Spoiled for Options

I really need to stop buying tabletop roleplaying games!

In the last few months, okay… really for most of 2020, I have been buying various TTRPGs. I have also received several games that I backed in the last year or two on Kickstarter, which had finally been released. So to say I have been rather inundated with roleplaying goodness would be a bit of an understatement.

Meanwhile, I started doing some solo roleplaying in the latter half of the year, recording my exploits as the “Ronin Roleplaying” podcast you can find on this very website! Many of the new games I have acquired this year are either already included in this podcast, or are going to be recorded soon… for 2022, because I have all of next year’s shows in the can.

Hell, even the podcast’s current game of choice, “Feng Shui 2”, is a relatively recent addition to my collection, since I received it just a year ago! Sure, I’ve had “Feng Shui” 1st Edition for decades, but that’s not really germaine to the discussion right now.

The problem here is this: Before I recently started collecting TTRPGs like they were Pokemon, I already had a rather impressive collection, built up over four decades in the hobby. My intention, upon creating “Ronin Roleplaying”, was to play some of these new games, interspersed with old games from the collection. But that has led to a bit of a problem, actually.

I’m already a year ahead on the podcast, and to date I have only played two TTRPGs which were ‘from the collection’, prior to my buying binge in the last year. “Rifts” and “Dead of Night”, respectively. But of those two games, only “Rifts” is really ‘Old School’ from my collection, since I obtained “Dead of Night” less than two years ago… and it is still waiting for shelf space, like all of my newest games are!

Worse yet, that just covers the shows through 2021. I have the games chosen for 2022, and only two of the seven for that year (“Warhammer” and “Blood of Heroes”) are from the old section of my collection! Continuing the pain, I could run only ‘new’ games from my TTRPG collection, and never run out of options until… counting on fingers and toes… maybe 2026?

I’ve been buying a lot of games this year, or backing them on Kickstarter. Sue me!

The problem with this is two-fold. First, there are a lot of games from the shelves that simply aren’t getting played, and that’s a shame in itself. These are very good games, at least for the most part, that deserve to get featured… but there simply isn’t time. Secondly, and in many ways more troubling to me at least, is that many of these new games won’t be featured until years after their initial release! For example, I have “Urban Shadows” 1st edition, and there is simply no way it will be featured on “Ronin Roleplaying” before the 2nd edition of the game (which yes, I backed on Kickstarter) will be out. Hell, I won’t be featuring US 2e until well after it comes out, most likely!

I’m sitting here in my recliner, looking over at the stack of TTRPGs that have arrived recently, in the last month or two only. It stands over a foot high on my ottoman. Of those games, only one (“Seekers Beyond the Shroud”) has been featured on the podcast in any way, and only because I recorded a special, preview episode for that game in particular, as an episode zero, and our first Halloween special. “D13 RPG” is next on my list of games to play for “Ronin Roleplaying”, so it is in the stack, as well, but you won’t be hearing those episodes until early 2022. Meanwhile, there are many other games in said stack that deserve to be played and featured on my podcast, but I just don’t have the time.

Could I make the time for these games? Sure, if we started changing TTRPGs on a monthly basis for the podcast, but again, that wouldn’t start kicking in until 2022. I don’t want to do that anyway, because that would really shorten the amount of time I have to get into the story and explore how well those systems work as a solo RPG. I could solve this by making each show longer, maybe an hour to 90 minutes each, but that rather defeats the purpose of doing easily-consumed, 30-ish minute long podcasts. Plus that’s a lot of talking without breaks, and I know from experience that it won’t work out in the long run.

I had planned on taking the show to a quarterly rotation in 2022, plus the Halloween special. Had. There’s no way we can do that now, not if I want to play all of these games by the next decade!

So, what to do, then? Well, I may just have to compromise a bit, and see how it works for 2022. I can’t really change 2021 at all, since it is already recorded and ready to go (that’s way too much work to just toss aside now!), but I could mix up the planned games on “Ronin Roleplaying” for ’22. You see, I have a few rules for how I determine which games make the cut in a particular season. For example, I won’t play two games that are too similar back to back (such as not playing two ‘Powered by the Apocalypse’ games in a row). I believe I may also need to make sure that, of the seven games being played in a given season (calendar year), at least two are ‘from the shelf’… at least until I’ve gone through the games there that I really want to play.

But that compromise really throws a lot of the “new” games I’ve purchased to the wolves, so to speak. The aforementioned “Urban Shadows”, for example. It already isn’t high on my list to feature on the podcast, because it is designed very specifically for group play, and this just pushes any chance of giving it a try back until “I might be dead by then”-territory. It also leaves a lot of great games I am very excited about, such as “Vaesen”, “Mörk Borg”, “Spirit of ’77”, and so forth hanging in the breeze, with little chance they may show up anytime soon.

This is on me, of course. I got really into doing solo roleplaying for a while, couldn’t stop, and of course recorded all of it for the podcast. This meant that anything new I picked up would have to wait until 2022 at the earliest to end up on the show, making them immediately stale. While I was able to toss out a special Episode Zero for “Seekers Beyond the Shroud”, that isn’t the sort of thing I can do for all of these other games, nor for those that have been sitting on the shelf for literally decades.

Example: “In Nomine” is a game I have been itching to run for at least 20 years. It is scheduled to be the Halloween special on “Ronin Roleplaying”… in 2023.

Another example: “No Country for Old Kobolds” in in my stack of recently-purchased TTRPGs, and may well be the best game I’ve ever read for solo roleplaying (that wasn’t specifically designed for solo play, that is). But due to my programming rules, it won’t appear on the podcast until sometime in 2023 at the earliest, possibly 2024. Why? Too many other games that were in line before it! Honestly, I couldn’t set “Ironsworn” aside for NCFOK, could I? Not in good conscience, I couldn’t!

I have decided that, in the interests of not being like everyone else, I will not be featuring any edition of “Dungeons & Dragons”, nor any D&D-adjacent games, which cuts down the list of options on my ‘Old games’ list significantly! I have a rather huge collection of games in the 3.5 and 5e OGL vein, not to mention official D20 stuff and “Pathfinder”. I will also be ignoring all of my many, many “World of Darkness” games, for the same reason I wouldn’t feature them on “Knights of the Tabletop”. White Wolf is still clinging to their ‘Dark Pack’ licensing program, and I won’t have any part of it!

That’s over three shelves worth of games, removed from consideration already, and I still have a list of old games to feature that will last for a very, very long time. If I end up playing them all, we’ll be finishing up that list in… counting on fingers and toes again… 2027? Maybe?

I know none of this really matters to you, in the long run. You all have lives to lead, and the last thing you’re worrying about is what games might be featured of a sad little solo actual-play roleplaying podcast, like mine. But I think about this sort of thing a lot, probably more than is good for me.

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