RPG a Day: Can’t touch this

16. What is an awesome RPG you enjoy using as-is?

That’s a tricky question, since some games are meant to be tinkered with—all those “universal” systems from Hero to Fate Core, from GURPS to Savage Worlds, etc.. So if I say West End Games’ Masterbook, am I cheating? Although it’s a complex system, evolved from the original TORG and its follow-up Shatterzone, I really like the way it works. In all three games, I’m a big fan of the Master Deck/Drama Deck.

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RPG a Day: Systems in my toolbox

 

15. What is an awesome RPG you enjoy adapting?

Ah well, I keep mentioning these names but in terms of flexibility, my favourite systems are Fate Accelerated (Evil Hat Productions), HeroQuest (Moon Design/Issaries/Chaosium) and PDQ (Atomic Sock Monkey Press). They are easy to adapt, easy to explain, and easy to run.

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RPG a Day: ‘Til Death Do Us Part

14. What is an awesome RPG for open-ended campaign play?

This is sort of the opposite of the Day 9 question. Most RPGs work for this, unless they are specifically designed for short play. What really matters is how engaged everyone at the table is, and whether you’re tracking what has gone on from episode to episode so dangling plot threads and interesting NPCs can be reincorporated in play, making the GM’s life easier (the adventures write themselves) and the players’ actions more important (they impact the game world.)

That said, some games make it particularly easy for me, because the mechanics are light enough that statting more NPCs and creating new locations and plots does not create a burden on the GM. I particularly like games based on Fate Accelerated (like War of Ashes or Dresden Files Accelerated), PDQ (like Truth & Justice, Jaws of the Six Serpents, or The Zorcerer of Zo), or Heroquest (like Mythic Russia or of course Glorantha.) Some (not all) games Powered by the Apocalypse work well for this style of play, like Dungeon World or Monster of the Week.

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RPG a Day: We’re Not Gonna Take It…

13. Describe a game experience that changed how you play.

I first started gaming when I got to university, which had a big game club. Every week the club’s meeting night looked like a mini-convention; you could browse the offerings and play whatever sounded interesting—AD&D, Gamma World, MERP, Diplomacy, 007, Traveller, Top Secret, Star Trek… I acquired the mindset that you pick a game and then find players for it. For years I looked at game store bulletin boards for specific games, or advertised to recruit players for specific games.

It was not so bad when I was in big urban areas with lots of gamers but when my husband and I moved to a more rural area for a few years, the choices became limited; you could practically know every gamer by name. Edmund and I found ourselves gaming with a number of guys who were tolerable but not in any way friends.  Continue reading “RPG a Day: We’re Not Gonna Take It…”

RPG a Day: Beautiful Inside

12. Which RPG item has awesomely inspiring interior art?

I love good RPG art, but I know my tastes aren’t necessarily those of the majority of gamers. For example, I prefer pencil or ink line art and sketches to painterly renderings, and watercolours to airbrush work. But let me pick a few recent examples of interior art I love. To even out the playing field, I will exclude games based on licensed properties. To narrow that field, I will also select from recently published games, and I will pick items that I feel have been underappreciated.

Atlantis: The Second Age (Khepera Publishing)

Continue reading “RPG a Day: Beautiful Inside”

RPG a Day: Like the Phoenix Reborn

11. Which ‘dead game’ would you like to see reborn?

Ah, many are the older games I miss for setting, few are the ones I miss for system!

As I mentioned in older posts, I would really like to see SkyRealms of Jorune reborn with a modern system. It has appeared with three different systems, none of which are worth lingering over; but the setting was wonderful and the evocative art of Miles Teves gave it unique character.

In fact, Teves was the second of three authors listed in the first and second editions, unusual visibility for an art director and artist. It was well earned; the art was key in creating a unified setting “feel” and its memorable style—more reminiscent of 18th and 19th century travelogues than of contemporary role-playing games. So to please me, a reborn version would need to be illustrated with high-quality reproductions of Teves’ art.  Continue reading “RPG a Day: Like the Phoenix Reborn”

RPG a Day: Finding Reviews

10. Where do you go for RPG reviews?

I check out a lot of reviews from friends in my social media feed on Google+, Facebook, and Twitter. When I know I have a lot of tastes in common with the reviewer, I check their new write-ups as soon as they are posted. If it sounds like my cup of tea, I put the title on my list of games to try.

If I’m looking for reviews of a specific game, I usually start with the official website of the publisher, then big distributors like DriveThruRPG or even Amazon, then do a general search to see what the word is. If it’s an older title, I also check RPG.net’s Game Index; if it’s a small press/indie/non-traditional sort of game, I’ll search a bit on the Forge and Story Games forum archives.

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RPG a Day: Ten Episodes

9. What is a good RPG to play for about 10 sessions?

If you know you’re planning for a mini-series rather than a campaign that goes on indefinitely, it helps to have some scaffolding to help pace the overarching story.

One type of scaffolding is a campaign like that provided in Night Witches where the duty stations are outline along a timeline but your airwomen’s adventures at each point, and how fast you move from one station to another, depends entirely on your group’s choices. Then there is a game like Blowback that provides tools for escalation of the plot with certain preferential paths but still leaves you free to make the choices that will shape the overarching story.

A more structured type of scaffolding might be the Plot Point Campaigns included in many Savage Worlds games such as Low Life, Mars, Necessary Evil, Sundered Skies, Slipstream, Thrilling Tales, etc.—although their length varies and you may have to pick only a few of their many episodes.  Continue reading “RPG a Day: Ten Episodes”

RPG a Day: Two Hours!

8. What is a good RPG to play for sessions of 2 hours or less?

[Wherein I give up on picking a single option.]

If you’re going to plan on a 2-hour game, you had better use a streamlined system with rapid character creation. Systems that are well-suited include Fate Accelerated, The Shadow of Yesterday, PDQ, Wushu, Over The Edge, etc.

Continue reading “RPG a Day: Two Hours!”

RPG a Day: And… Scene!

7. What was an impactful RPG session?

I spoke last year about an emotionally charged, intense session of Night Witches, so I’m not going to repeat it but it certainly is a good answer to today’s question. But again, because I’ve been gaming for a long time I have many possible answers.

Let’s pick a memorable episode of 7th Sea back in 2002, which I chronicled on my now-defunct website (Wayback Machine link). We were six heroes from Castille sent on a secret mission to the port of La Reina del Mar, occupied by Montaigne forces, to assist the still-resisting Castillan underground.

We had a rich tapestry of subplots going on after playing for two and a half years, including many pursued by PCs in secret. For the big climactic episode of the story arc (the portion of the chronicle that is only in bullet points because so much was going on), the GM—my husband Edmund—not only allowed us to split the party, something that still went against most GM advice you could find in those days, but he let us split three-way, then four, then five! Some of us were creating a distraction on the wharves, some were rescuing prisoners, some were blowing up the enemy flagship, etc.  Continue reading “RPG a Day: And… Scene!”