The PC's settled their affairs with the Pale Lady's Trans-Arcana penetration into the material plane off the coast of Great Yarmouth this morning. Hero and Improvement points were awarded and they returned to Norton Manor, the now defacto headquarters of these secret agents of Parliament known as C.l U. B., the Clockwork Underground Bureau. One PC death was incurred during this four week (game time) adventure arc and one PC was ordained into the order of Righteous Soldiers, a recognition of his single-minded willingness to deliver death to enemies of the Parliamentary cause.
For some reason I feel wiped out. Drained. Not that any of the sessions were any "harder" than the rest to run. More that it feels like I have wrung much imaginative juice from this mortal frame to fuel the campaign world. This is with using published adventure material as well. It certainly helped with the heavy lifting of world building. This is also a gaming first for me; a long running campaign. It is deeply satisfying and my belief that under all the entertainment value easily recognizable with TTRP'ing is a legitimate art form is validated.
As the game moves on to another chapter the challenge is clear; continue doing what I am doing, but make it BETTER. What does better mean? Now is not the time for me to come up with the answer. I need to reflect, drift and daydream now. Running a campaign is both a marathon and a sprint. Twenty four miles of fascinating road, some of it has to be run fast, uphill, both ways. On the surface TTRPG's are simple. It taps into the incredible enjoyment from oral storytelling and group collaboration. One thing leads to another, la-de-da la-de-da.
I've learned custom random tables for your world and setting are a godsend for the flagging mind during a session. Hacking published materials with your own ideas relieves the burden of coming up with the endless stream of NPC's needed in your world. I've also discarded the idea that the system really matters. I think when folks are having lovely flame wars over different systems and different editions it is a deflection from how demanding being a game referee is if you want to do it well. Most people don't want to face up that they may suck and they need to make changes. It is sooo much easier to say the system is broken, or it doesn't do this or that well. Rubbish. Here is my analogy to try and make my point; the fine art known as painting has three components. Color, texture and shape. Pigment on the end of a stick is applied to a flat surface. That is it. But from simple ingredients the bottom of this form has never been reached. Some who really want to be a painter won't make it because they will suck. "It wasn't for me." "I like photography better." folks may say as they flit through mediums looking for recognition. I've found it is better to soberly recognize your ability, and figure out for yourself what success looks like. For me it is to challenge myself to do better. Don't get hung up on results. Pursue with dogged determination and be open to the surprise of invention. You are conquering fear, nothing more, nothing less.
So after this little stream of blathering thought here is my ask; when you feel drained from the work and fear you can do no better what do you do to get geared up to viciously attack your old way of doing things and blow your mind with the next discovery with your long running campaign?