Behind the Screen: Loving the one you’re with…

2008 August 27
by Dante

While at GenCon this year, I got into several conversations about the breadth and concentration of new gaming options on the sales floor this year. As in past years, offerings ran the gamut from new pencil and paper RPGs, board games, video games, and even a few non-RPG games as well.

I was tasked with selecting a game for one of my coworkers in order to introduce his kids to roleplaying style gaming, so I opted for Atlas Games’ “Once Upon a Time” which aims to introduce storytelling gaming via a card game where players attempt to use the cards in their hand to devise a storyline. I figured this would be a conservative, non-threatening way to get the kids into free-form storytelling and it should act as a gateway to more traditional roleplaying style games, but time will tell.

An Abundance of Options

As I was searching for this card game, it struck me that it is easy to experience option overload. So many games, so many modules, so many additions… it is great to have options, but as I have mentioned in the past our group is somewhat change resistant so I tend to stick with a familiar system and setting for our games.

It is for this reason that I usually don’t leave the convention each year with a truckload of new games, modules, or other miscellanea. Chances are fairly good that we just plain won’t make the leap into a new setting consistently enough to justify the expense, which is also the reason that I don’t really frequent our local brick and mortar gaming store as often as I should. I have most of the materials that I need to game with and don’t need to purchase much extra to keep the fun times a-rollin’.

One oft-cited example of the change resistance of our group is our limited attempt at a Deadlands campaign. I played this game while in college for the first time and was enamored with the spellcasting mechanics (which used a poker hand to determine success) and the alternative history Western theme was interesting as well. It only lasted a few sessions in our current gaming group, they just didn’t feel it as much as I did.

The moral to this story is twofold: be sensitive to the enjoyment level of your gaming group as you introduce new games, and do a cost to benefit analysis before you go buying a ton of new gaming supplements at a convention.

If you have a group that is able to switch focus to different games, how do you pace the introduction of new stuff? Do you do a one-shot session and build on it if the group likes the game? Inquiring minds want to know!

4 Responses leave one →
  1. Dave The Game permalink
    August 27, 2008

    I find the "buy-in" of a new game system to be the #1 thing that works against anything without D&D on the cover. Not just money, but players having to learn the system before they get into it, and then having to learn setting information on top of that.

    I'm most interested in running very rules-light sessions, in game systems such as Dread, to supplement my D&D game. I can also sometimes convince people to playtest, but starting a new game in an unknown system meets a lot of resistance (even to d20-based products.)

  2. Questing GM permalink
    August 27, 2008

    I think it’s easier to pop in a new non-RPG game than it is to ask the group to try a new one.

    I know I have trouble trying to memorize which rule goes with which game (I once mixed up d10s for d20s in a d20 game after a little WoD).

    But when somebody brings in a new board game, we pounch on it like blood hounds (so far).

  3. Virgil Vansant permalink
    August 28, 2008

    I'm giving a try at a new system–EABA–in a new campaign. But it looks like it won't be a problem.

    One of the big advantages is that EABA has a free "lite" PDF that my players can read over to help familiarize themselves with the rules. Plus I can keep several copies on the table for reference.

    Also, I don't have a lot of die-hard D&D players in my group. In fact, I have two players that have played role-playing games perhaps a combined total of five times, although they have some experience with computer RPGs. Then I have two players that have never played table-top RPGs before, but have experience with MMORPGs or other online RPGs. And then I have two players that have extensive experience with role-playing, but have played with other systems before, and are open to new ideas.

    So far, everyone seems on board.

  4. Your G(rinning) M(asochist) permalink
    August 28, 2008

    For us, it depends. If it’s a light game, like Paranoia or QUAGS, then we might try it as a one-shot if the guy who is normally going to GM is unable to play one week for whatever reason. If it’s a more serious effort, then it’s different. We normally rotate GM duties between 4 of us. At any one time, we’ll have two campaigns going at once, alternating between weeks. When one of those campaigns ends, for whatever reason, then there’s an opportunity to try a new game. If the game isn’t seen as fun due to a problematic system or a setting that just doesn’t strike any sparks, then we’ll generally drop it, and someone else will run a different one.

Leave a Reply

Note: You can use basic XHTML in your comments. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS