I must confess that I found a lot of the comments to yesterday's Dwimmermount session report a bit odd. Even one of my players, who reads the blog, mentioned this to me last night and it's rare that he has anything to say specifically about the comments to one of my posts.
When I wrote the post, I consciously chose to talk about my mental state while playing the game -- my lack of enthusiasm, my tiredness, etc. -- because, too often, session reports focus solely on the events that happened to the characters in the game and say little or nothing about the people who are playing the game. Similarly, a lot of session reports come off as "perfect," which is to say, they downplay or wholly eliminate any mention of the ups and downs that are, in my experience anyway, part and parcel with tabletop roleplaying. So, I thought I'd talk a little about these matters in my session report; I assumed people would find them interesting and even comforting. I suspect that a lot of gamers have sessions now and again where things just don't "click" and my last session was one of those.
But the campaign as a whole is clicking and that's really what's important to me. That was really my point. I'll never understand the expectation that every single session has to be jam-packed with Fun™. I think that's unrealistic and I think judging the success or failure of a campaign on the success or failure of any given session (or even collection of sessions) makes about as much sense as judging a person's life on a couple of weeks, months, or even years out of the whole span of their existence. For me, the campaign is more important than individual sessions. I fully expect that some sessions, maybe even many sessions, will not be thrill-a-minute roller coaster rides of awesomeness. For one, that level of excitement is impossible to maintain for long. For another, any activity involving human beings is at least occasionally going to founder on their idiosyncrasies. That's just the way it is.
And I accept that. One of the reasons why I feel so alienated from much of the contemporary hobby is that I often don't feel as if that kind of acceptance is commonplace. There seems to be this idea that if a gamer isn't firing on all cylinders for every minute of every session, then something is wrong, with a wide variety of solutions being offered. Speaking as the referee of this game, who is close friends with all his regular players and in contact with them outside the game, I can assure you that nothing is wrong. The campaign has been going on solidly for the equivalent of two years of biweekly sessions and shows no signs of stopping. No one is unhappy, dissatisfied, or bored, or at least not enough that anyone has shown any serious signs of wanting to stop the game and try something new. If they had, believe me, it'd be obvious. As my players could tell you, over the last 10 years, plenty of campaigns have ended, often within a handful of sessions, if people aren't enjoying themselves. Indeed, we spent a good portion of one recent get-together extolling the virtues of another game we all liked and, despite that, there has been no groundswell of support for picking up that game and playing it.
I know I'm an old fuddy-duddy because I question the expectation that every moment of one's life should be somehow exciting, but there it is. If my nearly-41 years of life has taught me anything -- the jury's still out on that one -- it's that human beings are blessed with the ability to forget not just the painful stuff but also the boring stuff. In looking back on my time in high school, for example, I don't recall every single dull class I spent reading Victorian poetry or puzzling out algebra equations. Instead, I recall the great classes, the ones that first acquainted me with new ideas I came to cherish, the ones that inspired me to learn more. And so it is with everything in life. Years from now, when I look back on this Dwimmermount campaign (and I will), I won't remember that I was tired and unfocused in Session 52, but I will recall when the party first entered the dungeon and nearly died to kobolds, when Vladidmir the dwarf did die to yellow mold spores, when they first encountered the Red Elves, when the traveled to the pocket dimension of the Iron God, and lots more. This is one of the best campaigns I've ever had and a few dull sessions now and again isn't going to change that.