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#RPGaDay Day Eight: Two Hours to Kill

Still playing catch-up, I sally forth into Day 8 of #RPGaDay. The question: what is a good RPG to play for sessions of 2hrs or less?

I think a lot of people would agree that Fate is a useful system for this. Fate is the Swiss army knife of games – it will do whatever you need it to, and it will do it well. However, I think there’s quite a lot to this question, even if the answer can be summed up quickly. Whether or not an RPG can be played for two hours or less isn’t so much the query – most can be. OK, some are clearly better suited than others, but you can, at a push, play most RPGs for two hours or less, assuming character creation, levelling, etc. aren’t included. Continue reading

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#RPGaDay Day Seven: Thoughts on Impact

Day 7 of #RPGaDay asks: what was your most impactful RPG session?

I imagine that’s an extremely difficult question for most gamers to answer, which is how it should be. Made particularly difficult because over the last two weeks I’ve had some very intense games (including the climactic session of two campaigns, one live and one tabletop). So this doesn’t turn into a post about ‘what my character did this one time’, I’ll try and focus more on events-driven impact rather than things that were incredibly powerful for my character but didn’t necessarily impact the rest of the group as well. I’m fundamentally quite a self-centred gamer unfortunately, and tend to remember things that affected my character most. Continue reading

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#RPGaDay Day Five: Judging a Book By Its Cover

Oops, I forgot this #RPGaDay! The reason I’m having to play catch-up halfway through the month is that I’ve just run the very final session of a two-and-a-half-year theatre-style Vampire live game, which took up a lot of my time and brainspace. Day 5 of #RPGaDay asks: which RPG cover best captures the spirit of the game?

This is likely to be a gallery of covers, as I would find it hard to choose one, and they all do different things, but I’ll try and talk about why that cover is so effective in each case. Continue reading

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#RPGaDay Day Six: Tabletop Self-Care

A very late Day 6 of #RPGaDay asks “You can game every day for a week. Describe what you’d do!”

I think many people would want to do a single campaign or something, but I like variety. At the same time, I think a Powered by the Apocalypse game like Monsterhearts would be too intense to play every day for a week. I think that I’d end up too deep into the rollercoaster of emotions and that wouldn’t be an emotionally safe or respectful environment to game in. But I think a single campaign every day for a week would get a bit samey. So, I think I’d probably want to do a series of one-shots and improvisational games, things where we could enjoy them while they’re happening and then set them aside. Not all games benefit from being so short, but I think a mix of more guided and unstructured games would be good. Something like Fate for less structured, mixed in with Lady Blackbird or pre-written adventures for something with more guidance (for when we’re all tired and can’t plan properly), and then light fun games like Lasers and Feelings as a palate cleanser. Probably throw some board games and maybe computer games in for variety as well. It sounds pretty cool, but I also think that trapping myself in an isolated situation with a bunch of people, even close friends, sounds like hell. I’m at my best in small doses! Continue reading

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#RPGaDay 2017 Day Four: Why the 4E Hate?

On day four of #RPGaDay, we ask the question: which RPG have you played the most since August 2016?

There are two games I play regularly: Dungeons & Dragons 4E for an Eberron campaign and Princess: The Hopeful, a fan hack of Chronicles of Darkness for the magical girl genre. Beyond that (and discounting live games, which are overwhelmingly Chronicles of Darkness 1st and 2nd Edition), probably Monsterhearts. Honestly, I prefer to play lots of different things over any one system forever. I don’t even want to play just one edition of a system in the case of D&D! My quest over the next few years is to play broadly, rather than deeply (though ideally I would like to find depth in everything I play) – experience as many different games as possible and challenge my assumptions about systems. Continue reading

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#RPGaDay 2017 Day Three: Coverage and Accessibility

Rather late here is the 3rd day of #RPGaDay with the question: how do you find out about new RPGs?

I don’t have a central hub for information about new RPGs. I’ve tried to be more aware of the ENnies these last couple of years (I was going to try and read and review as many of the ENnie nominees as I had access to this year but it didn’t work out like that), I keep an eye on cool RPG Kickstarters, my nerd friends know the kind of stuff I like and point me in the right direction, and I am on several G+ groups for systems I enjoy. The biggest access point for new and indie RPGs has been Bundle of Holding, as it has brought my attention to so many games I never would have heard of otherwise. I should probably check news sites like EN World for RPG news more regularly, but they are often basic news bulletins with little analysis, and focus on a lot of lines I have no context for or interest in. Even the Chronicles of Darkness often gets short shrift. I also pick up Tabletop Gaming when I remember to – they’ve only recently moved into the world of RPGs as they were originally more board games and wargames, but they’re the closest to a mainstream publication that is system-neutral right now. Continue reading

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#RPGaDay 2017: Day Two – Cap’n Crunch or Lucky Charms?

Day Two of #RPGaDay: What is an RPG you would like to see published?

This is tricky because if I see a gap in the market I tend to hack or write my own solution, and the games where I idly think “If only there was a game that did x” and then forget about aren’t usually particularly important to me. I would like to see a robust system that takes a story game approach (preferably a Powered by the Apocalypse approach) to heroic fantasy games but isn’t Old School Revival (sorry, Dungeon World). I have future plans to write something along those lines and have started hashing out mechanics, but it would be much simpler if it already existed.

Beyond that, something that incorporates all the awesome things from different RPGs that I love – relationship links similar to Strings in Monsterhearts, meaningful changing attributes like the labels in Masks, influence not unlike the debts in Urban Shadows or icon relationships in 13th Age, strong support for improvised mechanics as in Fate, some kind of plot point system that walks the line between balance and awesomeness, intuitive and empowering shifts of narrative control, goal and achievement-based advancement like aspirations in Chronicles of Darkness, an improvisational magic system, generic and modular design so it can be adapted for loads of different genres as in Cortex, well-defined encounter design system as in 4th Ed…the list goes on. Basically, the One True RPG for my design ethic will likely never exist, and if I tried to put it together, it would undoubtedly be an incoherent mess. The whole point of the RPGs I’ve cited above is that each of them does what they do very well, and to try and combine them all would be lesser than the sum of its parts. Still, that’s the dream. Continue reading