We often talk about mechanics, settings, options, and features of an role-playing game system that we like or don’t like, but is there something that we wish was out there that we’ve not found yet? I mean… what’s the next development in gaming that we’re waiting to have someone build?
Speaking of murder hobos, my favorite murder hobo story from recent gaming was my player whose minotaur was so upset by a kobold alchemist playing a trick on him, so he blew up the alchemist’s shop with a keg of gunpowder . . . which destroyed a city block within the Kobold Ghetto.
Before the player carried out his action, I pointed out that the Kobold Ghetto is a legitimite part of the city, and it would be a really bad idea to follow through with this plan. Once he did it, between sessions I talked to him and the other players, and we resolved the situation by making up kobold bounty hunters for the rest of the PCs to play, as they hunted down the minotaur and brought him to justice. It was a lot of fun.
When it comes to abstraction and wealth, I think its worth noting that it doesn’t have to be an extreme, i.e. tracking exact in world units of wealth versus using a skill to measure resources. In fact, Star Wars RPGs usually default to credits, and while we know credits are used, we also know there is a ton of different currencies, but we generally don’t see them detailed . . . wealth is “abstracted” to the most common form of currency used in the setting.
Since Sean mentioned the Star Trek Adventures splat books, they don’t have a ton of rules in them. A lot of what is in those books is advice on running a game that focuses on the topic (i.e. what does a science division focused adventure look like, what are some ideas about adventures in the Alpha Quadrant).
The main new rules that the splatbooks introduce are rules relating to new playable species.
The FFG Star Wars books would be similar, except the rules around gear is a little more granular in FFG’s Star Wars, so more of the splatbooks introduce stats for weapons, ships, droids, attachments, and species.
That said, neither STA nor FFG Star Wars really feels like the splatbooks introduce the same kind of “game changing” new mechanics that, for example, d20 Star Wars Saga did with the “old gear but better” and “Force Powers, but totally better” in the latter splatbooks.
I’ve largely settled on 3 systems that I’m most interested in playing: 5E, DCC, and AS&SH. My return to RPGs came with 5E, so it is a system that will have special significance for me even though there are some aspects of the RAW that I really don’t like (mostly having to do with healing, death, and character optimization). But more than the rules, I find 5E at its core is too high fantasy for my tastes. Although you can certainly make 5E fit the setting of your interests, it usually requires stripping away many things from the core books and supplements to make it work.
So, one of the things I’ve been looking for in RPGs is a variant of 5E that makes for more exciting/challenging play and maybe doesn’t evoke the high fantasy world as much. ICRPG is a contender. I’ve been a fan of Runehammer (Drunkens & Dragons) from the early days, but there are some aspects of the system I’m not enamored with (though, I’ve not played it yet, so I’ll withhold my judgement). I’m excited about Five Torches Deep (and am running it at Evercon). And I’ve recently purchased Into the Unknown but haven’t had a chance to read it yet.
Otherwise, I’d really like to find a post-apocalyptic RPG that is relatively rules-light and not gonzo. I have Tiny Wastelands, and while I’ve read it and would be willing to give it a shot, I’m thinking it’s on the end of too minimal. The KS book came with a bunch of micro-settings written by different people, but many of those were pretty lackluster in my opinion.
I really liked this episode because it made me think more about what I like in the games I like and what I don’t like.
I am very much with the idea that the mechanics support the tone and would agree that DnD doesn’t quite do that but it’s the generic toolbox I know and have been with like an old comfortable friendship.
I also like materials that are evocative and inspiring. The original Vampire (and 2nd) really did that for me. The richness of the lore and intricacy of it hit a sweet spot.
I jumped on FATE because it felt like it would be a way that mechanics fit the flow and the way you could create whatever kind of theme and feel your group wanted. But I struggled in reading it to see how those rules really work work at the table.
Most recently FFG SW is an interesting thing. I think its an example where the idea of the mechanics aligning with that SW feel hits right on (along with the art and just loving SW). Hence my penchant to keep buying them despite not playing. However the way the rulebooks are written and explained kind of turned me off and left me really confused. It felt like me reading a differential calculus textbook. I think had I got the starter box first it might have helped. I found out to understand the rules I had to watch a ton of Youtube tutorials and listen to several podcasts live plays to really get it.
This brings me to a question…is it just me or do others find it sometimes hard to grok rule sets out of the book???
I’ve found that increasingly I have trouble really understanding how a set of rules will really play at the table.
Maybe it’s always been this way because I learned DnD by figuring it out as we played and I don’t think I ever really read AD&D from cover to cover with the intent to understand how to play it. But I figured out Vampire just fine…
Maybe it’s being old, overworked and dealing with a decade of dad brain?
Maybe it’s that I don’t get to play anything lately and so I’m just rusty and clunky in my RPG brain.
What do y’all think?
I think some of the above brings up a nuance/ additional question…
Is a game designed to learn how to play from the book, or a reference for people that already know how? Obviously splat books are the latter, but there have been systems in the past that I feel almost require house ruling (looking at you, AD&D) or previous knowledge for them to operate RAW.
I thought about this with Hermeticgamer’s point on FFG SWs. I had a friend pick it up, due to it being highly recommended and reviewed, and trying to suss it out on our own was… .well, I quit after maybe three sessions. I agree that starter boxes can help, but does that need to maybe just be the new standard? Not a complaint, just curiosity.
Some manuals seem written to learn you how to play.
Others (like FFG SW) feel like rules compendiums. Many try to do both but end up swaying one way or the other.
I think to get back to original topic, I like mine to have enough learn you hoe to play that I can grok the gist pretty easy while still having the rules needed for the full game. I think I’d like to see a separate chapter that walks you through char gen, another through most major aspects of play with lots of examples, before bogging me down with all the minutiae.
I tend to gravitate towards games that have a solid core mechanic that lends to “winging it” for the GM. Stuff like Fate or Blades in the Dark where there are hit points for anything are really good for me. Conversely, cool mechanics like FFG Star Wars hits a sweet spot for me.
Honestly, I REALLY like “quick starts” for this. Be it a separate (hopefully cheap) product, or as you eluded, maybe just a chapter.