#RPGaDay2021 – Day 22 – Substitute

Today is Sunday, August 22nd, 2021 and for #RPGaDay2021, we are once again boldly launching ourselves into a new week. There are but nine days left in the marathon of daily positivity about RPGs and that tells us that this is the last full week of the event and the second-to-last Sunday. It is not, however, the second-to-last single-word prompt. To put day counting aside for now, the prompt with which we begin the fourth and final full week of #RPGaDay2021 is substitute. If ever a day should be loaded with alternate prompts you would think it would be this day, but once again life and human cunning lets us know that what can be expected can also be unexpected.

To place something, and then place it again?

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I think the word substitute seems to have picked up a negative connotation in use. Rather than simply meaning a replacement, there is the sense in at least some contexts that a substitute is not as good as “The Real Thing“. From substitute teachers to soy products masquerading openly or stealthily as meat there is the sense that the original thing is intrinsically better – even if only barely. Of course, a little thought, or a grounding moment in the dictionary can remind us that no matter how we have come to alter the word in use, by association, or by an accident of learning, its meaning is quite neutral and casts no aspersions on what is not going to be used or what is.

On Saturdays, I am pleased to be a member of a group of gamers that grew out of the RPG Learning group and which we laughingly refer to as the Saturday Alternators. It started life as a group that would play games every other week, or on alternate weeks in other words. Simultaneously it was a Saturday group that was different from a Saturday group which played every other week, but the other other weeks. Neither group was a substitute for each other, each was set up for the purpose of alternating between so that there would be no gameless Saturdays.

Of course, life has its way of complicating schedules.

The Saturday Alternators, not to be confused with the Triple Ace Gamers, were called together for the express purpose of playing a variety of games – especially ones that some or all of us had yet to play. Some of these games, such as Age of Rebellion, stuck and became a regular alternative to alternating the game. Of course, we would still alternate – just not as often.

However, life being life, people of course found that there were Saturdays where they could not play and where it was too late to launch one of the scheduled alternates, so…. we had to find a substitute for the alternate or else there would be no game! Some of these substitutes have been such hits that they too became regulars, such as our Homecoming series using Mythras and Broken Compass.

In this fluid scenario of play and players, the connotation ascribed to substitution has become markedly positive. It is a blessing to be able to quickly get a game in motion, have people embrace the pitch, and give it their best – and at their 6:30 am, no less!

Without these guys and their penchant for switching things up at a moment’s notice, I would be no better than a certain rhyming giant, left unemployed, in Greenland.

In Our Play

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