Casual Play Style

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today, we’ll pick up where we left off yesterday.

The Casual Play Style: This play style supports fun and laughter, and roleplaying may (or may not) be light or bow its head before high action. Interestingly, the casual play style often has tactical elements, and miniature use is often mandated or strongly recommended. There can still be a story or running throughline, but the game often serves to draw people together and let off some steam. The term can be misleading,  however, as it is often the casual gamers who pride themselves on knowing all the nuances of any given system and, interestingly, some game systems most suitable for casual play often have a lot of mechanics.

Player: The player in the casual style of game can really let his hair down and throw himself into the social elements of a face to face gaming group. A player often makes reference to his character in third person with such comments as “my guy is going to do this…” or “can my cleric try to turn that thing?” For some players talking about the rules and anguishing over details is every bit as important as the play itself.

GM: The GM for a casual game must truly master the rules for the game to flow smoothly. It is up to him to provide a framework for the game, and be comfortable enough with his group to know when to let someone suddenly tell a work anecdote or have a scene “remind them of a movie” with requisite exposition and so on. He must also know when to gently redirect them back towards the play at hand. It is, after all, still a game session, and things have to move forward, or else it’s tantamount to a bull session.

I want to emphasize that many, many excellent games fall into the casual play style. and the quality of the game isn’t diminished or elevated by being in either play style. To underscore this, play styles are, naturally enough, determined by the GM and his group, and not necessarily predicated by the mechanics, though some point themselves automatically towards one style or the other by the structure of the mechanics as far as roleplaying goes. For example, early editions of Dungeons & Dragons were typically played in a serious play style by most groups with the Monty Haul style gaming, the casual style, the exception. With the most recent edition of Dungeons & Dragons (and Essentials), one could most definitely place it in the casual play style camp, despite its mammoth fan base, as the emphasis is largely on combat, and less on actual roleplaying, but more on playing a role (i.e. defender, etc.)

Good Fits: Dungeons & Dragons, Fantasy Craft, Gamma World, Ravaged Earth, and Spycraft

Bad Ideas: Realms of Cthulhu

Flexible games/settings are those suitable for either play style, depending on an individual group’s goals.

Examples include: Agents of Oblivion, Deadlands Reloaded, Iron Dynasty, FATE, and Savage Worlds

With these thoughts on a Thanksgiving day, I return to my languishing, and bid you, dear reader, adieu!

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