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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The Pace of the Game

I think alot about time.  In a world, and at an age, where I seem to have less of it in every way I consider it more and more.  Much of what I had is now gone, left behind me like an invisible path of memories and experiences that mixes and mingles and certainly crosses the paths of many others.  In a world that is so very focused on the now, on the future, and on speed I know that I prefer things slowed down.  I would not stop the steady, heavy march of time even if I could, but I do my best to remove myself when I can from its speedy yoke.

Roleplaying is an activity that by its very nature requires us to sit down, think, talk together, and slow down.  It is a game that should not be played in short bursts, like so much Snake on the toilet.  Instead, we organize relatively long periods of time to it.  There is preparation on the part of the DM, time where one of the group must focus attention on the plot and action, and consider carefully the party and the story.  It is is his or her own fate the DM considers, wrapped up in the lives and behavior of the NPCS, the Monsters, the antagonists, and even the dungeon itself however or in whatever form that place/space manifests itself.

Then we meet and sit.  There are unwritten customs in our groups, some common to all and others much more specific, but most somewhat ritualistic.  How many of us first share our food and drink?  Which of us places our dice just so at our place at the table and rolls them a few times, trying to eek out some insight as to their behavior?  While we wait for others to arrive don't we all discuss our lives, our weeks, our work, our families, and then ultimately...the game, our characters, the previous session?  We take our time.  Patience is a given.  We wait for all, or as a group decide to forge ahead.  Yes, we have some time, but not all the time.

As the game begins, and the story and its events unfold before the players and their characters, the individual and the group must act and react but there is time to consider, even in the most heated of battles.  The combat can feel quick, but there is that feeling of the slowing of time, even if such a thing isn't truly possible.  It is this perceived manipulation of time that I crave, the feeling that things are taking forever until finally I look at my watch or a clock and see that hours have flown by as we, as I, was immersed in the play.

If you've been reading my blog recently, you'll know that I've come heavily under the influence of photography.  It is a hobby that requires time to master the technical skill required to take a photo, time to find a location in which to shoot, time to set up and frame the picture, time and patience to wait for something to happen within that frame, and finally time to process and review the photograph.  It is a practice indelibly enmeshed with time so much so that the finished photograph is, in reality, the art of capturing a moment of time.

The younger players who read this may not yet feel the pressure of time.  I know that when I was happily getting lost in adventures over the course of a weekend with friends, I paid time no mind.  Food was more important, and sleep only came when we were all at the point of exhaustion.  There is no reason to consider these games as lost or stolen time.  Legends were made, empires were built and then crumbled, and a good time was had by all as the seconds, minutes, hours, and yes even days were eaten, moment by moment, by the game we love.

These days I am luck to be able to spare three of four hours to devote to my gaming group.  It is a chunk of time happily set aside so that there can be legends, and heroes, and empires rising and falling.

Whatever your game, regardless of age, take note that you have chosen to slow down time.  You have chosen to break from the pack, those clamoring for more, now, faster and instead have chosen to chill, relax, breathe, think, create, play...pretend.

...and remember that these are the moments that make us human.  Time is a finite resource for each person, the thief whom even the guildmaster can not swindle.  Time is like the stories we tell and the game we play, without beginning or end.  The magic of time is best felt when we share it with others.

Go Play.

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