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#15: Why Make It Hard?

This article originally appeared in the July 2015 issue.

As I write this, I’m in that once-a-year week when I’m both excited about Traveller and terrified about it as well. It’s just seven days now until TravCon 2015 and the annual pilgrimage to a small hotel on the old A1. It will be exciting to see old friends again, catch up, hang out in the bar, and of course play Traveller. It will be exciting to run an adventure once again – I’m obviously still new enough at it that it gets the adrenalin pumping.

But I don’t help myself. Three years ago, just running an adventure was scary enough; two years ago, that clearly wasn’t sufficient, and back with my second adventure, I made it a bit more complicated by adding some live action elements; last year, I upped the ante again, and tried running two different adventures – neither of which was as fully developed as the first two had been – just to see how that felt. This year, I’ve clearly decided that even that wasn’t enough excitement, and so I’m trying both an experimental format (using Supplement 12: Dynasty as a departure point) and attempting to link two different games together so that the players of one game will meet the players of another game some three quarters of the way through – rather than just being introduced to another bunch of NPCs. This raises the complexity level yet another notch as I try to develop an idea where this will work, liaise with another referee who has gamely agreed to join the insanity, fret over whether I have too much material or too little material, and try to estimate how ‘secret’ this can be kept. No wonder I’m beginning to have sleepless nights.

Of course, by this time next week, I’ll know how it all went and be licking my wounds or basking in the delight of having entertained a few more players for one more year – or judging by last year, a bit of both. But at this point I could wish that I’d just decided to have a break this time round.

Writing at this juncture however, gives me pause to reflect on why exactly I put myself through this. It’s not dissimilar to other public speaking or ‘performances’ I sometimes undergo – from lecturing students to the odd drumming gig. Presumably there is something about the adrenalin rush; presumably because “it’s there” (or at least it is once I’ve had the idea); presumably because at some point over the next week I’ll remember that it is fun: hopefully for the players, certainly for me. But mainly, it’s the challenge: Stretching the creativity muscles, testing the writing-to-a-deadline waters, wanting to do the very best for players who take the chance on picking your adventure when it might be a load of rubbish and a waste of four hours. They put their (characters’) lives in your hands! Some stress helps us to achieve more than we might otherwise, but all the same, I’ll look forward to sleeping well Sunday night.