e-G.A.D.D!

Nov. 29th, 2010 02:08 pm
stevekenson: (go-play)
[personal profile] stevekenson
I have an issue and, since I hope that I’m not alone, I’m doing what any American with issues does: sharing with the entire Internet.

The issue in my case is Attention Deficit Disorder, particularly as applies to my tabletop RPG hobby. In short, I’m infamous in my game group for my habit of catching a bug to run a particular game, talking it up to my friends and getting them on-board, even creating characters and running a session (or even two!) and then... oooh, shiny! A new game idea comes along, and the previous one gets tossed aside like yesterday’s news.

The prior Crisis on Infinite Campaigns blog entry is one example: I really liked the idea of mixing-and-matching my old superhero campaigns when I wrote it. Now, after the holiday, I’m not so excited, so I have no idea if anything will ever come of it. It’s my issue live and in real time right there: Sometimes I’ve got no staying power (where games are concerned people, just games).

Truth be told, I think one of the reasons why I got into game design and writing is because of my gaming ADD (or G.A.D.D., as we may call it – I’d go with Campaign Attention Deficit Disorder, but then I would be a C.A.D.D.).

I can channel some of those random ideas for games, settings, characters, ad infinitum, into various articles, freelance projects, and whatnot, as I have over the years. I keep a running journal of the things that come to me during the day; originally in various notebooks, nowadays via PlainText on my iPhone (synced to my DropBox – ain’t the future grand?)

Still, it’s not enough. This past week alone, I’ve toyed with ideas for running:

• Gamma World: Extending the “Cavern of the Sub-Train” adventure I started into a full-fledged campaign.

• Space 1889: Red Sands: The Savage Worlds setting and plot point campaign I picked up at GenCon.

• Torg: Starting up some sort of Torg game based off either the original system, or by adapting the setting to a modified version of the system and/or Savage Worlds (a good 2–3 ideas bouncing around in there).

• Thrilling Tales: Starting my old “Thrilling Tales of the Midnight Society” game back up, based on getting some new Adamant and Triple Ace Games products.

• Mutants & Masterminds: As a playtest for an upcoming Green Ronin product.

... and on, and on. It never stops. Add to it the fact that my game group can only manage to meet about once a month these days, making game-time even harder to come by and you can start to see the challenge.

I’ve on occasion tried to manage things by going with campaign frameworks allowing for a variety of different ideas, such as my “Agents of Fate” series based around universe-hopping heroes inserted into various dramatic situations in different realities: gaslit Victorian London one week, post-Apocalypse America the next, and so on. Even that campaign approach didn’t last too long. I suspect part of the appeal for superhero settings for me is their “anything goes” attitude, allowing me to do sci-fi, fantasy, and a variety of other things in the same campaign from week to week.

In fact, part of starting up this blog was as a strategy for dealing with my G.A.D.D., one reason I’m thinking of renaming it something based on the term: eGADDS? I dunno...

So, do you experience Gaming Attention Deficit Disorder? How do you deal with it? Drop me a line at stevekenson@me.com or add a comment to the LiveJournal version of this post and let me know.

Date: 2010-11-29 07:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] boymonster.livejournal.com
I totally have this problem. I also have the related issue of having the wind sucked out of my sails if I think that the players aren't entirely enthusiastic about the upcoming game, which has torpedoed several campaigns before they even got started.

But I have found that it's the fact that I have so many RPGs and so many ideas for stories and campaigns constantly bouncing around my head that I'm afraid I'll never get to do them all, and of course I won't. But it has a tendency of distracting me from something I've committed to. I can sometimes get this out of my system by designing or writing for games, but not always.

Date: 2010-11-29 07:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] gaston gosselin (from livejournal.com)
I, too, experience the systems you shared here. And, unfortunately, it remains completely untreated. Until recently, I had been in a twice-a-month gaming group, and they didn't feel the same need I did of jumping systems/genres/etc.

Alas, life continues, and I just read the new hotness as it comes out. But, the future is bright, as my children are reaching the ages to find what dad does interesting. I have them into D&D, and soon I hope to start them on the road of M&M3 as well.

Thanks for sharing, and letting me know I'm not alone in my mania.

Date: 2010-11-29 07:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] gaston gosselin (from livejournal.com)
systems = symptoms. sheesh.

Date: 2010-11-29 07:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rickj.livejournal.com
I totally have this problem. I have folders and folders of docs containing campaign fragments that I will never get a chance to run, because there's just not enough time between now and the heat death of the universe to run them.

My regular gaming group just smiles and nods when I talk about them. Part of my gamer ADD is that I keep buying new systems that nobody else is interested in trying. (Smallville being the latest one.)

