Commenting on yesterday’s post about not penalizing players for replacing their PCs, TT reader Frank Filz said something that made a light bulb go in my head:

So I guess in the end, I’d suggest that if the issue of how much XP to give replacement PCs is important, and there is a feeling of need to not penalize replacement PCs, then perhaps the game system in use is not the ideal choice for the type of play.

What clicked for me is how this issue, minor though it might be, ties into my increasing dissatisfaction with D&D-flavored d20 as a rules set. In other words, despite running and playing d20 games almost exclusively since 3rd Edition came out, it might not be the right game for me as a GM.

That got me to thinking about what other road signs and warning flags like this are out there — things that you don’t notice because you’re too close to them, but that (like all good revelations) seem obvious and accurate once they’ve been pointed out to you.

The tricky thing, I think, will be separating “You might be GMing the wrong game” signs from the ones that actually say “You might just need a break from GMing altogether.” Bearing that in mind, here are a handful to get us rolling.

You might be running the wrong game if you…

  • House rule large chunks of the system.
  • Hate prepping for your current system.
  • Wing it with the rules more often than you use them as written.
  • Aren’t excited about reading new supplements for your game.
  • Find your vision of how the game works to be at odds with your players’ perceptions.
  • Aren’t excited about playing for two game nights in a row.
  • Consistently add/subtract elements to enhance/simplify the rules.
  • Hate playing the game yourself, even if you enjoy running it.

I’m not sure all of those are useful, and they’re definitely not free of overlap with symptoms of burnout — but they’re a start.

What signs have you noticed?