Why do you play games other than D&D?

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
Why do I play games other than D&D? Okay...

I play 13th Age because I feel it gives me the best "D&D experience" of any game. I play 5e - my favorite D&D version ever - more because it's easier to find players. This is no knock on D&D 5e - it's a fantastic game.

I play other games for either genre or feel. Or both. For example I know there are plenty of superhero games out there, but having played a bunch of them I always return to Champions (well, to Hero System, but to misquote Billy Joel, "It'll always be Champions to me".) On the other hand, I've tried Fantasy Hero and there are a lot better systems for a fantasy game. Though I do want to get into a Marvel Heroic Roleplay game to give it a try.

There are a lot of systems that I haven't tried and I want to, always for the feel but also for how that feel is supported by the mechanics. Blades in the Dark, Dogs in the Vineyard, Apocalypse World (not Dungeon World!), etc. Over my long years in the hobby, I find myself more attracted to rules that don't just allow a setting, but actively support it. Vs. generic rulesets. I know that seems a bit odd when I mention Champions as a favorite, but it was made first and foremost as a supers system and it shows. Even the general applicability of FATE or FAE is very easy to customize the ruleset to support a specific feel.
 

Venley

Visitor
I play other games in the same way that I eat other breads than sliced white plastic.
Other games are tastier: they are my granary, soda, onion, cheese and rye breads.
Sometimes I want a basic bit of toast and for that sliced white is nicest and sometimes I want a basic generic fantasy and for that D&D is best.

But most of the time I want the glorious tastes that other games provide: eg.gritty, low-magic, science-fiction or historical.

I dislike classes and levels and put up with them for the simple nostalgic pleasure of D&D. I particularly dislike the focus on levelling and players who are all about plotting out where their character needs to go to get x ability rather than engaging with the story and world right now.
 

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
In the 80s, when I spent A LOT of time gaming, my friends and I just tired of it and we play many different systems, including those we made up ourselves.

Now, 5e is my main game and I just don't have much time to game. I do still play other systems, but generally as one shots.

At conventions, I like to try games I've never played, just for the novelty and variety.

I run the Expanse because I like the hard-science theme paired with the easy to run and cinematic AGE system that the Expanse is built on.

I run Paranoia because it is the only player v. player TTRPG that I've found to be consistently fun and because I love the flavorful fluff of its humorously distopic setting.

I play and hope to run soon Dialect, because it is the most consistently moving and meaning experience I've had with a TTRPG.

I play and run InSPECTres when I want to enjoy beer and pretzels party-type game with a group of extroverts who aren't afraid to let their inner thespians out.

I play Pathfinder when that's what the DM is running (no interest in running it).

I play Dungeon Crawl Classics and Mutant Crawl Classics when I want an OSR-with-a-twist feel. Never ran either, probably won't, but have enjoyed playing them and browsing the books.

I'm sure that there are more games that I would love playing. But I'm a father and at the peak point in a highly-demanding career and have other interests than just TTRPGs. So, when I do try new games, it is usually because someone else it running it as a one shot, usually at the one convention that I go to each year.
 

Sadras

Adventurer
I play games that aren't D&D for the same reason that I eat foods that aren't haggis.

I also watch TV shows that aren't Star Trek, read books that aren't A Song of Ice and Fire, go to movies that aren't Marvel Cinematic Universe, and listen to music that isn't American Top 40.

I do this because a monotonous diet of anything is BORING.
Here we see Umbran, in his natural habitat, calmly raging against serial monogamy.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I don't often get the chance to play other games, so when I do get that chance, I jump on it. The chance of pace is refreshing and I get to see how other games do things.
 

Jer

Adventurer
Heh. I play D&D because it's what other people want to play, mostly. My friends want to play heroic fantasy characters facing epic threats against the world, so we play 13th Age. The kids I run games for specifically want to play D&D because it's what they have access to and what their friends at school talk about, so they wanted to learn it specifically. Mostly what people want to play is some kind of D&D, so we play some kind of D&D.

