Not too long ago, at BASHCon, I played an Advanced Dungeons & Dragons game that just totally rocked. I couldn't get over how much I loved playing in that game. I think there were several reasons for that. The obvious ones were that the dungeon master put on a great show and the players were all into it. Later, it came to me that there was something to the choice of rule sets as well. Second Edition AD&D is my D&D. Design improvements aside, it's where I really started bringing my games to life instead of just fumbling around, and it's probably the one role-playing game that I've spent more time playing than any other. But there was one thing I still wasn't getting.
Moved largely by my BASHCon experience, I started up a campaign. As I gathered players and started putting the pieces together for the introductory adventure, I got that "wow" feeling again and found myself getting more and more excited by the prospect. And this was before we even played. Could going back to this game really be that wonderful, even if we give nostalgia some of the credit?
Then I had another thought. I'm running this for my friends, using a system whose rules I know from years of exploration. I'm not playing a game I wrote or support. I'm not trying to impress a bunch of strangers or get used to a new system. I'm not noticing orphaned text or wondering how much the damn art will cost. I hadn't even realized it, but these little naggy whispers had been slithering in the background of my games for quite a while. Not this time. This time, I'm just playing the game.
We played our first session last weekend. Despite some awkwardness with the format (it's really distracting to be able to see yourself talking), it went well. I might be completely over-thinking the reasons, but I'm still having a great time, and I think a bit of this kind of relaxation can only be a benefit as I get back into more productive sorts of fun.