#RPGaDAY2015, Day 23: The Perfect Game

So, Day 23 is Perfect Game for Me on #RPGaDAY2015.

I’ve been paying attention as I’ve been writing, and common themes come up:

  • Player investment and ownership in what happens at the table, outside of just reacting to the setting and story.
  • A fast-playing system for what goes on under the hood. Something interesting to interact with but not so elaborate that it detracts from the story formed at the game table.
  • A game system that informs the game’s players[1] what the game is designed for.
  • A low prep time for the game’s facilitator.

Three games instantly spring to mind: Inspectres, Lady Blackbird, and Primetime Adventures.

InSpectres really shines with the Confessional bit[2] where characters reveal that the game is a reality tv show and they can introduce elements into the “now” that weren’t shown on screen earlier. It’s also a fast system with very little prep from the Ghost Master (or whatever the GM is called in that game). Get it now for $10![3]

Lady Blackbird does a similar thing that InSpectre’s Confessional Scenes do with the refreshement scenes — especially the scenes that are done as flashbacks. Both games’ scenes increase the player’s investment into the game and let the players dictate how some of the story is going. And a bonus: neither game needs any prep. Get it now for free!

Primetime Adventures doesn’t need any prep, either. Just show up and run. Plus, the game is set up to have the players create a great deal of the story, force the GM to focus on all characters equally over the course of a series, gets the players to reward each other for entertaining everyone at the table[4] , and there’s also the Audience Participation rules that lets everyone play the game. Get it now for $10![5]

Did I mention there’s no prep for these games? I really don’t have much time to prepare for a game; these three games are literal time-savers. InSpectres is great for (Ghostbusters-flavored) comedy, Lady Blackbird is great for action, Primetime Adventures is great for drama.

 

Edit: You know, I’m going to add Apocalypse World to that list. It hits everything, except for generating the fronts after character generation. But once that’s done, it’s smooth sailing from then on. AW also has my favorite game system, but you can read more about that on an earlier day’s entry.

  1. Remember that the GM — or whatever term you use for that facilitator role — is also playing the game. []
  2. Although the “once per game” or whatever limitation the Confessional Scenes has in the game is fun-limiting. Just go to Confessional whenever the players want. []
  3. InSpectres is available in PDF only through that link. I am not sure where you can get a physical copy. []
  4. Which will probably come up again in Day 24’s “Favorite House Rule” post []
  5. It is a $25+ for a physical copy of PTA, depending on where your mail box lives. []

#RPGaDAY, Last Year: Day 7 – “Do you own a copy of Nobilis?”

Last year, today, our question is What is the most intellectual RPG you own?[1]

Most intellectual RPG? Man, that’s worse than defining “old school” from day five. Are we talking about a game that makes you feel smarter than people who don’t grok what you’re reading? Or a game whose writing is rated above a sixth-grader’s vocabulary? A game with lofty ambitions or goals to make you a better person and reflect on the real world? Perhaps an agenda-filled RPG? How about the most pretentious game ever?

Let’s face it, most RPGs are pretty dumb. You make a character and her or she or it does stuff, usually through a liberal application of violence, in order to, um, get stuff. The writing may be slightly better than these little posts I’ve been making, but the largest word I have used so far in this screed is “intellectual”, which was part of the question prompt, so that’s not saying much.

256px-Nobilis-coverSo, do I have a copy of Nobilis around here?

Nope.

Drat.

The closest thing I own to that is the Buffy: The Vampire Slayer game.

Huh.

Think.

Work, Brains. Work.

Look, most RPGs are pretty smart. You create a whole world out of thoughts, man. The people who live there come straight from your brain! Their motivations, their goals in life, their stupid, stupid mistakes they’re still paying for after all these years have sprung from your imagination. Even if you’re playing HOL, Macho Women with Guns, or Nobilis.

RPG_HoL_coverIn that case, I’m leaning towards a generic RPG, one that gives the game players the freedom to do anything. The big questions I have for a generic RPG are: Can this game do horror? Can I do a Star Wars game that feels like Star Wars in this game? (Also related: Can I do a Shadowrun game with this game?) Can I play comic book superheroes with this game? It doesn’t matter if I have to get a supplement or sourcebook to slot in a new play mode, like picking up GURPS Horror or GURPS Supers to make it work. But I don’t own GURPS proper. (Just two sourcebooks: GURPS Mysteries and GURPS The Prisoner).

