Tuesday, August 4, 2015

#RPGaDAY2015 Day #4: Most Surprising Game

It only took four days for #RPGaDay to give an obtuse question that's going to be open to multiple interpretations.  Let me try to tackle each angle head on? 

Most surprising game (session)?   When my friend from high school "Crazy Daryl" resurfaced back in 2007 or '08.  I invited him to come up and play a session or two of Hackmaster with my regular crew.  He rolled up a Drow fighter with antipathy to humans, named him Strom Thurmond, and proceeded to wreck racist havoc on a simple village festival.  He soon disappeared again and was last seen in an Albanian hostel (Daryl, not Strom).  Albania never had a chance. 

Some are surprisingly disappointing, but I do attribute that to how I was introduced to the material.  I never got hooked to Traveller because, despite the classic "killer" character generation, the GM couldn't explain to me why I needed to roll or how it was calculated.

What is surprising, game-wise?
The utter dread and abject horror when I discovered that the flavor I got from Vampire: The Masquerade was completely ignored by 98% of the players I ran into... and three quarters of the remainder were moody non-gamer goths trying to get laid.  (Percentages may have varied depending on the time and location)?

Fifth Edition D&D almost being nostalgically playable, even with My Little Ponies?

I'll go with the stunning realization that I should have had years ago.   Role-Playing Games with Miniatures Rules fall flat.  Miniature Rules with Role-Playing have no limit. 

I spent the first decade of gaming with just a handful of minis that only came out if combat got complicated.  While I accumulated a motley assortment of figures during my Hackmaster days, it was usually a few PC figs and a ton of d6's for the monster.  Hell, I ran a complete clusterf*ck of Steading of the Hill Giant Chieftain with all the giants, dozens of bugbears, and tons of orcs all in my head and it was one of the greatest melees the players remember.

It's been a decade and a half since the prophets descended from Renton with the commandment, "Thou shalt play Third Edition D&D with miniatures, verily I say unto you."  Yeah, I know.  You can play 3rd/4th/5th without miniatures, but things are definitely less abstract than my 2nd Edition games.  Pathfinder continues this tradition, and by sales, somebody's gotta be buying into it.

Miniatures seem to add a level of rules to an RPG that takes away from its role-playing aspects. Starting with a miniatures game to begin with allows for role-playing to evolve more naturally in the combat and thus when it counts back in town.

When I was at Cold Wars in March, I got to play in two "role-playing" wargames.  The Doctor Who Miniatures Rules were very basic for the goons we were playing, but the basic deck of action cards had plenty of Doctor/Companion appropriate cards to add even more flavor and options to the game.
A western game using Blood and Swash  was even better, as we actively role-played with other players, in-character, to arrange truces, accept surrenders,and plot just how we were going to smuggle the gold off the stage coach.  Most of the players (lifelong historical players) were better role-playing than players at RPG events at mixed-used cons.

Now that I'm looking for a new system for the girl's adventures that less flighty than my own TIARA,  I've found a good balance in Savage Showdown the slimmed down miniatures rules for Savage Worlds.  The kids just want to adventure, find treasure, and be awesome.  During the game, I got more useful character info about their treasure hunters, Millie the Archaeologist and "The Mexican" than I've gotten from some of my good players over the years.

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