26 August 2014

#RPGaDay: Day Twenty-Six - Coolest Character Sheet

This is how we used to do it in the old days, kids.
This is sort of an odd one. I mean... I don't really have a favorite character sheet, nor do I think of any of the ones I've seen as being particularly "cool." Character sheets need to be useful, presenting important details at a glance while providing enough space for all those building blocks we make our characters out of.

Truth be told, I miss the days of yore, when characters were scrawled on sheets of lined paper in pencil. The way that games have developed over the years, with increased character options and a variety of different systems, has made tabletop RPGs more dependent on official character sheets. If you look at a 2nd edition AD&D character from the 90's, and then compare it to a character sheet from D&D 3.5 (or even 5th), you'll notice there's a heck of a lot more to record and write down. At least, it feels that way.

I appreciate a well-designed character sheet just as much as the next gamer. I'm generally pleased with the quality of the sheets made for the games I've been playing over the past few years. Edge of the Empire/Age of Rebellion, The One Ring, and D&D 5th edition have perfectly functional and visually-pleasing character sheets in my opinion.

Are they cool, though? Sure, I guess so. Are any of them the coolest sheets ever? I really can't say. They do what they're supposed to do. If they ever invent a character sheet that can roll my dice and track its own hit points, I suppose that might earn the title of "coolest."

25 August 2014

#RPGaDay: Day Twenty-Five - Favorite RPG No One Else Want to Play

Only one person in my current gaming group actively wants to play The One Ring. The rest of them aren't necessarily opposed, but they'd prefer something else at the moment. Perhaps it's the over-saturation of Peter Jackson's Hobbit and Lord of the Rings movies that have set them on their course. In my opinion, TOR is so much more Tolkien than Peter Jackson's films are. While they're pretty (the sets, costume designs, and visuals are certainly top notch), the movies are likely far and beyond what Tolkien would have approved of.

I will do you a favor and avoid ranting about the movies. That's not what we're here for. Must... resist...!

Be that as it may, I will be running The One Ring again at some point. You hear me, people? You're destined to walk the byways of Wilderland eventually! And when you do, not even Gandalf will be able to save your sorry behinds!

24 August 2014

#RPGaDay: Day Twenty-Four - Most Complicated RPG Owned

Living Steel gave Rolemaster a run for its money.
I never did buy into Phoenix Command, but I seem to remember that Living Steel and the Aliens Adventure Game (both of which are based on PC) are pretty damned complicated. I've got copies of them both on the shelf next to me, and a cursory glance through the rules confirms that many charts and tables are required to perform any manner of combat check. I always felt that anyone who bothered to foster their familiarity of the system might be able to run it reasonably quickly. That person was not me.

I also own a few Rolemaster and Hero system books. GURPS can also be pretty complicated, though I was exposed to it a lot growing up and I know it doesn't have to be a nightmare to play/run. And, of course, I always considered my copy of Shadowrun first edition to be nigh-incomprehensible. I played in a few games of SR in my earlier years (never wanted to run it because I was a Cyberpunk 2020 guy) and I always relied on the GM to know what needed to be done and why.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Twilight: 2000 (first edition) by GDW. I remember picking it up because it looked so damn cool. I got it home, read the rules, and was instantly befuddled. It was the first game I'd ever seen where you needed a worksheet to create your character, which you then transferred to a proper character sheet. The fluffy parts of the game were awesome, but learning that system was a struggle. GDW eventually released a simpler version in the second edition, but damn.

I keep a lot of these complicated games around because, when you look past their systems, there's a plethora of very evocative content in there. Care went into creating these worlds and settings. Inspiration is important. I may never play these games, but it's nice to comb them for interesting ideas and tidbits that I can employ somewhere else.

23 August 2014

#RPGaDay: Day Twenty-Three: Coolest Looking RPG Product/Book

For sheer style, visual impact, and bulk, I have to say that Monte Cook's Ptolus is probably the coolest-looking RPG product that I own. I picked it up in 2007, the year it won an ENnie for Product of the Year. If you've never seen it,it's a huge hardback tome that clocks in at 670 pages in length. Given its sheer immensity, it's a lot of information to take in all at once. It's an impressive product, both visually and conceptually.

There are plenty of other RPG products that look pretty darn cool. I'm not the sort to buy collector's editions/limited editions of games, though I did have a secret desire to own the original Dark Heresy collector's edition. I couldn't really justify the cost at the time, but it was such a cool book to look at. My friend Kate got one back in my Warhammer Online/Mythic days, otherwise I wouldn't have known what I was missing.

