Tuesday, 18 August 2015

RPGaDay2015: Genre A-Go-Go!

17. Favourite fantasy RPG?

Tough one. If you were asking me which fantasy game I'd played the most, it would be either AD&D or D&D 2nd edition. The one I've played the most recently is DUNGEON WORLD, although my experiences with it lead me to believe I was playing it wrong. That may be a post for another day.

I have a lot of fantasy games on my shelf that I love but haven't actually played. I wrote not too long ago of my love for BLUE ROSE, one of the few d20-era games that really brought something new and unusual to the table. RUNEQUEST is something I bought into when Mongoose revived it, having missed all of the previous editions, and despite people roundly criticizing that particular version of the game I liked it quite a bit. It's something I've wanted to run for a long while, and explore Glorantha for myself, but fragile fantasy heroes are a hard sell for my players.

Greg Stolze's REIGN is a great favourite of mine, and it's one I've been wanting to really give a workout for years. I love the idea of having a system to manage the "macro level" of a campaign, giving the players some mechanical way of influencing how a kingdom runs (or other types of "Companies", in game terms, such as a band of mercenaries, or perhaps the denizens of a kung-fu restaurant). I have an idea for a game that would strongly resemble the world of Shakespeare's MacBeth, with scheming, murderous nobles, ominous omens, and a countryside haunted by superstition. That's been on my "to do" list for a while.

It's probably a dead heat between REIGN and Jonathan Tweet's EVERWAY for my favourite, however. EVERWAY is a game that taught me a great deal, and perhaps the single most beautiful roleplaying game ever produced. Its tarot card-style diceless resolution is elegant and intuitive, and without exception the character creation method (telling your story by drawing cards with fantasy artwork on them) creates the most interesting and original fantasy characters I've ever seen. I still feel like I've never run a proper campaign to do this game justice, and one day I will.

18. Favourite SF RPG?

Weirdly, science-fiction games have never been a big presence in my gaming life, despite being surrounded by people who love the genre. I played a little STAR FRONTIERS in my early days, and occasional bouts of STAR WARS, but it never took hold of me the way that supers games did.

That said, I do have a number of SF games on my shelf that I like a lot. STARBLAZER ADVENTURES is full of pulp SF goodness, providing a lot of valuable game creation tools I've used over and over again. A lot of the text is recycled from SPIRIT OF THE CENTURY, but since I'm a big fan of that game, that is not a persuasive argument against SBA. And it was full of awesome artwork from British SF comics of the late 70s and early 80s that was totally new to me, including some from early Grant Morrison work. I think the book's massive size may have dissuaded many people from buying into it, however, and for a while it helped perpetuate the myth that Fate games were huge, bloated rulebooks that the average player couldn't grapple with. Never mind the actual rule sections of those books were tiny and easy to grasp. I would love to see SBA rebooted with a sleeker implementation of the Fate rules.

ECLIPSE PHASE is one of the most lavishly-produced, detailed, and provocative games I've read in the past decade. It's just full of amazing concepts and big ideas that could power many, many games. To be honest, I'm a little intimidated by it, not least because of its crunchy bits, which on closer examination aren't too crunchy to manage, but require a little investment of time to master. I think it would be a hard sell for my current groups, who aren't very ambitious when it comes to mastering game systems, but I like it a lot and may mine it for ideas used elsewhere.

I hate to sound like I'm jumping on the bandwagon, but TRAVELLER is the SF game on my shelf I like the best and would most like to run. I have the Mongoose edition, which I think was relatively well received (although grognards prefer the Little Black Book edition), and it fascinated me with all of its intricate little subsystems. Player character creation is a little game in itself, generating interesting and diverse characters, and - if you like playing using the old school rules - killing them before they ever see play at the table. You want to generate your own custom sector of the galaxy full of gameable detail? Done. Custom created planets? Done. Variable tech levels to customize your game? Done. It's just jammed full of cool stuff. I wrote a hack of Greg Stolze's one roll character creation method to play TRAVELLER using ORE, but I've only run it once or twice.

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