Tuesday, September 8, 2009

31 Flavors of Vanilla

As someone who enjoys many different rules systems and game settings, I often get very frustrated with playing the same old thing again and again. While I would love to be part of a long term campaign that lasts for years and years, at this point in my life I'll be lucky if my friends and I can get together a few times a month for a whole year. If this is going to be the case (as it has been for some years now), I want to expand my gaming horizons and try some new flavors instead of the same old vanilla.

It seems however that when a campaign ends and/or something new is called for, the vast majority of players and GMs default to the same games. Usually its some incarnation of Dungeons & Dragons or the D20 System. Superheroes games see a lot of activity in the circles I travel in and I am a big fan but even then too much of a good thing can lead to boredom with the genre. World of Darkness used to be a common default but not so much for my groups over the past few years and rarely the one I find to be the most intriguing of the series, Changeling: The Dreaming.

I long for someone other then myself to run something strange, different and new. Mouse Guard, Faery's Tale Deluxe and Spirit of the Century would all be a welcome change. Alternatively, something ol' school and classic would be nice too. I haven't played Call of Cthulhu in forever. Nor have I had the opportunity to play Cyberpunk, Shadowrun (any edition) or Gamma World in recent memory.

Now, what I would like to point out if it was not particularly clear is that these are games I'd love to play. I consider myself about 90% Gamemaster and 10% Player, prefering to GM the vast majority of the time. In part, it is because I know I will run something different from time to time. This is occaisionally met with a little initial resistance. Many players my age don't want to learn a new system. A lot of my current players are GMs as well and seem to prefer games where this fact gives them an advantage during character creation (yes, for the first time in 25-30 years I have min-maxers and powergamers - slay me).

Also, many of the game ideas I enjoy and have run for full on awesome campaigns in the past are viewed as not 'serious' enough by my current peers (Faery's Tale Deluxe, Mouse Guard, Oz) without really giving them a chance. So my thinking is, if my ideas are too 'goofy' for you, please come up with something yourself. Unfortunately, at least for me, the response to that is usually, "OK. I've got an idea for D&D...". To which I often reply, "Zzzzz..."

Well, my hope is that things will improve as I try to introduce new ideas to the groups and see if anything sticks. Already a few of my players and fellow GMs are looking at games they may not have looked at before. The chance to run something truly unusual may still be a ways away but at least I can look forward to more variety in the future instead of 31 flavors of vanilla.

Barking Alien


  1. It actually took my a while to get my regular gaming group to try out AiO for playtest, but we did have a good bit of fun.

  2. Currently I have two main groups, a smaller group that I've been gaming with forever and a much larger group that I've only been GMing for and playing with for just over a year.

    The smaller group consists of older players (40+), two of which are female, with very artistic backgrounds and many years of experience. They are usually willing to try just about anything and the weirder the better. Currently running a Ghostbusters campaign with them using a kitbash of the Ghostbusters RPG (WEG) and InSpectres.

    My second group has only one female player who isn't in my primary campaign and is moving away soon :( They range between their early to mid-20's and 40 years of age. The group is a much more 'macho' ensemble and prefer a classic action/adventure approach (which is cool as I do too more often then not). They tend to exhibit more of those aspects of gaming that I have not been so exposed to over the years and which are virtually non-existant in the first group (meta-gaming, min-maxing, powergaming, PvPing, rules lawyers, etc.).

    It takes some getting used to.