System Jamming

I have returned to this blog, as I often do, after a passage of several months. Suffice to say that my enthusiasm to write anything at the beginning of the pandemic eventually gave way to a general malaise, followed, eventually, by a return to attending other obligations. But once again I am back (for now).

Another thing that is back: the itch. The desire to put something together and run it for my dear (and patient) friends. Here I find myself at the foot of that great hill that I have so often gazed upon. Unsatisfied with 5e and uncertain where to turn my (admittedly fickle) attention. I have perused OSE, Into the Odd, The Black Hack, Whitehack, Maze Rats, and many more, but haven’t been able to settle on any one system. There are so many clever ideas packed in each one, but do any of them allow me to offer the experience I want for my players?

This is, of course, a gamemaster problem, more than anything. Every time I ask my players what would get them excited, the response is typically some form of “anything you decide to run!” They are, above all else, a kind and generous lot. But it’s true, game systems don’t matter as much to players. Gamemasters are the ones who work directly with those systems 90% of the time, so this makes sense. And game systems, particularly the minimalist structures that underpin the OSR and Indie design spheres, really don’t give players much to get excited about. The gamemaster may love how a particular system reduces the rules for conflict adjudication down to one dice roll and a reaction table, but this doesn’t give players the insight they need to understand the shared world/narrative space of the game.

So my new goal is to splice and dice some amalgamation of my favorite RPG system ideas and stuff it into a setting that I intend to build with some input from my players.

Branching out

This month I started a new job. To be clear, I did not quit my old job. I began taking a few shifts as a bartender at a wine bar, which, on top of my schedule at the pharmacy where I’ve worked this past year, has been, as they used to say, “a bit much.”

But this has been a fun development. I’m enjoying the variety the work offers and the clientele is sometimes very interesting. Plus we have amazing cheeses and this dynamite Carlos Serres Rioja. I mean, I’m not much of a red wine drinker, but this stuff is perfectly refreshing, even on a hot summer night.

Shaking the dust

My trials with maintaining positive habits are probably no different and no more difficult than anyone else’s experiences, but in particular I find achieving balance to be the most trying part. I’m a person who can easily be overcome by a near-obsessive and narrow focus when something has clicked with me just so, which can often mean overdoing and exhausting my interest. I’m either running 5k every day or I’m getting no exercise at all.

If I could find a hook I might be utilizing this space more. Not that there is a readership to speak that I feel obligated to please, but simply because writing in a public space feels somehow less trivial than writing in a notebook. I intend to try posting some different materials to see what sticks, purely for my own satisfaction.

You were never really there

I’m beginning to suspect that my next door neighbors have moved out and I’m too frightened by our friendly non-acquaintance to just walk over, knock on their door, and find out. It’s strange to think you can share a wall with someone and know nothing about them, but maybe that’s entirely my fault. My speculation is based on two points of interest. One, I haven’t seen either of their cars for at least a week now. Second, I recall talking to one of them briefly back in February and hearing a reference to their lease ending in April or May.

Unrelated, and yet somehow relevant: I’m looking forward to watching the new Lynne Ramsay movie. You Were Never Really Here looks like a good time. Ramsay’s short films are unbelievable and a definite must-watch. We have all benefited greatly by her entrance into the world of feature length films and should be appropriately awed and afraid. I’m excited to see what she’s done to shake up the action genre.

Making the most of it

I decided earlier this year to begin writing blog posts as a way to stay in the habit of writing… well, anything. This resolution quickly fell to the wayside as work and life reared their nefarious heads, but I still intend to get some use out of this website! (I mean, I already put money down on the domain and everything, so…)

While I hope to significantly upgrade the design of this site at some point, I think aesthetics need to be set aside so I can spend a little time on actual writing. Maybe in the future I can also document trips, projects, and ephemera for my own amusement. Regardless, I finally wrote a second blog post, even if I meandered around saying anything interesting, so I’m going to take this meager victory as a sign of progress.