I just ran another game session of Stories from Darkmoon Vale yesterday. After the game session I started thinking about playing styles and game systems as they relate to character immersion and story. I doubt anyone is surprised by the observation that the more the game contains competitive elements and “hard” game mechanics, the less there is room for narration and immersion. There just isn’t enough room for “getting into character” if the actual gaming situations require the need for tactical use of character resources and powers. The latter is really empasized in game systems such as the D&D 3.5 game system. I’m sure its possible to play a character oriented D&D game that’s light on game mechanics, its just that the game system doesn’t support that kind of gaming style very well. In fact, playing 3.5 in any other way than the creator intent (and prevalent gaming style) implies it should be played, would be doing the system a disservice. A more character- and/or story-driven campaign would be better served by using a completely different game system.
My own preferences for gaming styles go in phases. For the past year I’ve pretty much played only D&D 3.5 and Pathfinder RPG (a D&D 3.5 derivative). There was a short stint playing another old favourite, Vampire: The Dark Ages, but that game fizzled out due to lack of inspiration mostly attributed to game session scheduling difficulties. I think I’m starting to reach another turn of the cycle as I find myself wanting more story and character and less mechanics and gaming table off-game banter. We’ll see how it develops.