I keep seeing, “the” used to answer questions and make statements about gaming. In my opinion, the answer to most questions in table top role-playing games should begin with, “It depends.” Table top role playing games are complex; even the most simple “rules light” systems have their complications. There are considerable variations between what individual players and groups want from their gaming experience. So to say there is only one solution or only one approach is limiting in ways that I find detrimental.
Every day I see answers to questions on message boards and social media that begins with, “The answer to your problem is…,” or “The way to handle this is…” Either the respondent doesn’t realize that what they are describing is A way to do things or they believe that there is only one way. Often there are underlying assumptions in the question that need to be assessed before a useful answer can be presented. Experience keeps showing me that there are many techniques to get what I want out of a game and I don’t know all of them.
When I catch myself thinking, “This is the way,” I try to ask myself, “Is this The way or is it A way?”
I like to put a question or problem into a search engine to see if someone else has come up with a solution different than mine. There are a lot of smart people in gaming. Often, someone else has had the same issue I have and thought of a solution that is both clever and elegant. Sometimes this leads me to a mechanism or game that I was ignorant of. Designers have created entire games to deal with one major design challenge. Robin Laws has built a career on this approach.
I can get carried away. Continuing to search out other methods and mechanisms trying to find the specific tool that will work best for me can be a path to not getting anything accomplished. Eventually, I have to pick one.
If you are new to table top role playing games, and someone tells you the way to do something; Be skeptical and do some digging. Chances are someone else has had an idea that will suit you better.
If you are an experienced person answering a question or presenting a technique; Consider that the way you do things might be one of many possible solutions and present it as such.