Contributing to the Silence (or “Why I’m Happy to not have a home Campaign”) (#Shadowrun)

One of the reasons I haven’t posted a lot here after October was the lack of a home campaign going on. I’m running several games of Shadowrun in both 5th and 6th Edition as part of Heroes for Hire but I wasn’t really running anything for my home group. After the collapse of the previous campaign (and feeling a little penned in by it, truth being told) I was disheartened by (yet another) campaign’s failure. After that frustration passed and the success of my ongoing campaigns with American players convinced me that I could pull it off (my longest running campaign through Heroes is the longest campaign I’ve run ever), I started feeling obligated to think about Shadowrun campaign.

That was part of the problem… I felt obligated.

I had this feeling that it was expected of me by my friends to put something together and keep them entertained. It was never something that anyone has actually demanded of me, it was just this feeling I’ve had… I’ve wrestled with this particular issue before and I have on and off for years. I feel I have to run something. I’m the GM… what do I contribute when I’m not providing entertainment?

Isn’t running a campaign that I’m being paid for running a game that I’m obligated to do? Well… yes… yes it is. So if I’m obligated, why are these campaigns so enjoyable for me to run? It’s the same system, the same rules, the same setting that I’ve run countless times over the years. There’s one major difference: the players.

I am blessed to have such a large and diverse group of friends, many who have been gaming with me for a long time. And by gaming with me for all that time, they’ve likely played a metric ton of Shadowrun. It’s been my bread and butter for 20 years. As players who have gamed with me that long, I think my players have gotten jaded. There is nothing I can throw at them that they haven’t seen before. While characters may come and go, that player knowledge always creeps in. “Oh, we’re up against X? OK, we just need to do A, B and C and we’ll be golden…”

The approach is formulaic, even when newbie characters, who may have heard about insect spirits in the tabloids, seemingly know what to do when confronted by them and are immune to the fear that should paralyze them. The threats of the world are predictable for the players and their responses to them are predictable for me… so the game ends up feeling hollow.

All of the groups that have hired me are starved for Shadowrun. They’ve heard about it and want to try it, haven’t played since 2nd/3rd Edition, or simply want a change from D&D. For these groups, everything is new. They are fumbling their way through discovering who their character is, reacting to the abominations of the world with the sheer horror they deserve and they aim to tell a story with their friends rather than figure out which puzzle has been put before them again.

So, does this mean I won’t be running Shadowrun locally anymore? No way… I love the game and it will definitely rise again. However, I will not bow to obligation. I will wait until I’m struck by a story I want to tell and tell it the way I want to tell it. I will try to present something that maybe they won’t be able to predict. To that end, I will abstain from running a local Shadowrun game… lord knows I know a few other systems. I’m currently running a 7th Sea campaign with a much different mix of players and I am have a great time exploring the expanded world there, with players who actively pursue their own stories with fervor. I’ve had ideas for Ten Candles, Valiant and Monsterpunk… there are so many possibilities for new stories to tell. They simply need to be viewed through a different lens for now.

~ by 1nsomniac on February 27, 2021.

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