I think every group of geeks has had “the podcast talk.” You know the one.

Seriously you guys. Our conversations are hilarious! We should start a podcast! No, shut up. I’m seriously right now. We have to share our passion with the world via low-quality audio equipment and zero editing skills! 

I know that my group had that talk anyway. And when we did, the working title for our nascent media empire was The System Shock RPG Podcast. The idea was to try out a different RPG every week. We’d spend one episode playing a one shot, then do a breakdown episode where we’d talk about likes and dislikes from the game. I still think it’s a solid premise for a podcast, but it somehow never got off the ground. The aforementioned lack of audio equipment and editing skills might have had something to do with that. If memory serves, so did copyright law. At the end of the day though, I think the thing that really killed the concept was workload.

Make no mistake: learning a new system takes work. It can be be fun work, sure. I know plenty of players who devour systems like candy. But for psychographic profiles that look a bit more like Fighter than Cleric, the effort isn’t worth the reward. They’d rather play the game they know and love than risk their precious leisure time learning a new system.

The trouble comes up when these two player types sit down at the same table. One wants to try out Amber Diceless or Mouse Guard or whatever. The other wants yet another game of D&D. 

“Look, the rules are really simple. Here’s a cheat sheet.”

“That’s great and all, but I don’t want to put in a bunch of effort to learn a new system that’s only going to last three sessions.”

“Won’t you even give it a chance?”

“Why don’t we just play the system we all know we like?”

And so the argument goes round and round. I won’t lie to you guys: I don’t have the solution to this one. For some groups there might not even be a solution aside from “go your separate ways.” But if you have found yourself in Cleric’s position, trying your hardest to bring your favorite grognards kicking and screaming into the brave new world, what arguments worked for you? How did you convince your group to try something different? Did they wind up liking it or reverting? Tell us your own tales of ‘system shock’ down in the comments!


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