Returning to Deathwatch: It’s All Okay

For what’s meant to be a social, entertaining hobby, I’ve struggled a lot with tabletop roleplaying games. Yet still, for all my protests, I never can quite seem to quit it.

This post is part of my attempt to re-approach the hobby with a relaxed mind.

I want to try getting back into the hobby of tabletop roleplaying games again, and it’s okay. For a good while I thought that it wasn’t for me, but for a good while I’ve been trying to force myself into being things that I’m not. It feels like the right time to try this out again.

I want to try game mastering the Deathwatch RPG again, and that’s okay. I’m sick of second-guessing myself about the things I want to try, or telling myself that it’s wasting time that should be put toward other things.

It’s been years since I seriously tried an RPG, and that’s okay. It’s good to let some enthusiasm come through, and the idea that I’m too old – or that others will think me as too old – is a sad, crippling idea.

I’m second guessing myself and worrying about it, and that’s okay. This is something new, or at least, something I’ve not done in a while. Of course I’m going to fear the unknown.

The Deathwatch roleplaying game. Image from Fantasy Flight Games.
The Deathwatch roleplaying game. Image from Fantasy Flight Games.

The Deathwatch game has a pretty complex set of rules that I don’t fully understand, and that’s okay. In the end, I want to have a good time with some fun people, and everything else needs to serve that. Playing with the mechanics of a roleplaying game is entertaining in and of itself, sure, but it’s definitely not everything.

I only have a few players, and that’s okay. I reckon that starting small is no bad thing, and will help build my confidence. Just dealing with a few personalities, especially folks I know, is good.

I’m already thinking I’d rather be GMing something else instead, and that’s okay. It’s good to be interested in more than one thing, and maybe playing a few games of Deathwatch will convince me that I’d rather be doing something a little more optimistic, like Star Wars, or more adventure flavoured, like Dungeons & Dragons or PathfinderBut I won’t know that until I try, and something more unfamiliar to me may well be more rewarding.

I sometimes think I should be playing instead of GMing to get a better idea of what being a player is like, and that’s okay. No one’s expecting perfection (and anyone who is, I don’t want to share a table with) and sometimes, to play a game no one else you know has tried, ya gotta give GMing a go. Especially if you own the book.

We’re having trouble working out schedules, and that’s okay. It tells me that I could do with discussing times and options with Vickie more.

I have no idea for a campaign, and that’s okay. I’ve followed advice, come up with character charts and got all invested in NPCs and settings and wound up hating the play experience, which is what matters. I’d rather jam with folks and see what we come up with, even for something as complex as Deathwatch.

A Deathwatch Kill-team in action (the lady on the right is a Sister of Battle, not a Space Marine). Art by Michael Phillippi; sourced from the Round Tablet.
A Deathwatch Kill-team in action (the lady on the right is a Sister of Battle, not a Space Marine). Art by Michael Phillippi; sourced from the Round Tablet.

I’m intending to DM a game all about Space Marines, genetically-enhanced, powered-armoured warrior priests who serve a massive interstellar society for which the word “dystopian” seems like a criminal understatement, as they undertake special missions against the aliens that threaten that society, and that’s okay. it’s a setting not quite like any other out there, and sometimes it’s good to fight for hope when there isn’t any easy source.

I keep thinking of silly character beats for Space Marine characters in a Deathwatch game, and that’s okay. It’s good to know that the game has got my imagination running, even if it’s not in the tonal direction you’d expect.

I’m giving up my personal time to do this, and that’s okay. It’s good to be investing in having a good time with cool people than driving myself nuts trying to build a freelance career.

I’m playing with folks I don’t know all that well, and that’s okay. Previous attempts to play with folks I know didn’t work out – in part because of my own worries sapping the joy out of what I was trying to do – and maybe this will be a good way of getting to know some cool, local people.

I’m aiming to get my players around a table rather than play online, and that’s okay. I think people prefer face to face anyway, and as much as online might seem more convenient, especially in the face of changing schedules, not everyone has access to solid Internet.

I’m already juggling availabilities, and that’s okay. Organising any group is tough, and gamers are notoriously hard to organise. Sooner or later, I’m probably going to have to tell someone who’s interested that we can’t make the times work; it’s going to suck no matter what, but it’s better to be clear and honest and respect each other’s time.

I’ve let me own worries sap the joy out of previous attempts to GM a game, and that’s okay. I just had something to learn about the process of shared creativity and the people I was trying to share with. I still do, but at least I know that there’s something I don’t know instead of expecting it to all work properly the first go.

I only have the rulebook, and that’s okay. I reckon there’s plenty of stuff in the main rulebook to go on, and I’d prefer to resist the urge to spend money on more stuff that I might wind up never using.

There are only three enemy “races” in the core rulebook, and that’s okay. Each one makes sense within the themes of Deathwatch, and while a Warhammer 40,000 faction that the players may have been looking forward to putting some bolt shells into mightn’t be present, I reckon we can have a good time anyway.

I don;t know what’s going to happen, and that’s okay. It’s time I let this hobby really draw me out of the “studying the rulebooks in the name of preparing the campaign” not-really-comfort zone I kept finding myself in whenever I bought big series of RPG books (like Heavy Gear) and learn what works and what doesn’t through trying it myself instead of living vicariously through others’ actual play reports.

In the end, it’s all okay; my hopes, my doubts; my strengths and weaknesses; my friends and those folks I don’t know yet.

  • I will drag you back in!! X-Wing is a total winner. So quick and easy, yet hard to master. A standout game for any Star Wars geek!! It took me a long time to pick it up, but the few games that I played were enough to allow me to pick up the rules and get going!
    http://www.spruegrey.com/playing-the-x-wing-miniatures-game/
    I highly recommend the game and give it four death sticks out of five.

    • Thanks, Adam! I think my FLGS, the Wicked Goblin, has a demo copy of X-Wing (and, yes, several copies for sale). I’m in no rush at the moment; between Christmas and paying the gent I bought Deathwatch back from back, my wallet’s going to be a little on the empty side for now!