Thursday, July 28, 2016

A Belated Gygax Day

I completely forgot to write a post about Gygax's birthday yesterday, but I thought this might tickle one or more fancies.

My friends and I have been trying to start up an actual RPG club at our university. It's finally getting through the approval process, and several officers have been chosen, so in the group chat two days ago I mentioned off-hand, "Too bad we couldn't time it [the founding] for Gygax's birthday or something." The president of the club then told me that the next day was, in fact, Gygax's birthday.

Everyone was stunned, and I chuckled to myself. "Synchronicity at work, people." :D

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Games I Will Never Run

Here's a short list of games that I will never DM/GM, for any number of reasons.

AD&D 1st Edition - Confusingly organized, even more so than 2e. I do like the tone of 1e much more, though, so there's a slight possibility that I might run it with a heavy dose of house rules to remove some of the dumber things (like alignment languages, material components, and the massive mess that is the unarmed combat system). I recently met someone who loves DMing it, though, so I wouldn't mind being on board as a player.
GURPS (any edition) - I tried to figure out the 4th edition "GURPS Lite" document. I still haven't. I'm not a big fan of point-buy systems in general, and this one is just way too fiddly for my tastes. I would probably not play this one either.
Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai - I love this book (not surprising, since I loved the movie), and the Tri-Stat system is a bit less complex than GURPS in terms of point-buy. I'd imagine that in play it's pretty fast and simple, but the problem is that I have zero ideas for a modern-day crime game. I certainly wouldn't mind playing it, if someone else had ideas.

The World of Darkness - The system isn't too bad, and my brief experience playing Mage: The Awakening would help me get a handle on things, but I only have one story idea. I'd hate to make everyone make human characters for a mini-campaign, but if players would be up for it, I might be convinced. I wouldn't mind playing, either.

Star Wars (any post-WEG version) - I don't know nearly enough about the universe to make for a satisfying game for the players. My entire experience with the franchise is the movies, some of the video games, and a couple of kiddie novels I read as a youngling. I obviously wouldn't mind playing, considering I already have and had a blast.

Pathfinder (the full edition) - Nope. Way, way too much crunch. Wouldn't mind playing, but I will never upgrade to the non-Beginner Box edition as a GM.

You might notice that D&D 4th Edition isn't there. To be honest, if I had the time or the desire, I wouldn't mind DMing 4e, but I doubt that most of my players would want to put themselves through that. HackMaster 4e is also not there, because as much as I would want to run it (and endure all of the rules arguing and struggles thereof), it's based on the AD&D engine that two of my players hate so much, and few others would want to struggle with the rules.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

When Players and the DM Disagree

So, in the two months since I announced my hiatus from blogging, I thought I would pop back in and explain a little bit about what's been going on.

One of my longtime friends - who was, in fact, a member of my very first RPG group - recently moved back to town, transferring to the same university that the rest of my "Thursday group" attends (except for L., who had to drop out of school due to personal concerns). She has finally been able to make her druid character, and among the other things going on in the AD&D2 campaign, she decided that her 6' 2" half-elf druid will be getting married to B.'s 2' 6" halfling fighter. This gave me a lot of food for thought, as I had to do some figuring out as to how the different races, and society overall in the campaign setting, would react to not only a gay marriage, but an inter-species one.

Unfortunately, not all is well in AD&D Land. Besides the two players who now live out of town, and can only rarely jump in over Skype, I have had two players drop out of this campaign due to dissatisfaction with the rules system being used. One of them pretty much refuses to play anything other than D&D 5th Edition; the other feels that a game is useless without a d20 System-esque skill system, and also gets really attached to his characters. As a cherry on top of this disappointment sundae, one player who doesn't mind 2e (after all, he started with oD&D and then went to 4e, so he's pretty flexible) is in a predicament where his character is, if not definitely dead, then almost certainly dead and requiring a hell of an explanation as to why the character is alive.

The solution? Well, the possibly-dead character can be the source of an interesting plot development I've been turning over in my head, but the two players who've left won't come back unless they're happy with the rules. Neither of them want to play B/X, since it lacks both rangers and separated race/class. I don't want to run D&D5 for a few reasons: first, I'm not nearly familiar enough with it to run it; and second, the magic level is way, way too high to mesh well with a campaign that started off in B/X. I've already told of my incredulity at how overpowered magic missile is in 5e, and I started to realize that the reason for wizards quickly overpowering fighters in 3e and later editions is because of the removal of class-specific XP levels.

That being said, I wouldn't mind running a higher-magic game. We recently had a "Drunk D&D" session for B.'s birthday, that involved me running them through the introductory scenario in the Pathfinder Beginner Box. The BB is a good system, fairly restrained, and I certainly wouldn't mind running it... except that it would mean putting my "Continent" campaign - the one I've spent the better part of a year working on - on the shelf.

As for dissatisfaction with the underlying rules system... I've brought up Basic Fantasy to my group, and they like the idea even though they haven't yet seen it in action. They like the ascending Armor Class, separated race and class, and large number of supplementary material available; I like the low power level, light rules, and free availability of everything needed to play (or at cost, in the case of printed materials).

As much as this seems like the best solution, I still wish I could get those two players to stick with 2e. Not the least because I've put a lot of time and money into the system (I bought B. a copy of the PHB for her birthday, and am awaiting a premium reprint of the same that I ordered from my FLGS). But I was watching one of Spoony's older Counter Monkey videos, and he said something that struck a chord with me. Much like me, 2e is his favorite rules system... but he realizes that it isn't necessarily the best system. I find myself agreeing, but I still want to at least bring the current story arc to a close before converting.

And when I do so, I might hand the reins over to B. for a while... and she might decide to just use what she knows, and run us through something using AD&D2.

Well, a DM can dream.