Saturday, September 3, 2011

Dissension in the Ranks

And so it goes. We've got those who are fairly unhappy with the vote. Oops. I knew this would happen. We also have at least one member that voted wrong. Not reading the directions thoroughly he marked his choices backwards. I fixed his, but wonder now how many others made the same mistake. Members are coming to me in number, however expressing dissatisfaction with the voting results. The tendency for gamers to be loyalists is remarkable. It's actually the same in the ranks of adult gamers, so why should it be any different among the young? The real danger of course is that members get so upset by having to play a game they don't like, they will leave the club. Deomcratic process and open discussion are critical to making everyone happy.

Our Pathfinder devotees have been the most vocal, doing some down and dirty comparisons of the systems in their own minds and why PF wins out over the others. They want a chance to explain this to newbies who may not be as intimately familiar with the systems as they are. One kid has done a point by point analysis of the differences in S&W and his game and makes it clear there is no comparison. He sees the earlier games as too simple, to "optionless" and bland in presentation. Good points really. So I talked with him about the play differences between the two. Hilighting for him the difference the way rules oriented systems played versus roleplaying oriented systems. He understood, but was not convinced. In the end he made a very astute observation when he said, "I just like more complex systems." Man, that kind of self awareness in a young gamer surpasses the self analysis of many adult fanboys!

Some other young men who really prefer DnD 4e have expressed their concerns as well. But they like the focus on roleplay present in eariler systems. Of course the question of whether you can achieve such roleplay in 4e is an open question for them. Currently they are just taking my word for it. And I have to be careful that I'm not proselytizing too much, but maintaining a neutral, informative stance that allows these young gamers to find their own way.

It was also pointed out to me by several club members that many people who had never gamed before are trying to vote on systems they know nothing about, except for my little blurbs. The brief descriptions I provided (last post) are either totally unhelpful (like the Dark Dungeons and OSRIC descriptors) or are interchangeable. They see my voting system as inherently flawed. Cool! I love this sort of deep thinking from students (but then I'm a teacher). So the question becomes, how do we really confront this issue?

Two options are under consideration. One is a club meeting where we discuss all the systems and present the books and materials for each one so that everyone can peruse them. Fanboys can give their personal spiels for the systems they like. Debate will be allowed on the virtues or flaws of each system. I will mediate and clarify points that I feel are too emotional, unfounded or are incorrect. Then we will hold a silent vote and determine a system.

The second option was mentioned in my previous post as well, and also encouraged by ADD Grognard's comments. Instead of a detailed debate on the systems, we meet them on their own ground: in a play session. I worry just presenting all the 4e or PF books against the simply PDF of S&W will unfairly bias the debate. I mean heck the art and books for those two modern systems are like eye candy to the average teenager. Show them some splashy pages of fantasy art and they won't see anything else for the whole meeting. But that doesn't allow them to really experience what playing S&W or C&C is like compared to PF or 4e. If we play each one for a brief session then they can vote on which game they like based on how it actually played.

I also like ADD Grognards suggestion we play them in historical order. Something like:
  1. S&W
  2. LL / DD
  3. OSRIC / ADD
  4. C&C
  5. HM
  6. PF
  7. 4e
Which sort of follows the development of the game. Although HM as it currently stands doesn't really fit in there anymore, unless we play HM 4e which is OOP. The new HM is much less D&D like than it ever was before. At any rate a brief one hour session or even half hour session for each one, with pregen PCs and we aren't talking about more than 3 days. We currently game twice a week for 2 hours each, but a third day is being considered. I've got to decide what to do this weekend, because I want to be ready to go Tuesday for the first meeting.
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