I had been GMing for the first time ever with my brand new 4th edition D&D books. I’d treated them with love and care, putting in all the pages of errata with post-it notes. And after 30 sessions it had all gone wrong. The story made no sense, the player characters had outgrown their conflicts in the world and we were just fighting monsters for the sake of it.
I was trying to figure out what to do differently, I’d played 3.5, Serenity, World of Darkness and saw how these games did things differently but it stilll felt there was something missing. So I looked up RPG awards to try to find something different and I found Mouse Guard.
I read it and it was written with a sense of fairness and honesty in mind. Nothing was telling me to “cheat” to make it work. It aligned with my senses of how I should be running games.
Mouse Guard was good but I still wanted a classic fantasy game, one with Tolkienesque tropes and saving the world. “Saving the world” is still something I prioritise despite how unfashionable it is. So when I found out that Burning Wheel was out there I got it.
I had some travel plans that had fallen through so the week I got the Burning Wheel books I also had a week off work with nothing else to do. So I read it and reread it, made a bunch of characters and played out tedious fights and range and covers. I had made some poor assumptions and brought baggage with me but I started asking questions in the community. I must have been a real burden!
I ran 2 terrible campaigns.
When 10.10.10 was announced I thought I’d take a gamble and try to go for it, even though it was on the other side of the Atlantic ocean. I learned a lot that weekend, especially from a game ran by Yagathai. That was when a lot of the interpersonal priorities clicked for me. Up to that point I’d been playing from a position of preservation, saving the world means keeping it the same, whereas really the worlds of the characters are fluid and can change as you do or from losing the things you hold dearest.
From there I got better and my confidence and techniques grew and grew.
I took a break from campaign play, primarily doing convention one shots, similar scenarios to the one Yagathai ran.
Over the last year I’ve been working on a game called Mannerism, which is an Approach based game (resolution comes from your description rather than dice or point spending) about librarian/miners, twice gifted and destined to overthrow the sorcerers if only they can come into their power.