[RPG] Tabletop RPG experience for someone only available for short interval at a time


Lately, I've been wanting to go back to the tabletop roleplaying. I have a few restraints though:

  • I know nobody who could play with me in my actual area.
  • With a quite active social life, I don't have much time, and foremost, I don't have a (EDIT: fixed) time in the week where I can free myself.
  • Budgetwise, I am quite limited, not that I have a friendly game shop in proximity.

I plan to bring the concept to my girlfriend, see if she is interested, but first I would like to get back into the swing of thing.

So what I'm searching is a tabletop experience where I could come and go when I can. I've heard of mail campaign, but I've also heard that they don't have much success.

As for the genre, it doesn't matter much, but if it helps reduce the scope of the question, I used to play DnD3.5 the most, but I've got also experience with other genres, so don't shy away of something on this account.

ADDENDUM: I can see that what I am trying to achieve is frowned upon here. So now a bit more of context: what I want to achieve is regaining my knowledge and mindstate I had when I used to play in school, so I could present roleplaying the best way possible to my girlfriend, and if she is not interested in playing with me (at which point I'm sure we would be able to find time during the week-end), at least have understanding and don't see it in a bad way. Because I made the big mistake to try to force another of my hobby (TCG) on her, and although she let me do it, she is barely tolerating it. But how to deal with that would be another question (that I plan to ask, if it hasn't been asked before), so I will stop with the exposition here. To summarize, my goal is to ease me back into my roleplayer mindset, so I would be able to anticipate all question I would get.

ADDENDUM 2: A few more information: I live in Germany, and I'm pretty sure that organized play is not well developed in my corner of Germany. (I don't ask for you to find me something, I know it is off-topic)

Best Answer

Short answer: You're SOL (S___ Outta Luck)

Longer Answer

Casual Roleplaying is not a common habit; every player I know finds it annoying to not game on a regular schedule. Even the ones who game on irregular ones do so only because the game they want to play with the players they want to play with can only happen when the non-schedule is what happens. Also, most of the people I game with don't like "uncommitted" players.

PBEM & PBF - Email and Forum

It works, but you WILL need to clear some time. It's still (typically) 3-4 hours per week... it's just 20-40 minutes at a whack.

It's also glacially slow. I've been running a slightly slow (but stable) PBF game for almost 2 years. We've covered about 4 sessions worth of play in 2 YEARS. And it does take me about 3 hours per week to run it.

Real Time Gaming

If you want to roleplay, be prepared to clear some time. There are some systems that work for shorter sessions; not every game has to be in 3-6 hour chunks. (In High School, I ran a game at lunch. 35 minutes of play per day, 4 days per week....)

Once you have a clear window, it's quite possible to do play by audiochat and/or play by text-chat. Both are quite workable, don't have the painfully slow pace of play-by-forum and play by email, and can be multiplayer fairly easily.

The other option is to clear some occasional days and find your way to conventions, D&D Encounters days, and such. Longer time to block out, but less regular doing it.

Play board games instead

Some board games have a strong story element. I'm going to recommend 3...

  1. One Upon A Time
    this is a story generation game with a "screw your neighbor" element. It's competitive, but generates some interesting stories.
  2. Aye, Dark Overlord
    Very similar in play to unce Upon a Time, but very different theme.
  3. The Adventures of Baron Munchausen
    A very different story game. Borders on RPGing, but is sold as a board game, andmakes a good transitional item.

These can be used to generate story-centered boardgamers. These often will start wanting to do more game and owned character type narration; this is perfect for more modern narrativist games, such as most of John Wick's stuff, or Dogs in the Vinyard, or Mouse Guard.