Managing My Expectations? (+)

Einlanzer0

Explorer
This is why I believe sharing GM responsibilities is important. It increases the investment of players while reducing the workload of the GM and ensures that everyone is a contributor to the world and the story.

Democratize D&D!
 

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Dausuul

Legend
Here's a question: What are your players actually, observably engaged by? Forget whatever they say they want--people say they want all kinds of stuff. What sessions with this group have produced the kind of engagement you're looking for?

If you can pinpoint some common themes, you could try more of those. (If these players have never seemed engaged, I'd consider looking for a new group, or at least hanging up the DM hat for a while.)
 

JiffyPopTart

Bree-Yark
Alternately, proactively come up with a table agreement before the game about screens. "Hey all, I notice folks getting pretty distracted by phones during the game. What do we think about a 'no screens during D&D' table rule?"
I think this is a very wise and adult way to go about it, but in our case we have various players who need some degree of "checking in" with jobs and kids throughout the evening. I don't mind the time spent responding to a work issue or telling the kids to do the dishes, but it's the sharing of a meme or checking on the baseball scores that is disruptive for me.

It doesnt help that I'm the only person at the table that still uses a physical paper instead of laptop and phone apps.
 

Mercurius

Legend
I spend a lot of time on the hobby: participating in forums, reading reviews, preparing adventures, learning new game systems or optional rules, setting up VTT games, painting miniatures, etc. While I can get by not doing all of these things (or by limiting the time I spend on each component), this is part of the fun for me. But that's the point - it's only part of the fun.

So an ongoing struggle I've had over the past year or so is that my players don't seem invested. I have to push them to make decisions - even when I try to make it as clear as possible. I have to do every session recap because no one takes notes or remembers any details. Between games I try to keep everyone updated via email - usually to no response. Last night at our Session Zero, a player fell asleep during character creation.

I don't want to turn this into a complaining on my players thread - that's not the point. I realize this hobby isn't the main thing in their lives, and I don't want it to be. In fact, I think it's probably been a little to the point of being an unhealthy obsession for me. Especially during COVID, I really leaned into running multiple games and prepping them a lot. But I'm at the point now where I'm not getting as much out of gaming and it's not as satisfying as it should be.

So what should I do? Limit what I put into the games? (And what should I cut out to save time?) Take a break from the hobby altogether (which I'm afraid would leave me with nothing to do)?
I feel your pain, although to some extent this is a common problem - one person (the DM) more invested than the rest (players). Occasionally you'll luck upon a group of all DMs/diehards, although that can have its own problems!

When I was younger, I loved being the primary DM. In a later long-term campaign during 4E, in my 30s, I did it because A) Like you, I was the most invested in the game, and B) When others tried their hand at DMing it wasn't as successful. And certainly, there was a certain gratification to being the guy that everyone wanted to DM in the group, but it also became irritating handing out even just two-page campaign guides and quickly realizing that no one (or only one or two) actually read them.

But I think your thread title is key, and I will expand upon that. For me, my favorite elements of playing D&D are actually the world-building, and very quickly--back in the late 80s/early 90s I realized that this energy was better directed into writing and world-building for my own pleasure. So my interest in D&D diverged: On one hand, there was the game itself, whatever campaign I was in, whether as a (mostly) DM or (occasionally) player; this would vary, with many hiatuses of a year or three over the next three decades. On the other, the creative practice of imagining fantasy worlds and stories, which became my own personal project of world-building and writing that is completely separate from D&D.

The former became more of a hobby - a fun past-time, and one that I tried to temper my expectations and investments to no more than moderate. The latter became my passion.

Maybe you don't have the same interest or inclination to channel some of those energies elsewhere, but it is worth considering. I love playing D&D, but I don't have to play - I can enjoy it on occasion, or even just playing attention to its development and buy the occasional book. But need to be creative, and to create worlds and stories in those worlds, and I can do that regardless of whether I'm actively playing or not.

