Monday, August 14, 2017

RPGaDay 2017, Week 2

Alright, here's my second week of #RPGaDay 2017, for those of you interested in such things.

Day 8: What is a good RPG to play for sessions of 2 hours or less?

I've had some success in doing a quick Monsterhearts story in just this amount of time, actually. So if you're a fan of episodic play, it'd be easy enough to do short sessions of that.

I haven't tried running it (though I've played it a few times at conventions), but I think curse the darkness would also be good, as it would be easy enough to have each session build up to one massive Removal Test as kind of a highlight or climax. Or, alternately, the fact that it's good at one-shots also potentially makes it work for episodic play.

Day 9: What is a good RPG to play for about 10 sessions?

Honestly, pretty much any game that would benefit from a TV show-esque episodes/seasons model. It's a broad enough question with enough answers I can imagine that it's really hard for me to give a specific answer.

Day 10: Where do you go for RPG reviews?

Honestly, I don't do that as often as I used to, as when I find out about games it's usually in the context of a conversation among friends about said game. When I do actively seek out a review, I either:

1. Think 'Hey, didn't so-and-so say something about this game a while back' and look that up

2. Look up one of Matthew McFarland's 'character creation' posts, as those often have a pretty good snapshot of what the game is like

3. Just search

(Yes, I'm aware that DriveThru has reviews, and to be honest I couldn't tell you why I don't spend much time with those. It's probably just because I was in the habit of doing the three things above when DriveThru's reviews became a thing. I dunno.)

Day 11: Which 'dead' game would you like to see reborn?

That's easy, and perhaps cheating because it'll probably see something of a rebirth anyways, but that'd be the Legend of the Five Rings roleplaying game. It had a system that was very evocative of setting elements (the attributes being tied to the titular Five Rings, for instance) but allowed for a lot of flexibility. Between having schools in which you could gain levels but an advancement focused on buying individual skills and traits, it always felt to me like a blend of the classic D&D-style and WoD mechanics.

Fourth Edition, while not perfect, was probably the best expression of the basic systems (and the books are gorgeous, if you get the opportunity to see them).

As for the 'will likely see a rebirth,' since Fantasy Flight Games acquired the property to produce a new edition of the card game (which, heavens willing, I'll be able to get a copy of in a little under a week), they've also expressed interest in doing something with the RPG. Odds are extremely good that it'll be a setting book for their recently-announced Genesys generic system.

(On a related note, somewhere in my 'game mechanics tinkering I'll probably never actually finish' notes, I have a quick and dirty Fate Advanced hack for running L5R using the rings as Approaches, but I've also considered a hack of the Atomic Robo flavor of Fate as a way of mechanically representing clans and schools)

Day 12: Which RPG has the most inspiring interior art?

Honestly, I've seen so many RPG books (and art in said books) that I'd literally have to dig through most of them to find which book has the most 'inspiring' art (whatever that means). So that means it's time for another alternate question.

Alternate Question: What do you look for in a review of an RPG?

Well, let's start with essentials. I need to know what sort of system it is. How fiddly, how broad, etc., because odds are I'm going to have to sell my friends on that system if I'm going to play or run it. I also need an idea of what the characters are going to be expected to do in a typical story. That's really sort of the linchpin on what I look for, because a lot of other stuff that people like to get into (specifics regarding layout, fonts, etc.) sort of go over my head -- I'm not proud of it or anything, but I'll openly admit that a lot of editing/layout stuff I only really notice if it's done badly, so I don't pay too much attention to that in reviews.

Day 13: Describe a game experience that changed how you play.

It's not as much a singular game experience, but more a collection of them (mostly LARP-related) that basically soured me on games with GMPCs. It's the reason why I don't run them in my own games and when possible refuse to play in games that have them. Either they have to fill in gaps because someone screwed up when the whole group was supposed to be working together to build characters, or they exist so the GM doesn't feel like they're somehow missing out by 'just' running the game, or usually something self-indulgent like that.

I know that's not universally true, and I'm not saying it is. But regardless, as a result of my experiences, GMPCs are at best a red flag for me when it comes to a game.

Day 14: Which RPG do you prefer for open-ended play?

I don't.

Alternate Question: What gives an RPG its 'replay value'?

A lot of it comes down to the ability to have different narrative experiences over time. Not just reskinning a handful of dungeons, but being able to explore different concepts and stories.

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