“What’s the most play-disruptive discovery you’ve made when you insist on playing by the actual printed rules?”
Honestly? That people I’d gamed with for years thought playing by the actual printed rules was a totally crazy idea and not How RPGs Work™. No joke, this was one of the disagreements that broke my old Saturday D&D group.
That group was pretty large — nine people at its height — and those full-attendance games were excruciating. Not just because 3e is a slog with that big a party, but also because no one was on the same page about why we were playing. Thus, everything took forever, and half of the group would be making optimal, mission-focused choices, and the other half would be ACTING! and thus derailing the efforts of the first half.
Yet, there was a subset of us who were pretty clear on just playing 3e as-is — a tactical combat RPG — who had a great time when we were the majority on lower-attendance nights.
So, obviously the group as a whole was pretty incoherent. When I’d ask about this — “Why do we play 3e if the rules don’t really jibe with what you guys want?” — the essential answer I would get was: brand loyalty. They needed to play a game called “D&D” in order to have fun. And since they were “role players, not roll players”, the rules didn’t matter (because rules don’t matter, according to them); what mattered was that they were buying the latest and greatest product and it had beholders and Tiamat and all the D&D stuff.
Years later, one of the minority tactical guys — still a good friend of mine — was talking about his Pathfinder group, and how he’s getting tired of tactical play. I asked him why they play PF then. “You don’t need to use all the rules. You pick and choose what you want, and make up the rest.”
And, again, I’m baffled. I’m fine with the idea of a toolkit RPG, but I still don’t get why people play games where they ignore most of the content they pay for. And how, when I express this option, they look at me like I’m a scientologist or something.
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