HomeGates & GlamoursRPG Rules Complexity and Casual Gamers

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RPG Rules Complexity and Casual Gamers — 9 Comments

  1. Cynically though, I would say that the companies don't value casual gamers as much as the people who buy ruleboooks, splatbooks and accessories. A table full of casual gamers sells maybe 3 products, a table of intense gamers sells 20.

  2. Roger: Sadly, I suspect you are right about who the major RPG companies value. It's short-sighted, of course, as there is a lot of profit in casual gamers. Of course, you have to know how to market to them and you can't use the train of unending supplements to generate your profits.

  3. There is something to be said for growing the hobby by appealing to casual gamers, so that maybe some of them become more intense gamers. A larger ocean has more fish of all types in it.

  4. I returned to the hobby after many years away and can tell you I'm the bane of my 4e group. No matter what I do, I can't calculate my to hit number for all the powers I have correctly. I've got the constant deer-in-the headlights look when I try to do anything combat-wise. I wish I could convince them to play old school…

  5. MMmm…unfortunately, even with "rules light" RPGs, casual gamers still can be at a loss for "how the hell do I play this?" as I discovered this evening.

  6. Right. There are two things that made AD&D accessible.

    1. Good (essentially compatible) Basic Sets that introduced people who didn’t have experienced mentors to the hobby.

    (1b. Modular rules that made it easy to ignore large parts of the AD&D rules when you “upgraded”. Truth is, my groups were really mainly playing “Basic” D&D even though we were using the AD&D books.)

    2. Experienced mentors who don’t believe that the rules are the final say and who aren’t into showing off their mastery of the rules at the expense of others.

    I have seen some of #2 with modern games too, though.

    That said, I have come to the position that more is gained than lost when the rules are simpler and, thus, more people at the table have a firmer grasp of them.

  7. This is one advantage of random roll character generation systems. The player needn't know much to create a character. Same for class-based.

    It's also an advantage of level systems, since typically there's not much to know or decide about if the character starts at low level, and complexity is added as the character goes up levels – so the player can discover the rules in play rather than having to study them beforehand.

    I can run an AD&D one-off in an afternoon, but if I want to run GURPS the one-off will just be character creation…

  8. You raise some good points here. My only recent experience with this was a while back when the DM's daughter wanted to join in on a game when we were still playing 3rd ed. Her father helped her create her character, but she really could care less about reading the rules and learning the system, she just wanted to play with "the boys" with her druid character. Pretty soon her father the DM got frustrated with her total disinterest in learning the rules and the fact that he had to keep explaining everything to her, though, so he dropped her from the game. If we had been playing a less complex game I don't think this would have been a problem (the DM is a hard-ass about knowing the ins-and-outs of the combat system, but doesn't require you to understand every power or spell completely so that your character is 'optimized,' for example). I still think he was being too hard on her, but to some degree I can understand his frustrations. If we had been using a rules set that required less directly player knowledge of the rules I bet it would have worked out better.