Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Returning To The Familiar

Over the past two years I've talked a lot about the need to expand your horizons as a GM and as a player. I've said numerous times that you shouldn't be afraid to try new things, go out there and do different things, or play in a style/system that is different from your norm. This is still good advice. However, there is a piece of follow up advice that often gets left off in the end: namely, you also want to go back to that old familiar stomping ground. Today, I want to talk about that.

Nothing Like Your Own Bed
Vacationing can be a lot of fun. I don't think there's anyone out there that doesn't look forward to a vacation, and even the home bodies like myself like to get out and get away for a while. The thing is, no matter how good your vacation away from home may be, there is still nothing quite like sleeping in your own bed. That familiar, safe mattress can just call to you. In a lot of ways, the familiar character archetype or game type work like this for us as players and GMs. As much as we wander around and try new things, sometimes you just have to go home and sleep in your own bed. even if just for a couple of nights before heading out again. It helps put things in perspective. It also gives you a zero point to launch out from.

Old Vantage, New Perspective
Moving away from the bed metaphor, the real reason you want to go back to the familiar is because you should have a new perspective now. If you only ever played the hard to hurt front line fighter, and then spent a long time playing a squishy mage, you'll likely have a new perspective on that front line fighter. Maybe you'll be more creative in how you apply your talents. Maybe you'll be more of a team player. Maybe you'll do a lot of things. The point is, your perspective has shifted with your new experiences and that can change the way you play out the old familiar character. You can try out tricks that you learned with the other classes, and you can see if you like the old ones that you used to do. That can be powerful mojo right there.

Not So Comfy Anymore
One thing you might notice is that your old standy no longer feels as comfortable. This is ok too. It happens. For the longest time I played only magic user characters. Then I tried out rogues and I haven't looked back in a long time. Part of that is bias - I don't like how a lot of magic casters work - but a lot of it is on me. Even when I venture out to try new things I often stay away from magic. It just isn't a comfortable location for me as a player. Should I give it another shot? Sure. However, I've also found other niches that I like to fill in games and groups because I ventured away from spell caster before. I've had a lot of experiences with a lot of games that I simply wouldn't have been able to have if I hadn't stepped away from magic users. I, to this day, think I'm  a better gamer for that too.

Set Down Your Baggage
I mentioned above about getting a zero point. This is also why you return to the familiar. To go back to the vacation analogy, if you just keep hopping from country to country and vacation to vacation you're going to end up with a lot of baggage. Photos and souvenirs from Africa are going to blend with those from Greece and Ireland. eventually the messages and lessons learned get all cluttered up and you forget where you were standing back then. Returning back to the familiar gives you a chance to unload that baggage. You drop it off back home, empty the bags, and head out again. You already get to see how the stuff looks on the shelf, plus you have more room for even more new lessons as you are going along.

Give It A Shot
Yes, I'm telling you to try returning back to your old familiar haunt. Give it a shot. How long have you wandered from it? Is it even still the way you remember it? Go back, check it out, and see how you like it. Maybe it is time to move on. Maybe you'll have more fun than you ever recall having before. You'll never know until you try.

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