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Odd Change of Focus


Registered User
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I started RPing in 1974 and have been a die hard gamer ever since. Ive GMd countless games, purchased and read mountains of material, conjured up countless worlds, stories and characters and pretty much loved every minute...but recently something has begun to change.

I still love Roleplaying - the creative aspect, the mechanics of rules, the industry itself - it all still fascinates me but Ive found my enthusiasm for actually gaming dwindling. Over the past couple of years Ive experienced the oddity of excitedly planning on the next session, or especially a new game, and then feeling a sort of slump when the day actually comes to play. Worse, the games themselves fail to meet my expectations in almost every case. Coincidentally my player pool took some serious damage and playing time became pretty restrictive. Rather than that making each game even more fun as a rare and appreciated event it seems to have had the opposite effect. In order to actually get to play some of the games I feel I may never otherwise get to, Ive begun solo roleplaying (using Mythic and other engines) and am almost ashamed to admit these endeavors are as much as sometimes even more fun than the conventional group games.

If this trend continues I see myself becoming a reader and collector and perhaps solo player/GM only and leaving conventional gaming behind entirely.

Anyone else experience something like this?
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Chris J

Registered User
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Not to that extent, but I have of late realised that no rp session ever lives up to the concept of 'roleplaying' I have in my head. I think I love the idea of roleplaying more than actually roleplaying.

Michael K

Social Justice Dragon
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I'm in a similar spot. I believe part of why I currently favor Solo playing over group activity is that I feel ... inadequate in the way I currently GM (or play, although that to a lesser degree) and that I worry more about the others not having fun than having fun myself.

Positive spin is the fact that I finally got around to (start) polishing the Solo play system I had kicked around in my head and play in settings my group has no interest in.


Lost in his own museum
Validated User
Is your player pool missing the former "life of the party"? And by that I mean the players that challenged you as a GM to be creative?

My pool lost those and left me with a crowd that sits and waits to be entertained and that did not work for me.

I do still enjoy running for newcomers who have not seen all and done all. The enthusiasm from a beginner that is starting to "get it" can push me back into the chair to GM.

It might also help to stop campaigning and start more single adventure games. Some may be one nighters others a handful of sessions but either way you get to play all those new games you are soloing.


Statistical out-liar
Validated User
I feel like I was in that place early in my gaming time. It seemed like every game and every character had so much possibility and it never lived up to it. My characters never got to do the things I imagined when I created them, these cool things I had thought up got glossed over, the interactions I had planned never happened, the cool scene got thwarted by a bad roll, some player had an ability that completely negated something I had wanted to see played out, or someone just decided to start punching stuff rather than engage with the story, etc. It was particularly bad as a player, which is why I switched to GMing most of the time years ago (I'm still usually underwhelmed as a player when I do play). That helped a bit, but the thing that really seemed to improve was just not having expectations and planning less. I stopped imaging how scenarios were going to play out and I just started throwing things at players with no idea how they would overcome them. This was something I started doing as a GM to keep from railroading and give the players more freedom, but it improved my enjoyment immensely.

I find the more time I spend planning or thinking about a coming game, the worse it will be. Without fail the most fun games for me, and my players, are the random side quests that happen when not everyone shows up. So maybe that's something you could try- not trying as hard. Don't have expectations and they can't be disappointed. You're an experienced GM you can wing it, show up to your next game with nothing but dice and see what happens. If not there's always solo play.


Stumblin' around the net...
Validated User
Anyone else experience something like this?
I have. I was very 'meh' for a while about gaming as I moved around a lot so didn't have that stable group to invest game time in, so my gaming was con-only, and I was just getting less willing to game. It changed for me when I went to IndieCon one year and played some games, and it was okay, but I'd gotten to the Friday night having played Thursday and Friday games, and I was just not interested in playing any more. Then someone asked me if I could run a quick game for some kids. I felt sort of compelled to say yes, so I found myself at Saturday lunchtime sat down with five 7-10 year-olds running Hero Kids. And you know what, I had an epiphany.

