daughter takes violin lessons offered me a slot in his schedule to really, finally learn how to play double bass, one of which I had been letting dust accumulate on for years. I've been a "bass" player (tuba, electric bass, double bass) about as long as I've been playing D&D.

Keep Playing

One thing I have managed to keep doing, once a month since ending that last glorious campaign, is playing my iconic eladrin wizard in the D&D 4e system.

In Conclusion

DMing is a challenging and rewarding pastime, but not if your brain is stuck in park, neutral or even low gear. Hopefully, this latest attempt at getting going again will produce some favorable results. Considering it took me a week to write this first post bodes well, because I've been writing and editing it daily and even updated Fantasy Grounds and worked on a module for my campaign setting. 
Any encouragement and advice will be greatly appreciated.