The Backup Plan

As much as gamers are a creative lot, we all get stuck in our respective grooves. Grooves, as one may note, can appear as ruts from the outside, and it’s important to leap out of the trenches of regular thought and run across the battlefield and see what kind of pointy things loom out there. While it’s safe in the trenches, action provides experience, and new experiences are needed to break our modalities. How do we introduce new things to our groups? Here’s a fun tip which is relatively painless for you and yours. I call it, the backup plan.

Whether you’re running the game for your group or you’re on a rotation with other folks, there comes a time when your collective cannot all get together. You can carry on with your campaign, certainly, but there are times when you need everyone together and it doesn’t make sense to carry on. Take, for example, the group of heroes on level 37 of the dungeon. It would be unusual if Justice, the Knight Templar, suddenly poofed away, now wouldn’t it? You can pretend he’s with the group, but doesn’t do much–like a video game NPC–you can let someone else run him (but if he dies, what then) or you can do something decidedly different. You can unleash the backup plan.

The backup plan is where one of the gang unveils a new game, game system, or something to allow the group which made it to the table an opportunity to get their gaming fix, while simultaneously presenting them with something a bit out of the ordinary. It breaks up the monotony, offers interesting diversions, and there is no long term investment for those in your group who don’t want to play “Alien Hunting Furries in the Robot Apocalypse”. Introduce the concept of the backup plan to your group, and soon it will become a regular part of your rotation. Tasting new games is fun and you can usually learn some concept, conceit, mechanic, or trick from this “other system” you can use to make your own game more powerful. Cross-pollination is part and parcel of the roleplaying experience, and there is much to be learned from every game you play.

Give it a shot. You won’t be disappointed. Until next time, I bid you, dear reader, adieu!

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