Monday, March 2, 2015

Simple, Not Boring

Wow, has it been almost six months? Whew. That's quite a long time. Things have been busy 'round the house. My freelance work continues to grow, I've had a surprise hottest seller on RPGNow, and coolest of all, I have a seven-month old daughter now. (And yes, she's a badass).

One of the other really cool things that has changed is that I finally got a chance to do some real, physical gaming round a table with friends, dice, character sheets and junk food. It had been at least two years since I'd gotten a chance to participate in a physical game and it was absolutely fabulous.

When it came time to get the crew together, I wanted to initially run either Labyrinth Lord or Swords & Wizardry. All of my players were totally down for this - except one. I have one guy in my group who just doesn't do the whole OSR thing. He's not a fan of older editions.

He doesn't have on them and will play because he trusts me as a GM -  but he finds them to be boring. Characters have no flavor. First level PCs are one-hit wonders who die with a single bad roll. The adventures are meat grinders.

Neither I, nor any of the other gamers in the group, believe any of these things to be the case - but this guy is adamant. The last time we all gamed together, I was running the amazing Barrowmaze, using Labyrinth Lord. The party got rocked hard and very nearly avoided a TPK. Since then, everyone else has been itching to take on Barrowmaze again - except this guy. His exact response was "Nope, ef that place."

The thing that bothers me the most about this guy is the fact that he feels like he needs rules to make a unique character. A heavy armored knight and a light-footed swashbuckler can both be fighters. An arcane scholar from a magic college and a tribal witch doctor can both be wizards. The lack of rules can be a huge strength in making a unique character - but this guy just seems to see the classes as cookie cutter.

I'm kind of at a loss of how to deal with him. He'll play because he thinks I'm a good DM, but he always bitches about OSR games. I'm reaching the point where I've considered asking him to leave the group if he's genuinely not enjoying himself.

This kind of thing drives me berserk. If you don't enjoy a game, you aren't under an obligation to play it - but at the same time, don't sit there and talk shit about it while participating. Show some respect for something others love, because we're all gamers together.


  1. I get that too. I've fit a player that prefers crunchy D20 games and makes sure everyone knows he disapproves of these simple, or story driven, games that don't feature endless options

    It's frustrating because you're providing the entertainment for the group, who for the most part, enjoys and appreciates the efforts.

  2. Ug, it's too bad that he's unaware (uninterested?) he's making things suck for all involved. Sounds like he really needs a lot more structure in order to firm up his imaginings.

    Assuming this dude is a friend of yours (or a regular gaming companion) maybe encourage him to bring his favorite players handbook to the next game. If you're willing to deal with some haggling, maybe he could use it as inspiration--a way of giving his character some grounding--with approval by you of course.

    I'm talking more mining ideas to flavor his character here, not allowing the porting of other game rules or other unwanted effects to the rest of the group.

    Or you could just say 'F it and let him know his spot at the table is officially available! ;-)

    1. Players like him are why I write things like the 70+ Labyrinth Lord classes I've published, or the White Box Companion. Options are there without adding too much complexity to the game. I think in this guy's case, part of it is the so-called "lack of options" combined with fragile 1st level characters that makes this guy come to the table with preconceived notions. He often writes shit off before he even gives it a chance. It's frustrating because he is a good friend and a great role-player - but he's very opinionated and loud about it.

  3. I have never understood this.The less rules I see as an open door to the ability to do more. Having feats or powers that tell exactly what you can do I find to be actually counter to that, they restrict you from trying other, more creative things.

  4. It may be that he plays for power in his Imagination Zone and that the old-style games don't give him enough
    Throw him a special low-level artifact and see if that works, and let him unfold his character around that through discovery of special powers (but make it contrary to his ideas)
    There is a rift in expectations between those comfortable with old-style play and those who want character customization options built into the rules. You let him use your custom classes, yeah?

  5. Since he is a friend, I'd recommend just talking to him about it because right now you only have an impression of what his problem might be. A good conversation should supply enough information to determine whether there is something you, as GM, can do or whether this simply isn't the game for this player.


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