Which Comes First? The Campaign or the System

I don't really care about system, so long as it works. So I pick system first; one that I'm comfortable with, and is robust enough to handle a lot of different things. Then I pick the campaign. Then, if necessary, I tweak the system.

Since I tend to play d20, which is a highly adaptable system, with all kinds of modular add-ons and options, that's not too hard. I've almost made a GMing career the last ten years out of low-magic d20 variants.

I don't really like systems, and I strongly disagree with the assertion that system and setting are tied together. Most setting-games don't redesign a system from the ground up to match the setting, making that assertion flat out bizarre to me, and in the rare instances where they do, I've never found that the system necessarily matches the setting as well as it's supposed to. But mostly, game designers take a house or pet system that's already out there and tweak it rather than designing a system specifically for a setting.

In fact, I've seen way too many mismatched settings and systems in my day to have any patience for learning some "custom" system for a new setting/game.

Give me a system I already know, give it a few setting specific bells and whistles, and off I go.
 
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Psion

Adventurer
It depends. Often enough, a properly textured game has a feel and implicit consequences of its own that makes great grist for game settings or campaigns. What role does magic play? What can groups do? Etc.

OTOH, sometimes I'll get an idea and look for the proper system to drape it around. Honestly, I find this a bit more of a challenge, because I often need to fit certain features of the campaign, and generic games are often not really generic and specific games tend to have the sorts of assumptions I alldue to above. So, I end up kit-bashing something together, often through a few false starts as I playtest and feel out what's not going to work.

Not so much campaign first as narrative first. It depends on what kind of gaming experience I want to have. Setting and system are not so much about the world itself as it is about the gaming experience they try to create.

Call of Cthulhu, World of Darkness, and Unknown Armies are all horror games, but they all create a different kind of horror gaming experience. It's not about the rules per se (although that's a part of it), but what the rules say is important about the game you play.

This is probably why I hate GURPS.

Yay, non sequiturs.

Oh, I got the cause and effect there.
 

weem

First Post
Definitely system first for me - not that it's a judgment on it being the best way, but rather, it's just how it is.

Myself and my friends (who play) are D&D people primarily so it is #1 on the list (and in some cases is a requirement by some).

With that said, I would love to get an occasional non-D&D game going from time to time. I have played a number of other systems and would like to get back to them and try some new ones, if only I could find others interested in doing so (in my area) :erm:
 

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