Dwimmermount resumed after a two-week hiatus because of family and work-related interruptions on the part of myself and one of the players. While unavoidable, these interruptions are the bane of a RPG campaign in my experience. When playing only once a week, making sure that you do play once a week is essential to establishing and maintaining the "rhythm" on which good campaigns thrive. Any disruption of that rhythm ensures that, at the very least, it'll take a session or two before it's re-established and, at the very worst, could derail things sufficiently that the campaign suffers a mortal wound.
I've seen the latter happen enough times to fear the possibility, so I dislike it whenever we have to miss one of our weekly Dwimmermount sessions. Fortunately, my players are sufficiently tenacious to overcome the inertia of missing sessions, but there's no denying that the first session after any interruption is an unsatisfying one, at least for me as the referee. This past weekend's session was a good example of that. Although the characters continued to press on into the catacombs associated with the temple of the Iron God, not much of significance happened. I don't just mean that in the usual sense of the session's lacking any revelatory moments -- though it didn't. Rather, nothing really clicked. There were some combats, much exploration, a few bits of treasure found, and even some addition clues about the nature of the Iron God, but none of it gelled for me. I felt like I was going through the motions rather than actually playing the game.
That's what I mean about losing one's rhythm. I don't expect every session to be a coherent, dramatically-satisfying roller coaster ride of non-stop fun. Such an expectation is, I think, at the root of why the Old Ways aren't well supported in contemporary games. It's certainly not something I need for an individual session to be enjoyable, particularly in a player-driven megadungeon campaign, which, by its nature, will be uneven in its feel from week to week. Since I derive my fun not so much from seeing my plans well executed -- I have no plans -- I don't mind when a session consists mostly of the characters wandering around in the dark, stumbling across this or that, as they delve deeper into the dungeon. For me, that's the whole point of the game.
But what happened this last weekend was what always happens when my friends and I don't get together regularly: we chatted with one another about the usual topics before the game and we continued to do so during the game. There were many digressions, asides, and breaks in play as we simply socialized. Now, there's absolutely nothing wrong with this. I play RPGs in order to socialize with my friends, after all, and I enjoy their company even when we're not gaming. However, satisfying gaming, in my experience, demands a certain degree of focus that's hard to summon up when I haven't seen my friends in a few weeks. I'd much rather just talk with them, even about trivialities, than sit around the dining room table and roleplay.
Interruptions thus guarantee that the first session after the interruption ends will likely see not a lot of gaming. That's what happened this weekend. I'm not terribly upset about it, but, by the same token, I do like to have as many satisfying game sessions as I can and this last one simply wasn't satisfying for me (or, I think, my players). With luck, next weekend will see us get our groove back.