Single System Monogamy

  1. How many of your are monogamous with a single system?
  2. If you are system monogamous (or almost) do you run the same kind of game all the time? (only D&D, only Traveller, whatever...)
  3. If you are system monogamous what system are you faithful to? What kinds of games does it run well, and where does it struggle?

My own answers
  • I am not system monogamous but feel more and more like I'd like to be.
  • I run alot Savage Worlds in different genres. I don't always run the same kind of game. Last year I ran some Savage Pathfinder, and a alot of Savage Worlds Core + Horror companion when I was running my Night's Black Agents in SWADE game.
  • If I were going to be system monogamous it would probably be with Savage Worlds. It handles most action oriented games quite well. It struggles with gritty realism in my opinion, which is one of the reasons I haven't been able to commit.
In my case I'm considering pruning back my physical collection and am seriously considering whether I could get by with just a single system and use the vast pdf collection to supplement and inspiration. I just have to figure out if I can run something akin to a WHFRP game in SWADE or not.

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Not your screen monkey (he/him)
I am not system monogamous, nor genre monogamous. I’m currently running D&D 5e (my favorite edition), but have also recently run Mutants and Masterminds, Masks, Call of Cthulhu, and Pathfinder 1e.
I do tend to focus on one game system within a genre at one time, so I’m more inclined to stick to D&D or M&M rather than interject Masks or PF.

Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
I am not and getting less so.

I'm finding that bespoke systems offer an extremely focused experience right out of the box, often with months or years of designers trying to get every aspect of that vibe right -- more than I could do homebrewing, which I do a lot of.

I'm super-excited about Deathmatch Island coming this year. It's something, in theory, I could build myself (to the extent that anyone could, in theory, create any written work), but the designers have already inhaled far more of the source material than I have time to and appear to have built something out of it and run extensive testing on the system. I and my group are just going to reap the rewards instead of me hammering on another system to build something like that at home.

The Soloist

During the d20 D&D 3e era, I was mono-system. I played d20 D&D, d20 Star Wars, d20 Modern (Future, etc). Got tired of that and switched to Savage Worlds during the D&D 4e era.

Now I play d20, 2d6, 3d6, 1d10, 2d10, d100 and dice pool games. I doubt I'll go back to a mono-system diet anytime soon, but I did curate my RPG collection down to 9 titles to soften the learning and retaining of rules.


Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
I am forced more system monogamous then I would like, but personally enjoy many different systems.

Short story: many of my players and most of my DMs are D&D 5e focused. So we play a lot more of that than anything else.

The more I see other systems and get exposed to the philosophies behind them, the better it makes me at RPGs. Just like being both a player and a GM regularly makes you better at both of them because you actually understand the viewpoint of the "other side of the table".

I feel that different systems bring very different feels as supported by mechanics and guidelines, and very different stakes. (Yes, you can play anything with any rules. I am specifically talking about being supported by the rules, as opposed to by GM fiat.)

I sometimes hit into issues discussing other games here at ENworld, where people with good intentions read rules for other games through the lens of only knowing a single game, and come away with distorted visions of what play in those games is like. Or try to run it like that (esp. "forever DMs") and then come away feeling they understand it and disliking it. Especially when you get "DMs have absolute authorial power" in systems that mechanically shares that to players as well.


I started with MERP and Rolemaster, and RM was pretty much all I ran for my first 10-or-so years gaming.

These days, I tend to run a campaign for 18 - 36 months, then move onto the next thing. I rarely, if ever, return to a system or setting I've used before.


Cry havoc! And let slip the pigs of war!
I have been playing D&D since childhood and hope too for life.

I had fun with Top Secret, Marvel Superheroes, gamma world, Star frontiers…but they did not have staying power: we always played a little and back to knights and wizards…

I played. Lot of boardgames, DOAM, some miniature, tactical squad based (combat commander etc)…and the problem i faced is forgetting rules and having to relearn if I jump around much.

As a working adult/parent, I need to grok a game and play. If I have spare time beyond I might make some terrain.

I just don’t have enough headspace for multiple games…and if it’s only one, it what has become a lifestyle game for me: D&D.

I know that is not very sexy or subversive but there it is…and now DMing for my children and brother tomorrow!


I just play 5e, and some clone stuff from 3pp but considered D&D. I'll buy the new 5.5e when it comes out this year and not much will change. When I was a kid, we player a few other things but always came back to D&D. Now it is mostly a time thing in the amount of time I have to play.


Never been monogamous never will be :)

Now here's the more dangerous question to being a mono-game-system-only player healthy?

I'm always amazed at the parallels between the TTRPG hobby and software engineering. Someone mentioned that being both a player and a GM makes you better at both. I feel the same about game systems. The more you learn other game systems, the more ideas you have and the more you realize there are different ways of approaching things.

The same thing happens with programming languages and frameworks. Unless you are a brand-new, out-of-school college grad, if you've got 4+ years of experience, IMHO, you better know at least one other programming language and more than one framework (even if you have to learn it on hobby time). Why? Because it broadens your ability to think about how to solve problems and see there's a different way to design and architect things.

So why don't more engineers learn more programming languages and frameworks? The most common reason is either "I already know how to do it in X so why learn Y?" and/or "I don't have time to learn X". It's similar to what I hear in the TTRPG community. Many don't want to buy a new game system or take the time to get familiar with a new one. One difference though is most software engineers are aware that other languages and frameworks exist often due to one or more (sometimes over)zealous compatriots suggesting to the team to try this new language or framework that promises better functionality.

I've used the analogy many times before, but to me it's like saying "I love pizza, and so from now on, I only want to eat pizza". And it's even worse, because if we use the pizza as an analogy for a genre, and toppings for a game system, people not only want a pizza with the same toppings....they only want to eat pizza from the same restaurant! (or maybe chain of affiliated restaurants if you stretch the analogy to 5e compatible systems). Not only will some people only want 5e, it has to be 5e in Eberron, or Dragonlance, or "fill in your favorite game world here".

When a recent thread talked about how the Golden Age of TTRPG is ending because (as the assertion went) the dominance of 5e was coming to an end, I could only think: "If true, it's about time". Not because 5e is bad per se. But because of the monopoly it has on the industry. And I can't blame WotC for the monopoly really. For some reason I can't fathom, it's a community-imposed monopoly because so many gamers only want to play one system and even in just one setting.

If people tell me "that's my choice if I only ever want to eat Sausage and Mushroom deep dish pizza from Pizza Hut", yes I suppose it is. But think about what we would do if a child refused to eat everything except only one kind of food? Or read only one kind of book. What would you do if you had a room mate, significant other or family who only ever wanted to watch one kind of TV show or movie?

I am pretty well set on the Zweihander/Flames of Freedom system, although I had to use a different system for my current campaign as Zwei's PC creation is very period-specific.

But I'm going back to it in my upcoming campaign, and shouldn't stray for the next couple years.

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