So I was reading a recent post from MiddleAgedDM about D&DNext (or whatever) and he ruminates about the changes in his preparation and GMing style these days. I find it interesting because I know that it’s a conversation/thought I hear expressed often – that as we get older/more busy we lose the freedom to prep the way we used to, to play out all the little interactions we once did – that maybe we even lose the urge to DM that way anymore. We just need to get to the good bits.
I think it must be a common occurrence for gamers – and you know – you adapt so that you can keep playing. I get that. I find it fascinating because it hasn’t really happened to me. Admittedly, I’ve always been a prep-light GM anyway and I prefer systems low on mechanical interaction and high on at the table social interaction. That said, I ran a lot of Shadowrun and Pathfinder so it’s not all rules light. If anything, I find that I have the urge to prep more than I did years ago because that prep gives me a sense of comfort…
But I realized that I haven’t actually stayed the same over these last few years. My GM style may have remained consistent but my style and taste as a player have changed dramatically.
I have notebooks full of characters I played when I was a young gamer – and invariably I played one thing. I was the Wizard. If it was D&D I was a Grey Elf Wizard. If it was Arcanum, it was a Druas Wizard (or Mage). If it was superheroes I was a Dr. Fate clone. I played the wizard. I don’t think I played a fighter or a cleric until I was in my twenties – though I would be lying to say that I didn’t play the occasional thief. That did happen, like once. Heck, in the World of Darkness the only game I really enjoyed was Mage.
Then I started looking at what I’ve played for the last few years and I see a radical shift. Now I play Barbarians or Bards. And it may not be that exact character class – but that’s the character type I’m playing. I’m either a “let’s hit ’em in the face” melee type or I want to play the charismatic “fifth man” who is that, I’m second best at everything type of character. I realized that I’ve actively refused to play Wizards (or even the magus) in Pathfinder because they are prepared spell type casters and I just don’t want to actually do all the work of picking spells. It’s also occurred to me that these days I would take a weaker passive ability over a more powerful, triggered ability any day. I also am pretty sure I haven’t played an elf in the last 10 years.
I don’t have a predictable reason why the shift happened. I still love playing (when I get the chance) and I still love the part of RPGs that is all about taking on a role and playing that character (not just a “version” of yourself). I love being a player character. But I shudder at classes that require a commitment in terms of planning each game session.
I hear a lot about how people’s GMing styles have changed over time – has anyone else experienced this radical shift in desired experience as a player? Or am I just crazy?