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Twitter asks some good questions. Here’s another one (again, from weeks ago).
This is a tough one, and I don’t want to admit the answer, but I will. Like everyone, I want my cake and to eat it too. I want my friends to share my play style, but I have tangible data suggesting that’s never going to happen (at least not long- or even mid-term). So, my answer is this: I’d rather play with strangers that share my play style.
Consider the following: I can’t stand 3rd Edition D&D (“3e“). When I returned to the game after 23 years away from it, I was so happy to be back that I ignored how frustrating the system was. Besides, ignorance is bliss, and for all practical purposes I had nothing to which to compare it. I hadn’t played any RPGs for decades. Nevertheless, within the past couple of years, I’ve played a little bit of 3e. I played a few sessions of Greyhawk Reborn, which is the revival of the Living Greyhawk living campaign. Why? Because some of my friends never moved on from it, and that meant I never saw them. It was a chance to reconnect, which is important to me, but it didn’t take long for 3e to drive me away again.
On the other hand, I like 5th Edition D&D, and even more of my friends play it. Nevertheless, differing play styles grated on me. My style appears to be very firmly in the minority, so I find the game more tedious than it should be, but certainly more tedious than anything designed to entertain should be.
While I’m planning to return to D&D after deciding not to play anymore, I’m doing so on my own terms, or at least I’m trying to. I’m going to run some 1st Edition D&D sessions because I suspect that system will nudge players towards the way I want to play. Even if that’s true, it may not be to their liking, so this could be a short-lived experiment. In any event, the only hope for me playing regularly would be if the style shifted to my liking. You can’t force that on people, but if some strangers came along and had a similar approach, I wouldn’t have to.
Of course, if there were personality clashes with the strangers, then I’d leave the game again, but I fear that my best chance for a long-term return to D&D is through strangers, not my existing friends. This isn’t the end of the world. I’m at least in contact with my friends via social media, we’ll probably resume seeing movies and doing trivia night when the pandemic passes, and there’s always Winter Fantasy. Also, there’s no reason to assume there’d be personality clashes with strangers. Meeting strangers should be seen as an opportunity to make even more friends. We should all try that out from time to time anyway. That may be difficult without giving in to the online gaming fad.
So, I’d have to say that I’d rather play the game I want to play with strangers than to play the one I don’t with existing friends, but only because my friends aren’t going away.
I do love my friends.
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