GM Advice: Even if you only run one RPG you should read them all
I have learned that I’m an edge case in a lot of ways. In particular, I am the sort of person that adores rulesets. I mean, I’m really fascinated with games, generally, and how we can construct these rulesets to create vastly different experiences. But let’s say that you aren’t me. Let’s say that you found your system, maybe it’s Savage Worlds or Pathfinder or D&D of one manner of the next or GURPS, and you don’t really care about the rest of this stuff. Well, my opinion is that you should probably read a lot of other systems anyway.
You see, I have a working theory. It’s based on the fact that I believe it has worked for me and it goes something like this: As you read different RPG rulesets you don’t just learn the rules themselves but you are also challenged to think about how we play games in a different way. You are challenged to think about what kinds of stories you can tell with roleplaying and story games and how the rules control the flow of that narrative even in a setting-agnostic system. Even if you don’t really get all of the noise about ‘narrative’ games, I think there is still a lot for you to learn by seeing how they crafted the system, what kinds of stories it tells, and what it shows you how to do a little better or a little differently than something else you’ve read before. Even if you’ve read something 1,000 times before by 1,000 different authors it may be time 1,001 before you have an epiphany as to how you can improve your game in how you structure your games or how you approach world-building or how you analyze what it is your players want. That’s not to say that you won’t get better just by practicing your system. I believe that is likely true as well. But I think that even the GM that only runs a single system can get better by learning how everyone else runs their games. Even if you’re pretty sure they’re doing wrong.