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quozaxx

Dealing with burnout

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A while back(about 2 or 3 years ago) I used to be in several games and a GM in two of them.  Those games took up most of my time and thoughts.  

 

And because of that I had a major case of burnout.  So, much in fact, that I put every thing away.  I closed all my games and did other things.  I didn't want anything to do with role playing at all.  

 

Then, back in May, I tried my best to get back into a game.  But something just wasn't right.  Plus real life reared its ugly head.  

 

Now, that real life is back on track, I'm considering playing again.  But I worry about burnout again.  My life is a little busier than before, and I can't post every day like I used to.  

 

Have you ever had a case of burnout, and if so, how did you deal with it?

 

 

 

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I deal with it by participating in these forums on a daily basis. It keeps me connected to the game, and its (online) community, while I wait for the burnout to turn into an unquenchable need to play again (which may never happen, and I realize that, and am okay with that).

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I haven't had the issue, but our gruop is unusual with having five accomplished GMs who do timeshare GMing.  Not on anything like an equal basis, which is partly in recognition of everyone's different amounts of available time, but enough that the most frequent GM gets lots of breaks.  We play lots of different systems (many of them not for very long), with a few long-running campaigns that'll run for a month or two and then go back on the shelf for a year or more.

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I got completely burned out about 15 years ago.

 

I'd been role-playing and GMing for 20 years, I'd gone through the highs and lows of becoming a game developer on one of my favorite games and then seeing it closed down due to the owner losing money because of the Asian financial crisis (1997), I had been intensely involved in online discussions on Usenet (including acting as a company's liason to the fans), running games at GenCon Milwaukee for years, and on and on.

 

One day I was setting up for a game in my basement (running D&D 3.5e, using the Dwarven Forge stuff for the dungeon). I looked around and realized I wasn't having any fun at all, and hadn't been for a long time.  I was just doing it out of obligation. So when everyone got there, I went ahead and ran the game and then let everyone know that, as much as I enjoyed their company, RPGing wasn't for me any more. I would no longer be running or playing games. I was out. 

 

The group was comprised of good friends and some family members, so they understood. We eventually found other things to do together and had a great time.

 

I put all the games away and didn't buy anything new or even keep up with what was coming out. And I stopped participating in online forums about gaming.

 

It took me about 10 years before I had that old feeling, wanting to run a game. And it's been great since! No feelings of burnout at all.

 

But it did take time, and stepping completely way.

 

YMMV.

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Absolutely. It has been a long time since I game regularly, every week, usually the GM... and only in the past three or four months have I begun doing it again. I got back into it after several years of none, or just a once-in-a-while thing. I love the experience of a good game, usually a one shot at a Con, etc., but I struggle with always having long, complex campaigns in my head that I want to play... but that is what stresses me out. Having this constant creative drive, but also pressure, to come up with the next adventure, write up everything that is going on, have the complex levels of NPCs and politics and relations and backgrounds all in place, etc.

 

It is stressful, and hard to do as I'm older and have less energy and real life takes up more time. It is about being honest and just stepping back. I find that doing one-shots, different games, systems, just having fun with it really helps... and getting away from the long campaign stuff is best... but again, YMMV.

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Hey Quozaxx,

 

At the risk of being repetitive...what they said.  GMing burnout has hit me pretty hard since I got out of college.  I'm sure part of it is simply not being in my 20s anymore, and having a lot more commitments as a family guy.  It was also a lot easier to game when I had a solid group, we all lived on the same couple blocks of the college campus, and we all had relatively simple lives.  For a long while I even kept buying RPG supplements out of habit...and eventually stopped because I wondered, "Why buy this stuff when I never use it anymore?"

 

My gaming habit slept for a long time, and then I finally found a new group to play with.  We play once a month instead of several times per week, which fits our schedules a lot better.  We are also getting our kids into the game, so besides having fun ourselves, we're introducing a new generation to a wonderful hobby...which in turn is reigniting our own fire.  For me, anyway, that's what did it: I stepped back to allow time to recharge, and only stepped back in once I found a new group and settled on a more appropriate schedule.  The fire is back, though perhaps it will never be what it once was.  (For that matter, I will never be what I once was).  Thanks to the magic of places like Drivethru, I have even resumed buying games, since I can get them as PDFs that don't take up space on my already overstuffed bookshelves.

 

The time between college and now still had its gaming high points though.  I had the privilege of playing in a couple of your games on Hero Central, and those are fond memories.  I hope that's a good thing, and I'm grateful that you helped me keep my gaming fire alive.

 

Cheers!

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For me it's a combination of not wanting to endlessly run or play the same campaign, I like having a beginning, middle, and end, which means more campaigns have to be set up, which life makes difficult, and system aversion.

 

I really can't see myself playing D&D again, the system is just too ad hoc. Really the same with Warhammer and 40K, love the figs, despise the constant rehab of the system to deal with the fact that ad hoc systems unbalance with every new iteration.

 

Likewise, I don't care for class-based systems anymore, for a lot of the same reasons. It becomes like a lot of video games, a hunt for unlocking things from the same lists every other person in the same category is picking from, with little escape because the system is balanced by categorizing, not by itself being balanced.

 

Also, although I like the idea behind some of the 'narrative based' games a la FATE, I find the lack of definition sometimes doesn't achieve the goal. I think creativity is not unbound by the concrete reality of a situation, but, in fact, often made more meaningful by the fact that me and my friends can't just change that concrete reality because we want one particular narrative.

