#RPGaDay2020 Day 13 - "Rest"


Today's Art

The symbol above is an infrequently encountered musical symbol: a 64th rest, better known as a "hemidemisemiquaver rest." (Full disclosure: It's not actually better known as that. In fact, I had to go to five websites to figure out if it even HAD a name, much less what it was) And the reason you don't see it often is that if you assume that musical beat in 4/4 time is about a second (which is really slow but makes the math come out), that means that a 64th note (and a 64th rest) would be a 16th of a second--or about half the time it takes to blink your eye.

But the point of today's essay is about the value in taking a short break. How a respite from the constant flow of running and playing the same games, even those you really like, can really help you recharge. Thus, this symbol for an absurdly short break from playing seemed appropriate.


I have been gaming pretty continuously since August of 1978. As I've mentioned before, I played my first D&D game at the local library by people who . I went out and bought the blue-box set of Dungeons and Dragons (1st-3rd level), and played that until I got the Dungeon Master's Guide the following year (At Jocundry's bookstore in East Lansing, for those who might remember it.)

And for almost all of the time since, I've been the GM: through high school, most of the time in college, and then for the first ten years or so of the 20 years I've been playing 3.x D&D. I love being the GM: world building, helping create stories, trying things with the game and getting to create.

At ten years, one of the players in my game helped me with burnout, and offered to run his own campaign, and we've been swapping "the chair" every year or so since. It's very refreshing and gives me more time to build out the next story, the next campaign or even just build out more detail of the world.

But this is about short breaks, which normally take the form of a "one-off" game. For me, these have always been between big story arcs--after the characters level, a major milestone is hit or whatever.

At this time, either I'd run a one-off game in some other system (Paranoia, Numenera, "The Evil Campaign") or somebody else would run (Call of Cthulhu). This was just a week or two where we'd do something different--even if I ran, I get a lot of help from somebody else's writing, and I just supplemented the details.

This gave me a chance to just step out of the routine, try something different and spend a bit more time building whatever I was going to do next in the main game. If somebody else ran, I had no commitments (other than to play) and could really focus on writing and setting up.

Most people know the idea of "shower thoughts" or "dream solutions" or similar. You spend too much time focused on something, and you can't come up with a solution. But get away from the situation for just a while, even a single day, and ideas come flooding in on their own--including solutions to things that you had no idea to approach.

The ultimate break, of course, is GenCon, which seems odd since it can be those most 96 hours of the year. But whether I'm running, playing, shopping, or hanging with friends, it's so completely out of my normal routine, that I'm actually more energized when I get back. It's hard not to be energized, frankly, when you're surrounded by 60,000 other people who are just as geeky as you are and doing what you love.

To summarize, I love gaming. I've been doing it for most of my life. And I especially love running games and watch my world become stories that are told for years to come. But even during the best sessions or stories, it's good to occasionally take a step back, take a breath, and for a week or so, just take a sort rest.


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