#RPGaDAY 2016, Day 15: Player-Driven Gaming

Well, it has been quite a bit of time since I’ve been able to write about #RPGaDAY. Truthfully, I was busy laying out roleplaying game books and other miscellany. One of these projects was Unknown Armies, which has a group setting and character creation section that’s really fun, which leads into this day’s question about the role of a GM in your games.

I started gaming in the 1980’s. Back then, the way to play roleplaying games was you players were just that: playing in the GM’s story. The person making up the game world and the story was a Dungeon Master or a Game Master. That guy was never referred to as a “player”. Most games didn’t allow for any player to affect the world except for reacting.

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#RPGaDAY, Last Year: Day 6 – Favorite Game Never Played

Caught up to Now, Last Year!

A year ago, the question was What’s your favorite RPG you never get to play? Let’s see how I answered last year and see if that still holds true for this year.

My roleplaying days have become leaner in recent years. I played a ton in the high school/college years, then again years later with a literal renaissance of gaming. Since moving to Maine, roleplaying opportunities have diminished. I’m on the east coast, which means that all the gamers from the home group are anywhere from two to three hours off, depending on the time of year, so it’s hard to connect. There’s the child’s bedtime to consider – unlike some gamers, my spouse also loves to game, so I can’t just say I’m going to start playing games via Hangout and honey can you put the girl to bed in an hour? – plus with the time difference, we’re starting around 9:30 at night and ending (hopefully) two hours later. There’s an occasional Shadowrun game I’m in and I’m planning on doing a Fate D&Dish game with the family this weekend, but still, I miss the weekly home game and the monthly Tucson RPG Guild meets.

In other words, there’s a lot that I’m not playing right now that I wish I could.

So… favorite RPG I never get to play. Hm.

bp_modguideBlue Planet possibly has my favorite game setting, but the actual system is… awful. I’d love to hack it with Fate or Apocalypse World, but that’s not a whole “game”, though, is it?

Shadowrun also has a fun setting, but there’s something about how old school the system is that really bugs me. Plus, that’s hit the table a few times this year.

Looking through my shelves and PDF depository, it’s probably one of three games:

There’s a Buffy: the Vampire Slayer game that mashes up Buffy and the Disney Pirates of the Caribbean movies, putting a Slayer smack dab in the Caribbean during the Golden Age of Piracy that I pitched to the home group a few times, but nobody ever bit. It would have been one of those campaigns that was. But it wasn’t.

I’ve always wanted to play in a street-level Unknown Armies game. I don’t know much about the game, or how it is played, but reading actual play reports and hearing how cool that game can be has always made me want to play it. Downside: I’ve never played it.

Or maybe it’s this Star Wars Age of Rebellion game that’s right here. I did get to run last year’s Free RPG Day adventure at Gen Con 2013 for a group of friends who get back together only at Gen Con. (And once via G+ Hangouts.) I really enjoyed the game system. Unfortunately, I’m still a bit jaded when it comes to Star Wars. I’ve never fully recovered from the sting of the prequel trilogy, which soured the whole IP for me.

The more I think about it, the more I think that Buffy campaign is on top here. The movies are fast, action-packed, and fun; the show can be dark, is smart, and full of adventure. The game itself is a low-prep game to run, too! While the players fill out a full-on character sheet, the GM only really needs three stats for the adversaries. That’s a huge bonus for those times I don’t have to prep!

Honorable Mention: Apocalypse World. Man, I really like that game.

bigpreview_Pirates of the Caribbean, Elizabeth Swann

Okay Thomas, what about this year?

Wow. I’m still pretty close to last year’s gaming write-up. I’ve got two good answers to this, but one really fits with this year’s Day 28: Favorite Game You No Longer Play. So my answer this year is last year’s Honorable Mention. I looooove me some of that there Apocalypse World. 

pdc_madmaxfuryposter2Yeah, we ran a short game of Apocalypse World that died. Wife doesn’t like it, but I think it’s because that game ended in a way that was so… not our game’s style.1 But I love that game system — it’s fast and direct and leads to interesting fiction and so much more story can be accomplished within a game session.2

I’ve also been doing some projects with Magpie Games and Dead Gentlemen Productions that are derived from Apocalypse World — in particular, Urban Shadows does some neat stuff with AW merging it with a World of Darkness/Tim Powers vibe. I’m really enjoying how the system is put together and how it just works, man.