 

I like Hero for these reasons, though it has the down side of being really time consuming on the front end.

 

We tend to cope with this by sometimes just doing board games, sometimes doing card games, sometimes doing war games, sometimes doing RPGs.

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I would say, even at the height of my gaming, it was really a once a week occurrence for the RPG thing. Yes, sometimes more, and we had our long weekends of multiple games when we pulled people in from far away... but I didn't play multiple regular sessions every week. Our group had one weekly game night.

 

That said, even then, when I basically ran a large meta-campaign that lasted for 25 solid years, and five more sporadically, I could only do that by changing things up. Make a big world, with players having multiple PCs, so moving between small arcs of certain characters kept things fresh. "Ok, on we are playing the Vanguard, ,high-powered global heroes" vs. "Ok... let's play Mavericks for a while... NYC based, mid-level heroes on the edge of the law"  vs. "Now it's Malta Professionals, metahuman and cybernetic mercs working for whoever pays in Euro-African theater" etc.  The games had different feels and scopes and PC interactions... but at the same time, inhabited the same world, and got to see larger plots from different angles... maybe one group would set something in motion that another group might have to deal with... so the players really got to become part of the larger world.

 

That really helped me both, stay focused enough to continue moving a large campaign forward, but varied enough to not get stale or bogged down. It also allowed players to GM their own storylines at times. I found that really empowering, as I could then riff off some small thing they introduced, some technological MacGuffin stolen from a lab, whatever, and wind it into my larger plot, and it helped everyone feel like they were contributing to building the world. That level of interaction made it easier to GM, as it wasn't just people waiting to be entertained and I had to do all the prep.

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I agree with RDU, my group has done something similar.  We have three different teams of heroes based in three different cities, so we mix it up that way.  It also helps to have more than one GM.  I've run about 90% of our sessions over the past five years or so.  When I start feeling the burnout one of the other GMs takes over for a session or two.  Invariably that gets my juices flowing again.  If for no other reason than they're not as good at it as I am.  ;)

 

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I don't think that I'm actually suffering from burnout but for about two years I can't stay focused when trying to elaborate on scenarios. It feels as if I lost a lot of my imagination.

It's not a problem when I'm playing in someone else's campaign, only when thinking about my own.

 

I don't really know the cause of this but I think it is a combination of stress at work and player arguments that mostly happened when I was GM. The arguments were caused by an adverse combination of players and they could be settled each time but although I know that it was not my fault I suspect that subconsciously I'm linking  me being a GM with trouble at the gaming table.

 

Actually, this longtime group dissolved  one year ago  when three members left the hobby altogether. In the meantime we found two new players, a couple, to game with and it's fun. But we agreed to rotate GM duties and in a few weeks it will be my turn to host a superhero adventure with the HERO system. After doing some thinking I've got a basic idea but  that's all.

 

I'm starting to get nervous...

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5 hours ago, Steffen said:

I don't think that I'm actually suffering from burnout but for about two years I can't stay focused when trying to elaborate on scenarios. It feels as if I lost a lot of my imagination.

It's not a problem when I'm playing in someone else's campaign, only when thinking about my own.

 

I don't really know the cause of this but I think it is a combination of stress at work and player arguments that mostly happened when I was GM. The arguments were caused by an adverse combination of players and they could be settled each time but although I know that it was not my fault I suspect that subconsciously I'm linking  me being a GM with trouble at the gaming table.

 

Actually, this longtime group dissolved  one year ago  when three members left the hobby altogether. In the meantime we found two new players, a couple, to game with and it's fun. But we agreed to rotate GM duties and in a few weeks it will be my turn to host a superhero adventure with the HERO system. After doing some thinking I've got a basic idea but  that's all.

 

I'm starting to get nervous...

 

You could always start a thread in the Champions forum with your basic idea as well as some info on the PC heroes.  People here will be more than happy to give you ideas (which you're under no obligation to use) and other feedback.  One thing I miss about my old job was talking to a coworker who used to play in my Champions game (but he had to drop out due to family stuff).  I could bounce ideas off him, and frequently either he gave me some great stuff to add, or he said things or asked questions that got me thinking of other stuff to add.  Just make sure your players don't frequent this discussion board.  (Thankfully, mine don't.)

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On 5/27/2018 at 7:11 AM, Steffen said:

I don't think that I'm actually suffering from burnout but for about two years I can't stay focused when trying to elaborate on scenarios. It feels as if I lost a lot of my imagination.

It's not a problem when I'm playing in someone else's campaign, only when thinking about my own.

 

I don't really know the cause of this but I think it is a combination of stress at work and player arguments that mostly happened when I was GM. The arguments were caused by an adverse combination of players and they could be settled each time but although I know that it was not my fault I suspect that subconsciously I'm linking  me being a GM with trouble at the gaming table.

 

Actually, this longtime group dissolved  one year ago  when three members left the hobby altogether. In the meantime we found two new players, a couple, to game with and it's fun. But we agreed to rotate GM duties and in a few weeks it will be my turn to host a superhero adventure with the HERO system. After doing some thinking I've got a basic idea but  that's all.

 

I'm starting to get nervous...

 

I have a similar problem at times.  I attribute it to age.  While I’m sitting thinking up game situations I’m fine, but at the table I feel like I’ve gotten slower at improvising (which is a shame as the group I’m currently gaming with is pretty good at going off reservation).

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