All Good Things Come To An End
Long ago, at the dark dawn of the millennium, circa 2003, I played my very first RPG (Palladium's Heroes Unlimited, in case you're curious). Over the past 13 years, I have played with several members of this original group, finally culminating in "The Group", my main group, sometime in 2010.
The tales that were told were legendary. We broke prophecies, saved lands, resurrected an old game, started a new one, built a campaign setting, and abandoned a few others. We tried new systems like Fate and Cortex, and the ill-fated D&D 4th Edition, which we shall not speak of again. Our hearts were won over by Pathfinder, and for the majority of our time together, Paizo's perfection of 3.5 was our go-to system for badassery and feat fiending.
Time marched on, much like it always does, and we all grew older. With each passing year, new responsibilities were thrust upon us. I became a father, a few of the guys got jobs they weren't afraid to announce in public, folks broke up, and others got married.
Life happens. This was a motto used by many members of "The Group" whenever being an adult reared its ugly head to impede our play time. Some two years ago, my best friend (our group's Game Master and my personal favorite GM) was offered a job that made the respectable one he'd had look like a summer job mowing lawns. The pay was great, the benefits were choice, and it meant he would be operating in a larger market (he's a new guy. Markets are a thing.). The problem was that the market was down state some two and a half hours. This looked to be the end of out long running game. We briefly spoke of strange things like gaming on computers but found that such things lacked the personal feel of the game. After all, we met every week to see each other. The game just sort of grew out of that.
We celebrated, threw a helluva going away bash. Drinks were had, memories shared, and wells wished, and before we knew it, he and his wife were gone from our every day (or week, as the case was). A fellow group member and I took on the mantle of continuing the game we had all started, each taking turns running. The year stretched on, and we were hitting a pretty good stride. Other members of the group wanted to try their hand at Game Mastery, which we encouraged. It became so prevalent that we instituted a 1 month run time for games. More new systems arose, and more new games were played, with the original game, the old game seeing a sometimes three-month break before being touched upon again.
Around a year ago, my family and I decided to move out of the area, leaving "The Group", and our game behind. I made it a point to check in with the Game Master who had taken the mantle of continuing the epic adventure squarely upon hi shoulders. He'd tell me how things were progressing, what the players themselves were up to, and generally how the game, on the whole, was going. As time wore on, the gang seemed less and less interested in gaming. Even the Game Masters (At last count there were three for three different games, with talks of a fourth also stepping in.). A couple of weeks ago I spoke to that Game Master again, and he informed me that "The Group", our group, had dissolved.
It is not an uncommon thing to have happen. Groups rise and fall with the sun, but this one stung a bit. I remember the good old days, when we would all cram into my best friend's apartment, grabbing the best place on the couch before the others arrived, shooting the breeze as we waited for everyone to arrive, then grab food, then eat the food, turning a three hour game into a six hour affair. I remember the excited looks on our faces as we faced one new challenge after another or the elation we felt when we ran across a beloved NPC.
It is a sad thing to see that dissolve, but as we were so fond of saying, life happens. It can't be helped. Sure, I have played in groups before "The Group", and I have my own right now, but when you have "The Group", things feel different. It's akin to being in love. A lot of the things you enjoy doing with someone you just sort of like are magnified 10 fold when you do them with someone you love.
Alas, my friends, all good things come to an end.
I have read, on more than a few occasions, that this happens to a lot of groups consisting of folks my age or older. Time can be cruel and uncaring to the plight of the fine, upstanding people of Homlet, or the battered refugees of Cloud Haven. And while I miss those wacky guys and their characters something fierce, I am in no short supply of options to enjoy their company.
There are always options open to those who wish to "get the band back together". There are several services online like Roll20, Fantasy Grounds, or just plain Google Hangouts are great ways to see each to face to face, especially if geography is the villain separating your crew. As far as gaming in person, if you can thumb through everyone's schedule, choose one day a month to congregate for marathon sessions of dice chuckery.
Good things end. Groups dissolve. Life happens. But games... games can last forever in the memories of the players and the GM. Enjoy the games you are playing and the ones you are running. Go into each session like it will be the last one you ever see, because it just may be before long.
As for the bard? Fear not, for I am eternal.
Roll well, my friends,
+Ed The Bard
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