Another week, another bunch of RPG a Day responses.
August 11: Which dead game would you like to see reborn? This question is made difficult by the fact that we live in an era where everyone and their mother is rereleasing a game on Kickstarter. My answer for years was Rifts…not that it was dead, per se, but in a coma. Then Savage Rifts happened. I of course want to see Cyberpunk 2020 reborn, but a) Interface Zero exists and is a pretty good substitute and b) after v3, maybe I don’t want to see Cyberpunk 2020 reborn. So the answer I came up with was The Morrow Project, a post-apocalyptic game with a neat premise. Honorable Mentions: Twilight:2000, for pretty much the same reason as The Morrow Project, and Recon, because there is room for a nice and tight modern military RPG in the world.
August 12: Which RPG has the most inspiring interior art? I haven’t been struck by game art all that much. Burning Wheel has an evocative layout but minimal interior art, Apocalypse World is striking but overall utilitarian. GURPS art is not great, but gets the job done. The only game I’ve played where the art signaled any part of the game to me and really got me in the right headspace was Paranoia. Paranoia art pieces are comic art of smoking pairs of boots, giant weapons, literal bootlicking, and a lot of other nonsense that tells you exactly what a Troubleshooter is like. It’s brilliant.
August 13: Describe a game experience that changed how you play. In high school, one of the older members of the science fiction and fantasy club ran a game of Champions with a strong Battleship Yamato vibe, with all the characters running this alien starship we acquired through mysterious circumstances. First off, it blew my mind a little that the game’s book had superhero setting material but yet a completely different game was being run (I was 15, give me a break). Second, the character interactions were key. The one skill test I remember was the guy playing the weapons officer shooting the ship’s guns. GM says “well, it’s not moving and you’re right next to it, so according to the book it’s like hitting the broad side of a barn.” The player then missed the roll and we all doubled over in laughter. My character was the ship’s captain, who had a crippling inability to make decisions. The level of slapstick was high but it was the first time that I was playing a, well, narrative game. The crew interactions with each other were way more important and interesting than our mechanical abilities.
August 14: Which RPG do you prefer for open-ended campaign play? Well, I want an open-ended campaign first. Most of our games, even the long ones, are designed with an end point in mind, and we don’t necessarily present good fictional positioning with regards to the progression treadmill. This is one of the reason I’m so obsessed with finding good domain-based rules, because I honestly believe domain power is a better way to present mechanical progression than acquiring more powerful equipment and stat buffs.
August 15: Which RPG do you enjoy adapting the most? I wrote GURPS here because GURPS is made for adaptation. Even if it can be a little overwhelming to play, mixing and matching sourcebooks and elements within makes GURPS like a Lego set for mechanics. Fate gets the honorable mention partially because it is easier to use, but also because the purple books will hopefully give Fate some more of the Lego-like adaptability that GURPS has. As it stands, as easy as it is Fate presents one of the more intimidating blank slates in the generic RPG sphere.
August 16: Which RPG do you enjoy running as is? Not many of them. Even PbtA games see me mixing and matching advancement mechanics, bringing in limited playbooks, and of course writing custom moves. I mentioned Paranoia as I think that’s the only game I’ve ever run without at least some modifications. Burning Wheel and Torchbearer look as if they’d stand on their own, but of course I’ve never run them so I don’t know.
August 17: Which RPG have you owned the longest but not played? The answer I gave here is Guardian’s of Order’s Ex Machina, which I purchased late in college when searching for a Cyberpunk 2020 successor (a search that had been happening in the background ever since I discovered Cyberpunk v.3 was terrible). The four settings included in the book are really interesting, but the mechanics were uninspired and lacked 2020’s style. Prior to college, I bought D&D and Cyberpunk 2020, and then in college I bought GURPS. I didn’t start really collecting RPGs until a couple of years ago, so Ex Machina preceded most of my never played acquisitions by a good five years.