It is good to consider every so often what sort of game you actually want to be playing. Many times in the past I have been utterly absorbed in a game and ended up playing it beyond the point where it was actually the best thing to be doing - World of Warcraft is the standout example but it is by no means alone. This week I am thinking about roleplaying and what exactly I like to do when I get together to roleplay with people. My two groups are all of a sudden dealing with substantial upheaval with players dropping out and schedules being madly rearranged and this naturally leads me to consider what exactly I want to have happen when the dust settles.
I definitely want to be playing Heroes By Trade. My new version is very exciting for me and I really want to give it a test drive - it has the combination of smoothed rules that should make things somewhat easier for new players and additional options that will add richness to the experience. That leaves a lot of options on the table though from a dungeon crawl where we all optimize our characters for combat and danger to a story driven, angst filled tale full of tension and raw emotion. Both of the games I have been involved in lately have straddled those two extremes as they had combat and some degree of 'kill it, eat it, take its stuff' but also had some roleplaying and drama.
At the moment I am harbouring a hankering for both extremes. I think it is a reaction to being in two groups with similar middle of the road styles for half a year. I want those things that I have been missing - the hardcore tactics and math fest and endless intrigue and introspection both sound interesting. The trick I suspect is getting the mix of people right to make that work. Some people really love the intricacies of combat and optimizing systems and others don't get much out of it and the number people tend to like the game a lot better if they are playing with other number people. That way they can all focus on fighting the hardest fights just to see if they can come out the other side alive. The same goes the other way of course since following up a tearful goodbye to a beloved friend with "Man, aren't we going to fight *anything* tonight?" really reduces the impact of the scene.
As usual though my ideals will end up at the mercy of schedules. Roleplaying games require a serious investment of time and when one is no longer in university surrounded by students with endless amounts of time available this translates into a lot of schedule juggling and rejiggering of style and direction. Thankfully I have a bunch of great folks to play with so I will happily be involved in whatever it is that shakes out.