Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Something Old and Something New

The RQ2 Reprint Kickstarter payoff arrived last week and over the weekend I actually had enough quiet time to read the whole thing. I like it. There's a practicality to it,  a very definite sense that this developed in play and was not sent out with zero playtesting. One example: You improve stats and skills by paying for training, in addition to experience. That's something we never used much in my prior RQ playing experiences, but it makes a ton of sense as far as a playable solution to character improvement. It also implies a ton about the world, way beyond Glorantha-this and Lunar Empire-that - there are fighting guilds, temples, and other organizations that provide this training, even going  so far as to do it on credit to new adventurers! Yes, "adventurer" is a known and widely accepted occupation. In a world full of ruins and monsters that seems eminently reasonable - and practical.

It's also very clear the influence of the SCA experience of the primary author, Steve Perrin. Combat is all about weapon types, weapon length, the order an attacker might be able to strike vs. different weapons, how much one might reasonably carry and still be effective in a fight. Including Size as a stat is another sign of this as it plays a role in a bunch of combat elements. With Apprentice Red in a similar organization at school I'm picking up on a lot of the influences here - moreso than i did before, anyway.

The whole book is written in a conversational tone that  I found incredibly appealing. It's something you just do not see in modern RPG writing. Comments like how an referee certainly could track a bunch of different elements if they wanted to overburden themselves, but in the writer's opinion it's simpler to just do X. It's very different than the contemporary (circa 1980) Gygaxian I was immersed in at the time, and it's very different form what I see in books today too It's personal without being ego-driven, which can be a tricky balance to strike. It's much more like how I think   I would want to write a RPG supplement if I ever got around to doing that - that's intended as a compliment!

We've already agreed within out group to run a session of RQ and see how my mix of veterans, experienced non-RQ'ers, and millennials take to it. I'll let you know how that goes.

On a different note, while I was re-reading some of my Savage Worlds stuff last week I got to thinking about how it would make for a really strong Star Wars ruleset. I started looking up conversions online, dug out some of my d6, Saga, and even Star Frontiers stuff with an eye towards outlining how I might use it. I also came across my AoR book and reviewed our playtest of the Beginner Box and how much fun we had with it, and started thinking I should really give this set another chance. So after I finished reading RQ I sat down and read AoR.

This is the serendipitous path we all tread at times. Honestly I was really happy to find the time to read two RPG books in detail in one day.

Maybe reading RQ helped open up my mind a bit, but I think I get the FFG system's appeal now. There are some touches with Marvel Heroic in the whole "building a dice pool" thing and we love that game. I know it's a giant rulebook, much like the Pathfinder ruelbooks, but it is a very different approach from PF mechanically and I think we could have a lot of fun with it. I'll have more on it next week but I am furiously thinking up campaign options in between the rest of life and at some point it will click and we will set up a one-shot to try it out. Also, there are a lot of cool things being done for this game by players - for example:

I still think Savage Worlds would handle Star Wars really well, and I may try it too. One nice touch is that both games, SW and AoR/EotE/F&D are mechanically light enough that you can put NPC's on cards. My take on the SW ones is here, an example of FFG's is here. I really like that these exist. Going back to my RQ take, they are very practical, an approach and an item that's intended to help you actually run games and not just sit on a shelf! That's becoming more and more of a factor for me in games: Is it a good game, is it fun, will my players have any interest in playing it, and is the "work factor" in running it high or low?

More to come!


Adam Dickstein said...

I find it really hard to like FFG's Star Wars for several reasons, but the dice pools as they have them are definitely one of my main issues.

While to a lesser extent than Marvel Heroic, the game rapidly becomes 'how can I improve my dice pool', instead of 'how can I have a memorable moment in this game'. It becomes like the mechanics overshadow game play for me.

I don't feel like I am battling or outwitting an opponent, but rather I am using my dice to out dice his dice.

It's really kept me away from the system after a few experiences trying it out.

Ah Runequest. While not a huge fan of the rules, they do work and they work well. In addition, Glorantha is one of the few RPG settings I really enjoy.

Curious to learn more.

Kelvin Green said...

If I ever run a Star Wars game, I think it will be with Savage Worlds; it's got most of what I like about the d6 version of the game, and none of what I didn't like.

Blacksteel said...

BA - I sort of get the pool thing but there are a few differences:
- For Marvel it's a lot of on the fly justification and the joy in it for us is that my players, old and young both, pretty much do it in-character, voices and all, so it's like Hercules and Colossus and Black Panther all sitting around in a bar arguing over how this encounter would go or monologging it to their opponent which is especially in character for Herc. It's really a question of which elements of your character can you tap into right now. It's a feature, not a bug, for us this way.

-For Star Wars I think a lot of it is predetermined with stats and skills and gear so it seems like there would be less "arguing" about it in the moment. Setting up those boosts etc would be more of a long term strategy. I don't have as good a feel for this yet as I've only run it the one time and we were all new to the game.

I will also say that it's not limited to dice pool games. If you have a group of players that get into it and feed off of each other it can happen in a game like Pathfinder too where there is the generic "+/-2 for circumstantial or situational modifiers". I've had players jump all over that at times. It's not as overtly built in as in those other games but it's still there.

I get what you're saying and I see that as going down the darker of two paths> If the players get into it I think it can be a blast.

Theron said...

RuneQuest was the game that changed everything for me. I discovered it the summer after I graduated high school (81), and immediately dropped everything else in favor of percentile-based skill systems. From there, I discovered Stormbringer (a little less-fiddly than RQ, and a setting I grokked far better at the time) and Call of Cthulhu. It took Champions in the spring of 83 to pull me away from all-Chaosium-all-the-time.

(Incidentally, I got to play some games with Steve Perrin a few weeks ago at NTRPG Con. I didn't get a chance to talk RQ, but I did get my copy of Stormbringer signed.)

Blacksteel said...

Kelvin - I still like d6 as its own game but I like Savage Worlds a bunch too. I think I am anticipating running it for Rifts or our occasional Deadlands game and I like playing with different systems when I am running multiple games so it gives me an opening to try the FFG option. I like all of the published Star Wars games, so I'm easy on that front.

Blacksteel said...

Theron - I played a fair amount of RQ and liked a lot of it but it was never my main game. That was all RQ3 though so I thought I'd give RQ2 a chance. I owned Strombringer at oen point (loved the Elric books) but never got a chance to run it or play it. Steve Perrin has done a lot of good work over the years.

I really need to get to NTX con one of these days, especially considering it's usually around ten miles from the house.