I know, I know. Like many people, my good intentions at the beginning of the new year have been circling the drain for the last month and a half. Well, no time like the present to get back to the blogosphere.
Like most of you, the length and misery of this winter is really starting to chap my ass -- certainly everyone I know in London is feeling a severe case of the mid-February blues. Nothing like cold, wet weather and sunless days to sap all your creative juices and make you gaze into the abyss.
So maybe it's the season talking, but lately I've been a little down on our usual style of dramatic roleplaying. It seems sometimes that playing games which are reaching for dramatic moments means sitting down to the game table and taking an extended visit to Misery, South Carolina.
The player characters are the most damaged, unhappy, dysfunctional people you could want to meet. And chances are, if you're visiting the beaches of Misery, you've dropped in on a day that one of the locals is having a Very Bad Day indeed.
It's been getting me down lately, and I'm usually a guy who advocates for this kind of stuff. Over the past few weeks, I've found myself on many occasions picking up very old roleplaying games on my shelf from the Halcyon Days of My Lost Youth, when character drama meant your Hit Points were running low and the Cleric had his hands busy turning a pack of wights. Oh, for the simple days of rollicking adventures and the happy clatter of dice on the tabletop.
A sensible voice in my head almost always talks me out of this kind of funk, of course, because nostalgia is a kind of willful fog that glosses over all the stuff that made us leave those games behind in the first place. Sure, I might long for a game that's got a bit of that old-timey feeling, but I'm not going to take a swan dive into the gravel pit of Encumbrance rules and Saves Versus Death.
The cure for depression is not more misery, I theorize.
I have also been paging through my vast stores of esoteric games on PDF, many of them the product of my Bundle of Holding "Problem" (although none of my players nor my wife seem to be organizing an Intervention just yet). There are a lot of small novelties out there in the roleplaying industry these days waiting for a disillusioned old man like me who's one gin bottle away from a Gygax bender.
I'm thinking here of new games like Golden Sky Stories and Sagas of the Icelanders, golden oldies like After The Bomb, or beloved games long unplayed such as Mutants & Masterminds.
It was cheering to play the first playtest session of LOST PINES recently, despite the sorta-kinda-depressing lives of the characters there. More on that as it develops.
What I feel like I'm really longing for these days is a kind of dramatic roleplaying that isn't always an exploration of the most depressing parts of the human experience. Characters facing adversity is good, but when you've got the Dials set to 11 all the time, the drama starts to lose its poignancy and become a dull, repetitive dirge.
Well, that was a lot of moaning, wasn't it? Don't mind me.
It's just the winter talking.