Sunday 15 May 2016

Ye Olde RPG Rounduppe

This is just me rambling about systems I've played/read, it's nothing special. Hopefully it'll help me identify what I like about some systems and dislike about others. There's no real ranking to the order. Oh, I gave the systems a score out of 7 because literally why not

D&D 3.5 [2/7]
OH GOD FUCK THIS THING. It's the system that got me into the current state of playing as much as I do, and with a long ass (3 years I think?) campaign with it, you'd think I knew the rules pretty well. Nope. Never had a DMG for one, so we played almost entirely out of the PHB and goddamn did we hack the shit out of it - fuck balance, I want players to feel like they're good at something. This system is probably where my phobia of social skills come from - and simulationy systems in general. Oh, and 'character builds' - holy hell I despise that shit. We had several players swap out feats once we realised some are just objectively worse, but not in a cool niche way, they were just shit feats. Goddamnit. Never have I felt the rules pushing back at me so much whenever we tried to do something cool. Despite all this, that campaign was fantastic, and lead to me meeting my current playgroup - so not all bad I guess. OH MAN I just remembered how much I have come to despise level appropriate encounters - URGH they either stomped or got stomped on it didn't fucking matter. Far easier and more fun with my current approach of 'what's there is there because it's there'.

Call of Cthulhu (6th I think?) [5/7]
Ohhh boy - I ran one of my favourite games ever with this bad boy, which will certainly colour me looking back over it. For a while I thought d100 roll under skill was the best idea ever purely because of this system - and the sanity system grabbed me. Looking back now, the profileration of a huge number of skills kinda reduces the game to 'what can my character do' rather than 'what can we do in this situation' for many players. The sanity system works but it feels a bit too, like, direct? There's a certain lack of subtly to it, although that's probably just as much on me and the players as the system. The huge shopping list of guns makes me very happy, as does the grimoire of spells. Hell, the entire magic system is quite exciting, as are the monsters. One complaint is, despite taking reduced damage from gunfire, too many of them can still be put down by enough lead. More monsters-as-murder-puzzles and less shoot-them-lots would've been nice - again, probably on me there. It was a couple of years ago I ran this now, forgive me.

WFRP 1e [5/7]
This system is seriously cool. The character building section is great fun, although a tad long-winded - having said that, characters are more survivable that most of my games so it balances out. The career system is fantastic for character generation, although I'm not sure how it works out in long-term play with the changing careers - you're adventurers, you don't have time to learn WHATEVER it is you're after. The combat is seriously fun, and the flipping of your hit roll for location is simply fantastic. Wounds being a buffer zone between you and serious damage is nice too, something I'm a fan of. On the down side, it has a disgusting amount of social skills, which makes me very sad indeed. Oh, the monster section is sick too, plenty of fun stuff in there, although monster stat-blocks are a bit long. I can't speak on the magic system, but I heard it's pretty sub-par. Still, I'd love to get a chance to run this more long-form.

AD&D 1e [?/7]
Some of the first RPG books I ever read and I still haven't run it. DMG is pretty dang neat though.

LotFP [6/7]
In case you haven't ever read the blog, this system is my shit. I love this book. Best RPG purchase to date (followed closely by Yoon-Suin). Simple stripped down mechanics with a strong sense of elegance and logical flow without boiling down to a single dice mechanic (i.e. becoming boring). Yeah I kinda like it, and I'm biased, deal with it. It's easy to hack the shit out of, adding new classes and mechanics as you damn well please without disrupting everything, which is always a serious plus. I know that the main hype behind it is the adventures and the early modern setting but me and the Six (yes, count 'em, six) Bastards never really got into that territory. We did play Fuck for Satan which was pretty wonderful. But I digress - the system is neat, tidy, abstracts away shit that don't matter so you can focus on what do matter. Oh, and summon was a watershed moment for me. Goddamn I love summon, what a beautiful gift to the world. Yeah I enjoy LotFP so I recommend you go buy it TODAY!!! (Oh, and people who whine about the art - just go get the free no-art version and enjoy the rules. Print it out and draw your own boring sexless goreless illustrations or something, jeez (although the dragon-vagina-lady is pretty grim, it's there for a dang reason))

Stars Without Number [4/7]
I love the simplicity on this, but it's also kinda the issue. The base of the rules (to my inexperienced young'un eye) is pretty similar to B/X, and I'm not sure that's the formula to go to for sci-fi. Basically because levels mean more HP which is weird to me. You don't get better at not dying from bullets, not really. Progression through gear is way more sci-fi to me - which reminds me, the list of guns is a bit inadequate. In fantasy gaming, boiling shit down to weapon classes is fine, the difference between them is usually tiny. (Obviously you've got exceptions, where all weapon factors are considered) But in a sci-fi game, we've got an entire galaxy's worth of gear to sift through and buy - so we need GUNS galore. I ended up writing a system for guns, armour and spaceship mods, which are good fun and you should go look at now. Apart from levels and limited shopping lists I think this is a pretty solid base for space adventures, but I'm not sure if I'd pick it again. Had a good run with it though.

Cyberpunk 2020 [6/7]
OHHH BOY I love this system. Bought for me as a gift, this thing is wonderful - allowing for the existence of social skills anyway. The system just works nicely, although it only has 2 real dice mechanics which upsets me slightly. BUT the mechanic does make people who are good at things feel good at them, and those less skilled know about it. The combat is insanely good fun, and flows quite nicely once you learn what the fuck you're doing. We've had a lot of legs blown off in our short time with this system. Interestingly, this is one of the few games where the players decided to play 'good guys' - although that was probably because they're all contrarians and like watching me squirm. Whatever. The biomod system is really fun, and I have no idea how hacking works - everyone says STAY THE FUCK AWAY so I did. A really nice system which is super fun and easy to hack to whatever you want (see DUNGEONPUNK 1066)

Dungeon Crawl Classics [5/7]
For a system I've played very little I sure have stolen a lot from this game. Random tables for just about everything, spellburn, corruption, mutants, oh my! It's a really nice system, though I can't say much on how it plays out long-term - I've just run quite a few funnels. The huge mechanical differentiation between classes seems really really cool - fighters getting bonus damage and hit dice, not a flat bonus, thieves recovering luck, cleric pissing off gods and the magic user becoming a horrendous mutant. That's a point - the magic system is very cool and very bloated. Spells can take up dang PAGES - although rolling for the degree of effect is really fun, adds a lot more mystery and danger to spell casting, something I'm a serious fan off.

Best thing ever written of course.

One Liners - Systems I've played like once or whatever

oWoD - Mage - [3/7] - Great game, shit system. It's so clanky and rusty and badly made. If the GM wasn't a joy to play I'd drop it.
Rules Cyclopedia D&D - [4/7] - Yeah it's an okay system - nothing really shines to me though. Not played much. The game itself is really good fun.
Traveller - [5/7] - I NEARLY DIED AND I GOT A SPACE SHIP (GO SCOUTS) AND I'M 50. Yeah this seems really fun, would like to play.
Dungeon World - [2/7] - Yeah no, single dice mechanic for just about fucking everything, no real dice rolling, it just seems weird and not my bag at all.

Things I want to play/read
Hackmaster looks really sweet
The Black Hack seems to be blowing up, and I can only assume good things?
CoC 7th maybe? I don't know.
Runequest / Stormbringer also sound pretty hype, would like to try those out.

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