RPG A Day 2017 August 13

RPG A Day, 2017

August Thirteenth (Incredibly Belated)

Prompt: Describe A Game Experience That Changed How You Play

I hate questions like this, because they always make me realize how shallow I am. I am not a being of great epiphanies and world-changing moments. I am never going to write a 5,000 word article for Atlantic or Salon entitled “How Playing a Half-orc Made Me Confront My White Privilege”, or, for that matter, an article for Breitbart entitled “How Can I Be A Racist When I Once Played A Black Character?”

I’ve mostly had decent groups, as decent as one can expect from a hobby that disproportionately attracts social misfits and demands they participate in a social activity. Most of my gaming groups for the past 30 odd (and boy, have they been) years have been of mixed genders, ethnicity, and orientations, so I don’t have a good “When We Added A Woman To Our Group Everything Changed” story. (Esp. since, in my experience, women are every bit as bloodthirsty as men when it comes to gaming… the “women want to roleplay, men want to kill” stereotype is bullshit. But I digress.) Nor do I have any “After The Unfortunate Incident With The Halfling And The Potato Peeler, I Do Not Allow Evil Parties” stories.

The best I can offer is a number of incidents which helped cement my personal preference (which is mine, subjective and wholly based on my tastes and interests, not a law of the universe or an objective measure of superiority) for robust, well-defined systems over free-form, “rules light” ones. (A game can have simple but still complete rules; BESM 2e and D6 are both simple systems that do not have huge gaps where genre-appropriate actions have no mechanical support.) Spending 4-6 hours in a game with no game – just a constant migraine of trying to second-guess what the GM is going to let you do at any moment, with or without some basically arbitrary die rolling – is not any fun for me. The flip side – trying to run a game for players who think the way to proceed is to constantly avoid the rules – is even worse. (I have termed this Zork Syndrome: The belief that you advance in the adventure by picking up the ham sandwich in room one, then giving it to the walrus in room three, which causes him to roll over happily, showing you the brass candlestick he was sitting on, which you then use to hold the candle from room seven, which you light by giving the dragon in room twelve the sneezing powder you found in room six, which you give to the kobold so he’ll stop blocking the door… as opposed to, you know, hitting the damn kobold with your sword because that’s why you’ve got a sword and why the kobold has hit points and an armor class, dammit!)

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