Ohr Gaming in 2021
It’s been almost two years since the Ohr Gaming Community has put a pause on our living campaign. With COVID-19, cancer diagnoses, play testing Torches in the Dark and working on content for both Infinite Darkness and Mythic age, and running games here and there, I’ve had a busy schedule.
5th Edition has expanded considerably over the few years that we have been playing the game. Originally ‘Lore’ started out using the basic 5th Edition PHB because those were the only character options available. Since that point they have added tons of class, race and archetype options, feats, etc. Our gaming community used to be one of the largest and most active living campaigns on the net. There was a time in the not-so-distant past when we averaged 50-60 responses to surveys and posts not unlike this one. It was a great time, but obviously managing a community as large as that is difficult. We had multiple GMs, impressive systems in place, community contests and more. Ideally I’d like to get back to that again, realistically it’s going to be a challenge.
I can see a future for the community, but the expectations of players for a living campaign of now versus then, means the scope will need to be reduced until we meet certain criteria. Our community is currently lacking a lot of the things that used to make it great, which is something I’m going to work to correct. It’s also been one of the major hurdles for me to get over, I’ve tried hard to create the same success, but I forget that it’s a little difficult to do on your own. A solid support staff and enthusiastic players make a big difference. I can only run so many games and work on so much content before the sheer level of burnout wanes on me to the point to where I just have to step back. I love working on content for players; I love running games, but to do both is extremely time-consuming and takes a lot of effort and energy.
What do I think we need to do to return to form? Feedback is obviously something I’d like to hear from players, but at this point I’m primarily writing this for myself, so I have a documented plan of what I need to do and what I need to focus on. It also highlights some issues we’ve had in the past. These are things that I need to take into consideration and hopefully create systems to ensure that they don’t happen again, or if they do, they don’t affect the community as drastically.
1.) Build a reliable, active, trustworthy, good-spirited volunteer team. At our most active, our community had over 320 members, 8 game masters, many player story-tellers and content writers. Our community created over 30 documents detailing grand cities, monstrous villains, fauna and flora, adventure locations, dungeons, and more. Together we typed over 400,000 words. Think about that for a moment, that’s nearly half of the words/text found in the King James bible or about the equivalency of four novels. This is the most important aspect of the community. When everything was running smoothly, this was the key. Being able to bounce ideas off of great game masters and discussing upcoming story-arches and weaving those stories into our campaigns ultimately set us apart from so many other communities. Our series of games weren’t just random one-shots, they were interconnected and created a large narrative arch that players were a part of. Maintaining a good working relationship with each other is also extremely important. In-fighting between game masters ultimately lead to bad blood between some of our more prominent GMs who were acting pillars of the community. After that fracture was formed, it was never repaired and eventually that brought about the decline of the community.
2.) Find, nurture and support enthusiastic players. Create a better community. Players are the lifeblood of any community. Early on players are enthusiastic, ready to play and willing to help others. As time goes on, a lot of players (especially because it’s an online medium) become fickle. This is because I think many people feel because it’s an online game, it’s far easier (and it is) to simply not show up to games. It’s a little harder to do when you have to meet up with these same players and interact with each other across a table versus the void that is the internet. Players who are good-natured and respect and value the time of their fellow players and the GMs/Community staff members are the goal. Players with friendly attitudes are also extremely important. This is something that the Ohr Gaming Community needs to work on. Because of the tight-knit community, many of us are extremely comfortable with one another (some more so than others, and sometimes to the detriment of new players). We also have many community members who denounce or sometimes deride the “general” player community in public voice/text channels. This is a negative connotation and when people feel like they’re being attacked without ever really being given a chance, it’s easy for them to leave and not care to play with a group of people who seem to have already decided that they’re too stupid to interact with. Our core problem is that a lot of our most veteran members are exactly that, veteran gamers who are burnt out, cynical, sarcastic, pessimists while being comfortable and okay with that status quo. I’m open to suggestions on how we can re-energize some of these players, but toxicity and dickish behavior really takes a toll on the players and the game masters. I’m personally guilty of many of these things as well, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t just as pessimistic about a lot of our community’s prospects. The thing is, I’m willing to improve. In the future, I’m only going to be focusing on players and community members who want to strive to do the same thing and remove the rest.
