Saturday, May 18, 2013

Are We Playing Pathfinder?

I've noticed something about my gaming groups since getting back into it after 2000 or so.  Back in high school my players and I didn't talk about "playing D&D", but instead called it "adventuring".  They'd ask "are we adventuring this Sunday?", not "are we playing D&D".  Now all the games seem to be defined by which set of rules they use.  It's "When are we playing your Pathfinder game again?", or "When are we playing Bill's Mutants & Masterminds game again?"  It sort of saddens me because it makes it sound as though the sessions are all about experiencing the game rules rather than experiencing an adventure.

Is this because the newer Pathfinder and D&D 3.5 rules are so complex that it's all about the rules?  Well my original game was run with Chivalry & Sorcery, not D&D.  C&S is a pretty complex set of rules--overly complex in some areas.  And yet those were the rules for the gaming we called "adventuring".

Perhaps it's because there are so many rules sets out there that people have to keep mentioning them to keep track of what they're playing this time.  Or perhaps it's because the rules so heavily influence character-building, the action at the table, and character development.  I'm not sure that this constant mention of the rules is necessarily bad, but I'm not really happy with it.

Maybe the solution is to have a title for each campaign, like the title of a movie or a television program.  My current game is using the Shackled City adventure path which is based in the city of Cauldron.  There were originally seven players so I started calling the PC party the "Cauldron Seven".  That's my nickname for it but not an official title.  I think next time I start a new campaign (which may be soon) I'll give it a formal title.  A title may help take the focus off the rules and also set a tone for the campaign.

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