When we play something else it's because we're looking for a change or because someone can't show up to our regular game and we don't want to play without them, so we'll do a one shot of something. We'll play Torg because I had a long-running Torg game in high school and have a lot of fond nostalgia for the game and my players like the mash-up idea of it, or we'll play Icons because the kids are interested in playing a superhero game and I can run Icons off the cuff pretty easily, or we'll play Timewatch because I enjoy running investigative games and we like Gumshoe as a system but my players don't really enjoy horror games all that much (though I can sometimes talk them into a Fear Itself horror one-shot around Halloween when folks are more in the mood).

When I go to cons I try to play whatever I can get into with friends. I used to try to play a lot of different systems because I had grand designs about being able to actually run lots of games. Now that I'm old and generally only get to play once a month with my main group, that's less important but I still like the novelty of trying different systems.
 

drl2

Explorer
I'm a little bit of an outlier in that my relatively recent return to tabletop gaming (been away since the early 80s) actually started with a non-D&D game (Mighty Protectors) and ended up leading me into 5e. Partly because I wanted to do something in the fantasy genre, and partly because D&D with its vast body of supporting material and lower-crunch factor just makes it so incredibly easy to throw a weekly session together given limited prep time.

We'll do a few weeks of D&D sessions from some published adventure, which gives me time to put together a set of NPCs, villains, and scenarios for a few weeks of MP sessions. Lather, rinse, and repeat.

(That said, I'm currently also punishing myself by planning for a homebrew D&D setting which will toss a lot of that ease-of-prep stuff out the window after we finish the current campaign, and I'm flirting with the idea of adding something on the SF side to satisfy my Traveller itch...)
 

Zhaleskra

Explorer
Having been part of a roleplaying game group in college, I experienced several games, and unfortunately had something of a bad reputation as a D&D supremacist.

Although I'm older, I won't claim I have less time to learn new rules. In playing and reading other games, I have come to appreciate what I consider an elegance in the rules: simplicity of mechanics if not simplicity of options. The easier it is to keep the commonly used rules in my head, the more likely I am to run or play that system. I'll still play D&D if that's what someone's running, but I've just gotten tired of edition chasing. When 4e came out, I went to Pathfinder as it was similar enough to 3.5. At some point, I had to ask myself "how many times am I going to buy the same game?" (wish I'd done that with all the versions of "Street Fighter II"), even though starting at 3.0, new editions haven't really been the same game.
 

Michele

Villager
I played some D&D and found the character creation system and character advancement a straitjacket. That's why I initially switched to GURPS.
I kept playing GURPS because that's more versatile and detailed.
Then they published my first RPG article in English, and I became just too fond of GURPS...
 

uzirath

Adventurer
Even moreso when you people who aren't familiar with TTRPGs try and discuss it, and "D&D" becomes a generic way of referring to the games- much like Kleenex for tissue or Xerox for photocopy or Google to search for something on the internet....
I do this all the time. I'll often say that I'm getting together with my "D&D group" or that it's "D&D night" even though I've never played D&D with my current group. If I tell a muggle that I'm getting together with my "GURPS group" or my "DFRPG group," it usually requires a longer explanation while they likely know that D&D means "rolling dice and pretending to fight monsters or something." Close enough for me.
 

lowkey13

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
I do this all the time. I'll often say that I'm getting together with my "D&D group" or that it's "D&D night" even though I've never played D&D with my current group. If I tell a muggle that I'm getting together with my "GURPS group" or my "DFRPG group," it usually requires a longer explanation while they likely know that D&D means "rolling dice and pretending to fight monsters or something." Close enough for me.
I hear you.

Heck, if someone told ME that they were getting together with their GURPS Group, I would probably think they were discussing their STD-support group before doing a double-take.
 

dragoner

Dying in Chargen
Around here, we say "Game Group". I tried to play 5e when it came out, it wasn't very satisfying, I could chalk it up to and inexperienced GM, but it is what it is. Various stuff I have played recently is Traveller (classic) running a game mostly from the free starter set download on drive thru. Some Mythras, and some M-Space; I'd like to play a Call of Cthulhu or Delta Green game, that would be cool.
 

