Yesterday, I was reading Gothridge Manor talking about raising the number of his patrons in 2019. He has 81 fantastic patrons and he hopes to raise it to 100 by the end of the year. His plan is simple: it amounts to getting the word out and running more games. Which is great.
I have fantastic patrons as well. Before Christmas I asked you, Dear Patrons, what I could do for you. There isn't much more I can do to get the word out ... I haven't got any place where I could write about my take on gaming that would be accepted or understood; and I can't run any more games. But there is always a chance I can meaningfully answer a reader's question or expand some part of my world on demand, as I have done lately.
I would like to do more. Patron runs on "rewards" and for the life of me, I have never been able to figure out this part of the process. I don't build modules for easy delivery in exchange for coin. I'm not an artist who can draw a picture for five bucks. Most of you already own my books and I'm not in a position just now to complete another one (but I am struggling with two). I have no pdfs, t-shirts or cups to give, I can't offer a private chat room (hell, people can talk to me on Facebook any time), you can request posts any time you want and I'm not going to sell access to podcasts or my wiki.
I'm not into products. I'm a writer and I am interested in ideas ... and those who support me do so because the ideas just keep coming. My agenda doesn't include my readers seeing that information piece-meal, for sale ... I want people to get the whole picture. I'm not asking people to support me for what they will get, but for what they're getting every time I set out to write.
It is not a practical business plan. Any entrepreneur will tell you so. Why pay for the cow if you're getting the milk for free?
So I puzzle and puzzle as my puzzler gets sore, trying to think of something I haven't thought of before. I have a gift of insight. I'd like to use it for something.
miserable, miserable failure (his words) in trying to run his girlfriend and two friends through Tomb of the Serpent Kings. As I wrote on a comment there, without actually being at the table and watching what happened, there's no possible way to be sure what went wrong or what could be done about it. It would be ridiculous to guess.
That, however, doesn't stop Wieg's readers from grabbing that ball and running into courts we're all familiar with: quality of the module, system requirements, comparing this experience to their own experience [damn it, I just know there's got to be a pattern here] ... and, for the love of pink unicorns, the difference between old-school and new-school. Because another nit-picking examination of one edition versus another, or between role-playing philosophies, is sure to create insight here that none of us have ever heard before.
I asked Wieg some questions and received direct answers. Since he was the only witness in this dialogue, I accept his conclusion: the players weren't that into it. Understand, then: I'm not bringing it up now because I want to dissect why it didn't work. I can't. No one can, except maybe Wieg and the players.
What I can do is dissect how Wieg approaches the post, doing what we all do when something hard happens and we want to deal with it in company that we know will give us approval. We write posts like this because we hurt ... and when others agree with us, or offer possible explanations when our own explanations fail, it makes us feel better.
We want that for him. We feel what he feels because of his first words: "I can't help but feel it was my fault ..." That right there is the stabbing blade. Everything after those first nine words is a battle to resolve that bitter, frustrating emotional guilt. They did do this. I did try that. I could have done better. I take it personally. I'm a great DM. I'm not used to failing.
Forget the details of the post. The other comments below the post represents the empathic process that the commentors also feel, because they have also felt that, "It's my fault" blade, and everything else that follows. The words, the explanations, the comparison between philosophies and editions ... hell, JB's whole effort to explain what to do with new players is fallout from the communal engagement with that irreconciliable bitterness. We have all been there. We're all trying to resolve it.
Then understand this. It is our fault.
For some, yes, as Fuzzy says, it is lazy refereeing. But that's simple-minded for a problem that is far more complicated than whether or not we ran a particular adventure well or if we gave vivid enough explanations and descriptions. It isn't our fault because we did a bad job.
It is our fault because when we stepped up to be the DM, we took the responsibility up front. Go back and look at Wieg's first sentence: "Well, today I actually got my girlfriend and two of my friends to try old school D&D."
I don't know about anyone else, but when I "get" people to play, the quality of that play is ALL on me. Whether I fuck up or not, whether the player is the sort that enjoys the game or not. Because I met this person, parsed them out and decided, for myself, that they would be a good player in my world. I did the measuring. I created the frame. I built the park. If the guests paid and didn't enjoy themselves, then I'm duty bound to apologize and give their money back. And then to take the necessary steps to improve the park ~ without looking for an out. Because people, that's how it works.
Now compare that conclusion with the discussion in Wieg's comments. I think JB did it best. His solution was to seek for something proactive. To improve that park. Ask yourself, of the conclusions you read here and there, which ones can you build on? Which conclusions will help you bear the stab of that knife and grow from it?
I have a gift of insight. I'd like to find a way to make it worth something. I'd like to sweep away the clinging vines of looking for blind conclusions to explain emotional responses and produce proactive strategies that people can look at and see, "Ah, yeah. I did push the start button." Then to realize that all the "doing it better" has to start before the player even sees the button.
Well. If you can. Kick another buck into my Patreon, huh?