It’s no secret that 2020 has been a pretty ghastly year in a lot of ways, and Covid-19 in particular has laid low many of the plans I had. I’d planned to start running a new campaign. I’d planned to go to GenCon for the first time. I’d planned to keep building up the RPG Museum wiki for all things roleplaying. The last of these I did for a while, but the year eventually sapped the energy I had to even do that.
But look, it’s worth looking at the positives where you can find them. Merely getting through the year is an accomplishment, and here are some other RPG-related accomplishments that I am also proud of.
RPGaDay is an annual celebration of tabletop roleplaying. This is the first year I’ve tried to do it.
Which RPG have you played the most since August 2016?
My most-played RPG in the past year is an Unknown Armies campaign set in New Orleans. We have sessions nearly every week, and it’s been running almost non-stop since it started at the end of August last year (when the group’s previous campaign reached its finale). The current (third edition) Unknown Armies campaign is a sort of sequel to a previous campaign of (second edition) Unknown Armies that ran between 2013 and 2015. We’re all playing new characters, but as in the previous campaign the party is made entirely of Adepts (obsession-powered wizards). I’ve been playing regularly with this group for years, but this may be the last campaign I play with them for a while because the GM will soon be moving to another country.
One of the great joys of playing roleplaying games, especially playing a single character through a long campaign, is in seeing your character grow and change. In traditional high fantasy games, it’s fun to rise from humble beginnings to be an important and powerful figure in the campaign world.
However, it’s relatively rare in roleplaying games to see the sort of deep, personal character transformation that you might see in books, TV shows or films. That’s because the sort of growth and change encouraged by traditional roleplaying games is different from the growth and change that most popular media is built on.
Character advancement is not the same thing as character development.
I am a huge believer in doing group character generation at the start of a new RPG campaign. I don’t just mean getting all the players in the same place to do character generation, but actually doing it together. Of the RPGs I’ve played in, nearly all of the ones I’ve enjoyed most have made character generation a group activity.