2014: A Year of Transitions

This month’s RPG Blog Carnival topic is “Transitions”, and it’s particularly appropriate for my group in 2014.

One of our players just took a job out of state and another welcomed his third child into the world. We’ve just started a Savage Worlds playtest, which might lead to our first non-d20 campaign … ever. Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition is looming over August, and I expect we’ll at least do a playtest once it’s released. We’re also looking at a possible change of venue so that one of our group can make our Sunday games more regularly.

And that’s just the stuff we know about.

Roster Fluctuations

Of all these changes, the ones to our roster are the most challenging to weather. Of our regular roster of eight people, we’re down three. Our player who moved away may be able to re-join us via Google Hangout, though if so I need to come up with a better way of managing the video camera end of things. The new dad may be back at the table once things settle down on the home front, but that’s at least a few months away. Our third player may be able to re-join us if he can complete renovations to his basement/game room.

Having five active members of the group (four players, one game master) isn’t bad, but it doesn’t leave us with a lot of wiggle room if one or two people can’t make it because of family or work commitments (or, lets face it, sheer exhaustion from family and work commitments). It could be that in six months we’ll be back up to full strength, but its equally possible we could be looking to add a new player. Either way we’ve got a lot of roster transitions in store.

The Next Big Thing

Game transitions can be as challenging as roster changes. We typically take a consensus-based approach to choosing a new game: we poll the group, asking folks to assign weights to the games they want to play most. We then look at the total weight and the total number of votes that the various games get. This helps us tease out the top two or three choices. This is how we chose our current playtest games: Weird Pulp/Savage Worlds and Numenera.

Our intention is to play a few sessions of each game, and then choose one for a short campaign. That campaign will likely run through the summer which brings us to the biggest transition of all: Dungeons & Dragons.

Call it 5th Edition, call it D&D Next, either way it’s the 800 lb. gorilla lurking at the end of our summer. I have no idea what our group’s going to do with it; our group was largely apathetic about D&D’s open playtest, and there’s still a fair amount of bad blood about how Wizards of the Coast handled the D&D reboot with 4th Edition.

That said, we’ve played Dungeons & Dragons for years. Our Greyhawk campaign ran for a decade. I, for one, have a lot of nostalgia for the game, and I’m curious to see if WotC can deliver on a simpler, faster, but still crunchy edition of the game. I plan on picking up a copy of the new game’s core rule books (I’m assuming there will be a Player’s Handbook, Dungeon Master’s Guide, and Monster Manual) but it’s entirely possible we’ll playing Savage Worlds superheroes, a Pathfinder world exploration campaign, or Numenera come September 2014.

Home Is Where the Games Are

Changing venues is likely the easiest transition we’ll see this year. We typically meet in my game room, but we’ve rotated hosting duties before and it’s not a big deal to meet at someone else’s place. As a game master the biggest challenge with the venue change is making sure I have my books and supplies together. This is far easier now that we’re playing Numenera and Savage Worlds. With Numenera I just need my core rulebook and notebooks. With Savage Worlds, I need a few more books, but they’re all small, paperback editions that are easy to transport.

All in all 2014’s going to be an interesting year. I’m looking forward to seeing how it turns out.

Featured Photo: A red dragon looms large. Credit: Wizards of the Coast.

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