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#RPGaDay 22: Which RPGs are the easiest for you to run?

This one is no contest.  It’s Numenera from Monte Cook.  Monte is a GM’s GM, and his system of making the players do all the dice rolls so that the GM can focus on managing other things is brilliant. The mechanics are designed so that figuring out difficulties for rolls is dead simple as well.  I found Numenera by far the easiest system I’ve ever GMed. I picked it up and was comfortable with the system an hour into my first game.  And that setting allows me to really fly my freak flag.  Weird, far future stuff is a blast to write up and run.  My notes were never more than a handful of paragraphs for a session in this game.

It’s lacking in other things (a strong sense of character progression, in particular, which a lot of players want), but as far as ease of GMing, nothing beats it.

For the month of August, I will be participating in #RPGaDay. I haven’t posted much on this blog about my love for role-playing games, and for a while, I wasn’t really acknowledging that love myself.  But RPGs were my entry point in the the geek lifestyle, and they are very important to me.  I’ll be exploring my relationship with RPGs all month with these posts.

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#RPGaDay 21: Which RPG does the most with the least words?

Can I be honest with you, all four readers of this blog? I’m running out of steam and  I’m not really enjoying a lot of these questions anymore.  I have no idea how to answer this question.  I’ll roll a die and select one randomly…

Bunnies and Burrows.  Next question!

For the month of August, I will be participating in #RPGaDay. I haven’t posted much on this blog about my love for role-playing games, and for a while, I wasn’t really acknowledging that love myself.  But RPGs were my entry point in the the geek lifestyle, and they are very important to me.  I’ll be exploring my relationship with RPGs all month with these posts.

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#RPGaDay 20: What is the best source for out-of-print RPGs?

Is this question sponsored by RPGDriveThru or something?  Here’s my short and sweet answer:  your friendly local gaming store (FLGS).  They almost always have a shelf of well-loved RPG materials.

For the month of August, I will be participating in #RPGaDay. I haven’t posted much on this blog about my love for role-playing games, and for a while, I wasn’t really acknowledging that love myself.  But RPGs were my entry point in the the geek lifestyle, and they are very important to me.  I’ll be exploring my relationship with RPGs all month with these posts.

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Gaming

#RPGaDay 19: Which RPG features the best writing?

Can I plead the 5th on this one? Truth is, I am not great at evaluating general writing, as a fiction writer.  I can evaluate the fiction parts in RPG source books and almost none of it is very good, in my opinion.  No offense.  It’s usually too short to actually accomplish more than adding some setting flavor, so I can’t fault it for that at all. And for what it aims to do, it’s usually great.  The ones I remember best are from the World of Darkness titles.

I think there are two RPGs that come to mind where I noticed the overall writing specifically:  5th edition Dungeons & Dragons and Monte Cook’s Numenera.  Numenera is written in a great, easy to read style and doesn’t get as dry as some games can.  5th edition D&D made a really interesting, inclusiveness attempt that I think modernizes the rulebooks.  Not only in the writing, but the artwork as well.  It makes D&D feel like a game for something other than teenaged male nerds, which makes me immensely happy.

For the month of August, I will be participating in #RPGaDay. I haven’t posted much on this blog about my love for role-playing games, and for a while, I wasn’t really acknowledging that love myself.  But RPGs were my entry point in the the geek lifestyle, and they are very important to me.  I’ll be exploring my relationship with RPGs all month with these posts.

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#RPGaDay 18: Which RPG have you played the most in your life?

I’m trying really hard to figure out how I can spin the answer “Dungeons & Dragons” out into an entire blog post here.  The answer to this one came easy, but then I interrogated it. An entire decade went by without me touching D&D.  Until 3rd edition came out, I was entirely content to never play D&D again. College for me was an era of experimentation in different games, and I was happy to play World of Darkness, Earthdawn, Shadowrun, and so on until I turned old and gray.

