Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Non-Pathfinder Update

It's funny in a way - there was a time when I was known for "changing games" more often than my players liked. From what I see online it happens to a lot of DMs.  Despite running multiple campaigns for at least a year or more the side games rotated with some frequency. That has died off in the last ten years or so for two reasons. One - I've had less time to run that side game alongside a regular ongoing main campaign. Two - I've embraced the concept of the limited campaign, a game with a specific end goal or stopping point. Once that fixed point is reached that run is over and it's time to do something new. It was a pretty strange concept for someone who grew up when the highest form of RPG was the never-ending campaign set in a single world but after decades of seeing that model fail, both as a player and a DM, I have come around on it. I ran 3rd edition almost continuously since it came out until 2010 or so then switched over to 4th edition as the main game for a few years after that. Then Pathfinder somehow became our main game about a year ago and it's been rolling ever since.

However, even with Pathfinder humming along, I have a wandering eye when it comes to games. Having a stable base makes it easier to justify experimenting with other games. Maybe it's just an intro session - make characters and run one adventure. Maybe it's a game we know and like and running one adventure is all we need. Maybe it's a fixed length campaign - 3 sessions, 6 sessions, 12 sessions. In my experience it's tough to keep everyone's attention when we have multiple open-ended campaigns running simultaneously so the "limited" campaign helps everyone focus, including me. Plus if I know this one has a definite end point, I can start thinking about what I want to do when it's finished, which helps with the old gamer ADD.

Now we have the Necessary Evil campaign up and running with an intro session and the first big session done. I have an outline of where I see it going and the players are on board and having a good time. One of these days I'll start posting some session summaries but for now "it's going well" will have to do. It's a continuation of a game we put on pause in 2010 and I have the same players using the same characters they were playing then regardless of the setting adjustment. Heck, they all made up their characters in CoH anyway so we would all have a visual reference so we've come full circle.

The re-opening of the Savage Worlds door with this one reminded me to take a look around and start catching up with Savage Worlds which had been kind of quiet in my mind since Weird Wars Rome in 2013. Between this and the Apprentices' interest in Deadlands I started picking up a few items, like The Flood and The Last Sons which are the two published campaigns for Deadlands Reloaded. I also backed the Kickstarter for the third. Having read through The Flood there are a few weaker points but it's my favorite part of the setting (Wild West + Undead + Kung Fu + Ironclads) so I'll definitely run it at some point. I've only skimmed Last Sons at this point so no strong opinions there. I also jumped back into the Hell on Earth Reloaded bandwagon with both the Companion and the Worm's Turn campaign book. I'm also filling in a few of the older Savage Worlds campaign books as I come across them because I like almost all of them enough to use them. I can see SW becoming a pretty consistent companion game to our ongoing D&D/Pathfinder campaigns.

Besides these I've also been working on some other limited campaigns to keep the old wandering game-eye happy. Having the Apprentices around and interested means I can run some smaller games that I like whenever we have the time:

  • I've gone back through my M&M notes and carved out a 12 session M&M Freedom City campaign that would be a lot of fun. Plus I have notes for a "second season" of a similar length if it goes over well.
  • I had an itch to run some Marvel Super Heroes a while back and picked out the time-traveling trilogy as something to run for the boys. It's just a fun system and the idea of fighting Nazis, Dinosaurs, Cowboys, and invaders form the future is a pretty great one for supers.
  • I'm going back through my notes on the Marvel Reboot campaign and I'd like to at least run this one to its conclusion. I know the boys will be on board with it if I do, it's mainly a matter of re-reading the MHR rules to be ready to run the thing. Soon.
  • I did start them on the Emerald City adventure series for M&M 3E a while back. If I can get Red back down here for a bit it's probably worth doing again. The hardest part besides the rules rust was trying to give it a DC flavor as they wanted to play a game set in the DC Universe for a change. I'm going to have some more reading to do or maybe we just give the old DC Heroes game a try for a few sessions.
  • It's been a long time since I've run anything ICONS and that just doesn't seem right. I need to pull out one of the many adventures I picked up for it and just run the thing one night.

So there's a fairly long list of options/want-to games where I actually have material to run. It leaves out the lower priority stuff like FATE, Feng Shui, Godlike, and introducing them to Champions. Also, exploring the lower cost end of the pool at DTRPG - there is some interesting stuff there. Heck I found a Numenera adventure there that has me contemplating taking a run at that game in the near future. Later this year we have Feng Shui 2E and Spirit of '77 coming along too.

So many options. It's a great time to be an RPG player.

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