Jacob Lewis

The One with the Force
So why do you play games other than D&D? What is it that your game of choice does that makes it the best fit for the stories and genres you're playing with?
Interesting choice of phrasing. It seems like the answer should be obvious: I play other games because they're not D&D. But, by the same token, I would also play D&D because it is D&D. And that itself is a testament to the greater significance and importance of D&D to the hobby in general. We're either playing D&D, or we're playing something else. Because you won't get many responses to "Why do you play games other than Call of Cthulhu?", or "Mutants & Masterminds", or "any other game besides D&D".

As for me, I play a lot of different kinds of game these days. I have gravitated more towards board and card games that can be played in one session, or in a campaign-style progression over many sessions. Games like Star Wars: Imperial Assault provides a satisfying mix of tactical strategy, stimulating visuals, character building, and campaign-style progression, while the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game offers an experience closer to a full RPG campaign without the stacks of books, rules, and options to learn.

When it comes to full on storytelling and roleplaying, however, I prefer the Star Wars RPG for a number of reasons. Obviously, it is very setting specific even though the themes and timelines can vary the experience greatly. Using Edge of the Empire, for example, focuses on the seedy underbelly of the galaxy where explorers, smugglers, and bounty hunters try to make a living under the growing tyranny of Imperial power. But a Force and Destiny game shows the moral struggles of force-sensitive beings hunted and persecuted by a government that betrayed and eliminated the Jedi order once charged to protect it.

But aside from the Star Wars setting (which I truly love), it is the mechanics of this system that have made it my favorite system of all time. The core mechanics are elegant, intuitive, and simple. But at the same time, there is a depth of complexity and nuance that cannot be seen by a cursory glance. There is no power-level structure, but you will see the incremental changes in your character's abilities, which are just as meaningful and influential to the story outside of combat.

The dice pools and symbols replace hard-coded numbers to present a greater degree of ingenuity beyond the simple pass/fail binary of many skill- or level-based RPGs. Even the assembling of the dice feels more like a part of the storytelling experience because each die is justified in the narrative and accounted for before they are thrown. Even so, the outcome is as unpredictable and imaginative as you want it to be because the symbols won't dictate the exact results for you. You, as a group, will decide what the dice only suggest. Everything in this system is designed to let your group tell your story together the way you want to do it. You can roll the same dice showing the same symbols using the same skill, but get a dozen different outcomes depending on how you interpret it.

The other great thing is how much the game allows a greater level of improvisation and collaborative storytelling as a group. Destiny Points are a shared resource for both GMs and players to introduce new elements and complications into the narrative, as well as to tap into specific abilities and Force powers. There is always a finite number of Destiny available during a session, and it is filled with both Dark and Light points that constantly flip back and forth much like the Force itself. Generally speaking, Light side points help the players while the Dark side is used by the GM to hinder them.

I could go on (and I have gone on in a number of other threads). There is one other factor I should mention that is not specific to Star Wars or the Roleplaying game itself. I have played D&D for about thirty years before. At times, almost exclusively. Most often it was because it was the only game where I could find other people interested in playing. That is a huge factor for anyone who doesn't have access to a large pool of people to meet. Granted, it was a bigger factor before the internet was around, but it is still a factor. Regardless, I feel that I did miss out on a greater experience back when West End Games had the license and published some incredible stuff for their system.

My point is don't limit yourself to just one game. D&D does some things very well, but it is just one game. Every fantasy has a game by now. Not every game needs to be Fantasy. Go play!
 

uzirath

Adventurer
I've been mostly playing GURPS since the mid-1990s, though I have played a fair amount of CoC too. I enjoy trying new games as a player, and reading them as a fan of games, but I rarely try to run anything other than GURPS, CoC, or D&D. As a GM, I like to know the rules really well, so I stick to the games that I'm most familiar with. (This is especially true because I often introduce new people to gaming, so it's helpful if I've internalized the system.)

The appeal of GURPS, for me, has always been the character creation system. Even 20+ years later, I still enjoy designing new characters. I enjoy the role-playing opportunities that emerge from the unique combination of advantages, disadvantages, quirks, and skills. I like how two GURPS "warriors" can feel very different in a way that doesn't easily happen in D&D. I like the fact that a knife or an arrow is always dangerous, but a highly skilled character still feels like a badass. I dislike levels and alignment.

With that said, it's bizarre that I almost always run heroic fantasy games. I love the D&D genre, but chafe at the mechanics. Thus the Dungeon Fantasy Roleplaying Game was basically written for me. I'm still pinching myself. It's GURPS D&D in a single box. Swoon.

