RPGaDay 2015

Posted: 31 August 2015 in Reflections

I like these because they make me think about what I’m doing. So here’s this year’s, all in a lump and subject to change without warning as I find newer and shinier things…

1. Forthcoming game you’re most looking forward to: Two Hour Wargames’ Fringe Space. Sort of a solo tabletop version of Elite, if I understand correctly.

2. Kickstarter game you’re most pleased you backed: So far, Spears of the Dawn.

3. Favourite new game of the last 12 months: The new Savage Worlds Test Drive, closely followed by the SW Sci-Fi Companion.

4. Most surprising game: Ever? OD&D, because the whole idea of RPGs was a surprise to me in 1976.

5. Most recent RPG purchase: Fantasy AGE, which looked even faster and easier to run than Savage Worlds – but in fact isn’t. More about that in a later post perhaps.

6. Most recent RPG played: Shadowrun as a player, Savage Worlds as a GM.

7. Favourite free RPG: Stars Without Number.

8. Favourite appearance of RPGs in the media: Firefly (assuming it really is based on Joss Whedon’s old Traveller game, as it seems and is rumoured to be).

9. Favourite medium you wish was an RPG: At the moment, the tales of the Ketty Jay; airship pirates with zombies and demonology, what’s not to like. It’s basically a steampunk version of Firefly with George Macdonald Fraser’s Flashman as the ship’s captain.

10. Favourite RPG publisher: Until it folded, GDW. Nowadays, RPG publishers are such a varied clade it’s hard to keep up, let alone pick just one – so I won’t, but I will say that most of my acquisitions over the last few years have come from GRAmel (Beasts & Barbarians), Pinnacle Entertainment (Savage Worlds), Sine Nomine Publishing (sandbox tools), and Two Hour Wargames (solo and co-op games).

11. Favourite RPG writer: I don’t have a favourite RPG writer as such, because there are a lot of good ones who are good at different things. Ones I would recommend include Kevin Crawford, Ken Hite, Umberto Pignatelli, Zak S, and Ed Teixeira, but it really does depend on what you’re looking for.

12. Favourite RPG illustration: I haven’t got one, but if I did, it would be something from AD&D second edition.

13. Favourite RPG podcast: I don’t listen to ’em, haven’t got the time. Maybe when I retire.

14. Favourite RPG accessory: Ordinary display books for protecting my notes. Give me one of those loaded with the SW Test Drive and some dice, and I’m good to go.

15. Longest campaign played: There’s an OD&D campaign I play in which started in 1976 and is still going strong, although the sessions are less frequent now. That’s 39 years, and I greatly admire and envy what that GM has done with the game; the lesson to learn from him is don’t jump from one game or setting to another, instead assimilate the new into the existing.

16. Longest game session played: There were a couple of times in the 1970s when I started at 6 PM on Friday and didn’t stop until about 10 PM Sunday, which is 52 hours straight; but I was younger and much more caffeinated then. I still manage 10 AM to midnight once or twice a year, which is 14 hours.

17. Favourite fantasy RPG: As a GM, Savage Worlds. As a player, OD&D.

18. Favourite SF RPG: As a GM, Savage Worlds; as a player, Shadowrun, although that is arguably urban fantasy.

19. Favourite supers RPG: I don’t do supers. If I did, it would be a Savage Worlds version of The Boys, partly because I think capes all have serious psychological problems, and partly because my favourite characters are the ones who have no powers but stand toe-to-toe with those that do by guts and guile – like HRG in Heroes, or The Batman.

20. Favourite horror RPG: All Things Zombie.

21. Favourite RPG setting: Beasts & Barbarians.

22. Perfect gaming environment: My study; I had it set up exactly the way I wanted it for gaming, until we had to remodel the house and use the space for something else. C’est la vie.

23. Perfect game for me: Savage Worlds.

24. Favourite house rule: I’ll give you two: First, letting players edit their characters after the first adventure, as actual play often reveals areas where the build doesn’t do what was expected; if that’s the case, you generally find out in the first session or two. Second, the SEP field that surrounds my players’ parties of adventurers; whatever genre-inappropriate whackiness they come up with, the NPCs behave as if it were perfectly normal, and anything bizarre they might see is Somebody Else’s Problem. Some sort of illusory disguise is at work, clearly.

25. Favourite revolutionary game mechanic: Ever? Experience points. The idea that your personal avatar could improve over time was revolutionary in the 1970s.

26. Favourite inspiration for your game: The setting map. Listen to the map, it will tell you what you need to know. Hmm, maybe this is why I don’t get on well with mapless systems…

27. Favourite idea for merging two games into one: At the moment, the Dark Nebula mashup of Savage Worlds and Stars Without Number on this very blog. However, mashups are something I do a lot, so this is subject to change without notice if I think of something more shiny.

28. Favourite game you no longer play: Classic Traveller. If it had a point-buy character generation system and something more user-friendly than the armour and range matrices for combat, I’d probably still be playing it. I know improvements to those things have been tried many times, but I have yet to find versions I’m happy with.

29. Favourite RPG website/blog: I follow a few, but I wouldn’t single one out as a favourite – they’re good for different things. The ones I currently read regularly are: Delta’s D&D Hotspot, Playing D&D with Porn Stars, Quest for Fun, the Savage Worlds forum at Pinnacle Entertainment, and Uncanny Worlds. These change with my prevailing mood, mind you, so if you ask me again in three months you’d get a different answer – until recently the Two Hour Wargames forum would have been on the list as well, but I dropped out while the family was dogged by terminal illnesses and never quite reconnected. Maybe next year.

30. Favourite RPG-playing celebrity: It’s hard to call a favourite, but imagine a group composed of Vin Diesel, Jennifer Lopez, Wil Wheaton, Jason Statham, and Bruce Campbell with Zak S as GM (What? Adult movie actors don’t count?).

31. Favourite non-RPG thing to come out of RPGing: The friends I’ve made playing RPGs. In fact, all my good friends are people I met through RPGs, and two of them introduced me to my wife, so I can indirectly attribute 30 years of happy marriage to RPGs as well. I’ve been lucky in that all the gaming groups I’ve been part of have been courteous, tolerant, and troll-free; I used to think that was universal, but the experiences of Zak S and others have shown me this is sadly not true.

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