Thursday, August 2, 2018

#RPGaDay 2018 Day 2: What Do I look for in an RPG?

I got through Day 1 of #RPGaDay with minimal scarring.  Day 2 continues to the thought provoking route:

"What do I look for in an RPG"

I've owned hundreds of ruleboks over the years, I've played a lot fewer, and even fewer have survived the multiple purges of my collections over the years.

Let's look at my shelves and see what I'm looking for:

Something that hits my nostalgic bent.  Regardless of whether it's recapturing the memories of my youth, or perhaps I never let them go from the collection:   Hackmaster, Talislanta, Rules Cyclopedia D&D, Top Secret

Easy basic mechanics, although layering is okay over time.   Although I might ponder becoming an assassin for hire if the old Hackmaster group could get together again, most of my games need to be quick and simple:  Savage Worlds, RC D&D,  d6 Star Wars, Risus, the My Little Pony RPG, and yes, Call of Cthulhu.

Items that fill the Niche I never knew I had.  Better yet, RPGs that I haven't played, but refuse to give up:  Space 1889, Forgotten Futures, The End.... and My Little Pony.

Simple? Perhaps not...

....yet, even with all the nostalgic RPG reprints on Kickstarter, what beckons to me recently?

Fantasy Flight Games Star Wars Edge of the Empire, thanks to a great podcast (and a great auction buy-out at a local con)....

and freakin' Starfinder.

Not the adventure paths or the supplements.  The core book alone gives me tons of inspirations in dozens of directions, but the system itself is something I have not enjoyed.  Although... a sci-fi setting may lend itself to a bit more system mechanics.

And those damn Skittermanders in the #FreeRPGDay promotion earlier this Summer just won me over.  


  1. Like you I've owned a LOT of RPGs over the years. I think I've actually played the majority of them at one time or another - though a lot of the campaigns were very short-lived...

    These days I like flexibility and simplicity. Something that’s pretty wide open and allows you to do whatever you want. Something simple, but elegant.

    I played GURPS for years because you could do anything with it… but eventually I found I just got bogged down in the rules – there was just too much.

    I played Savage Worlds for years, for much the same reason – you could do anything with it, but it was also much simpler – perhaps a bit more “cinematic”, but I kind of liked that. I found though that high powered characters versus high powered villains just became sloggin matches. These giant slap fights, where once you were in contact, you just stood there pouncing on them, but unable to do any damage.

    More recently I’ve toyed with the idea of using Song of blades and Heroes as a basis for a roleplaying game – you have TWO characteristics Combat and Quality… There was a role-playing game based on it Tales of Blades and Heroes, but I didn’t care for it. It felt like it was trying to add unnecessary complexity that was already beautiful in it’s simplicity…

    I also liked Tales from the Loop - in terms of simplicity, but it was fairly limited in scope and the high target for successes with the dice pools (only sixes are successes) was pretty harsh - it meant there were a LOT of failures at skill attempts!

    1. You channel your role-playing goodness through my posts, sir!

      I am sad that your disappointed with Tales. I too love the basic structure of Songs, but most attempts to expand the game, outside some basic campaign seems to over-encumber the system.

  2. I wouldn't say I was overly disappointed with Tales from the Loop. It was a wonderful setting and we played it for almost half a year... mind you, that was averaging slightly more than one session per month... and in that time we only got through one of the four printed adventures in the book.

    My only real complaint about the adventures was that there were a few glaringly HUGE plot holes that I wasn't quite sure how to fill... disappointing, I guess, but I feel it's par for the course these days. EVERY adventure, no matter how well written never survives first contact with the player characters!

    My only complaint about the system was that only sixes were successes - even though you only needed one six to succeed, it meant unless you were doing the one thing you were really good at and had six dice in your pool, odds are you weren't going to succeed... even if players DID have six dice in your pool, it felt like they often did not succeed. I really liked just about everything else about the system - the scene to scene framing of the action.

    I am kind of curious how Coriolis works - I understand it uses the same system for a space opera game - combat action is Tales from the Loop is so abstract, is it the same in Coriolis!? Not curious to shell out the money for the Core rulebook, mind you. My friend Bruce did pick it up. I hope he tries running it someday - even as a short campaign or one-shot just to try it out.

  3. Starfinder! I actually really dig Paizo's attempt at sci-fi fantasy and have started a game that has a group of Starfinder members lost in deep space and wind up in a Dyson Sphere (the construct, not the vacuum). As you mentioned, it had scratched an itch and is allowing me to flex all the science fiction genre info I've accumulated over the years. I hope you get to run it or play a few games someday.

    1. The fact that they tried to cover, for better or for worse, all the corners of sci-fi.

      Cute and cuddly game? Check!

      Battelords of the 23rd Century slaughtering Lilo and Stitch? Check!

    2. Technically, Stitch would likely slaughter everything in the Battlelords universe and then fall prey to the Pony-mancers from Equestria.

      It is, as you said, pulling from all sources to be as broad as possible to fit as many styles of games as imagined. And I dig that.