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Diary of a Geek


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Back off.

Sometimes I want to say that to people. They say "Man, how can you play (edition X) of that game? Everyone knows (edition Y) is so much better!

RPGs have been around a long time now. From their humble beginnings of a couple of guys that published what was basically a pamphlet for which they could come up with no better name than "Chainmail" to the most recent 4th Edition game using online assisting programs, miniatures, landscape, spreadsheets, tags, power-cards, and Gods know what all else, there's been a lot of iterations along the way. And some people will always love the version with which they started.

I started with Advanced D&D. I remember thinking basic D&D was too simple, and didn't like the level limitations, and how could a race such as Elf be a class, and so on. And when 2nd Edition came out, I thought "Wow... does this mean all my books are obsolete?" I'd sunk a lot of cash into those books. I didn't want to have to replace them.

Gentle Reader, that is exactly what everyone thinks every time their favorite system is overhauled. And I've seen it with D&D, Call of Cthulhu, Paranoia, and even Toon, for Gods' sakes. I don't know for sure, but I wouldn't be surprised to learn that Bunnies and Burrows has a D20 edition. Actually, I just checked Wikipedia, and found this: "Fantasy Games Unlimited published a second edition of the game in 1982, and the game was modified and republished by Steve Jackson Games as an official GURPS supplement in 1992."

Nothing is sacred.

And that's kind of the point. Your game, as you know and love it, is going to change. That doesn't mean you have to stop playing it.

I know of people that still play AD&D using the original DMG, FF, MM, PHB, and EIEIO (Even If Everything Is Obsolete). They still enjoy it. It's what they learned with. They know their rules, house rules, monsters, and so on by heart, and can even quote verbatim the grappling rules, 'cause they're that kind of dedicated. And they have fun!

That's the key thing. I've said it before, and I'm saying it now, and I'll say it in the future, 'cause it bears repeating. Games are supposed to be fun. If you're not having fun, don't play. It's that easy. Play the game that you enjoy.

But don't trash someone else's experience. So what if they like playing a more complicated version of the game than you? Maybe they enjoy that. It's their experience. It's their fun.

And if someone does pee in your RPG Wheaties, don't goad them on by trashing their version or game. Just smile and let them know that it's a good thing that they don't have to play it. Of course, they're welcome to try it if they haven't yet, but that's up to them.

I've noticed that a lot of people won't play a new game version for some pretty standard reasons.
-"(XXX Game Company) is just trying to make more money!" Of course they are. They're a game company. They need to sell things. Eventually, they'll run out of ways to enhance the game, and new modules and adventures need a lot of development, from writing, editing, and playtesting to deciding just how much people will be willing to pay for it. And the game may be clumsy or clunky in some ways, so they clean that up, make it easier to enjoy the game, and republish. That doesn't mean that the new game is better or the old game is bad. And it doesn't mean you have to buy it. It's just a different version. Buy it if you want, or don't. But at least don't cheat yourself out of potential fun by refusing to try it just because it's new. Not all change is good, but it's also not all bad.
-"They made the rules too simple; now they're unrealistic." People, we play games in which dragons and vampires battle in zero gravity outer space using blades made of pure light and magic spells while dwarves with ion blasters ride broomsticks around star destroyers. The realism ship done sailed. Every effort to realistically simulate should be taken, but when it interferes with the enjoyment of the game play, it's time to dial it down a bit. Here's the killer: after spending ten minutes trying to determine all the factors of a sniper's shot, for example, taking into account the sniper's vector and velocity, the target's vector and velocity, wind shear, caliber, rifle type, 'scope, shadow direction, and any distractions the sniper may happen to have combined with the sniper's ability to ignore them, it still comes down to a roll of the dice! Oh, sure; there's situations where he'll need to roll a 1 out of 100 to actually hit. But since it might happen, and since he's gonna try it anyway, the dice get rolled. He might get lucky. Dice factor that into the equation: pure luck. So it may as well have been a 20 out of 100, or even 50/50. He still might miss. All that other crap was to see how likely that was. You want realism? Get dice with more sides.
-"I don't want to learn a whole new system." Why not? You did when you started playing the game to which you're clinging. But that's really your call. If you're in your comfort zone, then it's okay to stay there. You don't have to buy a new game. And you don't need to defend your choice to stick to your game of preference, either. But you may end up cheating yourself if you don't at least give it a try.

The key thing is that if you like one version better than another, then play what you prefer. You may need to make compromises; your game group may have some people that prefer a different version. Be flexible and trade off; one week your version, another week theirs. You may find yourself liking something else better. Or they may decide to use your version. In the end, it's a social thing, and the people in your group are friends, even if only for a few hours a week. You can always use the "This Rule Is Dumb" principle and establish house rules everyone likes.

But don't limit yourself. If you'd done that when you first heard of the game, you wouldn't be defending it now, because you'd have never started playing it. Play what you enjoy. Let others play what they enjoy. And be open to trying new things.

Relax. It's just a game.

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