So far, I've been really impressed with the way The One Ring's products have looked. The layouts are clean and the art really meshes with the setting. Sure, I may be biased a great deal (I do keep bringing the game up, don't I?), but Cubicle 7 does such a good freaking of producing their products.

22 August 2014

#RPGaDay: Day Twenty-Two - Best Second-Hand RPG Purchase

A very bad picture of my WEG Star Wars shelf.
One of my favorite things about the game store we used to go to in San Diego was that it had a shelf of used games and RPG books. It was fairly well-stocked, but there was always a certain amount of product that never moved. Once you became familiar with the stuff that didn't sell, you could easily spot anything new that was added since the last time you came in. I found some pretty good stuff on that shelf from time to time, but there's one purchase in particular that really made my day.

At some point, I'd lost track of WEG's Star Wars RPG. I still had my original first edition books at the time, but for some reason I'd never gone over to the second. As it happened, I walked into that store one day and discovered someone had sold their entire WEG Star Wars RPG collection to the store. It was second edition stuff, too, and included a full run of the Star Wars Adventure Journals. Best of all, most of the books were about $3 and $4 each, with the hardcovers being somewhat more expensive (probably between $6 and $8 apiece).

I decided I was going to take all this stuff home. I mean, I loved Star Wars, and I'd had no idea so much stuff had been released for it. I don't remember how much everything totaled up to, cost-wise, but it was a bargain. There were a few holes in the collection, some of which I eventually filled, but overall it was something like 25-30 books that I'd be hard-pressed to find for those prices now. Since then, my Star Wars library has served me well.

21 August 2014

#RPGaDay: Day Twenty-One - Favorite Licensed RPG

Use the Force, Mithrandir!
This comes down to my two favorite IPs--Star Wars and Middle Earth--and I have a lot of trouble choosing between the two of them when it comes right down to it. I've loved them both for many, many years, though I suppose my adoration of Star Wars predates my love of The Hobbit by about six whole months. You see, Star Wars was released in May, 1977. The animated film The Hobbit was broadcast on NBC in November of that same year.

Perhaps that explains the conflict that rages within me on a near-daily basis.

This is one of those "photo finish" preferences that is so close, it might as well be a tie. It's right up there with asking me if I like bacon more than I like cheesecake more than I like bacon. There is no correct answer! It's one of those Lovecraftian things that drives men mad.

(Incidentally, I love both bacon and cheesecake. I am now curious if anyone has ever made a bacon cheesecake before, and if not, for the love all that is holy, WHY NOT?)

(And here is the answer. I think I need to be medicated now.)

Since I've brought up the subjects of bacon and cheesecake, you can tell this is a really big deal for me. It's a decision no mortal man should have to make. Whoever came up with this RPGaDay thing is a sadist of the most sinister nature.

Ultimately, it's a choice between Edge of the Empire/Age of Rebellion and The One Ring, isn't it?

Fine. I'll make a choice. Have it your way.

Due to the fact that I've been running nothing else but EotE for the past few months, and given that I've contributed to AoR professionally, I suppose that Fantasy Flight's Star Wars lines are currently my favorite licensed RPGs.

But it's really, really close, people. Like, by a hair's breadth. I'm talking about as broad as a hair from the world's smallest chihuahua. Slim. Very, very slim.

I'm going to end this post now before it gets any more drawn-out, melodramatic, or silly. Please accept my humblest apologies.

20 August 2014

#RPGaDay: Day Twenty - Will Still Play in Twenty Years' Time...

I'm pretty sure the game I'll still be playing in twenty years is going to be some edition of Dungeons & Dragons. Given the propensity for new editions, they'll probably be on 8th or 9th edition by then, too. It's not that D&D is my favorite game, though I have enjoyed playing specific editions for years on end. It's mostly because D&D has been around for forty years, and I'm pretty sure it'll still be around in 2034 (barring acts of God, global thermonuclear war, or zombie apocalypse).

I have a fairly extensive gaming library at my disposal. Assuming I don't leave the hobby (highly unlikely) or get a job overseas and sell the majority of my collection (somewhat more likely, though still day-dreamy pie-in-the-sky), I'll be running at least some of these games as the years pass by. I'm sure I'll be playing Star Wars in one incarnation or another, or Cyberpunk 2020, or (old) World of Darkness.

This also makes me think back to the games I was running twenty years ago. Cyberpunk was probably the big one for me back then. I used to love me some horror gaming with the Chill RPG (and I'm still tempted to dust that one off from time to time, too).

Note that yesterday I got my copy of the 5th edition Player's Handbook, and it's looking pretty slick. It retains much of its third edition charm, so I may very well be on board. I'm going to be trying it out soon enough, and only then will I be completely sure if I'm upgrading. More on that, later.