I was recently putting some things away in my attic and I came across a number of boxes brimming with roleplaying books dating back to the 1980s, when I started playing. Some of these books were very worn, but others looked like new, and I remembered that some hadn't even been read!
I felt guilty on a number of levels. Firstly that there reems of paper/trees lying there; an obvious waste. Secondly that I felt disrespectful to all the authors, artists, playtesters, et al, that had spend their developing the products just so that on a whim I would buy them and then store them away. Thirdly, that I had 'wasted' money on something that could have been better spent on something for more useful.
The problem is that it doesn't end with the books in my attic. They are like the not-so-squeeky penguin in Toy Story 2; relegated to the 'top-shelf'. I have others that I'm more optimistic about my chances of using, books that are collecting dust in cupboards and bookshelves in my house. These are the works that stare at me every day accusingly waiting for me to pick them up and read them or more importantly use them in a game.
I love Call of Cthulhu, but I never get a chance to run adventures as often as I want, and I have pretty much every major CoC campaign published since the 80s. Staring back at me from my shelf sits 'Masks of Nyarlathotep', 'Beyond The Mountains of Madness', 'Tatters of the King', and many others. I've read some, but not all, and based on the speed at which I'm running them, am likely to retire and/or die before I get a chance. That's just one game, and I have lots of games.
That's quite a sobering thought really.
Part of the problem for me is that I'm passionate about buying books. I love browsing through them, so I suppose I really shouldn't get too hung up on the fact that they are not all going to be played any time soon. I can't stop buying them either. I've slapped down my pledge in for the new Horror on the Orient Express, just like thousands of other gamers, and I know that I will enjoy it, just not necessarily be running the campaign anytime soon.
As I look over at the books on my shelf today (and recall the other books in the attic that I saw yesterday) I think to myself that they each require my attention, but there are so many now that I just don't know where to start.
Roleplaying is one of the greatest hobbies. Its boundaries are truely limitless, as are the potential for new books supporting it, and there are so many stories I want to tell, so many shared gaming experiences left to try. My bookshelf, like many others I'm sure, is a testament to that, and I'm running out of time.
Life is too short.