I feel like so many people have become increasingly rigid in how they approach their role playing games, and often in situations where that rigidity helps no one. Lots of times I will see people discuss rules, systems, or mechanics only to get bogged down in “always” and “never” and “wrong.” Play to me is about like… having fucking fun.
So let’s take a little detour over to the world sports for a moment. Sports have an easily delineated separation between “competitive” and “casual” in most cases. Competitive sports have fucking rulebook TOMES. With exploitable AirBud stuff and fucking referees. But like if I wanna kick a ball back and forth with some friends, we don’t care about shit like offsides or penalties. If somebody is doing something we don’t like, we go “Hey dude, stop it!” Maybe even before hand we agree on a set of norms we’re playing by, especially if strangers are involved. But it’s the talking, the consent, the camaraderie that matters.
Now let’s think about cards. Lots of home games of poker, you play the game that the dealer picks. And the dealer rotates. Five Card Draw, Seven Card Stud, Baseball, etc etc etc. If you don’t like the game somebody picks, you grumble and moan, and when it’s your turn you pick something else. This is different from a casino, which has designated places and clearly communicated play experiences. You aren’t just fucking around with a deck and laughing with friends, this is a curated beast. And that’s because of betting, and legality, and more and more social constructs layered on top of each other.
And then coming back to roleplaying games, design is like that layering. All art is made in conversation of course with stuff building on the ideas and techniques you were already exposed to. Hell myself and many others got their start by making silly little “homebrews.” Homebrew is not a great term by how many people seem to use it these days, pretty fucking elitist to suggest that some kind of design is more valid than others IMO. But it is related to the creative desire to add shit to stuff you like! Like fan fiction, much of these homebrews are designed to fix glaring flaws or to expand upon a premise that pushes beyond the scope of the original work. And in that same way, people then use those skills to create further art. Art that THEY enjoy. Art that is fun for THEM.
So when you think about playing TTRPGs, what is that most similar to? Maybe you can fudge your dice sometimes, it’s okay. Especially if you’re amongst friends.