May 16, 2011-The Adam West style of gaming.

I am a creative guy.  There are some really good benefits to being creative; but like all things, every strength has their weakness.  Having lived a full creative life with some self-reflection, I can say I have experience and recognized many weakness from living with a creative impulse.  One of these drawbacks is the desire to “make things your own” or “put your own stamp on it.”  Basically, you take something that has nothing wrong and change it, so you feel more connected and a part of it.  I am not going to debate the positive aspects; I am here to talk about the negative aspects.  So, try not to start singing about the virtues in your head, because I already know them.  Instead, take a moment to think about; how difficult it would be to work for someone who behaves like this.

In my early years of gaming, I gave into this desire all the time; however, I was playing AD&D and that system is so open, I did not suffer badly.  Matter of fact, it was a bit of a strength; because everyone was playing typical AD&D, what I did was considered fresh.  Like having an adventure mimic Jack and the Beanstalk, the players loved it.  When I moved to other systems, this strength became a weakness, one that took several years for me to notice.  You see, after playing AD&D and 2nd edition for so long, my expectations of game systems were really low.  I expected game systems to “not make sense” and let me tell ya, many games met those expectations (which did not help.)  These games needed me to fix them before we played, allowing “my own stamp.”  In retrospect, even those stories did not work for me or my players.  About twelve years ago, I had the realization that the game’s system is fine.  That by tweaking with the system you just might be ruining the system and more importantly, the game for the players.  My worst tweaking was probably when I took Star Frontiers and tried to make it into “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” without the players knowing it. 

What I have learned, is that it is best to take the game system at face value.  Play the game as written.  Fix the system as problems come up, chances are, those problems are something you have done; rather than the system.  Once you have experience the game, add to it.  Don’t try to make the game something that it is not, because it would be that if the design wanted it to be that way.  Why would you change the Sanity System in Call of Cthulhu?  Why add on a layer of martial arts to Paranoia?  Less is more.

Less is always more, because it gives so much to the players and the game.

Pete

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