Date: 2010-11-29 07:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] codrus.livejournal.com
I would say "yes", but not a severe case of it.

I *love* coming up with new ideas for campaigns/stories/sessions, and I'm willing to drop a few hours into brainstorming when the idea is fun. There's the mental joy of working up a new idea and trying to get it into a playable form. I would say less than 10% of these ideas make it into something I'm willing to devote the time to actually grabbing players to run.

At the same time, I also still enjoy picking up new games and seeing what makes them tick. If a game looks fun, I'm usually willing to write an adventure and grab players to try it out. (Or, take advantage of Go Play SF and actually play a game).

How I deal with G.A.D.D.? I set some reasonable expectations for myself, based on my interests and those of my players. If my players want me to run X, and X is something I don't mind running, then that's what I'll do. If I offer up something to run, and they aren't interested in it, then I shelve it (for now).

One of the things I'm hoping to do over the next couple of years is weave in the occasional one-shot game with my campaigns I run. Campaigns are great and I love them, but they also tend to constrain gaming to one genre and one set of rules. Throwing in one shots as a change of pace keeps gaming fresh and fun.

Given your list of games, which all sound fun, I suppose the question I would ask is: Which deserve to be one shots and which deserve to be campaigns? Or, create adventures that are explicitly one shots, but could be turned into campaigns if you and the players decide you are interested.

For me, the most frustrating kind of gaming is something that's pitched as a campaign but only runs a few times. I'd rather have explicit one shots, short campaigns, or even describing the first adventure as a 'pilot' -- do we pick this concept up and run with it?

Date: 2010-11-29 08:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] anaka.livejournal.com
Matt runs one-shots. He also makes characters on something like an obsessive basis. He also runs short campaigns, and he changes games/systems at the end of each one (which is not to say he doesn't run longer campaigns, as he does... he just does both). It's kinda crazy, really.

From this, I gather that he has it or something like it, but he has ways to channel it that don't disrupt his current games and that let him bring his ideas to fruition when he can.

ADD in general is way more my problem than GADD. I'm slow to commit and slower to take initiative, as I know I've got other things competing for my attention and I don't want to let anyone down by promising something I can't deliver. That said, it's been fun pushing my gaming boundaries with Matt. :) Which reminds me, I need to see about writing a new Fiasco playset in here somewhere....

Date: 2010-11-29 09:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] whswhs.livejournal.com
I don't actually seem to suffer from this syndrome. I change campaigns on a fairly regular schedule, every two years (there was one cycle where I added an extra year because everyone was having fun, and I've twice run six-month mini-campaigns for ideas I didn't think I could sustain for two years). People sign up in advance, and I commit to play out the full campaign, and I do.

In between, I take notes on ideas that might be cool to develop for future campaigns. And I shove them onto the back burner, where they sit for a while. I've come up with more ideas for campaigns than I could possibly run in the rest of my expected lifespan.

In effect, I treat a campaign the same way I do writing a supplement: as a contract that I'm honor bound to carry out. So I don't offer anything unless I'm prepared to make that commitment.

Now, it may be relevant that I don't run for the same group every week. I currently have three campaigns, each meeting once monthly, with occasional cameos by players from outside. So I do get variety. There is also the factor that the specific group of players in Fixers, for example, are players who really wanted to be in Fixers, and who signed up to play in that specific campaign, and they are together because they all want that specific campaign; had I run a different campaign, that specific group would not be together, and it's unlikely that they would take some randomly chosen other campaign as a moral equivalent. "If you buy the premise, you buy the bit," you know? So I have strong player expectation of being not just in "a campaign Bill runs" but "this specific campaign."

On the other hand, if that goes too strongly against your natural inclination, it might simply make you feel trapped, or destroy your motivation to run anything at all. One of the GMs in my local circle suffers from that particular failing.

Date: 2010-12-02 03:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] coyote6.livejournal.com
Yeah, I have that problem, but I'm in recovery. In college, I just ran several campaigns concurrently. "What are we playing this week? Shadowguard? No? How about Werewolf? Ok."

Nowadays, we don't get to game as much as Back In The Day, so I have had to fight off the GADD, and focus on one game at a time.

One per gaming group, anyways; I am at least nominally in three, though one hasn't met & gamed regularly in a year and a half. But, at least theoretically, I GM M&M, Pathfinder, and play Savage Worlds. That does pretty good with the GADD.

For the rest, I fight it by buying way too many PDFs, and plotting way too many campaigns. There are at least three or four M&M ideas, a half dozen SW campaigns, and more, that I'd like to run.

Oh, and going to cons helps, too; I get to play more, and play a bunch of systems I don't generally get to play regularly.

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