OK, so you have some edition of D&D at home. Or another old school game, Traveller, Bushido, I don’t know. Or any of the millions of OSR games (hint: Chris McDowall’s Into the Odd/Electric Bastionland is da shiat).
Freeform roleplay to the rescue!
You can still keep your books, there’s so much inspiration in them, you’ll see. What you want to do if you’re overwhelmed by the sheer amount of numbers and rules and pages is this:
- Create a character with the rules set you have. Don’t sweat it, there’s no need to stick slavishly to the rules in the book. Follow the character creation rules as well as you can. Boom, your character is ready to leap headfirst into adventure (or into the mouth of a green-faced stone demon face, as the case may be).
- Read this blog post: https://darkwormcolt.wordpress.com/2018/10/03/play-worlds-not-rules-part-3-playing-around-with-dice/. It contains everything you need to know to start playing NOW. The founding fathers of our hobby played like that, and what was good for them is good for us.
- If you have time, read these two other posts, as well: https://darkwormcolt.wordpress.com/2018/10/01/play-worlds-not-rules-juggling-ideas-for-stone-age-rpg-sessions/ and https://darkwormcolt.wordpress.com/2018/10/02/play-worlds-not-rules-part-2-experience-levels/
- Understand that rules are only a necessary evil. What’s important is the game, is playing with friends and family at the table, moving miniatures around (or not), scribbling, planning, laughing, acting. That’s the important part. Don’t let your imagination be drowned by tons of rules. Early roleplaying games didn’t rely on any rulebook — because there were no rulebooks yet. Play the world, not the rules.