Are TTRPGs Even a "Good" Hobby?


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Autumnal

Bruce Baugh, Writer of Fortune
Just weighing in to say that I find the hobby basically neutral. Like every hobby anyone I know pursues, it can be good or bad for particular people in prticular situations.

In my case, a decade-plus of frustrations around my disabilities and other complications finally led me to the realization no form of playing with others, in person or at a distance, was ever going to work out. Never, until at least one of my major complications gets qualitatively better, and that is not on the horizon.

So I’ve set a lot of stuff aside, and spend time reading through books I got but never read, and working with various solo RPGs. Some work great for me, others not, and I’m building up successes while learning more about my strong points and weak points right now.

I am less stressed about RPGs now than live been in far too long. There’s a lot I miss. But i don’t at all miss one failure after another after another. I mm the basis of my experience, I say: drop everything, and add back in what gives you more happiness than it takes in effort. Whatever that turns out to be. And @Repeater , you don’t owe your players more than you’ve given them. At all. So start changing things whenever you want to. There are always reasons to continue in bad situations, but you can choose to look after yourself better now.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
My group struggled with the dividing by 4, comparing wounds to Toughness and Armor Piercing, hitting and not causing damage, remembering to track the Wounds in the death spiral. We tried it for about 2 months (playing Holler), and most players didn't get it. It was also very slow - strange, I know - but we had a group sometimes as large as 8 players.

I'm a little startled about the last part, but if you had a group with a very F20 centric game experience, I can perhaps see it happening since SW is pretty far from that.
 

aramis erak

Legend
For fantasy games...
Dragonbane
Castles & Crusades

I'd like to consider some different genres as well for more of a palette cleanse.
I have Call of Cthulhu (which I would probably run with Pulp Cthulhu overlay)

Would like to find a streamlined sci-fi game to consider. (Maybe Esper Genesis? I think Starfinder is too much. I don't think Starfinder 2 will be much better for my needs. I don't know about Voidrunner's Codex - I'd like everything in one book instead of requiring purchasing A5E and other genre books.)
Humorous Sci-Fi: Star Riders (Ianus Games) same system, and sequel to, Teenagers From Outer Space (R Talsorian). very simplified version of Interlock (RTG, best known for being the core mechanics of Cyperpunk 2013, CP 2020, CP v3, CP Red, and one version of Usagi Yojimbō.)

Simple military sci fi: Deep7's Star Legion. This is an ultralight, with about 2 pages of rules and a buch of scenario ideas; the player-rules are the other half of the face of the character sheet. Note that Deep7 has a BUNCH of 1pg games, and has some 2 specific expansions to Star Legion, and over a dozen other quick-to-get-playing games using the same rules system... The only one I've used was Star Legion, tho' I bought a bunch as "just in case" games. Too light for my normal use, but simple enough to be a pickup game at a con.

There's Warlock (Fire Ruby Designs) which is the same genre as WFRP and Zweihänder... and it's Slightly less knock-off-of-40K, Warpstar. Simplified to less complex than Dragonbane, largely due to no feat-like features. Note that HP do climb, so it's also less deadly for experienced characters than DB.

I'll note that while Dragonbane is simpler than what you've been running, it's not that much simpler, and a whole lot more deadly.

Despite the size, any YZE game is simpler than D&D 5E or either PF edition. My favorites to date are Alien & Twilight: 2000.

2d20 system is fairly light; despite the learning curve. If you want the lightest version, Captain's Log is essentially Star Trek Adventures Light; it eliminates a lot of the dice pool manipulation (like 99% of it) and the panoply of talents. It also drops the damage/progress rolls. Which massively reduces the at-table complexity, since the exceptions-to-core design mode of talents is removed. Note that Captain's Log is intended as a solo-play, but there's literally nothing there that can't be done multiplayer. Plus, as a GMless game, the GM can be equally GM and player without being overly and overtly unfair.

Good luck!
 

TiQuinn

Registered User
I. Players
Are they engaged? Do you have enough? Where can you find more? Do you have too many? If so, how can you shrink the group? Can you find the right gaming system to accommodate an atypical sized group? Are they causing issues with you or other players (cheating, arguing, inappropriate topics, disruption?) Do you get along okay? Do you consider them friends? Do they connect well with the other players? What about the style of game you're playing? Do they come consistently? How can you make the game better liked by the guy who isn't engaged enough? Is someone spotlight hogging or more effective than other characters?

We have a group of 5 players at the moment. Some know each other from work but the rest of us got together from learning about the group on a Discord. We are all friendly but I wouldn’t consider them close friends. We’ve been playing for about five years now, and in that time, a few players have come and gone.

Only one player was ever disinvited to the group, and it was done by consensus and after the campaign was over. Drama has been very, very low.

