Saturday, July 18, 2020

The Feel of Different Games; an emotional post

  If you aren't aware, I run and play a variety of game systems. The list of current game systems I alone run is:
  AD&D 1e (with house rules)
  AD&D 2e Skills & Powers
  Champions 6e
  Rolemaster FRP
  (this week) Warhammer: Only War, etc.

The systems I play in currently are:
  D&D 5e
  CoC
  Warhammer: Only War, etc.

We also have a casual 'Traveller, anyone?' game, a Starfleet Battles tournament, and an addiction to Dominion, Scythe, and Seven Wonders. I'd mention Catan, but my wife has an unbroken 21 game winning streak, so....

  Recently someone asked me,
  "Why so many different systems?"
  At the time I gave my usual reply,
  "Different systems excel at different things."

  I think I was wrong. Here's why.
  I played D&D 5e and had an epiphany.

  My oldest son is running a tight 5e game and we had a raucous session full of ambushes, raids, surprise, and fighting with a side of politics. Afterwards I said,
  "Reminds me of Jim Henson's game."
Note: Jim 'The Muppet Master' Henson was an army comrade of mine at Ft. Bragg in the 80's. No relation to the puppeteer.
  Thing is, Jimbo only ever ran one system. Palladium Fantasy.
Note: once when I was very sick I spent 3 months converting my AD&D 1e campaign (started in 1979) to Palladium FRP out of the boredom of being cooped up.
  That's when it hit me.
  5e is a lot like Palladium FRP: Odd, silly races; goofy, unbalanced spells; oddball classes; math that doesn't quite work; still a ton of fun.
  Mind you, I think this is a compliment!

  But many of us talk about the 'feel' of a particular system. I love HERO system for superheroes; I can make any hero I can imagine, the action feels superheroic, and the flexibility is unmatched. But no matter how many times I try I don't like HERO for fantasy.
Note: I also converted my AD&D 1e campaign to HERO once with the idea of only playing one system. Nah.
  I love Traveller, but have no interest in using it for anything else. D6? Amazingly flexible system and I love Star Wars, Ghostbusters, etc. But....

  So I talked about it with the lads and we compared it to books. Writing is writing; English is English. But a crime novel is different from a caper book. James Bond is worlds apart from The Destroyer.
  It was when we compared it to movies, too, that is gelled.
  Want to emulate the old pulp fantasies or ERB?
  AD&D.
  Want to emulate JRRT?
  Rolemaster.
  CJ Cherryh?
  Traveller.
  HPL?
  CoC.
  you get the idea.

  But then we talked about how much 5e emotionally "feels like" Palladium FRP and I got it.
  Beastmaster.
  Palladium FRP and 5e are Beastmaster. Kinda' goofy, kinda' nonsense, but a rip-roaring good time.

  So pop some popcorn, get ready for monstervision, and play some Beastmaster.

8 comments:

  1. Ditto to A.F.W, was missing that free ice cream and don't get on Discord much.

    Though my exposure to various games is far more limited, I think the way you classify games by "feel" works and can help develop expectations. Reading/watching about the later D&D versions has turned me off of them (in a theoretical sense), but from this perspective, that seems to be more that I'm looking at it not reflecting the "stories" I am used to.

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  2. As always, a real treat. Thanks for posting.

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  3. I think that every gamer is going to have their own opinion on what system has a certain feel.

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  4. 5e is a lot like Palladium FRP: Odd, silly races; goofy, unbalanced spells; oddball classes; math that doesn't quite work; still a ton of fun.

    I know that you were describing D&D 5e above, Rick, but that description sounded like a tidy little summary of Tunnels and Trolls to me!

    Re: RPG feel/influences, I believe that Marc Miller admitted in an interview that E.C. Tubb's Dumarest Saga was a major influence on Miller's original Traveller RPG back in the 1970s.

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