The worlds we provide as Game Masters are often built with our heart and soul, yet we struggle sometimes to believe in their value.
It will always fill me with great joy and humbling introspection when a player shows such immense interest in a setting I've made. They ask questions about the lore of the world, its history, its pantheon, and the multiple layers of the intrinsic nature of each society. It warms me to my core to have players that care so much about the world they're playing in that it can sometimes consume them; that while they're in my sessions, nothing else matters...
But remember, everyone.
This cool fantasy world experience called a tabletop role-playing game is a GAME.
This is a game. At the end of the day, when we've paid our bills, worked our hours, and sat down to join in on this crazy beautiful cooperative experience, we still need to recognize that it is "just a game."
Now, I try to run a pretty damn good game. There's a reason we have waitlists; people obviously find value in this format. And there can be a lot of meaning, too. I've had players, and myself, allow themselves to pursue and accomplish huge arcs in their own lives, using the game as a well of courage, or therapy, or escapism. Everybody comes to the table for something different, and that's part of what makes THIS kind of game so enlightened. People have opened themselves up to this grand storytelling experience and let it change them for the better, all while enjoying a group story.
But if you ever feel that you're going too deep, that these relationships, though meaningful, are becoming the only ones that matter. Remember: It is still "just a game."
The first goal to any tabletop experience is to HAVE FUN. If it isn't fun anymore, then it's time for a change.
And that change may just be a paradigm shift; shift the weight of the game on you. Take your space from its plot and characters. I know I don't care much about following the plot in Monday's campaign, because I'm playing to relax my mind - I don't want to think too much, and this is my way to have my own fun. It also helps me provide distance from this fantasy world if I need it that day; why? Because there's more to life than Dungeons and Dragons.
I know. Blasphemy.
But it's true. Strange coming from a guy that makes his living on it, and though I find colossal value in it and have seen great things come of it, there are still more elements to living. And everyone has things they're going through. Sometimes we bring it to the table, often we don't, and sometimes emotions kick us down in the middle of our cool game. That's all good, too. Because my table is a safe space and no person's burden is anyone else's to carry. You can come and play however you see fit - as long as it doesn't betray our social contract (Gray Owls is different than Knight Owls, btw). Don't be a creepy jerk face, and you're usually okay. Our boundaries change and clarify, and communication is key, and if ever that is getting too much... It's still just a game.
I want all of my players to feel safe, secure, and comfortable at whatever table they choose to come to, and no one has to carry anyone else's baggage. But if it sneaks its way in, I can help you show it the door, because my players are WARRIORS, and luggage is a stupid gremlin. You don't have to keep paying for it at checking every time you come play. We'll help you take it out back and shoot it.
That is all.
See you at the table.
Professional Game Master musician, music teacher, game designer, and aspiring fiction author.