EDIT: It isn't unlike dating. Problems usually (and often) arise when two people have different degrees of investment. But I think it is important to get a sense of this early on. If your group is into something more casual, and you can adjust yourself accordingly, then there's nothing wrong with a bit of "casual fun" (ahem). But if you want a long-term, invested commitment, don't waste your time and energy if you're not getting reciprocation. There are other fish in the sea, after all! ;)
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
For that particular night, I'm assuming so. And I understand it when you work all day, you have young kids, etc. But on top of it his enthusiasm has greatly diminished over the past 6 months or so and he barely participates at all in regular circumstances.
And yeah, there might be circumstances for that change as well. I ask, but everyone in the group says they're fine. I can't do anything if they won't tell me.

This is in no way an uncommon problem. I've said before that probably 75-90% of gaming problems are because people are unwilling or incapable of communicating effectively. There can be all kinds of reasons for this, unfortunately.
 


Retreater

Legend
Do also keep in mind that "D&D as boardgame" has been a valid approach since 1973... So said Dave Arneson.
It's just not his nor Gygax's...
This group and I did have an in-person board game day a couple months ago (it's difficult for us to meet in person regularly). I brought my copy of the new HeroQuest. We had a blast.
And if HeroQuest were set up to play online, I'd certainly suggest that - at least to take the occasional break from RPG campaigns.
(I know it's on Tabletop Simulator, but I find that unwieldy to use.)
 

dragoner

KosmicRPG.com
I find while I have and interest in games, role playing games, and science fiction role playing games in general; when one looks at what I am usually reading, as well as posting in my discord, twitter, fb, etc.. It is usually science, and engineering articles, many of them technical, which in turn circles back on to why I made my own sfrpg, as a teaching tool, it allows one to experience, and interact with the science fiction concepts, such as transhumanism, or solarpunk, as well as science, and technology.
 

TheSword

Legend
I feel your pain, although to some extent this is a common problem - one person (the DM) more invested than the rest (players). Occasionally you'll luck upon a group of all DMs/diehards, although that can have its own problems!

When I was younger, I loved being the primary DM. In a later long-term campaign during 4E, in my 30s, I did it because A) Like you, I was the most invested in the game, and B) When others tried their hand at DMing it wasn't as successful. And certainly, there was a certain gratification to being the guy that everyone wanted to DM in the group, but it also became irritating handing out even just two-page campaign guides and quickly realizing that no one (or only one or two) actually read them.

But I think your thread title is key, and I will expand upon that. For me, my favorite elements of playing D&D are actually the world-building, and very quickly--back in the late 80s/early 90s I realized that this energy was better directed into writing and world-building for my own pleasure. So my interest in D&D diverged: On one hand, there was the game itself, whatever campaign I was in, whether as a (mostly) DM or (occasionally) player; this would vary, with many hiatuses of a year or three over the next three decades. On the other, the creative practice of imagining fantasy worlds and stories, which became my own personal project of world-building and writing that is completely separate from D&D.

The former became more of a hobby - a fun past-time, and one that I tried to temper my expectations and investments to no more than moderate. The latter became my passion.

Maybe you don't have the same interest or inclination to channel some of those energies elsewhere, but it is worth considering. I love playing D&D, but I don't have to play - I can enjoy it on occasion, or even just playing attention to its development and buy the occasional book. But need to be creative, and to create worlds and stories in those worlds, and I can do that regardless of whether I'm actively playing or not.

EDIT: It isn't unlike dating. Problems usually (and often) arise when two people have different degrees of investment. But I think it is important to get a sense of this early on. If your group is into something more casual, and you can adjust yourself accordingly, then there's nothing wrong with a bit of "casual fun" (ahem). But if you want a long-term, invested commitment, don't waste your time and energy if you're not getting reciprocation. There are other fish in the sea, after all! ;)
Yes this would be a poor alternative to me. World building is my least favourite part of DMing.

I like to take a story - ideally someone else’s - tailor it to my groups interests and then have fun roleplaying the characters and narrating their plans and responses to what the players do.

I used to enjoy the planning element when I was younger but now just see it as a lot of wasted paper. I’d rather play a quality computer game.
 

TheSword

Legend
One thing to consider is a smaller group. How many do you normally play with? I’ve found that attention span can be inversely proportional to the size of the group as they have to give other people more air time, can rely on other people carrying them, and have to wait for more action resolution.

I think my idea group size is 3. Any less than that and they tend to get squishy. 4 can be good too.
 

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