I first wrote “The Why Of Fantasy Roleplaying Games” in 2018, hosted as it was on my former blog and I re-posted it here in 2020 so it wouldn’t get lost. In many ways, that post expressed some foundational truths about my reasons for playing roleplay games.
Today I found myself thoroughly miserable and came back to the foundational question: Why do I roleplay? Unsurprisingly, I came back to the same reasons I gave four years ago:
I seek to create a community of gamers who are discovering interesting characters and amazing realms of adventure. It’s critical to me that each player also ends up feeling uniquely accepted through their contribution to the game.
In a rare moment of being my best self, I dug into one of the key actions that I have sought to maintain: Ask the difficult questions.
For me, the current reason for my sense of drift in the hobby is originating in not doing the things which motivate my desire to play. In simple terms, I am not creating groups and providing them with opportunities to discover. I am creating groups but not committing to the discovery.
I am increasingly of the view that the most satisfying games are built around the creation of a World that is capable of meaningful discovery. Sometimes the World is built for a single revelation (such as for a one-shot mystery scenario) but for the sense of satisfaction that I desire there is a need to create a World with depth. My mistake has been to fail to commit to building those Worlds for the longer term.
Let’s take Mystamyr as an example: I have created a rich fantasy realm which has supported play in four distinct campaigns and continues to inspire players. Next Monday, as we return after hiatus, I have a game session to prep for a wonderful group of players who accept me and each other.
What is required of me is to show up and prepare a little bit more of Mystamyr for the players to explore. When the game stalled back in May, the primary reason was my previous failure to build and maintain that World – for good reasons and bad. Sitting here today, the clear path is to sit down and do the preparation. It’s not really all that much to ask but it does require focus.
Without the World there is no discovery: no home for the player characters to arise from, no places to explore, and no people with whom to interact. For the narrative to emerge we must have some context, some field of play. That is the primary role of the GM and their particular source of enjoyment.
This then was the additional realisation: that within the community of discovery, the GM themselves must be discovering. The primary source and subject of that discovery is adding to your World. My challenge, in this case, is to find the tools necessary to consistently head out and discover more of Mystamyr.
My tendency is to stack projects up: Mystamyr + Hiraeth + trying to solo + imagining the next shiny new World. The correction required is to focus on delivering the games I have players scheduled to explore. If something is not working or not scheduled, I should drop it and focus on what is.
To enhance the experience for all – and not least for myself – requires that I come back to my why for fantasy roleplaying. Creating those communities is not easy and I owe it to both myself and the group to give them something rich to discover.