You see, I tried to take Hero Kids and craft a good story aimed at that age, and make it all fit together, and all that good stuff. And the kids, they just threw themselves into the game and had fun. The didn't go silly, or try and do stupid things. They got right into the story, but didn't sweat the stuff that didn't fit with their idea of fun. One kid wanted to have a bad guy look a certain way 'cause it was cooler than my description. The others? They just wanted everyone to have fun so they went with it and incorporated it. These kids brought such energy and fun to the game.

So after that I kind of sat back and had a good think about the game, and had a realisation - I spent a lot of prep time trying to make the perfect game, whereas those kids just wanted a good, fun one. Maybe I should do more of that. I've never looked back. I no longer sweat the detail so much, and any time I have to make a GM call (in prep or play) I mentally ask myself what would be the coolest, most fun outcome for all the players (including the GM as a player, of course).

That's what got me out of my slump - I learned to appreciate RPGs for what they are - a way to have fun with like-minded people. Just like any form of creative activity, the more you focus on perfection, the less life it will have. I'm aware I probably haven't articulated this very well, but it's hard to put an epiphany into words... :)

Fingers crossed you find whatever gets you out of your "meh" for actually playing games.
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Registered User
Validated User
I get sometimes get that feeling that my roleplaying sessions don't live up to their potential for fun, like they did when I was younger. Part of it is probably loss of the youthful energy and enthusiasm I had as a teen when I started gaming. Part might be that there are other responsibilities, pressures and stresses in my life that distract me more than I used to be.

I suspect that a big part of it may be the limited time I have for actually playing. I play for a few hours on one weeknight after work. No more marathon sessions like I had in high school or college, that would start in the early afternoon on Saturday, go late into the night, then pick up again on Sunday when we woke up. That sort of time commitment really helped identifying with your character and getting into the details of a game. It's a bit harder when everyone is a bit foggy about what just happened to the party, because it was last week for the players.


Master of Folding Chair
Validated User
Over the past couple of years I've experienced the oddity of excitedly planning on the next session, or especially a new game, and then feeling a sort of slump when the day actually comes to play. Worse, the games themselves fail to meet my expectations in almost every case.
There's usually 3 things that get you to this kind of burnout (and I've had all three, so, speaking from experience here):

Does everyone playing want the same game?

If the group is pulling in different directions for what kind of fun this game is supposed to be about, then you find that the kind of fun you are looking for, or trying to make happen, is sporadic, and a lot of work. Even if the other people aren't against your kind of fun, but simply not enthusiastically helping it, it becomes a lot of work.

If everyone in a boat is rowing in the same direction, it's easy. If 2 people are rowing and 4 people aren't... well, it's harder.

Can you point to a time when you've run a game and everyone was enthusiastically pushing for the same kind of game and it felt effortless and easy? That's what you want. If you haven't (and, unfortunately, many people have not), you will want to clearly articulate what kind of play you want and find people who are into the same thing.

Do these specific rules actually provide the thing YOU want?

If the mechanics and structure of the game do the thing you want, it's a lot easier. If not, you're "putting up with" things to "get to the fun part" then may you might want to try different rules? When this is the case, the kind of game you imagine you want to happen when you're planning turns out to be impossible or highly unlikely given the way the actual rules structure play.

And a key part of this is understanding that I mean drastically different rules - GMless games, games where the narration is traded around, etc. Even if those games turn out not to be your thing, by expanding your base of knowledge, you can better pinpoint what you DO want. (some recommendations: Primetime Adventures, Inspectres, 1001 Nights, Drifter's Escape, Poison'd, The Pool, The Shadow of Yesterday, Thou Art But A Warrior, Mars Colony)

Does this particular game require more prep than it's worth?

If you have to prep a lot and much of the material isn't used in play, it's a lot of work for low payoff. If you have a good idea of what exactly you want from the game, then you can either look to houserules and hacks to reduce the amount of stats you really need to juggle, or find games more focused on that thing you want but with less prep.

- Chris
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