Phil Vecchione over at Gnome Stew posted awhile back that he had found himself in the dreaded S-word recently, the GM Slump.
Now, this doesn’t refer to a new hybrid vehicle designed by General Motors.* No, this is a state of mind where you, as the Game Master of your chosen group, want to run a game yet find nothing that just grabs you and compels you to run it, or as indicated in his article,
I want to run a game…I really want to run a game, but the combination of what I am running, how I am running it, and my group is producing something like soda that is about to go flat. There is some fleeting taste of something good, but I know that it’s off. If I know it’s off, my players have to know it as well.
I can commiserate with him for I, too, have felt the wheels of the GM Slump grind right over my downcast body and have been locked in this particular funk for over a year now. Some might say I am in the grip of burnout toward gaming (as many of my gaming friends from high school and college found themselves shortly after graduation and facing “the real world”), but I have gone through phases where I didn’t want to game. Didn’t want to run a game. Didn’t want to participate in roleplaying games.
That’s not the case here.
I have wanted to run games this past year and have run sessions using the SUPERS! rules, 4e D&D Gamma World, Gunslingers & Gamblers, ICONS, yet none of those have captured my attention enough to make a campaign of it or even an episodic series of encounters.** I started a Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay campaign a few weeks ago, using the second edition rules. We’ve had one session which went well, but I’d picked up a copy of The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian, and my mental wheels have been churning on a Hyborian campaign (but unsure what rules system to use), to which my players have shouted, “Read more Warhammer stuff!” because they like the setting and I’ve had success with both the setting and the rules system previously.***
The last campaign I ran was set in the Planescape of D&D cosmology using a heavily modified version of the 3.5 D&D rules. It was planned as a 30+ level campaign wherein the characters started their careers as slaves to a mid-level demon lord, broke free, found their way to the city of Sigil, and over the course of the first 10 to 15 levels discovered they weren’t just a bunch of escaped slaves but had once been deities. The latter half of the campaign was their recovering their lost powers, finding who had entrapped them, and (ultimately) tipping the scales in the eons long war between Law/Chaos and Good/Evil and destroying and rebuilding the cosmos.
The party had just made it to 20th level and regained the lowest levels of their godhood when one of the players in the group dropped dead. Literally. He was fine one weekend though complaining of a head cold. Three days later he passed out at the pharmacy while standing in line for a prescription. He never woke up.
Needless to say, that particular campaign slammed to a halt.
No one in the group felt like doing much of anything gaming-wise. I stopped running things for awhile. After a spell of playing only board games when we met each weekend, two of the other members of the group took over GMing duties and ran things for awhile (on alternating weekends). Now one of those players has found himself in a GM Slump as well. He has numerous ideas that he wants to run, but his personal life has hit a series of potholes and shaken him rather badly. Since he stopped running things, another player has stepped in to run another game.
Hopefully, I’ll pull myself out of this mode of thinking and get back into running a game regularly again.
*Though I do wonder what a GM Slump might look like. Some variant of the Cube or something akin to the Tango T600 maybe?
**Though we did find that SUPERS! fits the bill for a quick-to-play, rule light superhero game system, and I did begin tinkering with rules for converting Gunslingers & Gamblers for use with the Star Wars setting (which I am still working on, albeit slowly).
***A ten-plus year campaign set in first edition world of Warhammer using GURPS (which my group dubbed SPRUGHammer because it was an ass-backward merging of the two) was the longest running; however, I’d met most of my current group when I ran SPRUGHammer II, which ran for at least five years, and a later campaign, using the second edition Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay rules ran for about two years with rotating GMs. Since I was primary GM on that short-lived campaign, it stopped when I began the 7 Vials campaign noted above.