Prior to last year, I reviewed my goals in the same post as I shared my new goals in. Last year, I had too much to say about my past goals that I had to split it a review post and a goal declaration post. This year, I have so much to say about each goal that I’m going to write a separate post about how each goal went.
You might think that’s excessive, and you would be right. This is how I’m padding my blogging schedule, and I’m starting with an easy one.
Play tabletop games in the community once a month
This goal came out of roughly three subgoals. I wanted to:
- Explore games other than Dungeons & Dragons
- Share my love of tabletop games with newcomers
- Connect with my local community
And I crushed every part of that. In fact, I crushed this goal so hard that I crushed myself when I had several weeks over the summer when I ran three games over four days. Let me explain how I got into that situation.
When the year started, I was running two games: a bi-weekly D&D game for college friends locally and a monthly D&D game online. I could manage that, but I set this goal because I had room for more.
This summer, my sister asked me to run a game with her and my cousins. Between the time zones, work, travel, and academic calendar, we played five weekend sessions over the summer. It didn’t exactly hit any of my three sub-goals, but it did stack on top of other games I also picked up.
Since I am so deep into D&D, I sometimes forget that not everyone else is as well. I just assume that hobbies are as popularity as my personal interest. Because I peaked in Magic: the Gathering a decade ago, I instinctively assume that the game has been dying since then (it’s not). Because I’m running RPGs on average 1.5 times a week, I assume that everyone who is interested in D&D is already playing D&D (they aren’t).
So when I heard that a local meetup group was looking for someone to help co-run their roughly quarterly “Intro to D&D” events, I was shocked when people actually came to the event. And then enthusiasm took over as I gushed about this hobby that has dominated my life and should do the same for everyone else.
At the last event, I ran a one-shot adventure for 4 players, all of whom had some experience playing but didn’t have a regular group. They enjoyed playing together so much that they exchanged contact information to form a group later. Like any group hobby, the hardest part of D&D is finding people and sticking together. It was so gratifying to see something potentially come together where none existed before.
This summer, I also ran a weekly game at the local community center, which I previously wrote about. In some ways, that experience was even more gratifying than the intro events because those new D&D fans came entirely out of that game. I had to pitch the idea to the community center, and the teens who played didn’t come with the expectation that they even wanted to play. That was something out of even more nothing.
That’s the magic of tabletop roleplaying games, at least for me. Each group creates a unique, collaborative experience that will never again be similarly replicated, and the GM, who often is also the organizer, makes that all happen.
So that covers two of my three sub-goals (newcomers and community), but I always run D&D for those events since it’s the most well-known RPG. That, of course, leaves my last goal of playing other games to deliver on.
I was really apprehensive when I started my other new game at the beginning of this year. Since I wanted to get out into the community, I cold-messaged two people I met at the local gaming store, two people I met at a gaming convention in Walnut Creek, and a college classmate who helped me survive many problem sets. It was an eclectic bunch, but when this group of strangers sat down at a table at a local game store together, I realized I had two things on my side.
First, they were all tabletop gamers, so they knew what they were getting into. They had no misconceptions about committing to a campaign, and once they were at the table, they were ready to dive into character and act like best friends.
Second, we were going to play Masks, a game in the very trendy theme of teenage superheroes using the very trendy Powered by the Apocalypse ruleset.
And 20 sessions later, we have created and explored a fictional world together unlike any of my D&D games. RPG rules are like the rules of English: it helps to ground everyone in a common framework (e.g. when to roll dice, what a grammatical sentence is), but what really matters is what emerges from that (e.g. how players talk to each other, what a poem means). Spending a year playing Masks has helped me appreciate the distinctions between RPGs and D&D.
So this goal was an unmitigated success. It certainly helped that this was a fun goal, but this is also a goal with momentum. Not only is it habitual to play every Tuesday, it’s also social, so my friends will assume that we’re going to play unless I say otherwise.
And of course, if you or anyone you know wants to try out D&D, I’m happy to run a game. Even as the year ends, I will keep sharing and connecting around this hobby