Friday, November 28, 2014

Volumes of Information Litterally at My Fingertips and Yet I Don't Know a God-Damned Thing

One of the problems that I've noticed with participating in this hobby is that you can drown under the volume of information that has been produced to help you run your games in the best way possible. Just looking at my gaming shelf - you know, the one with all the fucking books I never actually look at but can't stand to put in a box - I've got six hardback books on the Forgotten Realms, a setting I don't fucking like, yet here they are cluttering up my shelf for that one occasion when I need to know something about a setting that I really don't like. 

I used to think that I was alone in this regard. Then I went over to a friend of mine's house and sat there talking to him and looking through the three hundred mint condition role-playing game books that he's never even so much as opened. Like me he's got books for settings he's never played, systems he has no interest in playing, and options that he wouldn't let in his games even if Katy Perry were to give him the nod and tell him she'd love to play one of his silly elf games. 

As we set there talking it suddenly occurred to me that something is incredibly wrong about all of this. It's like I'm hoarding books for games that will never come and that won't ever be played or that I'm somehow hoping that by having more books than the next guy that I'll win a game no one else is really playing or has any interest in joining. And the worst part of this is that I suddenly realized that I wasn't alone. 

What the fuck is wrong with us?

I don't have an answer to that question but I do have whiskey and hours of writing ahead of me as I'm working on getting a few more projects completed before the end of the year. So here's to the work day, may it be productive and awesome. 


  1. I went through this revalation about ten years ago when I lived in Seattle...luckily before I moved to New Mexico, which meant I was able to clean out about half a ton of books from my shelves and storage prior to moving.

    I still have the problem...but it's a fraction of what it used to be. These days at least I don't buy a game without intending to at least read it...!

  2. Still have the problem too. But I'm getting better about it (I've learned to tell myself "no" a lot when I want to buy something). Nonetheless, I could do better.

  3. I have a similar problem, particularly where pdfs are concerned. Optimistically, I would argue that we gather these things to mine for inspiration, even if we don't plan on using any of it as written. Of course, the pessimist in me says that it is perhaps the same reason that people hoard self-improvement books and exercise equipment. On some level of our brain, the act of acquiring a thing triggers the same psychological payoff that actually improving ourselves does, and thus we don't actually need to put forth the effort for real improvement.

  4. Why do people complain about this? This is a hobby and we are collectors. Just like model train guys have more trains than they have tracks for, Basketball fans have more jerseys than they need, and comic book folks by two issues -one to read and the other to hide away in a plastic bag. Collectors man. thats what we do. My aunt collects spoons- she's never used any of them to eat with.

  5. I don't have that problem at all. I never buy gaming books I never use. I never buy gaming books to have duplicates so I can have a game copy even though I only play two or three times a year face-to-face. Oh wait. Yes I do. Crap. And I just got a coupon for Lulu. I've got to go check out what I haven't got two of yet.

  6. The explanation, my friends, is simple. We are Greedy Gamers. My wife thinks this term most appropriate, and ultimately, I agree with her. "This art is cool!", "I want to learn the system this is built on- only for the math", "This guy's prose is Fantastic! and he really knows how to build an encounter.", "Well, I DO have the first two of this series...", "Well, I needed that drive space for my PDF collection.", "I need to get to the store before all of the Free RPG Day shit is taken, ahhh-ahhh-AHHH! Get in the car and let's gooooo!".

    Whatever, I enjoy having an excellent library of games. Even if I'm the only one that knows what any of it means.

  7. Hi everyone! My name is Steve and I'm an alco... er, Greedy Gamer!

    *apologies to AA folks* ;-)

    Seriously though, I think Andrew makes a good point, and I'm inclined to agree with it. But also, like many others, I pared down my collection some time ago and trimmed it of the fat of games I never have played or will never play again.

    Now, maybe similar to Tim, I only buy game stuff I "intend" to use and play. I'm usually able able to find something intriguing and useful in every game book/adventure/zine/etc. Which means I find myself almost exclusively buying OSR stuff these days.

    Well, and New D&D, of course. I always have to get the New D&D when it comes out.

  8. I was without power for over 60 ours due to a snowstorm so between wood gathering, tending the woostove, shoveling, and melting snow to flush the toilets I read a couple d20 books I havent touched in a while. It reminded me why I favor pdfs over paper these days, i only use a couple pages out of hundreds. At least we aren't as crazy as comic collectors who never read some comics because they are too valuable.

  9. I am this way but over the last few years I have been giving away the "player's copies" of books and the ones I don't like and will never use to other gamers that might actually use them.

  10. I can't help you bro.

    This very subject came up on the blogsphere a while back, and honestly, can't say I get it.

    I don't own games I never look at or play. Why would you? What did you buy it for if you don't intend on playing it, or at the very least reading it for inspiration.

    Sorry, I live in a 1 bedroom apartment in New York City. I ain't got the money, or the space to be buying crap I don't like when the cash could go to rent, power, food, or hell, stuff I do like.

  11. The only hardbound books I'm buying right now are D&D 5th edition. That's pretty much the only game I'm actually playing. Sure, I had tons of different setting books and systems, but those have been lost or destroyed over the years. I got completely out, but 5th pulled me back in. I do, however, purchase pdf's of other systems I like, such as Savage Worlds, Numenera and such. I'd rather have all of the books, but pdf's are cheaper, and take up infinitely less space. So, I guess I've reformed myself to a more sensible and practical role-playing hobbyist. That, and I'm relatively broke most of the time.

  12. I totally understand this phenomena... However, for all the books on my shelf, I do buy with the intent of reading and/or running the particular system in question.

    There are very few game books that I've purchased that I only purchased "to have". Every book on my shelf was intended to be a resource for some campaign or other.

    Not that I've read them all... The road to Hell is paved with the best intentions, as they say. I've *intended* to read every book in my shelf. That doesn't mean I actually have... yet...

  13. In days of yore and still on occasion I will psyche myself up into a deep interest on a given game for a short period of time....maybe with the best of intentions. Then either the group isn't so interested, or the sheer volume and time necessary to learn the system forces me to put it aside, or the reality of my focus on the hobby slaps me around (which is ultimately that if I just stick with 2-3 games for perpetuity I will never notice the absence of the other systems). I once bought all the Chill 2nd edition books due to this affliction...all Hero System....almost every OSR tome ever that I could lay my hands on in print despite having a group where the OSR-ness is irrelevant and they would just prefer playing AD&D 2nd edition over anything else in terms of "classics."

    I suspect this happens to a lot of us. Hell.....I've got Dungeon Crawl Classics on my shelf, and I love collecting and reading the modules, but suspect I'll never get to run it. I'll have my GURPS books forever, though that's not such a bad thing. Games which are sitting on the shelf and mocking me for my inability to generate interest (in either reading or playing them) include Numenera, Edge of the Empire (recently donated all of it to a cohort who looked like he could use them), MnM 3rd/DC Universe RPG, Dragon Age....sigh. All games I'd like to find the time to play and run (and read) but each one commands too much time and attention, which is already held captive by D&D and BRP.

  14. Such a great conversation, I admittedly stayed for the Gif.. I'm sorry , I'm weak..


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