April 30, 2012

The In-betweeners

My biggest problem these days with my gaming is not lack of good players or lack of a good system, it's a lack of time. As a 40-something parent, squeezing in even a monthly campaign session is tough. There's so many great games and adventures to be experienced (from both sides of the screen) that I simply can't work it all in.

One recent tactic I've employed to battle this time deficiency is the use of chat sessions. Although there is some great software out there for holding games completely online, I'm still a big fan of face-to-face gaming. But recently I ran a group chat session with my players to cover a discussion with an NPC. It was an important, info-laden discussion, but it didn't involve much in the way of dice rolling or combat. We chatted for approximately 2 hours and it worked so well, we're doing it again this week to handle some town chores (more NPC talk, equipping PC and buying goods, selling unwanted magic items, arranging for transportation, etc.).

Was the chat session the same as "being there"? Nope. But it did feel immediate in a way that simply exchanging e-mails never would. They were asking questions and getting answers in real time, and they knew their "question time" for this NPC was finite. The chat program in question (Talker) also allowed for graphic uploads and we were able to store the whole chat for later perusal—which was not only useful for the players but their DM as well!

We'll see how the second chat session goes, but "meeting" online for a 1-2 hour chat late on a weekday evening has so far been easier than meeting in person, and it allows for more combat and dice rolling when we do meet in person. One more weapon in the fight against dwindling time.
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