JP On Gaming

Monday, January 30, 2012

Game-time expectations

My previous post about expectation on a game has generated a couple of great comments and got me thinking some more about when joining a posted game, how realistic can I set my expectations? Here are two comments (edited slightly, for the full thing, click here)

Anonymous wrote:[..] Most good GMs pick a "base set" of rules and adjust the others to fit the particular gaming group. Every gaming group is different, and they all want different things out of the game. I will probably find some things I like in 5e and somethings I dislike, and I will adjust my house rules accordingly. I will pull from Pathfinder, all D&D versions, and even a few small things from White Wolf. It's ok as long as the players know what they are getting into.

LittleCodeMonkey wrote:I think it's bad to go into a game with any kind of expectations. There are too many variables. Every GM is different and will have a different style, and weigh different rules heavier than others. Even the same GM, with the same module, on the same day, and in the same venue, with just different players will have a wildly different game. (Conventions are good examples of this) Who knows, I may enjoy a GM doing something I haven't enjoyed other GMs do before. I try to just be easy going, and go into a game with no expectations other than hoping to have a good time. With that kind of attitude I am rarely disappointed.

The guys touch on a few good points. GM style/preference, house ruling and cherry picking.

GM style or preference

This one gives the wildest and most varied calls. Some GMs offer games I like, with a style I like. I think this element transcends the game system. For example, Mario my former Warhammer GM, I would play with him almost anything. Same with Lenny and a few others. (Yes, this is a shout-out to those guys). As GMs, as long as they offer to run a game I am interested in, I would try to play with them.

Littlecodemonkey says that a GM on a different day would run the game differently. That’s fine. I do it myself. A Lot, especially when I run an adventure many times (Midnight Mauler). There are a few adventures I’ve written and ran for people many times. My now-classic The Lion Sleeps Tonight for Call of Cthulhu comes to mind. The last time I ran, I thought it was way better.

CRAP! Now I have that stupid song stuck in my head… (When you play it, you’ll have it stuck too…)

House rulings/ cherry picking

We all do it. We take things from one game/edition and use it in another. That’s fine. It’s not an issue to play Pathfinder, but have a turn structure like 4e. I myself ran Call of Cthulhu using a Move/Standard-type of system, and we frequently used 3.5 thinking when resolving rules.

But the game was still (clearly) Call of Cthulhu. The minis and battle mats were extras that aren’t quite covered by the core rules of CoC. We didn’t use a strict 3.5 system, and ruled accordingly when situation arose. Many of these rules changed over time, but we kept them consistent. I would not want to publish them (nor could I do a good job of it).

Here is my issue with this point and where I disagree with Littlecodemonkey: when I posted the game, I made sure the guys knew they were joining a CoC game where we’d use some extra minis. When I joined the "3.5" game, I was told "It’s 3.5". It wasn’t. Having been in LG for a few years by then, I know 3.5 pretty well so adjusting to the rules was an annoyance. However the others who were not as well-versed had a hard time understanding the subtle things that were not in the PHB.

Is it unreasonable to expect that for a one-shot (it was not a campaign game), expecting to stick to 3.5 for a one-shot? I do not think that’s unreasonable. I did expect some house ruling during the game, of course. But to have the whole event based on those alternate rules? No.

Is it unreasonable to expect sticking to 3.5 rules strictly in a campaign or home-game setting? Yes! The DM may change/ swap/ allow/ disallow certain elements of the game mid-game without issue. I’d actually be surprised if they didn’t do it.


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