It’s been some time since Inquisitor’s daddy issues came into play. I guess maybe it’s still a sensitive topic for her. Of course, the real progenitor of today’s comic has nothing to do with drow. Rather, it’s all about adolescent dragons.

If you’ve gamed for any length of time, you’ll have come across certain phrases. I’m talking about fan-favorites like, “There’s no wrong way to game,” and, “If everyone is having fun then you’re doing it right.” Yet despite the popularity of these ideas, you’ll still find plenty of critics eager to explain why your house rules, preferred edition, and character concept are all trash-tier choices for dumb idiots who are dumb. How to explain the discrepancy?

Aside from the fact that there’s a little bitchy dark elf in all of us, I think it has to do with confirmation bias. We all experience this hobby at our own tables and with our own groups. That’s a highly individualized experience. The personalities of players, relevant story beats in the narrative, and even the venue can make a difference. And what happened to work for your group in your particular circumstances is by no means universal.

My go-to example for this phenomenon is secret note passing. That experience is going to look very different at a physical table, in a play-by-post forum, or within a virtual tabletop. How well it functions as a device is subject to factors beyond ‘my group likes cloak and dagger PVP’.

Here’s another example. I’ve got a buddy who loves randomness in gaming. Dude lives for wild magic tables and wands of wonder and anything with a % chance of turning you into a chicken. I’ll never forget the look of disappointment on his face when our group voted down critical fumbles. I can list the arguments against as well as most gamers, and I did so at the time. But after the session ended he confessed that, “Some of the funniest moments from when I used to play with my dad were in the crit fumble charts.” No amount of math is going to argue that away.

Here’s my point. If you’re at the same table as another player, you’ll have to resolve your differences. If you’re designing your own system, you’ll need to make lasting mechanical decisions. But when you’re on an internet forum talking to strangers about what works at their table, remember that it’s their table. And just because hero points, or crit fumbles, or we-play-drow-as-always-evil works for your group, it doesn’t mean it’s going to tickle your fellow travelers’ fancy.

So in the interest of understanding context, what do you say we talk about our groups’ idiosyncrasies? What about your party is weird? What distinguishes you from a hypothetical “average gaming group?” Sound off with your table’s most peculiar peculiarities and eccentric eccentricities down in the comments!

 

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