The three contenders from 2014, how do they stand up today? I still want to get some Buffy, the Pirate Slayer action going on, but that’s going to be one of those games best left in the imagination of the past. Unknown Armies… um, I’ve got the playtest documents. So we’ll see how that goes. And Age of Rebellion — man, I wish I loved those movies more. Maybe after The Force Awakens comes out and if it’s good, the girl and wife might want to do a quick Star Wars game.3

  1. And in truth, it was really my fault for thinking that telling the other protagonists they weren’t part of the Hocus’ organization would have let them have freer reign, but in reality it just pointed them at each other with knives and the whole game had to be scrapped. It didn’t help that we also had a horrible time with Dungeon World, another *World game. []
  2. Don’t get me started on Shadowrun. []
  3. Oh, that Fate D&Dish game mentioned last year? It never happened, but a D&D 5e game did! []

#RPGaDAY2015, Day 1: Forthcoming Game You’re Most Looking Forward To

Last year, Dave Chapman (designer of Cubicle 7’s Doctor Who Roleplaying Game) hosted a month-long series of writing prompts about roleplaying games called #RPGaDAY. He’s back again this year with another month’s worth of prompts to celebrate “everything cool, memorable, and amazing about our hobby.” I’m planning on participating again, but over here on my website instead of G+ this year. (This is also a sneaky way of prompting me to update my website.) Along with these 2015 posts, I’ll be revisiting last year’s posts.

Sorry, but I just had to change it from that horrible pink color. Click through if you want to grab the color-shifted fullsized image.
Sorry, but I just had to change it from that horrible pink color. Click through if you want to grab the color-shifted fullsized image.

Day 1 of #RPGaDAY2015: Forthcoming Game You’re Most Looking Forward To

tachyonThere are three games that I’m very interested in, but I think I’d only ever get one to the table. The two that I probably won’t be able to play are Apocalypse World, 2nd Edition and Unknown Armies, 3rd Edition. The third one is the Sentinels Comics RPG.

Apocalypse World, because my wife didn’t like the game (but I think that was more to the sour way our AW1 game ended — I learned from that game and know I won’t make the same mistakes, but a game that ends on a sour note always spoils chances to play again). Well, that and I’d really need a face-to-face crew that I know well to pick it up again. But gods alive, I love that game. The MC chapter is so amazing! It’s the first RPG book that explicity tells the game runner to not have an adversarial relationship with the players: “Be a fan of the player’s characters,” the book says. Nice. I love this game. It’s one of my favorites. I’ll probably never get to play it. (Although I’ll probably be looking for a game on G+ Hangouts.)

Unknown Armies is a game I’ve always wanted to play but never did. Again, lack of a regular gaming group will keep me from playing this, I think. Second Edition, I had a copy of and every so often I go back to read the fiction in the game and think about street-level games that never came to pass. I do have 3rd’s playtest files and a small group that might tackle it. So, who knows? That may turn into something.

But I’m probably going to be able to play through the Sentinels Comics RPG, based on the Sentinels of the Multiverse card game (and related properties). The young girl likes superheroes, but we need a fast and easy game to play that I could use to introduce her to actual heroic stuff. Something a bit more complicated than RPG Kids, but nothing as complex as pretty much every other Supers RPG out there. The team on Sentinels is mostly the same group as on Marvel Heroic, which is super fast and easy, but might be conceptually a bit over the 9yo’s head. I haven’t seen Sentinels yet, but I know Cam’s work1 and I like his stuff. I think the girl will, too. However, if Sentinels doesn’t work out, we might have to go with some sort of ICONS/Fate mashup.

  1. I’m working with him on the Demon Hunters RPG and worked on his designs back at MWP []