Conventions are great place to find new gaming experiences but not everyone is inclined to them. You may find yourself with a stable and local group–and are pretty lucky if so–with little variation in group composition or sometimes even party roles. How then to shake it up if things need a little freshening?
Consider a shift of venue.
At least a temporary one.
Each year, in addition to convention games the playtesting group has gamed at a cabin relatively removed from town. It allows for a different experience and one many gaming groups might want to consider. We have discussed the importance of physical game spaces before. With all the implication of the table and its surrounds, it really shouldn’t be much of a surprise that the choice to move games for an event or temporary period can really switch up your group vibe.
Consider the following:
- Thoughtful Preparation – Simply put, if GMs don’t prep well for an “away game” the game is likely to suffer for it. Conversely, most GMs will put more into the process for a game where their resources aren’t as likely to be at hand. While digital references greatly reduce the strain, it is likely that the amount of consideration and possible need of contingencies will push up game quality a notable degree.
- Increased Commitment – If you make gaming a destination or propose a temporary venue shift people immediately have to weigh the implication of travel and schedule and decide if they can still participate. This process of resource checks almost always guarantees that the players participating are coming more committed than ever as that they mitigated and navigated the challenges of the change. Don’t make this a habit to “test” players though, they won’t like it if it seem fickle or frequent.
- Renewed Focus – If you host a game at a remote location (cabin, summer house, or the like) gamers are likely to be further away from “real life” and more likely to relax and immerse in the gameplay. Make sure to warn players if they will be out of reliable cell communications and to plan accordingly depending of remoteness from “civilization” and travel times.
- Logistics Streamlining – People tend to be more honest or direct about what they need to be comfortable with destination gaming. When a new area is set up a player has a new moment to address things that they might even be tolerating at a home or local venue. Let people participate in the setup and listen to their needs. Long standing issues can be vented and clear communication can happen if it needs to.
- Prop Streamlining – While miniatures, maps and terrain can be awesome adds sometimes the bare-bones tokens and grids (or no mapping at all) can be a great way to get people into a new head-space at the table. If your table engages well in combats, you might not be able to skip the table entirely.
- New Energy for a New Game – Changing gaming venue can also be a good way to introduce a new setting, story arc or campaign. The physical cue of changed venue will instinctively ready even regular players for newness and open up their perspectives to experiential shifts.
- The Commonality of Not-Gaming – While the most die-hard gamer may be able to hit the dice for days on end, most can’t. The likely game down-times in a destination setting provide opportunities to get to know your gaming group in other ways from cooking to hikes, crafting to campfires a little time away from the dice often does wonders for cohesion when its go-time for the dungeon.
A shift in gaming venue for a week or two can be a great shake-up for a game that is drying out, slowing down or start something all together new. Just make sure your group is on board before pulling the trigger (otherwise you might have a VERY small turnout).