Archive | October 2013

Role Playing Games or Satan’s Trap for Nerds…

I am back from the dead, somewhat worse for wear, but I have found the time to make my grand return to my ramblings. I had a few ideas to blog about, but after reading too much depressing news (I am so fucking tired of the gridlock shit), I decided to write about something I enjoy… RPGs or for the less geeky… role playing games.

I doodled on the original cover myself.

I doodled on the original cover myself.

I started out young, with ye olde Dungeons and Dragons when I was a wee lad back in the late ’70s and early ’80s (yes, I am an old man now… so get off my lawn you kids). I had a blast, the adventures were grand, imagining myself as a heroic warrior battling to save the village or princess from said orcs or dragon. I would look at all the amazing artwork that were in the books, which helped me become more appreciative of art at a young age.

My brother also got a copy of Gamma World, which I still love looking at the old artwork til this day. I recently found the old box for it (flatten into a pie from other shit being stacked upon it), and one of the fun things I forgot about it was the included blank hex map of the United States. This was a great idea to me… giving the game master a cool way to customize the world, one that is just theirs. Such a simple idea that breeds creativity.

Then came the next big leap… (cue grandiose music) Advance Dungeons and Dragons. I jumped in ready for the fun and adventure and I was overwhelmed. It took me a bit to get into the groove and a bit of tweaking the rules to suit me. (For the record, I always have and always will hate THAC0.) I found the rules too overbearing at times, I did not enjoy the system…but the manuals were awesome and who did not love the original Monster Manual cover art?

The best cover ever!

The best cover ever!

As I got older though I was playing less and less, I even gave the AD&D 2nd edition a whirl. I was not impressed with the changes that seemed to take out the variety of ways to play. No half orcs or assassins? No devils or demons? Why? Because of Jack Chick’s little comic and the religious nutjobs? Fucking grow up! So I decided to give up on Dungeons and Dragons and for the most part RPGs.

I became a collector of game systems… Top Secret, Ghostbusters, Toon, Twilight 2000, Paranoia, Car Wars, Rifts (great setting, horrible mechanics… just had to get that in) and many, many others. I tried a game or two of them but I never found many people where I lived that wanted to venture too far from the safe confines of Dungeons and Dragons.

So for quite a few years I was out of the pen and paper game. I was playing my video game versions, but I still missed the freedom of the P&P versions. So finally after many, many many, I mean it, many moons, I tried D&D again… this time in the 3.5 version. Luckily I was with a good group and I had a fun time, though I noticed the rules allowed too much munchkin playing. It was all about leveling up to get then next cool ability or skill, kill every thing and take all the gold. And the rules… rules for everything, it slowed down play more than ever (not to mention the 8,000 pages of skills to choose from).

So I dabbled a bit more, even tried D&D 4th edition rules. The less said the better about this putrid edition.

So onward I started to explore other rule systems, ORE was an interesting one, but not my shot of tequila. Then I found a system I quite enjoyed… All Flesh Must Be Eaten (AFMBE from here on out). To be completely honest, as I have gotten older I have gotten a bit darker. I am not a fan of everyone living, the possibility of death must be constantly present. AFMBE fit this perfectly and I loved the ability to drop the system into any type of game genre within limits or time period… the universality of it was what I enjoyed most. But the system is a bit crunchy at times and involved too much book keeping for me personally so I drifted around a bit more; always on the look out for an interesting system.

Twisted fun for all... especially for me!!!

Twisted fun for all… especially for me!!!

Before I get to my current game system of choice at this time, let me tell you of my favorite one shot system. It is Fiasco, this game is fucking amazing. You can play the same play set multiple times and it will be different every time. A game is done in a couple of hours and it may be the most appropriately named game ever. Even with every person on the same page, it will eventually all go to shit and everyone will turn on each other like a vicious dog. The intensity of the scenes can either bring the greatest joy or most humbling defeat to one’s ego, which means of course I love this game. While purist may argue that it is not a true RPG but more of a storytelling game, I say this to them… YOU ARE PLAYING A ROLE, HENCE ROLE PLAYING!!!

Now we are to the current leg of my RPG journey, which has come to the port of Fate Core and the lighter version, Fate Accelerated Edition (FAE from here on out). It is a plug in universal system that works with any genre or setting, I mean ANY genre or setting, with basically no tweaking of the rules. You can play as the classic fantasy sword and sorcery setting or you can be talking utensils trying to escape from a restaurant. It is that versatile. How does it achieve this you may ask? Well for starters it throws out standards such as attributes (you know… strength, intelligence, dexterity, etc.) and is more skewed towards narrative role playing.

The Gorilla is awesome!!!

The Gorilla is awesome!!!

I will be the first to admit that not all went well when I first started playing this game system… to quote many martial arts movies, you must unlearn what you have learned. My groups first couple of games were painful at times with flashes of brilliance. Those bits of brilliance kept us coming back to try a bit more and each time we enjoyed it more. (Yes, we are sluts like that.) I was hooked, there was no turning back, the freedom that the system allowed and encouraged were exhilarating… I love this system. Seriously, try Fate Core and FAE… it is that good. I am still learning and experimenting with the tweaking of all the bells and whistles, but I must say this may be my favorite system of all time.

The last game I ran was using the FAE system (which is great for quick one shots on the fly type games) were at the last minute I decided to switch the genre. I was originally going to do a Supernatural based horror game, then switched to a Warhammer 40k based setting with tinges of Cthulhu. We used this game as a one shot to get use to the Fate style rule system a bit more and it was a rousing success. Started out a bit space marine generic, but then by the end transitioned into a full blown paranoid mutiny. I was honestly on the ground for two minutes laughing as the players discussed whether their own people were trying to kill them. (I am known for running twisted campaigns, but I really want to see these guys live… they were that entertaining.)  In the end, their own paranoia caused their demise, which is a story for another time. This one shot was done without any prep work or tweaking of the rules, a testament of the adaptability of the Fate system.

I do hope to tell some more stories of my role playing adventures, especially of the insanity of the ones from Fiasco and Fate Core… really go check them out. I have also been using both systems writing tools for stories and scripts as they are more about creating narratives than mechanically leveling up. So to Fate Core and Fiasco I thank you for rekindling my love for RPGs.

Til the next time, don’t turn your back on a one legged hooker…

–Shawn

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