This had me stumped for a little bit. What was I going to talk about? Find familiar? Sometimes you get a raven, if you’re really unlucky you might get a frog. That didn’t seem very exciting or positive.
If anything during the past few years I have ventured far outside of my comfort zone and left the familiar behind. I have found that this has greatly expanded my appreciation of the RPG Hobby and has offered me many new and rewarding experiences.
Like my friend Eloy says, Even if you end up going back & returning to the familiar you have a better understanding of why you like it and you can import some things you have learned elsewhere into your old way of playing. However, sometimes I have found that when I return to the familiar that it no longer feels like home. Travel has changed me. That reminds me that I need to play Broken Rooms. It is still on my shelf of hope.
All of that said, I have found that when you hold on to something that is familiar that it helps you explore other facets of the hobby. It’s not just that humans find a great deal of comfort in the familiar, but also that if you are very experienced with one part of the game experience you don’t need to think about it all that much. You can concentrate your attention and efforts on the new parts of the experience.
So maybe you play that familiar system or in that familiar setting. Maybe you play with that same game group, or play that same character or type of character. Perhaps you play a familiar trope or you play a familiar role. I don’t just mean role in the party, but Maybe you remain a player if that is your usual seat, or are you remain a game master if that is more of your thing. Then you are free to concentrate on the new ideas that you are exploring. ~ just consider that it’s worth rotating what parts you keep familiar and what parts you change and explore.
In my own experience one of the things that benefits greatly from familiarity is the setting itself. But not in the way you might think. In the past I generally did not play in this world, in reality. However, I have come around to the idea that “this world with a twist” is a very powerful setting to play in. My experience has backed this up, even lately. When all of the players have this level of familiarity with the world it seems more real and they tend to act with much more confidence and freedom. Even if we are playing in a different era it’s not that hard to imagine what it was like and to find references for it. ~ Add a twist, whatever that might be, and all the sudden this familiar world becomes strange and exciting, perhaps even unsettling. Likewise, because it’s the only thing that’s different it sticks out like a sore thumb. It also hits very close to home because the feeling that something is wrong or different is experienced in a much more visceral manner by all of the players at the table.
Sometimes the most powerful thing we can do is to take the familiar and screw with it.