But D&D’s revitalization has meant that post-college, it’s easily the most played game, which puts it back on top.  It’s just easier to get people together around a table for something like D&D, which has rooted itself so thoroughly in the mainstream that you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who couldn’t give you at least a half-correct summary of what D&D is.  You can’t do the same thing with other RPGs. It’s the great grandaddy of them all.  And since I’ve lost my dedicated gaming groups since moving away from Colorado, what’s easiest to get going matters more to me than what I enjoy most.  A bad day playing D&D is better than a good day playing nothing at all!

For the month of August, I will be participating in #RPGaDay. I haven’t posted much on this blog about my love for role-playing games, and for a while, I wasn’t really acknowledging that love myself.  But RPGs were my entry point in the the geek lifestyle, and they are very important to me.  I’ll be exploring my relationship with RPGs all month with these posts.

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#RPGaDay 17: Which RPG have you owned the longest but not played?

That reward would go to Fiasco, which I have owned for around five years now, but have never even read or attempted to get to the table. If we were including games that we used to own but never played, it would include some really weird stuff from my childhood that I bought used, such as Albedo  and the Doctor Who game from the 80s.  Yes, I once bought a furry RPG.  I was young and didn’t know what I was doing and the artwork seemed cool.  I’m not sure that the Doctor Who game was ever designed to be actually playable.  That’s a setting where the character is too central, and half the fun of an RPG is making your own character.  You’d just be setting up pale imitations of the Doctor.

Fiasco, I actually do want to play though.  From my understanding, I think it would be a really solid game to introduce core role-playing concepts to new players with.  Everybody understands how a heist movie plays out.  There’s some of the core game play of Shadowrun in that, of watching a good plan go to shit, and enjoying the experience along the way.

For the month of August, I will be participating in #RPGaDay. I haven’t posted much on this blog about my love for role-playing games, and for a while, I wasn’t really acknowledging that love myself.  But RPGs were my entry point in the the geek lifestyle, and they are very important to me.  I’ll be exploring my relationship with RPGs all month with these posts.

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#RPGaDay 16: Which RPG do you enjoy using as is?

I don’t tend to tinker with the mechanics and rules much of any of the games I play.  I’m just one person, and I usually expect that the designer has done considerable play-testing to balance things to their desires.  And anyway, I don’t actually care very much about “balance.”  These games are not competitive.  Hell, some of the most fun I had growing up was playing RIFTS, which was notorious for having power creep that was absurd.  We started out fighting fascist robots and power armor guys and you end up killing transdimensional slug gods.  But you know what?  If it makes for a good story, then I don’t care one way or another.

In the previous entry, I talked about how I’ll create my own settings because I find personal ownership makes it easier for me to work within them.  That said, some games, the setting is so inextricably linked to the game design itself that you can’t really take the “game” out of it.  For me, the best example of this has to be Shadowrun.  Now, I know that the game has evolved and put out a million source books for playing all over the globe, but for me, peak Shadowrun is set in 2051 in Seattle.  It has Stuffer Shacks and arcologies and all the fun Pacific Northwest rain that is so iconic.  I know some people prefer other cities such as Chicago or Denver or Berlin, but I’ve never really felt like those cities worked the same way Seattle did for me.  Personal preference.

I could try to run Shadowrun in my own setting, but I just don’t think it would work.   That game, I’ll always end up playing in-setting as is.

It seems I’m starting to recycle through the same games over and over again. I’m a little worried that makes these entries boring.  Sorry for that if so!

For the month of August, I will be participating in #RPGaDay. I haven’t posted much on this blog about my love for role-playing games, and for a while, I wasn’t really acknowledging that love myself.  But RPGs were my entry point in the the geek lifestyle, and they are very important to me.  I’ll be exploring my relationship with RPGs all month with these posts.

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#RPGaDay 15: Which RPG do you enjoy adapting the most?

I have no idea what this question really means.  I’m starting to question whether there was a lot of thought put into some of these.  I guess, maybe, this is asking which RPG do I enjoy tinkering with the rules of, or changing things about?

