Thursday, February 28, 2019

Critical D&D Burn Out

Oh boy...I may finally have to confess to myself that I have played so much D&D that I am now burned out on it.

Since the new year began (two frickin' months ago) I've run exactly two games of D&D: one was to wrap the tail end of a campaign from last year to give it some closure, the other was last night, to try out a new campaign starting at level 5. I ran a fairly straight forward dungeon module I'd devised but had some plot-focused quest options floating around for flavor.

What I realized (posthumously to the session) was that I think I have finally, at long last, burned out  --badly-- on the "D&D experience."

I don't know if it's just D&D as a system, though....or 5E specifically. Here's the conundrum:

1. I continue to enjoy Starfinder (which is just space Pathfinder)
2. Last year the few games of Pathfinder I ran were a lot of fun and I did feel engaged
3. D&D 5E, every game I have attempted in the last year or so has ultimately been a chore for me.

So...could it be the game system? Could I really just not have much interest or investment in 5E as a game? My only satisfaction really had to do with games I ran for my son, and I have enjoyed the plot-intensive campaign wraps, although with the caveat that not all of that particular campaign was as fun as it used to me (it was honestly a long drag to get to the conclusion, much longer than it needed to be).

I know that Pathfinder is a hard sell to my players, moreso even with PF2.0 on the horizon, but I almost feel like I owe it to myself to explore that system some more, as maybe it's just "different enough" to add back in elements that I really like in D&D that have been missing from 5th edition. Like a more robust/meaningful skill system, for example. Or maybe the flashy, wacky numbers of Pathfinder just feel more substantive to me than the bounded accuracy of D&D, even though I felt that the bounded accuracy was a good solution to controlling runaway numbers.

Or, well, maybe (and I do know this to be true) inflated hit points and damage totals in 5E aren't all that fun for me as the GM.

I do know that if I had picked some other system last night for the game, such as BRP (Magic World), Cypher System or even (I suspect) Pathfinder that I might have enjoyed it more. I think....I think as much as I hate to admit it, I am craving some combination or either novelty, complexity or realism in my games such that D&D 5E is just a poor fit for the kind of gaming I want to do now.

Things to ponder!

(EDIT: I was wondering if this issue ties in to my discontent with Fantasy AGE, but I don't think so. Fantasy AGE suffers, if anything, from being too underwhelming and too simple, much like 5E.)


  1. Went through the same thing. A month of Savage Worlds fixed it for me though. Good luck.

    1. Savage Worlds is a good choice, I haven't run it in a while, should plan to do so again!

  2. Do you think 5e isn't complex enough for a hobbyist, only a more casual player, for your tastes?

    1. I think 5E is pretty complex, but I think maybe I've played so much D&D in general that I'm a bit burned out on the style of D&D....which in theory means I might find less satisfaction in Pathfinder, too. I think this has nothing to do with 5E as a system, it has to do with me having run one edition or another 1-2 times a week for almost 40 years. Interests change, and it just means I'm probably getting more satisfaction out of a flexible system like Cypher, or a fiddly SF/fantasy hybrid like Starfinder, which is just different enough to escape feeling similar. I'll post more....but I think it's less "system" and more the "D&Disms" that are not exciting me right now.

  3. I understand. I've had frustrations with D&D-ish system tropes too. I wrote a comment awhile back that I was working on a Robotech-like game. I'm proof-reading it now. I'll be posting a commentary track with it that goes over those frustrations.

    By the way, Savage Worlds posted playtest rules for their official Robotech game.

  4. What burned me out on Fantasy AGE is the fact they don't want to support it, it was the same with Dragon AGE to a lesser degree.