Saturday, August 22, 2015

RPGaDay - Day 22 - Perfect Gaming Environment

I'm a little fuzzy on this one so I'll keep it simple:

  • My house
  • In the game room
  • Around a table
  • With friends
...and that's really it. How much more do you need? I've played outdoors -at a picnic table or around a pool or in a tent. I've played in different arrangements indoors - no table, multiple tables  - and we're all pretty comfortable with our "standard deployment" now. 

Friday, August 21, 2015

RPGaDay - Day 21 - Favorite RPG Setting

Wow, so many to choose from when it comes to game settings. I've spent a lot of time over the years in Greyhawk, the Forgotten Realms, the Third Imperium, Gamma Terra, Federation Space, and Golarion. I have various settings I have created myself as well but posting that I like my own setting best doesn't really tell anyone else a whole lot so I'll keep to published settings for this one.

It's hard to choose a favorite - they all tend to do something well. Can I say I've had more fun in Greyhawk than the Realms? One I tended to run and one I tended to play so I'm not sure that even makes sense.

The Big One:

If I focus on the last couple of years I'll say "Golarion", the Pathfinder campaign setting. I've been running and playing in it and it's good - really good. Made by some former Greyhawk proponents and by a team that was clearly making a world to be used in a game it strikes a really nice balance of information without over-detailing and history without overflowing with legendary NPCs. It's a very game-able world and I like it a lot. Reading through the main book there were a lot of areas where I said "I'd like to explore that" or "I'd like to run a game there" and that's really what I want from a game setting.

Runner Up: 

For Supers I like Freedom City. It has a similar level of interesting details without overwhelming, and a decent level of history and other supers without going completely over the top, It's another setting built to be used specifically for an RPG and one that works very well. I'd consider using it with a completely different system and that should indicate just how much  I like it. I almost used it for Necessary Evil the last time, and I've looked at it for ICONS too.

Honorable Mention:

Shadowrun has a really interesting setting, one that never bored me. It also includes more Native American cultural influences than most RPG's, alongside more Japanese influences than you will find in most RPGs, along with the dragons and cyberware too.  It's more than just a mish-mash of game concepts like "cyberpunk meets fantasy" - there's a world in there that's pretty interesting on its own. I'm talking about more than just Seattle too - the whole world has been given some interesting twists over the years and I would happily spend more time there.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

RPGaDay - Day 20 - Favorite Horror RPG

I should probably just pass on this one as I'm not a big fan of Horror RPG's. I played Call of Cthulu a couple of times and it just wasn't for me. Chill looked like it might be more fun but I never found anyone locally who ran or played it.

The closest thing I've ever seen to what I think horror RPGs are going for is when running or playing old school D&D and the party runs into level-draining undead. That's where fear becomes evident on the players faces and the mighty player characters begin running around like startled rabbits.

Other than that I don't see "horror" as a genre I'm interested in pursuing as a campaign of it's own. Using it as an occasional element in some other kind of campaign - sure. I've seen various "weird" D&D adventures, I've seen attempts at horror in some supers games, and I've seen a horror adventure for Traveller set on a ship in jump space where it seems like something is trying to get into the ship - that one was actually pretty decent. But as a dedicated campaign? Not for me.

Poison was also known to have a similar effect to level drain at times.
The closest thing to this kind of campaign I could embrace is a zombie apocalypse game. It's really more of a fusion of horror and post-apocalyptic so it's probably not "pure" horror but I could definitely play or run a zombie game. Overdone or not it, it's a popular genre and I still think there's plenty of fun to be had there.

What, I have to pick a game? Fine:

This version is for Savage Worlds but regardless of system I love the way it begins and the first several chapters. I've only read so far into it but I do like the part I have read. One of these days ...

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

RPGaDay - Day 19 - Favorite Supers RPG

Now the opposite problem from yesterday's post - I have most of the supers type RPG's published over the last 30+ years and I have run or played almost all of them at some point. There are so many of them now and in my opinion most of them have some quality that makes them interesting or worthy of some attention.

  • First Supers Game: Champions
  • Different and Cool: Marvel Super Heroes
  • Overlooked Gem of the 80's: DC Heroes
  • Cool but never as excited about it as some other people were: Villains and Vigilantes
  • If only we had known what was to come: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

That pretty much covers the 80's. The only other superhero game of note I can recall then was Superworld and I never met anyone who played it.

In the 90's I mainly stayed with Champions as Marvel petered out and DC never took off with my group. 

The with the turn of the millennium a new age of superhero games just exploded: Mutants and Masterminds, Silver Age Sentinels, BASH, Hero 5th edition, Necessary Evil, and even Heroes Unlimited's third wind. Later we got a new Marvel game, a new DC game, ICONS, Supers, and a bunch of others, at least partially related to the acceptance of PDFs as valid game books.

