The topic for Day 7 of #RPGaDAY is “How would you improve one of your favorite games?”
It’s actually “What was your most impactful game session?” but I really don’t want to delve into that one, partially because “impactful” means different things to different people and partially because the question doesn’t interest me.
Instead, I’ll follow the rule from earlier years, where we substitute questions. Hence: how would you improve one of your favorite games? This question came forth after reading Shut Up & Sit Down’s review of Tales from the Loop, where they pretty much nailed everything my thoughts on the game, positive and negative.
Looking over my past few writings for the month, Tales from the Loop comes up quite a bit. A few reasons for that: it’s loosely based on my favorite game system, is set during the time I could have been one of the protagonists in the game, the graphic design and illustration are extremely well-done, and I have actually played the game.1
The game system involves dice pools, your basic attribute + skill equaling the number of six-sided dice you are rolling. If any die comes up a 6, you succeed. Multiple 6s and you could do extra things beyond merely succeeding. In practice — well, this is anecdotal — it seemed nearly impossible to succeed when we had dice pools of 3 or 4, which is about the number of dice our competent actions seemed to give us. Heck, even the SU&SD review mentions “the dice success rate was consistently so low that players ran out of re-rolls and got stalled.”
I’m tempted to counts 5s and 6s as “hits”, but that adds in unneccesary clutter — instead of just looking for one number, you’re looking for two different numbers. Granted, on a 2d6 roll, that means that 16 of the 36 possibilites are failures.
However, I’m thinking of just rolling the dice and look at your two highest dice. Roll 7+? Success. 10+? Awesome uccess. The game is pretty much Apocalyse World with dice pools — keep the math and make the awesome happen. Maybe scale 7-8: Success with cost; 9-10: Success; 11-12: Success with bonus.
The other issue I had was the American setting. Or really, the way they did the mapping of the American setting to the Swedish. It’s… irritating to be reading the copy and suddenly there’s a reference to swap out for an American location. But this is called out in-line in bolded, colored text. So you’re reading along about a section of the world and suddenly you’re interrupted: Mischa [Michael] heads up to Skarvland [Boulder City] where he is a manager at the local Macca [McDonalds] to boink Marianne [Mary Anne] in the break room.
It not only interrupts the flow of the book if you’re reading for the Swedish setting (which I would rather play in than the American setting), it also makes the American setting feel less than an actual setting for the game than a word for word substitution for the real setting.
Me? I’d remove all those inline cross-references and include a sidebar about where in the official American setting this takes place and a sidebar for other names to substitute. “In the US, this mystery is centered around Outpost 14 with Michael’s house on the outskirts of Lower Village.”
Either that or not have an official American setting — have a Create Your Own Loop optional setting with the sidebars about the 80s Americana stuff, maybe some other possible settings like 80s Britannia and 80s Germany as sidebars.
Previously on #RPGaDAY…
Last year, it was the end of the Gen Con-inspired posts where we looked at favorite convention moments. Since then, I’ve been two different conventions, and I’ve got to point out my time at NewMexiCon. So many good bits there, but I think the greatest thing was talking to Jonathan and hearing that RinCon, the gaming convention I hammered into being2, now had organizational staff that consisted of people I don’t know. That was great! This thing of mine went to friends of mine and it then went to strangers and it’s still going strong! Amazing!
In 2014, the topic was “Do you own a copy of Nobilis?/What’s the most intellectual RPG you own?” This year, I’m still going to punt because I dislike the question and should have substituted that with a different one.