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#35: Sabbatical

This article originally appeared in the September/October 2018 issue.

[This was originally written prior to TravCon/UK for 2018, and refers to that con as “upcoming”.—Ed.]

It’s at this time of year I’m normally writing about the stress and nerves of the upcoming TravCon whether I’ve spent a year working on an adventure in preparation (as I did for Second Scions’ Society and Generation X), just a month (as I did for Into the Unknown and See How They Run), or very little time by taking something I’d previously written and hoping it would be ‘good enough’ (as I did for Three Blind Mice and Ashfall).

For the record, this is what I’ve run each year:

2012 Portents and Signs (published by Mongoose as Into the Unknown) (twice)
2013 The Second Scions’ Society (twice)
2014 Ashfall (twice) and Three Blind Mice (TBM published by 13 Mann)
2015 Generation X (in tandem with Stephen Ellis running Rendezvous with Karma) (twice)
2016 Ashfall II (twice) and Ashfall III
2017 See How They Run (published by March Harrier Publishing)

Seems something of an achievement when I put it altogether like that. I had no idea in 2011 that TH’s gentle encouragement about my plot idea on the way home from TravCon would start quite such a ball rolling.

But after six years of refereeing at TravCon, I’ve decided that this year I’m going take a sabbatical seventh year. Particularly as I’m physically very low at present thanks to the Chronic Fatigue. I think it’s been the right choice. I might take a bunch of characters along with me and the vaguest of plots just there are slots to fill in an emergency. Or the Traveller Customizable Card Game would probably fill one pretty nicely.

I feel guilty that I’m letting Andy the organizer down by not filling a couple of slots; I hope I’m not disappointing those who would like to have played something new that I might have come up with, and there’s a bit of me that feels stupid for missing a once a year opportunity to have six or twelve Traveller enthusiasts engage with a creation of mine as they’ve done so encouragingly in previous years.

But a Sabbath rest was an important feature of Old Testament teaching and indeed we still have seven day weeks thousands of years later. (I believe Revolutionary France and Communist Russia have tried ten day weeks but found productivity took a nose dive.) In academia and religious life, as well as elsewhere no doubt, ‘sabbaticals’ can be important times of rest, recuperation and recharging batteries, as well as opportunities to try something new.

I wish all the best to referees who will be filling the 25 slots of TravCon this year and I’ll support them as best I can by playing as enthusiastically as strength allows, but I’m enjoying not feeling pressured about final preparation and I’ll perhaps have the opportunity to experience a few more refereeing styles and skills that I might have missed otherwise. Hopefully, next year, I’ll be back with something new and bigger and dare I dream better?!