#RPGaDay2021 – Day 25 – Tradition

It is the 25th day of the 31 days of #RPGaDay2021. The four prompts today are Welcome, Tradition, Fresh, and Box. I find that I am torn between using the Tradition or Box prompts today. One would continue in the vein of being about roleplaying as an activity, which I have done a lot of this year, and the other would be more about a type of product, which I have not done very much of at all since my suggestion to move to single-word prompts was embraced for this marathon. When in doubt and RPGs are about, go to the dice!

Today, lacking a D25 (but there is always hope) I chose to roll a D4 to select one of the four prompts. If life gets in the way of complex, try simple. For fun, though, I chose a glow-in-the-dark one to roll in the pre-dawn stillness and super-charged it with a black light for extra-blinding glow in that period of extra-dark dark.

The result? I rolled a two. Today’s prompt will therefore be Tradition, but I will pay homage to Fresh by making the response about how my traditions of play have changed over the years.

LISTEN to the Casting Shadows Podcast instead

Tradition

I suppose that if there is one thing that tradition is supposed to be it is stable. I guess that pretty much guarantees that it won’t be. Times change and people change with them and their circumstances. Still, the sense of how things are to be done sticks with us and gives us a sense of connection to the past, even as we understand that tradition, as we might understand it, is a process of change.

When I first started gaming, the chance to play came regularly but without warning or preparation. The time, place, and circumstances – not to mention players present – were seemingly random. One small piece of order we applied to the chaos was to start with a review of the character sheets so that everyone at the table had a sense of what and who was in play. I am sure that for some of us that was all about preventing cheating, but for me it was all about the characters. Who were they? What did they look like and what could they be seen to carry? What were they seeking to accomplish and how did they intend to accomplish it?

As time went on, this tradition (to use the word generously) evolved into a practice more deserving of the term. Play had a specific day and time. It would begin with a review of the characters which would then segue into a recap of the previous session and a summary of any discussions we had had between the last session and this session.

By the time the World of Darkness had taken off, the tradition had evolved further. I now held onto the character sheets so that I could review them and consider them during my downtime. I was playing 5 – 7 days per week at this point and on several days, more than one game. Character review was no longer necessary, but a careful recap at the end of every session by the players, and a motivating recap at the start of every session by me took its place. We would meet early to chat and socialize and then at an appointed time, start the recap and then play.

Through the period where WoD games were our focus, this tradition would evolve further. Music playlists framed the start and end of sessions, recaps were done from a chosen character’s perspective and took on a performative aspect so as to better highlight who and what that character was in ways that play could not always provide. Long discussions would follow play, often late into the night at a regular roster of specific coffee shops and 24hr restaurants.

In Korea, I had the opportunity but also the requirement to begin tradition anew each time I found a new group of players. Time and mobility have always been factors here, so the complicated traditions of the past were replaced with short and pointed recaps at session start and finish combined with allotment and assessment of a given game’s experience point system – if it has one. Discussion was a variable that some groups embraced and others did not.

Now, having migrated to exclusively online play with even shorter time limits, the one thing that remains of the tradition is the recap. Everything else occurs on other days and in other ways, but the recap remains. One thing which has resurfaced to my great delight, however, are the long discussions of play in a variety of places such as video and text chats, and various groups.

If we were to return to face to face play and have the luxury to do it in a way that feels unrushed, I would bring back the in-character recap (Notably seen in the first Star Trek Adventures campaign we ran) and the post-game discussions. It’s funny, though. The one aspect of online play which has become a significant part of how I view my gaming now is the opportunity to record and revisit it.

I would miss that new tradition if it were to go away~

In Our Play

An entire playlist of recaps and reflections!

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