02 January 2009

A New Year

Happy New Year, folks.

With the new year, I'd like to try and play more tabletop games. The pickings have been fairly slim over the past year and a half, which is due more to being busy with work and children than to anything else. It's also a question of mood; I'm in no mood for fantasy-themed games, and haven't been for some time. Maybe it's due to my lukewarm feelings on 4E; I don't know.

Any gaming I do will have to take place away from home and without the involvement of my wife. She's more or less resigned to that fact, but she reckons that we will have a whole new era of gaming fun once our offspring are a little more self-sufficient. In other words, in 2-4 years. Ugh.

So this leads me to consider the types of games I plan to run (or maybe even play) in the coming weeks and months. The idea of actually working on a game is somewhat alien to me; it's been so long, after all. The last game I actually ran at work (over a year ago) consisted of a number of free adventures. Not totally original, no, but it was quick and easy until it petered out.

Speaking of petering out, I've got that GM ADD that I've mentioned before. I need to hit some manner of groove with a games I'm running before they really stick. This is all in my head, I realize that, and there are a number of silly psychological elements that either make or break me. Group composition is one; outside influences, such as worries about work and/or home, are another. Still, is it worth just tossing my GMing desires out the window?

I figure not. I want to run a game.

A game of what? I've already tossed fantasy out the window, which leads me to non-fantasy games and settings. What's really been driving me ape lately is Cyberpunk 2020, the game that got me passionate about gaming and game design. Sure, it's retro and the timeline is outdated and there are a number of flaws to the system, but I have this deep desire to revisit it. I'd have to apply my own rules mods, of course -- I can't consider playing CP2020 right out of the box. Though they do allow for a certain amount of min/maxing by players, I can (hopefully) keep it to a minimum.

Other titles I've been wanting to run include Star Wars Saga Edition and Top Secret/SI. SW would be fun, yeah, but I'm not sure I could get off on the right foot with it at the moment. I'm not inspired with a specific campaign idea at the moment, so I'd probably need to wait on running SW. Besides, certain folks (my wife in specific) will probably kill me if I run an SW game without them.

As to Top Secret/SI, it was one of the first games I ever picked up back in the days of my wayward youth. A good system, though somewhat clunky in areas. The clunkiness is forgivable on the whole, though. I have the same issue with the type of game I'd like to run, so I need to think on this one a bit more, too.

So I come back to Cyberpunk again. I do have an idea for a CP game, keyed to a law enforcement game. My favorite CP games were always "cops" games. They gave the players a bit more structure, rather than allowing them to be free-wheeling mercenary sociopathic rampaging cyberpsychotic killers (which gets old after a while). Though such games can (and have) devolved, they are ultimately more stable in the long run.

My preferences of campaign style haven't really changed much over the years. I'm still more keen to serious games with grim atmospheres and not a lot of wise-cracking banter. A little joking is one thing, but if every other word uttered by myself or the players is a sassy attempt at humor or an oft-cited movie quote, it gets in the way of the mood I'm trying to establish. Establishing mood is hard enough when folks are cooperating.

Which comes down to players. I don't have anyone in mind, really, since the game may not appeal to all comers. There are the usual suspects, obviously: those folks I've gamed with at work before, who I know well enough to decide if they'd be interested or not. Then there are the unknown quantities: folks who have expressed a desire to play, but who I've never played with.

So my thought is to send a general query out on the gaming community list at work, saying something along the lines of, "Hi! I want to run a grim and gritty retro-80's law enforcement-themed Cyberpunk 2020 game heavy on house rules. Please reply off-list if you're interested!" and see who bites. With luck, the response won't be so overwhelming that I have to actively dissuade folks from participating; of course, it might be that all I get for a response is the lonely chirping of crickets.

That will be Monday, which gives me a couple days to continue my brainstorming. Until then, sayonara.