Why do I play D&D/Pathfinder?

So here’s the thing. I’ve been, let’s just say — grumpy about gaming lately. And I don’t know why. I know every DM and player get’s frustrated sometimes — but I’m especially so lately. And here’s the feeling I get whenever I probe at it. I like D&D. I enjoy Pathfinder… I think they’re both really interesting games and I’ve been playing a version of D&D for the last 28 years.

But I don’t love ’em.

In the 80’s, I was far more in love with the Arcanum (Bard Games) than D&D, and I always wanted someone to come along and run a Chaosium fantasy game. I totally dig Warhammer Fantasy RPG 2nd Edition, Barbarians of Lemuria, Castle Falkenstein, and Old School Hack (minus the prohibition on only giving one of each character type to the party… that’s just weird to me). And I miss running/playing Amber with all my heart. The most mediocre Amber game is still probably a light year above the majority of other games I’ve played.

And you know, there are certain gaming experiences I like: 7th Sea, Star Wars, Shadowrun… but the systems… ugh. They make me want to cry. I pulled out my Buffy RPG books the other day because I started thinking about how much I’d love to run a Young-Mystics-In-Love kinda game — and I started reading the sections about Combat Maneuvers and Drama Points and I just lost all interest, completely. Just gone.

It’s like that moment in How I Met Your Mother when Ted explains how, “you know, when you finish a relationship and there’s that lingering sexual tension…” and then you hear that glass breaking sound “and then it’s just gone?” Well, I don’t have any lingering sexual tension with my RPGs (maybe with Buffy… a little… I’m not weird) but I certainly have “lost that lovin’ feeling.”

Anyway… I’m not sure I’ve reached “cry for help” stage yet. I think I just need new games, or maybe a return to games I love. The problem is… I think that if I do that, I won’t get to game with some of the people I most want to game with — because they are definitely not into these things. And that really bums me out more… because as much as I might want to play a different game, I care about the people I choose to play with more.

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6 responses

  1. Is it the system or the people you play it with? Because the best “system” I played was “no system.” And it was the people and the stories that came out of it that made that game.

  2. I think you’ve perfectly described the sudden revelation of going back through the game shelf…”I remember this being good…” When you find a system you enjoy- hack the crap out of it to use it for other games and settings. You can then tweak as you go. Once I that happened, I stopped looking over the fence for better systems, and instead for things I could lift or borrow.

  3. I have similar thoughts when I am frustrated with running 4th edition and pathfinder and I think back on Runequest and champions/hero

  4. Yeah, I totally hear ya. I want to run Runequest, Herosystem, WFRP, Rolemaster, Fading Suns, and a host of other games I have sitting on my shelf. My players are pretty much, “Thou shalt have no other god except Pathfinder thy Lord.” They simply have zero interest in playing such games and I can’t start up a new group of players in my local area because the Mrs. doesn’t want me gaming often and she barely tolerates me gaming altogether.

    When I use to go to cons, I’d make sure to play any other game except D&D simply because that’s what I did at home, I didn’t want to spend money to do some other place too.

  5. The grass always looks greener on the other fellow’s lawn, but when you look closely…? It’s still just grass.

    There will always be something about any given system which will drive someone nuts, so I doubt that variety is the answer here. As you’ve pointed out a few times in your posts, the most important things to you are story and the players, so if there is a remedy to your doldrums, I am guessing it will be there.

    If I were to make a suggestion, I think it would have to be to stick with what your players know and love, but challenge yourself to weave a tale for them which is magical for all of you. Challenge yourself not to come up with an interesting story you might like to run, but rather a great campaign which will bring out and highlight all the things you love about your preferred group, and that will challenge them to bring their best game to your table. Think of it as a game of second chances for all of you, focus on the story, not the system.

    Boredom, and its Second, Frustration, have thrown gauntlets down… Tell a great tale that stuffs those fetid things right down their throats.

  6. Let me say, first: Damn guys, I really appreciate the support on this one.

    I really wasn’t expecting comments on this post at all and here you guys come and remind me of one of the things that I love about gaming… that just when you are frustrated — there are great people out there who making gaming feel better again.

    So thanks guys.

    I’m going back to the drawing board.

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