Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Does system matter?

Does system matter?

Is there one roleplaying system that you prefer to play above all others? Are there systems that you absolutely won't play? Do social considerations override those preferences? Would you rather play with the right people, or the right system? Or are the right people the ones playing the right system?

Would you rather play something familiar, or try something new? Are you still playing the first system you started gaming with? When you try a new system, would you rather that it be similar to one you know, or something crazy and different? Or are there certain features that you know and love, and others you don't mind if the system experiments with?

Would you rather play the perfect system, or one that's not quite perfect but you know inside and out? Are there systems that you originally hated, but fell in love with when you mastered them? What about the other way around? Any system that you used to love, but now don't remember well enough to use properly?

17 comments:

  1. I don't have a preferred system and am pretty much open to most of them. I do have systems in which I won't play not because they are terrible systems or whatnot, they simply don't jive with me. For example, I won't play diceless rpgs because I'm hardwired to want to roll dice in such games. It's not to say that diceless rpgs suck, it's just not for me.

    As for players, I need to play with people who I can also hang out with on a normal day. If the people I game with have no social redeeming qualities or worse yet, scare my wife, then they got to go.

    I didn't have any systems that I used to love but now hate, though my preference when I go to conventions is play any game except D&D, because at home, all I do is play D&D.

    Pretty much the systems that I love to play, I still love to play, but for different reasons. Unfortunately, I haven't played them in years, but will still buy supplements for them in case I ever get that chance.

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  2. Is this a poll?

    ; )

    To answer your main question: yes, I think system matters. To what degree depends on the players involved; however, even players that simply adapt genre/IP to their One True Beloved System (I know some folks from Wenatchee that played a ton of games but insisted on converting ALL of them to "Champions")...even for THOSE people system matters, because they end up spending time doing conversions (rather than spending time learning new rules).

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  3. SIMPLE vs. COMPLEX system matters.

    I mostly play with non-gamers. We need to play a game where they don't have to own rulebooks or learn lots of rules.

    This means (very) old school or "indie" games for us.

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  4. Does system matter? Yes, but not as much as good, fun players.

    I prefer Moldvay/Cook D&D and it's relatives, mostly because I know them so well, but also because I prefer fantasy for my gaming. They're also nice, simple, and easy to modify.

    Old appeals more than new, but I love imaginative settings and the systems the properly evoke them.

    I'd rather play an imperfect system I know well, but if I find the perfect system (not that I'm holding my breath or anything) I'll make the effort to master it.

    I've come to love Moldvay/Cook where once I could barely stand it. I wanted to love 3e badly, but... I'm not sure I could play Shadowrun now, and GURPS is something I swing between love and hate with even now.

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  5. System matters... Except when it doesn't. As a player, the right group of players and the right genre/style of game matters more than anything else. Even though I'm always keen to try new systems, I'll play anything if I know that there I'd fun to be had.

    As a GM, system matters much more. System has a tremendous impact on how easy it is for ne to prepare for systems and to emulate certain genres. I prefer simple systems (i.e. Risus) over complex (i.e. Gurps) and generally prefer familiar (Gurps) over unfamiliar (Hero), though I can also be smitten with a hot new system (I.e. Fate). Of course, the preferences of my players matter and I'll pass on running a favorite system for something that the entire group is comfortable.

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  6. System matters, to me. And (for anything other than convention gaming where the point is to try out new games) system has to matter to my groups as well or we're not going to enjoy gaming together for long.

    I used to think that system didn't matter, because I thought that game rules got in the way of "real roleplaying" (whatever that was). This was at a time before I had seen any game systems that really supported the kind of collaborative story-focused play I was looking for.

    I started with D&D and eventually grew so sick with it I didn't touch it for over 20 years. But by the time 4E came out I jumped back in with a vengeance. I might be going through a similar relationship with Vampire and the World of Darkness games. I ran a Vampire chronicle for 15 years, but right now I can't imagine playing it again. Perhaps with the Dresden Files RPG now out I won't have to.

    I currently play lots of different games and like learning new systems, but I gravitate toward those with lighter mechanics with one or two exceptions (like 4e). Who I'm playing with is what really determines what book I pull off the shelf for the session.

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  7. I think system matters in that it'll give a different feel to a game. For instance, I've played the original Traveller (which is now known as Classic Traveller).

    I've never played the d20 version, but I can't help but feel that a class/level system would detract from the elegance of the original.

    It would still be the same universe, but the implementation would cause me to try different things (I think), based on advancement (which CT is nearly completely free from).

    Hope that makes sense.

    Verification word: hybress (archaic) a female hybrid.

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  8. Systems are made to be broken apart and mashed into the system that supports the game you want to play.

    Fantasy Craft really broke the mold of my perceptions on system. It is a toolbox game meant to support the setting over the rules, after tinkering and running the game for a few months it became more obvious that this can be done with any system.

    Outside of organized play, system to me does not matter as a whole, but matters more as a collection of tools and mechanics. Rulings beats rules

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  9. System matters in that it will impact gameplay. Does that mean I can't have an ultra-serious Paranoia or Tales from the Floating Vagabond game? No, but the system doesn't lend itself to that.
    Could a digital master create a magnificent work of art on MS Paint? Again, probably, but the program will be working against them.

    I like D&D (almost all of them, though I do have my preferences). I like d6. But I would play just about anything for the right group. Hell, I'll play just about anything for a one shot.

