- If you want to be a great doctor, you treat many patients and many illnesses.
- If you want to be a great athlete, you play against many different teams at many different levels.
- If you want to be a great graphic designer, you work on many different, even vastly different projects and media.
If you want to be a great GM or player, run and play many different games across many different systems.
And I don’t mean run a single game of each system. I don’t believe complete understanding comes until you have run at least three games in a system, and taken a good look at the books between sessions to understand where you went wrong. But that’s just me.
I tend to think back to the game I just played, and question, “What could I have done better? I didn’t know what to do and fudged it… is this rule covered in the book? What could have made that scene more fun?” Just to name a few.
And believe me. I mess up ALL THE TIME. Ask my players.
The kind ones pretend not to notice.
When you’ve gained an understanding for many different systems, as a GM (or player) you get a feeling for homebrew rules you’d like in your games. You understand how to manipulate any system you are in despite the differences. You learn what rules or systems you dislike in a roleplaying game. You begin to learn failure is fun and educational.
Most importantly: you learn that the rules don’t matter, fun matters.
As a player, you begin to realize the character you play is more important than the numbers governing it. Failure is something you lean into. I’d even say you become more immersed in the world presented to you.
What’s the beauty in that?
The GM is no longer the single point of reference for the story. As a player you become invested in the world, describing your actions and the scene to everyone. Backstory comes out of this naturally, painting a bigger world picture for everyone.
And trust me, coming from someone who is the GM 90% of the time, I love it when players have this kind of investment. I love having seeds planted by my players for me to help expand upon, because it enriches the stories not only of the group, but the individual characters.
Is anything better than that?
Image borrowed from Battle Crazed Axe Mage.