3.) Create community systems to foster better behavior. Finding players is easy, finding excellent players is difficult. In the past, Ohr has had many systems in place to facilitate player feedback and complaints. Feedback was used often and considered when looking to add additional features and balance changes. The complaints section was rarely used, but there were many occasions when players had a less than desirable experience in a game while playing with particular GMs or players but instead of voicing those concerns or approaching the staff, those complaints were directed inwards among groups of players and sometimes, even a GM. This created an echo chamber between certain sub-sets of members that had formed cliques, and ultimately they were happiest when complaining to one another and instead focused on ousting or ignoring the “offending” party altogether. Passive-aggressive behaviors, snarky comments, etc. These obnoxious behaviors ultimately forced me to turn my attention away from games and working on content to play the role of diplomat behind the scenes. I have no problem helping players and game masters come to a resolution, but it should be a public affair and the proper channels should be used. Instead, bad feelings had festered to a point where a solution was unattainable. Therefore, community feedback and being mature enough to approach issues during games is extremely important. If systems are created, there needs to be a greater focus on using them and ensuring that players know those options exist. If players choose not to use those avenues and instead act in bad faith, we can simply chalk it up to them not being able to cope with the situation at hand and remove them.
4.) Setting Realistic Schedules & Getting Paid. I sometimes forget (IE: All the time) that I can’t keep up the same level of content creation workload that our community staff once afforded me. Lack of quality game masters, helpful moderators/players has put me in a place where I’m simultaneously working on providing free games to players when and where I can, creating high-quality battle/world maps, tokens, documentation, booklets, writing lore and adventures, advertising, maintain/update our website and more while trying to figure out a way to turn my gaming passion into a lucrative enough career that I can reliably pay the bills or at the very least, ensure that it remains a side-gig that is worth the effort and time that I pour into it. I’ve allowed comments from players and feelings of imposter syndrome to turn me away from potentially lucrative avenues of income because I felt like paid GMing was a hoax or not worth the money, but if 2020 taught us anything it’s that online gaming, especially tabletop gaming is a source of actual income for thousands of people. Just because one person yells down at you for wanting to be paid for your time, or they don’t think it’s worth it, doesn’t mean it’s true. More than half the games on Roll20 are now paid games. I’m going to be more realistic with my schedule moving forward and more transparent with my player base about when they can expect updates to the projects I’m working on, but I will not shy away from offering my services at a premium to players who will pay for my time and the effort I put into my games.
5.) Ohr Gaming - D&D Reforged. It’s no secret that I prefer OSR games. There’s just something about the old school style of play that I prefer in my day-to-day games, especially as a player. D&D Reforged (not official name or anything, of course) is the primary body of work that I’ll be putting effort towards in 2021. Torches in the Dark is our OSR outing, so when I want to play a high-stakes, deadly game of sword and sorcery with a tinge of grimdark, I can run one of those games. D&D Reforged is me moving in the opposite direction, more towards a higher-powered game where players are heroes and stand above the common folk but are still realistic. The original community game’s way back in 2013-2015 focused on this type of play and they always provided for a hilariously fun experience for the players and myself. I’ll have more information about this project at a later date, and I’ll share it with the community when I have a concrete layout of exactly what I’ll be working on changing and what that means for our games.
The Ohr Gaming Network is a gaming community focused on fostering a group of mature, intelligent, funny and down to earth players who are more interested in camaraderie over competitiveness. We want the Ohr Gaming Community to be a place for adults that can enjoy socializing with friends as much as they enjoy playing the games themselves.