Thursday, March 6, 2014

Man, D&D is HELLA polarizing

Everyone has their own 'preferred' version of D&D, generally based on whatever they liked when they were twelve.  What can make this difficult is when these viewpoints clash.

I was talking with my buddy Ryan, who was the initial catalyst in running a game of D&D.  He's a complete tabletop RPG novice, but seems very eager to learn the whole process.  On top of that, he's also the person who's in charge of gathering a group for the game.  I haven't met any of these folks and didn't know if they had any previous gaming experience until last night when he asked me what edition we were running.  I told him Basic, since I'm pretty sure he didn't really care about the concept of retro-clones or publishing rights.

What I got back from him was that his buddy wanted to play a Human Monk and cross-class into Psion.

I've got no animosity towards folks that play and enjoy 3.5, it's just not my bag.  There's a ridiculous amount of prep involved and hundreds of pages of codified rules that can easily lead to super-not-fun arguments between player and GM.  One of the reasons that I'm always looking for lighter and lighter rules sets is because of how much I hated spending countless hours prepping for super-complex games (3.5, GURPS, Shadowrun 2nd Edition, etc...)

But the more and more that I think about it, it's less about rules sets and more about players and expectations.  Apparently this dude is a bit of an instigator and is willing to argue.  Ryan described it as part of his charm, but it instantly raised my hackles.  One of the things that I absolutely NEED in my gaming experiences is for everybody to be on the same page.  We're getting together to play some elfgames and have some fun; I'm not out to screw anyone over to boost my ego or act out weird power fantasies.  But by that same token, I need my players to trust my rulings and go along with what we're doing, especially if I'm house ruling and improvising as much as I plan to.

So what the hell do I do?  I'm tempted to just scrap the idea of D&D all together and go with a non-D&D RPG, just to avoid the whole expectations situation.  But ultimately, I am the guy who's running this thing and by the old RPGNet maxim, no gaming is better than bad gaming.


  1. I have to say that I've had great fortune with running non-D&D games for new groups, and I think it's for the reasons you indicate here: D&D just has too much baggage. If you're running something no one's played before (or played very little of), everyone comes to the table with an open mind and equal expectations.

    At the end of the day, though, no gaming is better than bad. I hope you get things worked out in a way that allows for good gaming!

  2. In a perfect world I'd say to never recruit gamers, just teach your friends to play. Because the purpose is to have fun with people you enjoy being around, not just to game. But it isn't a perfect world so, who knows.

    But I would say if the dude like to instigate, he's probably gonna instigate whether you play D&D or Mouse Guard or Pathfinder or Pictionary.

  3. I was playing last year in a G+ game with a DM who liked old school (used LL) and a character who loved new school (3e) and was always rallying for new options and abilities. Gave the DM a headache and detracted from gaming a lot lemme tell you...