Goldilocks Systems Syndrome or The Grass is Always Greener at the Other Table
I’ve been playing in a Castles & Crusades casual campaign for the last six months and it’s been quite an eye-opener for myself and my crew. The others in my group haven’t played 1st or 2nd edition to any great degree so you can imagine the system shock. I like to reflect on things; probably too much I think, (I’ve reflected on my reflecting) and I’ve come to some realizations about C&C and my growing system angst.
The first being about C&C and how the monsters adhere and play to the original interpretations of them in my opinion. When I came back to the hobby in early 2012 after close to a twenty year hiatus, I was struck by how much had changed with established creatures. Drow that took no ill effects from daylight, ghouls that didn’t paralyze, githyanki without their silver swords, etc. I go back to the Rumplestiltskin analogy again, “What happened to the world while I was away?!” C&C hits the reset button and brings things back to the beginning. I love that. Tinkering is fine. Wholesale changes though have made many established creatures unrecognizable leave me annoyed.
While C&C creatures feel and play like traditional 1st or 2nd edition entities, so do character classes. I’m not sure I like that anymore. Look, I cut my teeth on 1st and 2nd edition. Thac0 is ingrained in my DNA and boy do I miss referring to charts for everything, but there has to be a middle ground between the super-powered PCs of 4th and the limitations of low level PCs of 1st and 2nd edition. C&C has been great for the nostalgia factor and I’m enjoying the experience of watching my younger players’ reactions to how differently each class feel and plays. “Rogues suck now!” is one comment that speaks to how differently rogues in modern RPGs like Pathfinder and 4e are damage machines first and tool boxes second as to it being the opposite in the early days of the hobby.
All this reflecting has made me realize that I’m suffering from GSS (Goldliocks Systems Syndrome) at the moment. C&C is too simple, 4e is too combat-centered, Pathfinder is bloated and cramping and 13th Age is what 4E should have been but the amount of work I have to currently put in to creating creatures and items for it is exhausting me, there are too many holes to fill right now.
I haven’t taken part in D&D Next’s playtesting and while I’ve read bits and pieces of the process, I’ve pretty much been waiting for a finished product. I think I’m ready for a look at what’s next.