Note that this is not to bash D&D. I have played and DMed every edition (most recently playing in a 5e game two weeks ago). I find that the surging popularity of D&D makes it much easier to find players for other games. TTRPGs are no longer solely linked with nerdy, socially challenged males in the popular imagination. I've had people come up to me, having heard that I'm into RPGS, to ask about joining one of my D&D groups. I say "sure, but we're not playing D&D." Thus far, that hasn't turned anyone away (and I now know significantly more people who want to play than we have spots for).
 

DMMike

Game Masticator
If I tell a muggle that I'm getting together with my "GURPS group" or my "DFRPG group," it usually requires a longer explanation
Was really hoping that "muggle" was a portmanteau of "muppet" and "fraggle." Still, it's a good one to know.

So why do you play games other than D&D? What is it that your game of choice does that makes it the best fit for the stories and genres you're playing with?
First, playing a game other than D&D tells players "this is going to be different from D&D!" If you don't establish that well, someone is going to be pissed that he can't play his usual Dragonborn Paladin. With an ogre-slaying knife.

Besides that, my house-rule list probably just got too long at some point. Why play by the old rules when you've changed all of them?

I like a game that offers flexibility - role-playability - to the GM and the players. D&D is more black-and-white. Which is great if you have an aspiring thespian in your group. Being able to tell her "nope, you fail," might give the rest of us a chance to play...
 
Tony! Long time no see.

My first RPG was either D&D/Chainmail or The Fantasy Trip and after that I played a ton of different games, especially in the 80's.
I agree D&D is not popular because its simple, there are lots of games that are simpler but its familiar so we think its easier than others. I prefer GURPS because I can play anything with one set of rules and some simple mechanics (roll under modified skill on 3d6 to do whatever) but I can add complexity and options to suit the game I want. If you want hit locations, feints, deceptive attacks and complex martial arts and grappling rules they are available to use but easily ignored if you want it fast and easy.
Want magic? Several different systems exist, enough to simulate virtually every, setting you have ever read or imagined.
So I choose my game based on familiarity and how well it fits the game/genre I want to run or play in and a class based system rarely suits that desire.
 
Why do I play games other than D&D? Okay...


I play other games for either genre or feel. Or both. For example I know there are plenty of superhero games out there, but having played a bunch of them I always return to Champions (well, to Hero System, but to misquote Billy Joel, "It'll always be Champions to me".) On the other hand, I've tried Fantasy Hero and there are a lot better systems for a fantasy game. Though I do want to get into a Marvel Heroic Roleplay game to give it a try.

There are a lot of systems that I haven't tried and I want to, always for the feel but also for how that feel is supported by the mechanics. Blades in the Dark, Dogs in the Vineyard, Apocalypse World (not Dungeon World!), etc. Over my long years in the hobby, I find myself more attracted to rules that don't just allow a setting, but actively support it. Vs. generic rulesets. I know that seems a bit odd when I mention Champions as a favorite, but it was made first and foremost as a supers system and it shows. Even the general applicability of FATE or FAE is very easy to customize the ruleset to support a specific feel.
Yeah, a generic ruleset that does everything really well is pretty hard. I favor GURPS because it does most genres really well but Champions has it beat for Superheros. While GURPS gives you more granularity and probably more options (I cant think of a single superhero from Marvel or DC that I cant build in GURPS) its a lot more work in GURPS than Champions.

Some games I have played for the setting they came with or some other feature.
World of Darkness for example was a great setting but lousy mechanics.
RuneQuest was a game with an interesting setting and mechanics, so was a nice change of pace.
Tunnels and Trolls, Toon, where great beer and pretzel games for simple fun.
Ysgarth was an interesting magic system and had interesting ideas on undead.
 

aramis erak

Adventurer
D&D is like McDonalds - a baseline almost everyone has some experience with, good, but not great, and available everywhere.

And, since I find system matters a lot for me, and D&D is unsuited to mos of the genres I want to play...

I only run D&D when I need to establish a player base. Likewise, I only eat ad McDonalds when I need cheap calories quickly. (I prefer taco bell...)
 

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