I ran a twisted version of the One Roll Engine (Godlike, Monsters and Other Childish Things....). The system is cinematic, and it also forces the case for having everyone declare actions before rolling. And then everyone rolls together. The one roll dice pool determines EVERYTHING in the round. Action order, damage, location, dodging and blocking.
It has some weird twists that enforce teamwork as well. We had one played take on a giant spider with the power of ball bearings named with the 13-letter word "Dingleberries", while his friend in wolf form distracted the spider by running around and nipping at its legs. It was a freaking deadly spider, but it didn't have a chance against the power of the mighty Dingleberries.
I've also become fascinated with the RPGs of Herbie Brennan. He did three: Man Myth & Magic, Timeship, and Monster Horrorshow.
He isn't a gamer. He did do a number of Fighting Fantasy style gamebooks, and a lot of children's literature.
Timeship is a mess. Designed for newbie rpg players, it is practically drowned in weird New Age stuff, psychotically random character ideas and just weirdness.
Man, Myth, and Magic is a little more traditional, although it is entirely likely that you will create an unplayable character. The game careens in weird, unpredictable ways that MAKE me want to run it. Characters are completely random, and based on "historical" nationalities. African Witch Doctor, a Roman Centurion, Taoist Monk in a party together investigating the ruins of Pompeii.
The magic system involves burning experience points to fuel spells.
The adventures are the magic here. They take place in historical settings, Great Pyramid, Stonehenge, Londinium, and link to form a fairly lengthy campaign. With the crazy in full force. Short dungeon crawls, magical forests. Instant-kill, no-save deathtraps.
The weakness is combat. Work out your percentile modifiers, roll over your skill and the difference becomes damage points. Players have 200 or so HP. You can also target an area and each area can only take so much damage before being severed. It is cute, but it looks as if it takes too many rolls to really hurt something.
After a year of owning the book, I finally got to play INSPECTRES last night, and it was fucking INCREDIBLE. Perfect system for a Ghostbusters game.
This is a very, very different game, and if you're playing with people who can't pull out of the standard D&D approach to RPGs, it's not going to work. The GM is really there just as a mediator, as the players pretty much have full control of where the story goes. Lucky for me, I got players who could do that and they understood the GB style humor to boot.
I'm sure it won't strike gold everytime, but the one game last night was by far the best RPG experience I've ever had.
Played Apocalypse World last night. The first session seemed promising, but this is a system that needs multiple sessions before it really comes into its own. Characters improve very quickly (had a couple earn an improvement after just 1 session).
We had both Maestro D' and vault guy in our game. Those 2 limited edition playbooks seem balanced with the rest of the group.
Ran Star Frontiers last night. We're starting the introductory Volturnus Campaign, so last night was SF0 - Crash on Volturnus. All of the players are experienced with rpgs, but none of us had actually played SF back in the day.
We had to cut the evening a little short (yet we ended up with almost two hours to bullshit afterwards...), so the PCs only made it to the end of the first chapter where they escape the Space Pirate raided starliner, the Serena Dawn, via escape pods. They ended up losing all of their equipment, but have acquired a few items from downed pirates on their way to the pods. Oh, the party is made up of two humans (explosives expert and technician) and a dralasite (martial artist).
The system is _really_ easy. Simply percentile based. The biggest thing I took from it is damn role-playing is fun! It's been a while, so I guess I had forgotten, but I expect to start doing more of it again. The whole table was a lot more lively than when we boardgame and pour over strategies. I dunno the whole affair seemed more loose and 'fun'.
Looking forward to next session in two weeks when the party actually crashes and has to make do with items in the escape pod.
Played DCC Wednesday night to kick off a campaign. The GM wants to do a mega dungeon style crawl, but this was the kickoff session. It was as awesome as expected. I'm trying to write up a full session report for RPGgeek, but the highlights/takeaways:
- starting with zero-level characters is hilarious. I had a scribe, a radish farmer, a dwarven ratcatcher, and a gravedigger. All armed with really menial weapons. It gets a little gamey because you are trying to figure out who will be your sacrificial lamb to try and get your viable characters to first level. This was the good kind of gamey though, not the bad kind.
- randomness is fun! And DCC has so much randomness. There's 3d6 in order for your characters. In fact everything about your character is random except for name and alignment. There's critical hit and fumble tables. The critical hit tables have different versions based on class, level, and monster type. The die you roll on the fumble tables depends on what armor you're wearing -- unarmored is 1d4, leather is 1d6, etc.
- the first adventure is going to be a bloodbath. We had five players, each with four PCs. At the end of the adventure there were 8 PCs.
- it has a cool swords and sorcery feel instead of the high fantasy, everyone is awesome all the time feel of later DnD. There was one "monster" in the adventure, and the rest of the foes were human bandits. But it was still tense because one hit could kill your character. When the supernatural monster revealed itself, it was all the more freaky because it was unusual and weird.
Ran Star Frontiers last night. We're starting the introductory Volturnus Campaign, so last night was SF0 - Crash on Volturnus.
I have thought of having my game group run through those modules as well. I recently took out my old Star Frontiers stuff. Looks like a lot of fun but damn, the maps that came in the box...ugly with a capital "Ugh".
I have been running a 3.0 campaign for sometime set in the Kingdoms of Kalamar setting by Kenzer. They have a trilogy of modules revolving around destroying a magical "Coin of Power". I was finding that the modules really weren't holding up very well with a lot of "railroading" necessary to keep players on track and some less than logical encounters that didn't make a whole lot of sense.
So I pretty much ejected the third module of the series and substituted the adventure The Grey Citadel by Necromancer games. I really like it. It is well crafted and has something for everybody. Urban intrigue, dungeon delving, and some wilderness stuff if you want it.
Next week we are trying the new D&D play test stuff.
Late last summer, while I was coping with work, house-shopping and jury duty, I let one of my players take over running Call of Cthulhu. He's a very experienced D&D DM, though he tends to let the slowest player drag down the pace too much.
Anyway, he killed the Cthulhu campaign with crushing boredom. His homebrew adventure had some neat ideas, but there were too many red herrings, and he let us waste entire sessions methodically running down those red herrings. At one point, he had to just step in and re-start the story, because otherwise the logical outcome would have left us spending WWII in a concentration camp. There were a few highlights here and there, but I was typically only enjoying about 10 minutes out of each afternoon of game.
I will be running the next campaign, which will be a D&D 3.5 campaign set in Ptolus. I've seen a lot of decent campaign settings before, and this is probably the very best. Better than Arkham Unveiled. Better than the City of Lies. Way better than any of the By Night books from White Wolf.
Although I played in a 3.5 campaign years ago, I haven't run D&D in a long time. I bought Ptolus and the 3.5 core books a couple of years ago, and have been studying them intermittently. And I played the heck out of that Temple of Elemental Evil 3.5 PC game years ago.
But I really want to run this campaign smoothly, without long pauses for rules searches. I made an initiative tracking sheet, combat modifier flash cards, and am working on a homemade ref screen that will feature the rules that I have the most trouble remembering, like the overly complex undead turning rules for 3.5. I also have a cheatsheet showing all the combat actions by category, with the ones that provoke attacks of opportunity in red font. Instead of buying and painting 500+ miniatures, I bought 500 wooden nickels for $40, and will be slapping on DIY stickers depicting monsters and npcs on all of them. I figure that most of the encounters will be with either medium or large creatures, so 400 of the wooden nickels are 1" in diameter, while the other 100 are 2" in diameter.