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.)