Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Games I Want To Play

The other day on RPGnet, someone put up the perennial "What Do You WANT To Play?" thread.  At the time, I just listed my answers rather quickly, but it got me to thinking about why I chose them, in terms of itches aren't getting scratched in my current games.

My reply was as follows:

World of Darkness (old, new, don't care, I've never managed to play a WoD game)
Dresden Files
A supers game (not concerned much with what system)

I didn't give any explanations, just threw them out.  Of the four, the top two are, I think, the most directly related to seeking out something different from my current games.
Legend of the Five Rings is, to my mind, almost the anti-D&D.  Granted, in its current incarnation (4th Edition), it's very much a toolbox and can be played in a host of styles, but the setting undercuts a lot of the standard assumptions in D&D.  Recently, I was going through some old notes printed off a website and I found this passage from a review of the first edition game:

"Let me get this straight," I thought. "You want me to play a fantasy RPG in which your characters bathe daily, are literate, polite to one another, and work in a team. You will be given a badge in the form of a pair of very sharp swords. Magic is considered a respectable, skilled profession among the upper classes, so five spellcasters in a group doesn't stretch plausibility. The warriors will be professionals with licenses to kill, but the second they overstep the bounds of their lord, they will be reined in, because the social order will be more powerful than any one man. There will be no mixing of incompatible characters such as thieves and ninja that inevitably lead to intra-party homicide.

"You want a system where you can kill or die in one sword stroke, so you actually have to think about the ramifications of a fight beforehand. You want to get away from the Conan fantasy in which you collect enough treasure to buy your own kingdom and having problems you can't solve with swords will not be reserved for "high-level" characters.

"You want courtly love, moral dilemmas, and loyalty to your lord to play an inherent part of the game system. You will define the role of women among each of the clans, creating a stereotype intended to be broken. You will have a responsibility to those you guard both above and below you, and you will have a license to kill. In other words, I as a GM will have a plausible reason why a mixed batch of armed psychos will get into trouble every week from now until eternity.

"Twist my frickin' arm."

 I'll admit, it's an attractive notion.  The new version of the rules is really nicely done, a big fat book that doesn't skimp on the details or the options.  But it would be a tough sell to my Tuesday group, and at the moment, I lack prospective recruits for a weekend game, so it remains on my "I Want To Play" list.

A World of Darkness game is similarly rooted in getting into something a bit deeper and character-driven, but it's also a glaring hole in my gamer resume.  Despite never being afraid of new games and new systems; despite owning tons of WoD stuff going back to the first edition of Vampire: the Masquerade; despite owning enough Goth recordings to make Ian Curtis kill himself all over again, I've never played any of them.  At this point, it's practically a "Thing," but not one I particularly enjoy.  I'd much rather get my feet wet by playing, but at this point, I'm considering running a one-on-one game with my wife (who has at least played Vampire).

The Dresden Files RPG is ubercoolnewshiny.  But I don't want to GM it.  I'm not even sure I completely grok the FATE system.  It's easily the crunchiest "rules-light" game I've ever met.  But I love Jim Butcher's world and I love the idea of creating your own city.  Granted, the last part is something any group could do, but DFRPG gives you tools to do it.  FATE didn't go over so well with the Tuesday crew.  I might could draft some players to run a weekend game, but I'd quickly find myself in the position of "He who knows the rules.  Sort of.", which isn't really to my liking, and since this is my list, I get to say what's what.

Lastly, I listed just about any sort of superhero game, if I could focus enough on a single system to get a campaign rolling. I could probably garner some players for such a game; but supers is sort of my fall-back position when I'm feeling creatively stagnant and feeling like I should GM SOMETHING.  It's familiar, comfortable ground, but I don't know if I have a sustainable supers game in me right now.  As it is, I'm still trying to piece together a one-shot for a convention in a couple of months.

So, what do YOU want to play these days?  What, if anything, do those choices say about what you want out of gaming?


  1. I struggled a bit with Dresden Files. It seemed really crunchy for a system I thought would be light, fast and story oriented. Maybe it is. In fact, I'm sure it is.

    I just don't get it.

    As for WoD, that game is right in my wheelhouse as far as flavor and playability goes.

    I need to try L5R. I have no experience with it, but it looks great.

  2. I've made a list ( it actually was fun to do ), and since I've been derelict in shamelessly promoting my blog, here's a link...

  3. It should be obvious I'm on a post-apocalyptic kick, but I'm more than content to just make my little monsters on my little blog.

    I'd also like to GM a "spooky" game, with Apocalype Prevention, Inc and Chill and Angel: The RPG and WoD and Dresden Files and the Ugly Americans cartoon all thrown in a blender. I have no idea what system I'd use, but "Monster Cops: Claw and Disorder" is my working title.

    (And just because I'm a stinker and haven't mentioned it in the last six months, I would KILL to get you to run your "Rick Jones" vapor-game. Zzzap, Son Of Zzzax, must be played before I die.

    You're kinda like a Grant Morrison of GMs. You spitball all these great concepts, and if we're lucky, something comes of them...but if not, they still trigger all kinds of ideas.)

  4. @Justin: Many years ago, a friend of mine called me an "Idea Hamster." Basically, if you just let me sit in my cage and run on my wheel, I'll come up with all sorts of interesting things. Just don't make me implement them.

    If anything, I was worse back in my 20s.

    And I'd completely forgotten about the Rick Jones storage locker idea.

  5. I, too, was inspired by this post to make up my own wishlist of things to play.

    Long story short: I wants me some urban fantasy.

  6. I never was able to play in a World of Darkness game that I was truly satisfied with. Fortunately, I got my kicks by running one (that admittedly was mashed up with Gurps Voodoo, Cyberpunk, and other urban fantasy hoo hah).

    As a player, I would also love to play in a western, Victorian, Edwardian, Regency, colonial gothic, or pulp game. I run these all the time but so rarely get to play.

    And oh yeah, some wacky Gamma World/Encounter Critical action! Or crazy Space Opera!

    System-wise, I'm dying to try out a bunch of games that I haven't yet been able to play: FATE, PDQ, Apocalypse World, Fiasco, and Leverage. And give me some old-timey nostalgia of AD&D or B/X!

    Wow... that was remarkably unfocused.