Time and Learning New Roleplaying Games

I just don’t have the time to learn many new games well enough to play them, let alone GM them, any more. I’m 53, and have work, a house to maintain, family, and other non-gaming activities that all require my time and effort. Time for gaming is very scarce. I’d rather spend that time playing games rather than learning yet another new and different system — especially a multi-hundred page set of rules.

I can run TSR D&D, Classic Traveller, Call of Cthulthu/Stormbringer (and other BRP style games) and Marvel Superheroes almost without having the rule books at the table, so why not run them rather than spend time learning yet another new system? I can make an exception for very rules-lite games, but other than that I just can’t make myself bother.

This is true for playing as well as running them. If the players really need to buy the book and learn the rules to play, then I really don’t have the time. That’s what I like about many old-school games, you could play without reading the rules, let alone learning them or “mastering” them.

I know this isn’t what the gaming industry wants to hear, but I suspect a lot of people are in the same boat I am or will be as they age and acquire more and more time-consuming responsibilities. The constant churn of rules may not be in the long term best interests of the gaming industry even if it does produce profits over the short term. Think about it, I could go to the store and buy the same game of Candy Land, Life, or Monopoly I played (rules-wise, at least) as a child and play them with my niece and nephew. However, with the exception of a very few games like Call of Cthulhu, I can’t do that with the RPGs I played in the 1970s and 1980s. Even staples like D&D are so different (rules-wise) now that they might as well be different games.

Randall Stukey

Randall is the author and publisher of a number of old school games (Microlite74, Microlite81, BX Advanced, etc) through RetroRoleplaying.com. Randall's main job, however, is being caregiver for his MS-afflicted cancer survivor wife. You can support Randall with a donation to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund.

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Randall is the author and publisher of a number of old school games (Microlite74, Microlite81, BX Advanced, etc) through RetroRoleplaying.com. Randall's main job, however, is being caregiver for his MS-afflicted cancer survivor wife. You can support Randall with a donation to the RetroRoleplaying Cancer Fund. Gates & Glamours RSS Feed

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Will DouglasStan ShinnAnonymousN. WrightRandall Recent comment authors
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Will Douglas
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"Think about it, I could go to the store and buy the same game of Candy Land, Life, or Monopoly I played (rules-wise, at least) as a child and play them with my niece and nephew." Candyland and Monopoly, sure. But I bought a copy of Life and found out that there are at least two later editions since the one I played as a kid. And the one I got on the first try was awful. Go to Target and get the wooden box edition — that's the original. Other than that, I have to say, I totally agree… Read more »

N. Wright
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I think it's a travesty that the pay-to-play RPG market consists of bigger and bigger RPGs, with longer rules than the edition before it. It doesn't make any sense.

I wrote a longer post about that here: http://lawfulindifferent.blogspot.com/2010/09/why-are-games-so-damn-long.html

Randall
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@Will — I haven't seen the new versions of Life. The one I bought a few years ago had a fancier looking board and cars that the one I had in the 1960s, but was pretty much the same rules and play-wise. I'll have to see what is available now.

@N. Wight — Interesting post (and comments) on rules length.

Stan Shinn
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I totally agree — we need more commercially supported rules-lite RPGs.

Anonymous
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Anonymous

I can play anything, whether I know the rules or not (you tell the Referee what you want to do, he/she tells you what to roll). But when I'm the GM (pretty much always) it's D&D (LotFP: WFRP at the moment) or Classic Traveller.

Dan
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I regards to learning new gaming systems, I am totally with you. Many years ago, I used to play D&D, then when Advanced came out, I played AD&D a LOT. Table top, pen and paper games, then later, me and a lot of people I met through Irony games played online by email. Then when 3rd Edition came out, we all agreed to buy the core rulebooks, learn it together and started a basic game to get to grips with it. We liked it so much, we converted all our games to 3e. Just as 3.5 was coming out, the… Read more »

Dan
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I regards to learning new gaming systems, I am totally with you. Many years ago, I used to play D&D, then when Advanced came out, I played AD&D a LOT. Table top, pen and paper games, then later, me and a lot of people I met through Irony games played online by email. Then when 3rd Edition came out, we all agreed to buy the core rulebooks, learn it together and started a basic game to get to grips with it. We liked it so much, we converted all our games to 3e. Just as 3.5 was coming out, the… Read more »

Byteknight
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I agree, the constant learning of new rules was a problem for my gaming group in the early 80s but it was solved by 1986 when GURPS came along. Since then, standardized rules from many different companies have consolidated the rpg market. Maybe the real culprit is that we're not kids anymore. I'm 43 and you said you're in your 50s. Real life is intruding now the way it wasn't intruding when we were 25 years younger. Even if I had the time to think of a campaign, etc and all my buddies were there to play like they were… Read more »

Byteknight
Guest

I agree, the constant learning of new rules was a problem for my gaming group in the early 80s but it was solved by 1986 when GURPS came along. Since then, standardized rules from many different companies have consolidated the rpg market. Maybe the real culprit is that we're not kids anymore. I'm 43 and you said you're in your 50s. Real life is intruding now the way it wasn't intruding when we were 25 years younger. Even if I had the time to think of a campaign, etc and all my buddies were there to play like they were… Read more »