But I’ll Play Them All…
Earlier this week I was hanging out with one of my GMs after work. For the most part we just BS’d about life and the fact that our gaming group can’t seem to ever meet for a game at the same time anymore. We’ve been plagued with the fact that we all have varied lives and very different schedules so what started out as a regular monthly game turned into a long hiatus, followed by a reboot, which promptly died due to schedules, which became a new game that hasn’t been able to meet with all players at the same time yet… So my GM friend winds up with a touch of GM Attention Deficit Disorder during these downtimes and starts contemplating different games to run.
The second half of our evening was pizza and me bashing every game system under the sun (even if I had never played it before) but I was not doing so maliciously. He was going over all the various systems he could potentially run instead of the one he was going to run and I was sort of playing the role of Devil’s Advocate in that I was making intelligent (maybe only semi-intelligent) rebuttals to his thoughts.
It got me thinking though that ultimately all Edition Wars are pointless. We’ve all been there… either at you gaming table or your local store or a game convention or wherever. There’s always a point where we bitch and complain about how one system was better or they shouldn’t have removed some mechanic. Then we rattle off all the great things about the game (completely ignoring the bad) but highlighting the awful of a similar system. I think 90% of the time I’ve seen this as a argument of how D&D 3.5, Pathfinder and 4E compare.
There’s something wrong with every system
But we still play them because they are fun. No game will ever be perfect for everyone… it’s physically impossible. If you take 10 people and one idea, you’ll wind up with 11 opinions. My exercise in finding the faults in every game system game my GM friend a lot to think about that had never crossed his mind before regarding certain game mechanics and resolution systems. And it helped me to try to understand what it is that I actually like about RPGs.
I think this ultimately becomes another issue of Houseruling to make things right. I used to think house rules were a silly idea for standardized RPGs. I mean, why would you go out and buy 37 books on a system only to decide that you’re going to create your own setting, tweak half the rules, make up new monsters, alter the dice mechanics and introduce a new class type? At that point, why didn’t you just make your own game instead? (And nowadays with the internet and Kickstarter I feel I’m seeing a lot more people doing just that)
Some people seem to live for the mechanics of the game. I’ve had numerous friends and acquaintances jump in on games at my friendly local game store not because they had a pleasurable experience with friends in the past but because they love that system… and then they site the mechanical aspects of character creation that would allow them to be a suped-up badass, the egalitarian bell curve of the dice rolls, or how the preferred the more realistic use of yards instead of squares for movement.
So the mechanics get them into the game far too often and the stories seem to regular start off with “I had a guy who could do/roll X as well” and then finally leads into the good parts. And those good parts where we reminisce are what keeps me in the game. Its not about being able to make a History roll of 30 off of a 2 on the die, its not about the +5 longsword of radiant badassery that gave your character so many extra saving throws, and its not about how you saved up experience to afford a trait which allowed you to punch people in the brain.
What makes gaming a thing I come back to is the camaraderie, the stories, the immersion and the people. I couldn’t honesty care less about the system we’re supposed to be playing right now but I want to game to finally get up and running because of the people. I’ve gamed and/or LARPed with most of the table for years now. We’ve played a handful of different character types around each other, we know how to play off of our strengths and weaknesses, and we’re damn good at picking on each other as well.
So what now, then?
Well, now I need to schedule this post to go live in 3ish hours and then hop in a car to go to work…. That’s what happens when you don’t plan ahead and start writing at 8am. Let me know what you thought of my thoughts in the comments below. You can also reach us at Facebook or email us at CaffeinatedNeutral@gmail.com if you’d prefer. I want to hear more about personal experiences, what awesome characters did you have, tell the epic tale of your table, complain about game mechanics you don’t like, what things do you houserule, etc. etc. Ad Nauseam.
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