    I'd rather play with the perfect players and deal with the system.

    If I'm trying out something new, it can be a little new, or crazy different. I'm willing to try just about anything.

    I'm starting up a PbP Rules Cyclopedia game, so yes, I am again playing with the system I started with.

    I don't think there is a perfect system, but if there was I'd probably want to play that and learn to master it.

    I originally loved d20, but came to hate it about a year after 3.5 came out. It was just too much. I still love the basics, but I can't stand the seemingly endless splat books and prestige classes. The same thing happened with 2nd ed AD&D.

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  10. “Does system matter?”

    Yes and no. The more the system and play style match, the smoother things will tend to be.

    “Is there one roleplaying system that you prefer to play above all others? Are there systems that you absolutely won't play? Do social considerations override those preferences? Would you rather play with the right people, or the right system? Or are the right people the ones playing the right system?”

    When it comes to playing, I tend to be fine with whatever system the referee chooses. There may be ones I prefer more than others, but I can’t think of any I would refuse to play.

    When it comes to refereeing, I have definite preferences. If a system clashes with my style, then I’m going to end up modifying or ignoring or being annoyed by a lot of it. Players may also have expectations based on the system that are different than how I run it.

    Of course, the people are more important than the game. That is part of why I’ll play just about anything. If a friend is interested enough to run it, why wouldn’t I want to play along? Likewise, my friends extend a similar courtesy to me.

    “Would you rather play something familiar, or try something new? Are you still playing the first system you started gaming with? When you try a new system, would you rather that it be similar to one you know, or something crazy and different? Or are there certain features that you know and love, and others you don't mind if the system experiments with?”

    I like both trying new games and playing familiar ones.

    Currently, my favorite systems are—once again—the ones I started with: B/X D&D and classic Traveller. Although there was a time when I thought D&D was hopelessly obsolete and that I’d never play it again.

    I don’t mind systems that are very different than the ones I know. What I don’t tend to care for, however, is systems that are different just for the sake of being different.

    I am open to experiments. What annoys me is when a system uses a mechanic that is known to be problematic (e.g. death spirals or AD&D’s two-weapon fighting rules) without any attempt to address those issues.

    “Would you rather play the perfect system, or one that's not quite perfect but you know inside and out? Are there systems that you originally hated, but fell in love with when you mastered them? What about the other way around? Any system that you used to love, but now don't remember well enough to use properly?”

    After many years of trying to assemble the perfect system, I realized that there is no perfect system. There’s just a lot of trade-offs.

    As a player, I generally don’t care about how well I know the system. Just about all the referees I’ve played with make sure that players don’t need to know the rules.

    I’ve changed my opinions on several games over the years. Including a love → hate → love relationship with D&D.

    There are games that I don’t feel as comfortable with than I used to. Some of it is that I no longer know it as well. Some of it is that some games are no longer as good a fit for what I’m looking for today as they were for what I was looking for then.

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  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  12. My apologies for the double post. Technical difficulties.

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  13. System matters, just not as much as people or setting. Or, very possibly, where you choose to play.

    We’re tinkerers. Most systems are going to be tweaked and changed around any way. Not that I have to choose, but I think I would have better games choosing the right people and setting, and rolling blindly on what system I used. It’d just be molded into something that the group would better utilize.

    Systems are easy to change, as are settings, unless you’re dealing with purists. And that’s why people matter so much more than either one, because the right group will run the pants off even an imperfect system (and they’re all imperfect in some way, right?).

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  14. I think if you have that right group you could have a blast roleplaying chutes and ladders.

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  15. System definitely matters right now because of my life and gaming group. I work full-time and my group is my boys. So I need something simple to play and simple to prepare. Barbarians of Lemuria and Supers! are my go-to games right now.

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  16. Hrm. Well I suppose I'd agree with any and all that value players over systems. So, no, system doesn't matter.

    We started with, and still play, 2nd Ed D&D. I enjoy the rulebooks, and I enjoy having all of the options in my campaign. We tried AD&D once or twice, and it didn't stick. I hopped in a handful of different 3rd Ed groups, and I absolutely hated the rules as well as the people in the groups. The 2nd Ed group has been the standard.

    For a while I played in a World of Darkness game. I really didn't much care for the rulebooks. But even though I didn't like the rules, I gamed every week because of the players.

    I doubt I'll ever give up on our D&D campaign. But if we ever hit a lull with it, I'll try to encourage my players to try something else in the mean-time. Possibly a Battletech game? Or even a Zombie Apocalypse Survival type of game. And if the rules suck, we can always tweak them. Or better yet, make our game.

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  17. My own personal answers pretty much echo everyone else's. System matters, yeah, but not as much as people.

    In general, I like learning new systems and trying new things. At the moment, though, I'm pretty happy learning the ins-and-outs of old school D&D.

    I used to love d20, and now I'm a bit off on the whole thing. For a whole lot of reasons, some having nothing to do with the mechanical merits of the system.

    And right now I'm very, very picky about what systems I will and won't play, because I'm being picky about what kinds of games I'll play in, period. I can afford to be. I've got several very good, very solid, regular weekly games already, so a new one has to offer me something really compelling to make it into that line-up. If I didn't have Doom & Tea Parties, I'd probably be a lot more willing to fiddle with d20 and see if I could make it work.

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