In what seems like ages ago, in the Before Times, my friend Mark and I discussed some “highs and lows” of our gaming times on the radio show/podcast “Head in the Game”. In it we looked at games we liked, games we didn’t, games that were guilty pleasures etc. So I thought that might be a fun topic to go to for the blog. I dug up the list of categories but haven’t revisited the episode so my answers here may be the same, they may be different but either way let’s get to it 🙂
Setting that’s Not My Thing
This one I know is different from last time but Vampire the Masquerade and the overall World of Darkness has, for me, run its course. It’s not the darkness, or the horror aspects so much as it is the fact that the world as we know it has become darker and more oppressive for so many people. Everything ends up politicized and people turn on each other for the slightest reason. That dark underbelly is the bread and butter of the world of darkness, but I play games to put aside the real world for a while, not to see more of it. The line between the World of Darkness and the real world just isn’t blurred enough for me anymore.
System I Can’t See Running
If you’ve listened to the podcast at all you know there are some games that I have a deep, deep dislike for. One of them is the Palladium System from back in the day. It may still be a thing today. I honestly don’t know, nor do I care. It wasn’t a good system back when we didn’t know any better and I can’t see it having aged well given how notoriously controlling some folks involved with it are.
I would definitely play a TMNT game (especially After the Bomb) but if I were to run it I’d port the setting into a game that isn’t broken AF.
RPG I Think is Overrated.
Invisible Sun. Hard stop. There’s some good ideas there for other games but its all buried under so much esoteric pretentious horseshit. No game needs 3 different types of XP. A game that claims to be narrative and character driven certainly doesn’t. No RPG should require as much tablespace as my Firefly board game. Also, purple on black text for the index isn’t a cool design decision, it’s a headache inducing chore to look anything up. Especially when there’s one main index to multiple books so I need to remember which book has the index to cross reference with another book. Also the game is pretentious AF and insanely expensive.
RPG I think is Underrated
Marvel Super Heroes (FASERIP) did so many things ahead of its time. Spendable points to augment dice rolls, adjectives to describe attributes, zone based movement, skills and talents and degrees of success. All things I look for in games today, MSH was doing “back in the day”! I recently ran a MSH game and I had legitimately forgotten how good the system is to run.
RPG I Could Always Play
D&D. There’s something comforting about it, like a roast chicken dinner with all the fixings. You know what you’re going to get but when it’s done well, it’s super fulfilling. There is a reason the game dominates the market and there’s a reason it’s been a cornerstone for most gamers for as long as it has been. I like a good many other games but if I have time and someone says “hey I’m putting together a D&D game” I’m immediately interested.
RPG That Made Me Fall in Love with the Hobby
That’s a tough one, since I’m aiming to not repeat myself. Probably Shadowrun as the first game I ran that wasn’t D&D. I’d played MSH but never actually ran it until later. Shadowrun was the first game I ran that wasn’t D&D and really when I ran D&D in those days it was more “hey a dungeons, with some traps and some treasure” than anything resembling a story or a campaign. Shadowrun was the first time I dipped my toe into a more cohesive story.
RPG that Changed My Life
Which is a totally pretentious heading to be sure. While I don’t want to repeat myself, way back in the first topic I mentioned Vampire: The Masquerade and that definitely fits here as well. I’ve met so many people, including my wife, due to a shared interest in the World of Darkness and Vampire. I’ve honed leadership skills in a LARP based off it. I’ve made friends with people from vastly different walks to life because of it. As much as I’m over the World of Darkness, no other game has impacted my life to the same degree.
4th Edition D&D is an amazing game, killed by lack of faith in the product and whining. A new edition that fixed some of the issues would have been truly excellent…oh wait…that’s 13th Age. Which is truly excellent. It had the best encounter design rules D&D has ever had. Solo Monsters, and minions and artillery and skirmishers. At-will powers (which they kept for casters thank god), and encounter powers and daily powers etc. etc. D&D 4th Edition is a freaking great game. I maintain that if it didn’t have the D&D name and was a fantasy game it would have been much better received and 13th Age pretty much proves that point.
RPG That I Should Have Played by Now but Haven’t
It really depends on how literally you take “played” because I run a ton of games but I play very few. I haven’t played Fallout, though I run it. I haven’t played Conan, though I’ve run it many times. I haven’t played Stars Without Number, though I ran it. So under the broad category, discounting games I’ve run but not played, I’ll go with Conspiracy X. It has many elements I like, I’m familiar with the mechanics and the idea of a clandestine government agency dealing with extra-terrestrial and extra-normal phenomena appeals to me as a geek who lived through the X-files years. I have the books though, so it’s probably just a matter of time.