The Gaming In-Betweener
A few weeks back there was some kind of dust up between various groups and factions of RPG players, and rather than actually going into the details, I’m mentioning that only because they are all sorts of factions that spring up in the hobby.
There are people that are proponents of one game system over all. I can totally understand having the comfort zone. I definitely fell into that way of thinking during the d20 boom, when every genre I was interested in had some kind of d20 realization, and I didn’t want to change gears too often.
There are people that gravitate towards more narrative focused games, where strict stats are equal to or less import than various rules that might allow players to guide the narrative and produce specific effects that are less based on numerical value and more about resolving situations. I can totally understand the draw of that as well, having run a lot of fun Monster of the Week and World Wide Wrestling RPG sessions as well as a great Secrets of Cats one shot.
With the right people at the table, what could have been a good story guided by the GM can become a great story, as everyone adds something to the story and keeps everyone else on their toes, and pushes them to make the story even more textured and character driven.
There are people that are much more comfortable with games that have much more solid stats, stats that represent “real” things in the game world, and a more narrowly defined list of abilities and actions that a player can take. I can relate to that as well. There are times when I have a very clear idea for a character in my head, but that character supports the team, he doesn’t drive the narrative. He does specific things, often to aid others or in reaction to others, and it becomes more challenging to play that character in a position where he would have to take the reigns of the story for a while.
I mention all of the above because I have been all of those gamers, and to some extent, I still am. Depending on the type of game I have in my head, the kind of players I might have at the table, and the more specific themes I might develop in play, I can see running a supers game with Masks, Icons, Marvel Heroic, or Mutants and Masterminds/DC Adventures.
The only thing off the table for me these days are games that require tactical maps and minis, and that’s not because I think those things are bad or anything, but just because I know how much I obsess over “toys” when I game, and tactical maps and minis tend to make me fall into a sinkhole of prepping too much. That problem is one native to my brain that may not be an issue for a host of other gamers.
I guess all I’m trying to say is that, having been all of those kinds of gamers in the past, and continuing to be those kinds of gamer to some degree or another at the present, it saddens me when I see people fall into tribes and retreat to gaming extremes. While I know not everyone wants to potentially play twenty different game systems, nobody is well served by declaring one type of game the natural evolution of the hobby or having the opinion that another type of RPG paradigm is the one true way.