Everyone is a working professional just looking for their weekly game. We keep in touch nearly every other day via Discord and everyone checks in prior to the game to give updates on their schedules - whether they’ll make it or not, last minute changes, etc. We’ve had periods where we don’t play often - usually around summer and the holidays. We never try to force it. If it’s easier to cancel for a month, we cancel. If a couple of players are jonesing to play, they’ll do a board game night or try a new system (this is also when others try their hand at GMing.)

As far as engagement, some players are just naturally more engaged than others. We don’t assume people aren’t having fun unless they’re very clearly NOT having fun. Again, everyone is an adult and we assume people will speak their mind if there is a problem.
 

Not going to lie, I'm going through a hobby crisis right now. I'm wondering if I should stick with it.
I'm listing my problem areas, which I seem to face weekly (if not more frequently). Do your brains work like this? If so, how can you continue to enjoy this hobby?

I. Players
Are they engaged? Do you have enough? Where can you find more? Do you have too many? If so, how can you shrink the group? Can you find the right gaming system to accommodate an atypical sized group? Are they causing issues with you or other players (cheating, arguing, inappropriate topics, disruption?) Do you get along okay? Do you consider them friends? Do they connect well with the other players? What about the style of game you're playing? Do they come consistently? How can you make the game better liked by the guy who isn't engaged enough? Is someone spotlight hogging or more effective than other characters?

II. Systems
What genre are you going to play? You're familiar with fantasy, but maybe it's getting tiresome? Are you going to stick with System A because your group is familiar and owns the books? Do you encourage them to try System B - even though you could be wrong? What has the right level of depth? What would be fun? Are the books affordable? Do you really like most parts of System C, but there's some dealbreaker component? How many books have you purchased, anyway? Have you gone over budget? Do you have room on your shelves? Can you even keep them straight anymore?

III. Larger Community
Do other hobbies look down on their participants? Should we care about corporate decisions? What about problematic past content? Should we try to promote diverse creators at our tables? Do people who go fishing or participate in bowling leagues worry about this stuff? Gee, aren't there a lot of people who get really fired up and will yell at you if you don't TTRPG the same way they do? Are other communities better?

IV. Work
How many hours is enough prep? What do I do with wasted prep? Will I ever have free time to do anything besides plan sessions? What's the use in planning, anyway? Are there shortcuts - because running published adventures has proven more difficult than just writing my own? Can you use shortcuts in complex systems? Back to point 2 - if you use a less complex system and the players complain - is it still worth it?
Came to a crisis point a while back. I was sick of trying to fill my table from the stagnant pool that was the local gamer scene.

So I switched to online. There are vast quantiles of good, reliable players hunting regular weekly games online. Roll20 supports vast numbers of systems (I hear good things about Foundry, too).

Online is the future.
 

Retreater

Legend
So I did want to share an update.
I was invited to the graduation party for one of the players this weekend. While I sat hanging out with the other adults, talking about jobs and drinking wine coolers, the high-schoolers all got together in the dining room. The older son (who is in college now) ran a game for his brother and his fellow graduate friends.
I listened as they were having a great time. The DM was using some of my lines and quest hooks. It certainly felt like a "passing the torch" moment.
 

timbannock

Hero
Supporter
Came to a crisis point a while back. I was sick of trying to fill my table from the stagnant pool that was the local gamer scene.

So I switched to online. There are vast quantiles of good, reliable players hunting regular weekly games online. Roll20 supports vast numbers of systems (I hear good things about Foundry, too).

Online is the future.
It certainly embiggens the pool greatly, and with Discord and other ways to curate your gaming social circle, it's fantastic.

That said, I don't know if it's just me, but any session past 2.5-3 hours is painful. This really limits the amount of mechanically complex stuff I can jam into a session. 5E fights past low levels or with even slightly novice players go too long.
 

payn

I don't believe in the no-win scenario
So I did want to share an update.
I was invited to the graduation party for one of the players this weekend. While I sat hanging out with the other adults, talking about jobs and drinking wine coolers, the high-schoolers all got together in the dining room. The older son (who is in college now) ran a game for his brother and his fellow graduate friends.
I listened as they were having a great time. The DM was using some of my lines and quest hooks. It certainly felt like a "passing the torch" moment.
A job well done, Sir. Its these moments that keep me going.
 

That said, I don't know if it's just me, but any session past 2.5-3 hours is painful. This really limits the amount of mechanically complex stuff I can jam into a session. 5E fights past low levels or with even slightly novice players go too long.
For online games, I also prefer 2.5-3 hours of gaming (plus maybe half an hour for socializing). But the nice thing about these shorter sessions is that they are easier to fit into an adult schedule. At least in my groups (all online), most people play at least once every two weeks (and many play weekly), whereas the schedule for gaming face-to-face was once a month or less for me before I switched.
 

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