Well, to be fair and balanced, now I’ll vent some bile at some non-D&D games. I own literally thousands of RPG products and will play nearly anything, but there are three pretty major games/game systems that I’ve avoided like the plague. And the reason why boils down to the general player base for those games. Some games have better or worse mechanics etc. – FUDGE dice are the worst idea ever – but that doesn’t spur active avoidance in me. I’ll go as crunchy as GURPS or as light as a pure storytelling game. But here are the three big problems for me…
World of Darkness. I am happy there’s a game for out there for goths experimenting with their bisexuality but that’s not me. I don’t want to hear a cute little story about how your cat Crowley was trying to drink from the chalice while you were trying to get your pre-game blessing done (true story). I avoid life situations that would tend to get you in jail/in trouble and the average WoD group rings all kinds of alarm bells for me. (I’m sure many WoD players don’t fit this mold, but the crowd of black-and-hat-wearing teens choking the sidewalks outside every con I’ve ever been to do. And why always outside the con out on the street? Not enough allowance for actual admission? Clove cigarette smoking not allowed inside? What?)
True story. I was playing a pick-up game of Deadlands in some city I was travelling through, in a game store. (I try to avoid gaming in game stores but that’s how this came to pass.) A girl walks in, an obviously underage hottie. The crowd of guys leers and hoots quietly to themselves. But one local says “Ah, forget it, she’s a lesbian I think, I saw her making out with some girl.” I turn and take a look – ripped fishnets, heavy eyeshadow, black clothing. “Nah, she’s bisexual.” Everyone looks at me. “What makes you say that?” “Well, she plays Vampire doesn’t she?” “Yeah, she does, how did you know?” “So, about that. <I draw a card and return to playing Deadlands>”
Palladium/RIFTS. High on the “spazzy kids” factor (and uber closed, even for a closed game – before the OGL and official open gaming I hated Palladium for that.) Of course, I guess many of the spazzy kids have aged, but my initial Palladium runins were in the 80’s and first impressions die hard. And really, I never did like Heavy Metal or Wizards all that much, which seem to be one of the key insiprations for this. Also, and again just in my experience, but every RIFTS player I’ve ever met has at some point proudly proclaimed their current or past drug use. (true life quote: “Sorry I’m acting weird guys, but I’m sweating out the chemicals! That pitcher of shroom tea really did a number on me!”
Traveller. Grumpy old school physics wonks. Maybe they’ve been dying off, which is welcome, as I have played a little d20 Traveller (fun except the d20 adaptation stinks) and am looking forward to Mongoose Traveller. The “grognard squad” has gotten quieter over time. I have a degree in electrical engineering, I don’t need some guy whose only claim to higher education is mini painting lecturing me on “realistic space travel.”
Role-playing games are inherenty social activities, and the makeup of the involved gamers and the behavior of that game’s community is an important factor for me, moreso than game mechanics or the like.
A smaller example – I decided not to try out The Riddle of Steel, an otherwise promising new indie game that had gotten some awards. Why? Because from what I could tell on RPG.net, all the TRoS boosters were total assmasters. In any review or forum thread where TRoS was discussed, “the faithful” would descend and batter anyone into submission who did not accept that it was the Best Game Ever ™. (go search on RPG.net for “Riddle of Steel,” and I guarantee you’ll find examples of that in the first few results.)