In D&D and other fantasy setting games, I almost never run anything in a set, establishing setting.  I’m perfectly capable of doing it, but I find reading up on an existing setting like Forgotten Realms or Greyhawk to feel a little bit like homework (Although I am tempted to try something Ravenloft-ish).  I struggle to keep the different pantheons clear and all the geographic information.  After I’ve been playing for so long, a lot of that stuff blends together.  What I find is, if I create my own settings from the ground up, it cements itself better, and I can weave some of the world building details into my narrative story elements.  Thematic resonance in the world building in the character arcs can be a really powerful tool.  If you have a world where the gods are dead or departed, for instance, that can have profound impacts on the culture, society, and the characters themselves.  Everything should grapple with those questions.

So for just about any non real world setting game, I like to adapt my own.  Even in real world setting games like the World of Darkness stuff, I like to tweak things. I don’t tend to run games set in big cities that almost none of us have visited, for instance.  Almost all of my World of Darkness games were set in Lawrence and Kansas City growing up.  Having actual real world geographic knowledge helps ground things so much more.  And if you don’t have that, then make up your own places, so you can fake it.  That’s how I roll.  How about you?

For the month of August, I will be participating in #RPGaDay. I haven’t posted much on this blog about my love for role-playing games, and for a while, I wasn’t really acknowledging that love myself.  But RPGs were my entry point in the the geek lifestyle, and they are very important to me.  I’ll be exploring my relationship with RPGs all month with these posts.

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#RPGaDay 14: Which RPG do you prefer for open-ending campaign play?

Dungeons & Dragons is my favorite setting for long term play.  There’s tons of options and progression there.  Most everything else, I find, lends itself to shorter arcs.

A close runner up for me would be Shadowrun.  I like the meta-arc of a good Shadowrun campaign and how things play out over time, the characters getting more seasoned and hardened by their experiences.  The rise and fall of neuyen, etc.

Short one today!

For the month of August, I will be participating in #RPGaDay. I haven’t posted much on this blog about my love for role-playing games, and for a while, I wasn’t really acknowledging that love myself.  But RPGs were my entry point in the the geek lifestyle, and they are very important to me.  I’ll be exploring my relationship with RPGs all month with these posts.

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

I’ve been role-playing for a very long time, and it’s hard to pinpoint a single particular experience that really changed how I played.  I’m sure my play style has changed many, many times over the decades through many many lessons.  A couple do come to mind with some thought.  In college, I learned that, by selecting players who generate their own content amongst one another through role-playing well-designed characters, I could offload a lot of the work of being a game master. Ever since the epic Earthdawn campaign, I’ve tried to be a little more selective about who I play with because of that.  Great role-players contribute so much more to the game. Sometimes being a serial GM can feel like a slog. You cand spend part-time job hours preparing for sessions.  I rarely had to do that with the Earthdawn folks.  I only had to give them a small seed and off they went.

A favorite memory from my early days of learning to DM was the time my players decided to teach me a lesson.  I couldn’t have been more than 10 or 11.  For whatever reason, we were playing at my house and we had some foam bricks laying around, leftovers from someone’s crafting project.  In those days, my adventures weren’t particularly elaborate.  They mostly involved me selecting monsters out of the Monster Manual and springing it on the unsuspecting players over and over again.

I had a tendency to over-use the word “suddenly.”  “Suddenly, a dragon strolls out of the woods!”  “Suddenly, you fall into a pit!” After an hour of this, the players had enough, and they declared that they would pelt me with foam bricks every time I said “suddenly.”  A couple hours of that, and they mostly broke me of the habit. To this day, I try to avoid using that word while gaming.

For the month of August, I will be participating in #RPGaDay. I haven’t posted much on this blog about my love for role-playing games, and for a while, I wasn’t really acknowledging that love myself.  But RPGs were my entry point in the the geek lifestyle, and they are very important to me.  I’ll be exploring my relationship with RPGs all month with these posts.

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