Wednesday, December 7, 2016

One Last Post on How Many Games Do You Need?

Thinking some more about yesterday's post I decided to make a list of what games would I most like to run if given the chance and a guarantee of some interested players. This started with the idea of a top 5 or top 10 and that pretty much failed. In no particular order:

  • Mutants and Masterminds! I've talked about three different settings for it just in the last two weeks!
  • For Pathfinder I'm still looking forward to Iron Gods, Giantslayer, The Mummy's Mask, and doing something with The Emerald Spire (beyond watching one of my kids run it).
  • Star Wars! D6? Saga? FFG? Savage Worlds? Yes please.
  • Star Trek! FASA! LUG! The new thing!
  • Savage Worlds: Deadlands! 50 Fathoms! Slipstream! Hell on Earth! Necessary Evil! Zombie Stuff! R-I-F-T-S! (note to self - really need to make Savage Worlds a regular thing next year)
  • Runequest: old school Runequest. I've never run it, therefore I must run it.
  • Dungeons & Dragons 4E: because I like it and I have 3 unfinished campaigns. The binders stare at me from the shelf , biding their time.
  • Dungeons and Dragons 5E: Seems like I should run some of this before declaring it "meh"
  • Labyrinth Lord: the Stonehell Dungeon. I like it. It's made to run. It too has a binder that lurks in the corner of the room, waiting.
  • Gamma World: I have 5 or 6 editions of it and I've had a blast every time I've run or played it, yet my kids have no idea what it's like. I should fix that.
  • Dungeon Crawl Classics seems cool and I have some adventures. I just need time to do it.
  • Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay: A great game, very different from D&D, worthy of a solid campaign, yet it sits on my shelf with one whole session run in the last ten years. 
  • Shadowrun: 2E or 3E; I have everything they printed for these (and 1E), it's a blast and right in some of players' wheelhouses ...  and I haven't run anything for it in ten years either. How does this happen?
  • Hero System: Champions! Fantasy Hero! Tons of published and homebrewed material going back to the 80's and yet I'm not sure the last time I asked somebody what their PD, ED,  or their SPD was. 
Now we have worked in some Star Wars and some Deadlands and some Marvel Heroic in the last year alongside the Pathfinder games but most of what I have listed here hasn't been run or played in years. And this is the stuff I actually want to play, the stuff I have written campaigns for, the stuff I think about from time to time! 

(The stuff I wonder "when I am ever going to run them" as those are all big time investments if I'm going to do them right) 

Combining two things and .. yeah, kind of like that I guess
How is a new game supposed to compete with that? Well, it is still possible:
  1. "Savage Rifts" - take two things I already like and combine them to make something better. That gets my attention.
  2. "Marvel Heroic Roleplaying" - take something familiar and come at it in a totally different way than what we've had before. It may not be to everyone's taste but it does make you think about this genre in a different way. The kids love it and you could almost use the XP system as a drinking game for the grown ups. "Do a shot every time Black Panther declares something to be a threat to Wakanda!"
  3. "FFG Star Wars" - I'm still not sure if the custom dice are a gimmick or a true innovation but it is a notably different approach to mechanics. D6 fit a certain style of game, Saga fit a different style of game, and I'm still trying to place this one as far a style. I think it wants to be more like d6 and it may get there with experience but right now it feels more like one of the d20 versions. Regardless, it has my attention.
Outside of these types of games it's tougher to pique my interest these days. Some of that is Experience Overload which is a dramatic way of saying "37 years of the same hobby". It sometimes makes me wonder about things when I see something touted as new that was part of a game in 1984 or some other far off time.   Whether it's in the OSR, some new 3rd party thing for Traveller, or yet another new supers game it's always entertaining when something I saw in a Dragon article when I was 14 turns up again as "new". 

Wow. Up next: Shouting kids off of the lawn

There's still plenty of room for new things. M&M was pretty radical when it came out and had no hit point type mechanic (a staple of RPG's in general) and no endurance type mechanic (a staple of Champions). D&D 4E was pretty radical when it came out too, unfortunately to its detriment.  Savage Worlds is a wild change for someone used to a lot of other games and cards are still an under-used mechanical option in my opinion. 

Member when these were new?
I member.
A Star Wars game! Not a D&D mish-mash or a Traveller conversion but a real published licensed Star Wars game! How cool was that going to be?
I asked over on Robb's Blog in a comment if we were becoming like elitist Cinephiles: jaded to the point that almost everything can be dismissed as tripe because it's been done before and only obscure things most people have never see or heard of are worthy of praise. I also occasionally worry that with the big pile of games upstairs and the long history in the hobby I'm becoming like the worst audiophiles: that if you don't have at least $10,000 worth of high end audio equipment your opinion isn't worth hearing.  That's not who I want to be.

Seeing new or younger gamers in the hobby is a little like being a parent. The kids get excited about something that you know is a piece of junk because you've seen it before and you have to decide whether to tell them it's a piece of junk and why -or- to keep quiet and let them get excited and have their fun with it. With where they are in their life vs. yours it's possible that yes it is a piece of junk but it is also a heckuva lot of fun for them. It's also possible they will learn the same lesson on their own. Hopefully without losing an eye.

I still like new games. Some of them anyway. More than a lot of people that have been at this for a long time judging from what I see online. That said:
  • "New" doesn't impress me just because it's new
  • "Different" doesn't impress me just because it's different
  • What's the point of your game? What does it do better? Why would I choose it over one of those games in that long list at the top of this post? Tell me. Show me.
Err ... yeah. Sorta like that. Kinda. Maybe.

 So I'll try to be more like David Tennant's Doctor Who: using years of experience to keep an eye out for both new good stuff and new bad stuff while trying to guide the next generation to the good and staying chipper and cheerful along the way. 

More like this guy, less like "The Architect" from The Matrix

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