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Doing things the hard way

December 14, 2010

Today’s Penny Arcade on GM Burnout is funny and sad.

I point back to Jono’s big chart, although, in this case, it doesn’t even need to be about Illusionism- it’s just hard to constantly be the sole player for prepping and churning up the interesting events every week, week after week.

The thing that rpgs excel at is the variability and non-repeatability in play experiences – which, if you’re playing a game that has the GM as the primary contributer of events, you are forced to come up with new material all the time.

This can be extremely taxing if the goal is also to create “just tough enough” challenges against a group that is evolving in ability, and inconsistent in capability from week to week.

For me, as much as I enjoy a good crunchy, gamist game, I know I don’t have the wherewithal to keep it going for long.

And not only that, I also still hold a lot of that expectations in terms of gamer baggage- everytime I sit down to play Universalis or Primetime Adventures, I’m amazed at how little work it takes to have a great time. I get anxious, afraid I didn’t prep enough, not sure if I’ll be able to wing it – and then it goes smoothly and whatever rough bumps are so small, no one notices it.

Granted, part of that was playing with people who want to play the same game, but the other part was playing games that push everyone to contribute, where the interesting events are pushed by the GM alone.

GM burnout is something I don’t really deal with anymore. If I don’t want to GM, it’s only because I also enjoy playing, rather than feeling drained by the level of work put in.

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