359 Don't Tell Me What to Play

How do we nicely discuss the topic of “you should play X game instead of Y game” so that we don’t come across as snobbish assholes?

“I want to play X type of game with Y system” is often met with, “Then you shouldn’t play that system, you need this better system.”


I shared my personal thoughts on the main topic of this episode back in April:

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I remember. :smile:

I recall it as well, and just re-read my response, which I still stand by. (Not that it’s controversial I’m just agreeing with my past self.)

I will say this – even in the last six months or so, playing a single game steadily has increased my appreciation for system mastery. I’ll always be a multi-system-setting-genre guy, but I believe more strongly than ever to each their own.


My take home bits from this episode:

They finally acknowledge the superiority of DCC, and that even sports fanbases dislike their own fanbases. (No. Seriously. As a Blackhawks fan, they can be insufferable.)


Even though i am still chasing the perfect system (especially for a superhero game), I find the game my friends and I are using is the real answer.

I was that snob for years, trying to get my group to try this system or that system. And we always come back to D&D. That said, it really needs to fix bonus action like in…

I like Harrigan’s answer: “Playing a single game steadily has increased my appreciation for system mastery.”

It’s great to dabble in rules. It’s healthy for the hobby. It’s entertaining to read different books and consider new things. But at the same time, finish the sampler and pick a pint. Take a leap of faith on a single system and allow the game to age like a fine wine. The GM and players will steadily grasp the rules, and eventually those guide rails will become second nature, then become invisible entirely. And that’s exactly what you want as a GM: A ruleset that gets out of your way.

To Sean’s question on what to do when someone says “You should play X game instead of Y game.”

Not only is that statement inherently vitriolic, it assumes the person needs advice and is gaming the wrong way.

Who really believes the recipient of this kind of pointed guidance would ever activate on it? Imagine someone who’s spent days or weeks prepping a complex Lovecraft game only to hear “No no … This could have been done better.”

Isn’t it hard enough to recruit players to commit to a long campaign, while also teaching them the rules? It’s incredibly difficult to pull off the hat trick to even get a game going in the first place. 1. Learn the rules. 2. Create the adventure. 3. Gather and educate players. That’s a lot.

On what planet would someone entertain the idea of exploring an alternate ruleset on top of all the rest of a GM’s duties?

It’s such an arrogant and elitist question, one that is likely born from that person’s insecurities in engaging with an individual who’s actually done the heavy lifting in running or preparing a richly envisioned game.

It’s hard to imagine Brett or Sean or many of the other seasoned BSers and GMs ever making such a statement.


This is why when people say
“I want to run GameX but my players will only play SystemY and make me run it, how do I get them to switch?”
my answer is
“I don’t know. I offer to run GameX, if people don’t want to play it, that’s fine. When they say I have to run SystemY, I say that’s not what I’m offering to run, you’re more than welcome to run SystemY, but I’m not.”

I have enough on my plate learning, organizing and setting up the game I want to run, I’m not doing all that for a game I don’t want to run.


I’m on a disorder sever where a couple people are telling folks about all the games that are better than D&D and why they should play them instead of D&D. It’s a bit much, I’m glad there are spaces like these which are more chill.