I've run a lot of these newer wave games over the last 5 years, and some of the older ones too. I can find something to like about almost all of them. In the 80's we pretty much had the "Big 3" of Champions, Marvel, and DC and that was fine but now it is just amazing. Much like the golden age of superhero movies we are seeing, we are in a golden age of superhero RPG's as well. 

So there are tons of them and they're mostly good. How about a favorite? Once again, it depends ...

  • If I'm just looking to run a one-off game with superheroes, especially with less-experienced players or with a tight time constraint I'm going with ICONS. Its easily learned, it plays fast, and we've always had a good time with it.
  • If I'm starting a campaign with an experienced, older crew I'd love to start them up with a full-on Champions campaign. Tremendous detail, the absolute most flexibility with characters, vehicles, bases, and really ... everything. It's a great system that I have been away from too long. 
  • Overall though, the best middle ground between simplicity, flexibility, and supporting a full campaign is Mutants and Masterminds. It's well-supported but not ridiculously so. There is some mechanical complexity but less than Hero system. It strikes a nice balance of crunch and speed of play that works really well for us and so it is the "main" game when it comes to supers for me.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

RPGaDay - Day 18 - Favorite SF RPG

This is another one with a lot of potential answers. My list of Science Fiction RPG's in chronological order of when I started playing them, looks like this:

  • Traveller
  • Star Frontiers
  • Gamma World (2E)
  • Star Trek (FASA)
  • Space Opera
  • Twilight 2000
  • Gamma World (3E)
  • Battletech/Mechwarrior
  • Robotech
  • Star Wars (d6)
  • Mega Traveller
  • Shadowrun
  • Rifts
...and that just gets us to about 1990.

I thought about going with what I've played most recently but the SF games have been pretty sparse around here. I did just run the Apprentices through the Age of Rebellion Beginner Game but I'm not going to declare it my favorite just yet! The last SF type thing I ran was Star Wars Saga Edition a year or two back and while I do like the game a lot I'm not really ready to declare it my favorite either after letting it sit for 18 months. 

Sometimes I get a Star Trek thing for a few weeks, sometimes I get a post-apocalyptic thing, but nothing really dominates long term in RPG's. The longest-term interest I've had is Traveller, and the current Mongoose Traveller incarnation is great, but I haven't run a Traveller game in years.

I'd say the position of "Favorite SF RPG" is ... open.

If we expand it a bit to "Favorite SF Tabletop Game" then it gets very easy:

Warhammer 40,000 has been a steady presence in my hobby life for more than 25 years now. I don't care as much for the RPG's but it is a major player in miniatures, board games, and computer games for me and now for the Apprentices too.

Second place here would probably be the Battletech universe of games, followed by Star Wars and Star Trek, but at this point we're way past considering RPG's only.

So there's my complicated answer to what seems like a simple question. 

Monday, August 17, 2015

RPGaDay - Day 17 - Favorite Fantasy RPG

It's a little tricky because there are a lot of possible answers:

  • The one I've played the most? Probably AD&D but that was 25+ years ago!
  • The one I've run the most? Probably D&D 3rd Edition.
  • The one that flexed my creativity in memorable ways after all that AD&D time? Fantasy Hero!
  • The one that put a strong new spin on an old game and that I ran quite a bit? D&D 4th Edition!
  • Games I really like but haven't played much? Warhammer FRP! Reign! Arcana Evolved!
So it's not as simple a question for me as it might be for some, but in the end I'm going to go with the game I am running and playing the most right now:

There are a lot of ways one could knock Pathfinder but for me, right now, it just works. I like it, my players like it, and we're enjoying ourselves when we play it. 

There are a lot of books for it  - you don't need all of them.

There's are a lot of rules in it - you don't need all of them.

It assumes you will be using miniatures of some kind - you don't really have to.

Any game is a framework for having a good time and for us for now we are having a lot of fun with it. Honestly, it's been a lot more fun than I expected to have with this set of rules when we started down this path. Given that, we're going to ride it out for a long time I suspect. 

Sunday, August 16, 2015

RPGaDay - Day 16 - Longest Game Session Played

There was the one guy years ago who ran overnight games Saturday night usually around 8pm til whenever everyone passed out the next morning. It varied between Traveller, Twilight 2000, and Runequest. Call 'em 12 hour sessions. I only went to a few but those are definitely the longest individual sessions I can recall. I'm pretty sure there were a few similar occasions in the college dorm or summer nights back in high school too.

My once-a-month campaign that I play in runs 7-8 hours and that's fine - once a month!

For me, now, a 4-6 hour session is the sweet spot that still allows us to play for a decent amount yet still fit it in with work and kids etc.