Monday, December 7, 2015

Small Groups

 
Last week I had two game nights that were an absolute blast.  I got to kick back and play my characters in both of them.  Each group was comprised of three folks, back when I gamed in person all the time our group rarely went over three.  When you have a small gaming group there is a lot less noise and more room to allow characters to develop and shine during the evening.

While I enjoy watching others get something going with their character, there were many nights when we had a full crew of six to seven people that I would rarely get involved.  I don't mind playing the secondary character or sidekick, but when an hour or more goes by and there has been very little opportunity to contribute, it gets boring.  And for that, I can only blame myself.  After a long day of work I'm usually mental drained.  In a bigger group I'm not as active so I tend to get more tired and distracted.  In a small group I have to keep my energy up because there is no one else to hide behind. I have to contribute too keep the game moving forward.

Typical game night.
 On-line, for me at least, it's trickier to keep a large group involved.  I know the largest on-line group I like to GM is around four folks.  In person, I can handle double that number.  I ran a 7 to 10 person group through a 3-year campaign.  We had a lot of fun, but there is no way I could have done that on-line.  When I GM I like to stand and move around a bit.  On-line I'm tethered and its harder to feed off the energy from others.  

The draw back of course is your resources are stretched thin.  In my Wednesday night, Pits & Perils game, we've really taken advantage of henchmen.  We've nearly lost all of our first batch.  But they are needed to bulk up out group.  In the Monday night game the players fluctuate from two players to four.  This makes it difficult for the party to know exactly what resources we will have each night.  But that makes it fun also.  I like'n it to a garage band.  Sometimes that bass player shows up.  Sometimes his mother won't let him out of the basement until he cleans his room.

I hope that in the future I can get involved with some one off games.  Random sessions with folks I haven't got to game with before and reconnected with people I have.  I think one of my favorite part of each game is the BS session that proceeds the game.  Just talking about whatever.  Being completely inappropriate, flinging smart ass comments and making references to movies and see who gets where it came from. 

Speaking of which, game night tonight.  Fantasy/Dragon Age in City-State of the Invincible Overlord being visited by suspicious dimensional travelers.  I don't trust them, but they've got some really, really cool toys!

2 comments:

  1. @ Tim:

    You wrote:
    "While I enjoy watching others get something going with their character, there were many nights when we had a full crew of six to seven people that I would rarely get involved. I don't mind playing the secondary character or sidekick, but when an hour or more goes by and there has been very little opportunity to contribute, it gets boring. And for that, I can only blame myself. After a long day of work I'm usually mental drained. In a bigger group I'm not as active so I tend to get more tired and distracted."

    I've heard this kind of thing from a player or two at my table before and I really don't understand it...the part about being too mentally drained (or "brain dead" or whatever) to get into the game because of a long day at work or whatnot. Isn't the gaming table the chance to find escape, to shut off all that mundane nonsense that occurred earlier in the day?

    If I'm too sick or tired or whatever to make my weekly game commitment (back when I HAD a "weekly game commitment") I'd call it in just like a sick day at work. But if I'm at the game, I'm tuning out the rest of the world for the couple hours I'm there...the gaming itself gives me energy, ignites my interest and enthusiasm for play. I care about what the other players are doing because I'm considering my own next move...not the fight I had with my boss or spouse or customer or cable company that wrecked my whole day. Gaming while exhausted (say, from walking an infant the whole night before) can lead me to make mistakes in play, and can sometimes lend a whole dreamlike haze to the session, but it doesn't diminish my capacity for participating or engaging (which is what I consider "contributing").

    It's really something I don't grok. When I had players who'd say this to me (back when I was running a game), I'd say, 'oh, yeah, sure, no problem, I understand.' But in all honesty I DON'T understand it...I was just giving them a pass because they were buddies and said they liked the game, whatever-whatever. But...really, I didn't get it, and still don't get it. I suppose folks are just wired differently, but what it FEELS like (to me) is some kind of passive, non-conflict way of saying, "Hey, this game isn't all that exciting/engaging." That the GM (myself or whoever is running the game), isn't doing enough to make me (the "tired" person) WANT to engage.

    Because there HAVE been times that *I* didn't feel like contributing to a game I was playing, because the game kind of sucked in some way, shape, or form. Usually, I'd be a good trooper and do my best to play ("contribute") while there...and then I'd opt out after a couple-three sessions (assuming no improvement and constant irritation).

    For me, I find the group of 5-7 players to be OPTIMUM, especially for games I run. I dig playing in small groups, too, but as I tend to be a prima donna and hog for the spotlight, I think *I* work better in mid-range groups (where I'm forced to be more of a team player).
    ; )

    Anyway, I'm not trying to be accusatory or inflammatory with this post...I'm seriously curious why one would feel mentally drained at the RPG table by their work day. I never had the stones to question my own friends on the matter, so, well, I guess that's why I'm putting the question to you.

    Sorry...not trying to offend.

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    Replies
    1. Sounds to me like it's the combination of a long, hard day and too many players at the table. If one is more introverted, I can see getting lost in the chaos.

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