Wednesday, August 26, 2015

RPG a Day, Week 3

Little behind on this one, but this is just meant to be sort of an archive post anyways. Still deciding whether or not to do a normal post after completing the fourth week, or have the fourth collection post encompass the entire rest of the month. I could go either way, really.

Anyhow, here we go...

Day 15: Longest Campaign Played

There are two that roughly tie for this, and I ran them at the same time (alternating weeks), so I'll just do both.

From spring 2011 to earlier this year, I ran a pair of Pathfinder campaigns. The first was an original story in the setting, a plot about a would-be dictator faking the resolution of defunct prophecies to play on the minds of the populace by allowing them to think the Age of Lost Omens is coming to an end. I called the story The Livian Codex.

But keeping up a single story week to week without burning out is difficult for me, but at the same time I find my gaming groups are a lot more stable if I have a 'weekly game night' and stick to it (barring the occasional interruption for crises, conventions, stuff like that) so I supplemented it with the Carrion Crown adventure path. That one is about a group of adventurers thrown together by circumstance (the passing of a mutual acquaintance) and discovering a plot to free the most powerful lich the setting has known from his normally-unbreakable prison.

I started Livian Codex in, I wanna say, April 2011 and wrapped it up at the last session we played in 2014. I started Carrion Crown in late May 2011, when I realized that playing every other week made it difficult for people to consistently allow for it in their schedule (thus the switch to a weekly game night and alternating stories). Also, by then, I'd read enough of the story that I wanted to run it (though later modules get a little shaky). After we finished Livian Codex, we made Carrion Crown the only thing we played to get through the last module, which we finished in March.

Day 16: Longest Session Played

I can't remember exactly when this was... only that it was before the dark times, before Ticks and Keywords, but my longest session was a first edition Exalted game -- specifically an Alchemical game.

Back then, my friend Sean and I hung out with some folks we tried playing games with and it just didn't work out in the long run. But during the times we did play together, one of them got it in his head to run Alchemicals.

So we got together for a pretty basic story -- A rogue Alchemical (or possibly two) was inciting a rebellion in an outlying factory of the area where we were based, and we were sent in to deal with it. I can't remember a lot of specifics beyond "I played a Starmetal Caste with one of those throwing disk-thingies because those throwing disk-thingies were fucking cool" but we came up with a plan to split up, get into and disable the factory so he couldn't tap into it, then drew out the rogue(s) and deal with them.

Straightforward enough, but it took longer than the traditional 'few hours of playtime over the course of an evening.' We started on a Sunday evening, played all night until the sun came up (The following day was a holiday of some sort, possibly Labor Day or Memorial Day or something like that so nobody had to work or go to school), but were close enough to finishing the story. So we decided to take a 'break,' go home and sleep, and come back to finish it. I can't remember how long it took to wrap up the story, but I do remember being disappointed that I was the only one who would have wanted to continue that story into a regular game. As a result, it remained a slightly overlong one-shot.

Day 17: Favorite Fantasy RPG

This one is kind of easy for me, because fantasy RPGs are usually a pretty hard sell for me. As a result, there's only one currently out there that I have a whole lot of interest in, and that's Pathfinder. And even then, one of the reasons I got into Pathfinder is because I was trying to build a gaming group out of people who hadn't gamed together in a while, so going with a system that was close enough to 3.5 (which pretty much everyone knew) was the right play at the time.

What kept me interested -- and even got me running a story of my own design in the setting -- was the fact that compared to a lot of high fantasy settings, there's a lot about the Pathfinder setting I find pretty accessible. On the chunk of the globe where most of the setting material is oriented, most of the countries are either clearly inspired by real world locations and time periods or well-known RPG or fiction tropes.

You want a country that's basically the original Ravenloft setting, or Expedition to Barrier Peaks? Then you want either Ustalav or Numeria, respectively. Are vikings or pirates more your thing? Then the setting's got the Land of the Linnorm Kings and the collection of islands known as the Shackles. If Westeros is your deal, for whatever reason, then the setting has the nation of Brevoy (though you might have trouble recognizing it without the constant sexual assault or 20-page banquet descriptions). But it has a little bit of everything for a variety of tastes, generally interpreted through kind of a pulpy lens. Like I said, I find it pretty accessible. (Though I'd be lying if I said I'd never considered trying to talk my players into letting me go at it through a different system, like Dungeon World or the Freeport version of Fate)

Day 18: Favorite SF RPG

Obviously, that'd be Trinity/Aeon (depending on stickers and editions and such). 'Nuff said.

(Though I will admit that Eclipse Phase, in recent years, has crept up to a close second)

Day 19: Favorite Supers RPG

Aberrant, 'nuff said. I'm honestly not sure what else to add, really. It's a game about power and consequences of said power. And it does that better than a lot of other stuff out there (IMHO).

Day 20: Favorite Horror RPG

Oh hell. This is really one of those 'really hard to pick from' things. I mean, all I can really do is just say the current World of Darkness and all of its various individual game lines as a whole and leave it at that.

(Though, again, Eclipse Phase comes in at a close second.)

Day 21: Favorite RPG Setting

Okay, this is a difficult one. Because there are many settings I appreciate for different reasons. I can find pretty much something that excites me about almost any setting, even the settings I'm kinda 'meh' on like Eberron.

That said, I'd have to say the Trinity Universe/Continuum, because it was one of my first big loves RPG-wise and continues to reside in a place of honor in my headspace to this day. It's not in the best of shape, but I still have a physical copy of one of the Aeon quickstarts from back in the day, something I'd picked up on a whim at Waldenbooks. I still remember flipping through it and just being grabbed by the setting premise and the psionic powers and such. (I also remember the first time I had to wrap my head around how White Wolf's d10-based systems worked, because while I grasped rolling dice and applying the number to something, or trying to beat a target number on a d20 or percentile, the whole 'successes' thing was entirely knew to me and I didn't have anyone around to help me with it.)

Also, Aeon/Trinity had a detailed setting in the core book, which to me was a pretty new idea at the time. Even not having the grounding in sci-fi I do now, I was able to appreciate that it had a little bit of everything. And then Aberrant and Adventure! came along and just expanded on the world in their own way, and that whole picture has always gripped me. I'm really looking forward to seeing how it all shakes out with the setting planned out a little more thoroughly ahead of time.

I try to joke about how much I don't want to think about how long ago that was that I got into the setting, but in all honesty I'm pretty pleased that it's been able to enchant me even after all this time, when there are other RPGs I've picked up and read that I completely forgot about just a couple of years later (like Shard, which is a beautiful book with a lot of great ideas and aesthetics you don't see elsewhere but was a little too weird for me to connect with).

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