My first role playing book was the AD&D Player’s Handbook. It opened up a whole new world to me. And my life was never the same after that. And that was the edition I used until 2nd Edition came out. And then I used that system happily until I moved on to other games. I enjoyed plenty of other games. I adored Shadowrun 2nd Ed., loved GURPS and several of its world books, thought Cyberpunk and World of Darkness were interesting. I followed those up with Deadlands, 7th Sea, and Savage Worlds. And now my games of choice are D&D 5E and Pathfinder. I tried some others in there as well but not for any real extended period of time. My point is that I have tried and played a lot of games out there.
I think that I can safely say though that in playing these new (or new to me) games one thing really stands out to me. And it makes us all better players as a result. These games are all much better balanced than they once were.
Here is what I mean by being balanced. We used to joke about AD&D wizards, how incredibly fragile and almost useless they were. And how the crazy requirements of certain classes like the Paladin made them almost impossible to play honestly. Or the silly class paths you had to take to play things like Bards. And while I adored Shadowrun, in almost every style of campaign, there were only 2 styles of play that people used, all other archetypes were ignored.
I will have to subtract GURPS and Savage Worlds from this discussion because for the most part those systems do not have classes or archetypes for people to follow. Although GURPS especially favored a particular game style and was not very scalable for long term or high power games.
But the one thing I really like about D&D 5E and Pathfinder is that you can really play whatever you want, and not feel like you were dead meat out of the box or had to imitate Blanche duBois.
There are those who do not like certain classes. Or campaigns where certain races and classes are not available. But if you want to create a Gnome monk, or a Tiefling Paladin, or an Elven Barbarian you could. And that character would not be more or less effective in practical terms than any other choices you could make. Any of those would be perfectly playable in the current systems. You are no longer limited by the system, or the rules, only by the campaign style and the GM world restrictions.
What does this mean if you want to be a better player? Well, it means that your life is much easier. When my sons Gnome wizard died on Saturday he was able to construct a very effective Elven rogue assassin. And when he realized that in retrospect that he would prefer a different character type he was able to make a Dragonborn barbarian who will be able to really complement what is already in the party. You could not have done that with D&D 2E, or Shadowrun 2E. Because your effective character options were so limited in those games and editions.
I really think that we are in a bit of a golden age for players of role playing games. If you read my other articles, follow my directions, then your options are almost limitless. And that makes it much easier to be a better player. Because you are now only governed by your own skills and knowledge.
It occurs to me that I have no idea if people read this, or even care about them. So I’m going to go ahead and add a poll to this post. Answer it or not if you want to.