I’m going with the Cortex Plus game line from Margaret Weis Productions. If I have to pick one, and only one, game in the line, it’s Smallville. Not only does it allow for all those game styles[2], but the Cortex Plus system allows for the players to create things in the world, getting their brains involved in the shared world. This thing in the world didn’t exist until this player thought of it. BAM.

MAGIC.

Is that still your answer today, Thomas?

Yeah, I think so. I’m tempted to look at Fate Core and use that for everything, but Leverage is probably the best Shadowrun game out there. And as much as I like Fate, it doesn’t do horror that well. I’d also recommend Primetime Adventures, but that doesn’t do action in a satisfying way. Cortex Plus is a base game system that can do a lot. It’s like starting with a roux, some rice, and chicken stock and winding up with shrimp etouffee or a spicy gumbo, depending on what you add.[3]

I worked on the Firefly RPG, which uses a different iteration of the basic rules that Marvel Heroic Roleplaying used and they’re both fantastic games. Leverage and Smallville both have the same basic similarity, but different executions — heck, I kind of want to play Star Wars, Smallville-style.

I would wager the Cortex Plus game system would be more popular if the license was truly open.

Aside: I’m working on sourcebooks and supplements for Chuubo’s Marvelous Wish-Granting Engine, the new game from the creator of Nobilis, so I’ve got that partially covered.

  1. aka “Who has a copy of Nobilis?” []
  2. seriously, go find Smallville and use it for a fantastic Star Wars game []
  3. I’m also loathe to recommend the various “Powered by the Apocalypse” Apocalypse World variants, despite loving AW. While they take on the same base, they are all starting to blur together to me right now, seemingly just swapping out names for basic moves and adding a new custom move here or there. There’s a superheroic variant that I’d like to see — With Great Power, I think — but I’m more interested in seeing what the Sentinels Comics RPG, developed by some of the people behind Cortex Plus, is going to do in the superhero space. Wow. Serious digression. []

#RPGaDAY2015, Day 2: Kickstarter Game You’re Most Pleased You Backed

The second #RPGaDAY2015 topic is Kickstarter Game You’re Most Pleased You Backed. I would reword that topic to “Crowdfunded Game…” because there’s some fantastic stuff coming out on Patreon and IndieGoGo. Every three weeks at Purple Pawn, I write a Crowdfunding Highlights article (4-6 things that have caught my attention) in rotation with two other staff members, and there’s more to crowdfunding than just Kickstarter.

But Kickstarter has the best interface for finding things to throw money at, which is part of the reason why I’ve backed many more things on that funding platform than all others combined.

I’m going to go with a game that I worked on: Chill, 3rd Edition. I backed this at a dollar, which is something I do when I’m brought on board a project before the campaign ends. I really I want to see the backer-only updates and the backers’ comments. (And, if need be, respond to the comments if it’s cool with the campaign creator.) There are about seven of them in my backing history, and Chill is one of those one dollar backings.

chill-openI’ve played Mayfair’s edition of Chill and loved it. When I heard of a potential 3rd Edition, I contacted Growling Door Games, and after a little bit of discussion, there I was, creating the graphics for the KS, laying out the quickstart, and designing the rulebook. And by designing the book, I mean actually designing the book — I had just come off of Firefly, where I was working from Daniel Solis’ design. While Firefly was a fun gig, I wasn’t as free to lay down some design work for a full product. The physical book arrived just three days ago, and it came out looking even better than I thought it would. I’m still amazed — here’s this thing that I did and it’s right here. It’s so…awesome. It makes me smile. Chill, 3rd Edition, is the most pleasing game I’ve backed.

Honorable Mentions: Posthuman Pathways for the ENnie, Primetime Adventures because it’s my favorite RPG, and Play Dirty 2: Even Dirtier because John Wick is John Wick.

Aside: I also backed a book at a level that would have gotten me the PDF of the it. After the campaign, I came on board during production to finish laying out the book. After it was done — meaning, I had all the book files from here — I received a download code to get my free copy of the book. Crazy!