Once upon a time many moons ago I was a role-playing gamer. I played or GM’d at least once a month, and thought about plots, scenarios, NPCs, characters, settings and tone pretty much constantly. Imagination was my drug. It’s no exaggeration to say that I was addicted to RPGs – and I mean that in a good way. Gaming got me through some very tough times, helped define my moral code and gave me faith that good always wins in the end.
The product of my gaming addiction is right here on this site, for all to see. I’m proud of that. But now…..
….. now I don’t game.
Or, more accurately, my gaming needs have changed. I’ve moved from RPGs to wargaming, for a variety of reasons.
I guess the main one is the lack of prep time in wargaming. Running an RPG as GM can be a soul sapping experience. A three hour gaming session can easily take three times that amount beforehand to plan and prepare. That’s fun in itself for a while, but it can – and does – produce very burned out GMs. That’s not to say you can’t GM zero-prep RPG sessions, but those are the exception rather than the rule.
In comparison, the preparation required for a game of Warhammer 40k is “want to play a 1,500 point game next week? Ok, I’ll bring my Guardians of the Covenant list. See you there”. List building can itself be time-consuming, but once you’ve settled on an army list you’re happy with (barring inevitable constant tinkering and fiddling) it’s done and can be reused and replayed many times, unlike all those hours spent preparing for a D&D session that are used once then forgotten.
That is of course an over-simplification, but I’m sure you see my point. Wargaming can be just as prep-intensive as RPGs, especially if you’re planning a huge universe-spanning campaign (or organizing a tournament), but those are the exception rather than the rule. The norm is bring minis, play game. As importantly, the onus is equal for all players at the table, rather than a GM taking the bulk of the responsibility for preparing and planning the game.
This sounds like a criticism of RPGs, but it isn’t. It is what role-playing games are, and that’s the nature of the game. It’s a part of the buy-in, and also a part of what makes being a GM so much fun. It’s just not something that appeals to me in the same way any more.
I’m enjoying pushing minis around and that’s ok.