This article originally appeared in the March/April 2020 issue.
I have a friend who has not only downsized her possessions to a minimum, but downsized her living space a couple of time until she’s now inhabiting a tiny space. Bedroom, bathroom, very small kitchen, bit of a hallway and a lounge. That’s it. I couldn’t do it. Between all the books I have and the tendency to hoard other things as well, I struggle with the limits of a small “chalet bungalow” that I only share with two others.
I also know Traveller referees who exhibit similar minimalist tendencies. They might just have a rule book – although one such I know simply borrows one from the nearest player on the exceedingly rare occasion there might be cause to look anything up. Their adventure notes are also limited. Another referee I’ve seen with his entire adventure ‘mapped out’ in a few lines of scrawl on a page and a half of reporter’s notebook.
They seem to have powers of memory, powers of invention and powers of confidence that I can only look at and admire from afar.
I not only seem to accumulate things – the books mentioned above being the least of it – but I seem to accumulate ideas and half-started projects and…. well, you get the idea. In a supposedly digital world, even paper notes seem to expand to fill the space and don’t get me started on electronic files here and there on this device or that platform.
When it comes to refereeing I’ve discovered I’m no better. For all I’m a librarian by profession so you’d have thought I’d have an easy time organizing things, I still find that I’m collecting this for that purpose and that for this segment. In a single game convention slot it’s all just about manageable although I’ve written in these pages before about turning up with 100 pages of printed text to run an adventure.
Where it gets really out of hand, I’m discovering, is in running a campaign. Regular readers, or habitués of the Traveller Mailing List, will know I’ve been running The Traveller Adventure every other month for several years now. I started with a folder to contain my notes and it wasn’t long before it was pretty heavy and then bulging. A session or three back I’ve had to admit to myself that I’m using two folders now. And I seem to spend more game prep time getting things in them straight following the chaos a game night breeds than I ever spend actually writing or creating anything.
Indeed, I’m writing this now as a displacement activity to avoid knuckling down and getting everything ready for our next game session. «sigh». I’ve no idea how others manage really. I’ve no idea why I can’t be organized. I’ve no idea why I can’t go entirely digital now I can barely lift the bag I carry. I think it may be a curse, but I’ll bet I’m not alone! Does anyone employ a porter? Does anyone want the job?