Whether you want to admit it or not, odds are that you're going to get hit with System ADD at some point. Well, assuming you've actually spent time playing multiple systems and have found multiple systems that you like. System ADD is simply a part of life for gamers everywhere, but dealing with it can be a real kick in the pants. After all, how do you stay focused on your high fantasy dungeon crawl when you really want to run that space opera you've had kicking around in the back of your head. Today, I want to talk about that.
Writing Advice Applies
When it boils right down to it, running - or playing - in a game is much the same as writing a novel. It takes a long time to do right, and you can constantly be plagued by desires to do something else. As such, there is a lot of writing advice on this subject that can be useful to you as a GM or player if you're being faced with those urges to play something, anything, different than the game you're currently committed to.
Write The Idea Down
Whether it is a character, story, or game idea there is often an easy escape in just writing it down. Writing the idea down can get it out of your head and into a medium that you believe is safe to hold onto. Maybe you'll never look at it again, maybe you will, but the point is that once it is written down it is out of your head. Once it is out of your head, you can get back to the task at hand. At present I have a notebook where every third page has a little paragraph with a story or game idea. Not to mention my "Campaign Proposal" tag on this site ( more of those will likely be coming soon.)
So, if you're idea won't leave you alone then write it down and see if that helps.
Focus On The Good
Idea still with you? I bet it is enticing you with the promise of all sorts of shiny moments and chances for campaign badassery. New ideas are always like that. Instead of dwelling on what could be, focus on your current game. What about this game had you excited to run it? What potential do you see in it? What moments of campaign badassery can you make happen right there? Often getting yourself excited for something coming up in a game can fight off a lot of other ideas trying to dominate your time. Why? because they're things you can be excited about, and are closer to being achieved.
So, instead of thinking about how awesome the daring shuttle escape will be in the opening of that Space Opera, why not think about how awesome it'll be when the Dread Knight dramatically reveals himself in a town square. Or how cool it'll be when the rogue gets to jump off a crumbling tower to try and catch the falling princess. Make it happen, you can do it.
When Nothing Works
When nothing works, it may be time to do a serious evaluation of the game you are playing. Is it simply a desire to play something else, or is there something not working for you in the current game? If there is something not working, are there solutions other than aborting the game? Is this flaw a make or break deal? This can be rough to do, but sometimes a game just isn't working.
Talk It Out
So you've wrote the idea down, focused on your game, and evaluated and found that the current game is just not doing it for you. The last step here is to talk it out with your players. Maybe they have ideas to help it out. Maybe they're in the same boat as you, but don't want to bring it up because they think you're having fun. Maybe it is time for a break from that game, that system, or those characters for a bit. There is nothing wrong with this. Sometimes the magic just leaves, and you've done everything you could to prevent that from happening.
Still, don't end the game early lightly. Get everyone's opinion. Games are supposed to be fun for all involved and you are involved. However, that also doesn't mean just ending the game without warning to other players. Give the game some dignity if you are closing it out. Give it an ending. Give some closure to the story arcs. Let it end well, not just being smothered with a pillow while it sleeps.
Do you have any tricks for keeping on task when System ADD sets in? Any times you've just had to shut a game down because you couldn't find a way to make it work for you? Sound off in the comments.