Role gaming Its Not Always
Dungeons and Dragons
I wont repeat my tirade from the main hobbies page. I assume if you are
here now, you actually like role gaming as a hobby. I'm a big supporter of what
I call old style role gaming. I call it old style because it follows the ole good
guys on the grand epic adventure sort of model. Hey why fix something if it
isn’t broken eh.
I don’t understand the
designs that make everyone adversarial though. Titles such as Vampire have zero
appeal to me. I'm not sure I would actually share a beer with some Live action
Vampire players in
truth. Something just doesn’t seem right about those genre’s. Every hobby
has its misfits, I feel Vampire fills that niche nicely. I saw a copy of the
text for Mage a companion in design to Vampire. Never have I seen a more sloppy,
convoluted, poorly arranged, waste of paper in all my gaming.
So anyway, what DO I like.
I have played D&D which became AD&D which of course
evolved into 2nd edition. I played it for many years along with other
designs that would come and go. I have seen 3rd edition. On first
glance I was really sold on it. Currently the jury is out on that edition for
me. My first views might have been in error. It seems to pander to silly power
gamer types (maybe that isn't a problem for some).
Back when 2nd Edition was king and there was no 3rd Edition, I
faithfully grabbed up all I the gaming supplements I could find on The Forgotten Realms.
Additionally, I had
almost every maroon Players supplement and most of the grey coloured supplements aimed at the
as well as the green coloured historical supplements. Now that is a lot of books to lug around.
Eventually it began to wear a bit thin on me (yes I make a fine sucker err I
mean consumer). You go to a friends place to play the
game, and get a hernia from bringing the damn game with you. In a fit of disgust
I turfed all my AD&D materials, sold the whole lot off. 2nd editions
biggest flaw was to much fluff and not enough substance in my opinion. Not enough
direction, and to many books with next to no real content. Alas all those items
I turfed casually for a fraction of their original cost, are currently sought
after items fetching their original price.
I wandered between trying to design the “perfect game”
(all real role gamers eventually succumb to the notion they can design it better)
and playing a mix of Warhammer fantasy role-play, Paladium based fantasy
role playing and Rolemaster from ICE. In the end all of these designs are great
in their own way, but I wasn’t totally satisfied.
Warhammer has the best character evolution process in
existence as I see it. Paladium seems like what I wish AD&D was like, more
realistic, better design. Rolemaster, well it is accurate alright, but well if
you don’t like number crunching, it isn’t yer cup o tea.
Then came Saga. The perfect game, or so it seemed. One tiny
little rules book (really cool after my AD&D experiences which were still
fresh). It was compatible with AD&D
so I could convert my lingering bestiary notes to it as well. Admittedly I hated
the saturation of the game by the Dragonlance setting (nothing wrong with
Dragonlance, I just wish they had made Saga non setting intensive). It wasn’t to hard to
edit it out Dragonlance though. With the one main supplement booklet I bought, I had a nice
little package. But well some things can be to good to be true. The card notion
sounds cool initially. But dice can always roll that 1 or that 20 (or whatever
is basically at the extreme ends of the numerical range of the dice you are
using). You can always have a defacto fail or an automatic success with dice. The cards though, just sat in your hand
and said “sorry, this is all you can expect”. Players resorted to stupid
actions to burn off cards. Playing a lame card on a pointless action, just to
discard the undesirable card. It would never have happened in a game using dice. It was
particularly annoying to me as a DM. It greatly impeded my ability to plan
encounters. Hard to say what finally did
it for the game though. The gang loved the game, then all of a sudden it was dead. Finally sold it
off to a young friend, hope he enjoys it as much as I did while I employed it.
So I was without any form of role game. First time in 20 years
or more of gaming actually. Then I received a rescue that wasn’t expected. My
friend had bought the Players Handbook for Alternity. I enjoyed his game a
bunch, and decided to take a stab at it myself. Eventually it became obvious I
wanted his copy, so I bought his off him. The game was greatly enhanced by the
acquisition of the Game Masters Guide (his game would have benefited a bunch
having it too). With the Dataware soft cover and the Beyond Science soft cover I feel I
finally have the total package I have always wanted. I eventually added the
Mindwalkers supplement as well. There are two major settings for Alternity.
Darkmatter and Drivespace. Both are good and have numerous supplements. But I
never use official world supplements in my games any more (still feeling the
scars of Forgotten realms eh). Oddly enough Alternity was
enjoying the number one slot in the top ten for quite some time, but has been
discontinued, poof for reasons none of my friends can entirely identify. I understand it will be replaced by a licensed design. I have no
intention of indulging in it though. Either way the shelves out there still have
Alternity stocks to work with.
Alternity makes no bones about it being first and last a science
fiction design i.e. there is no such thing as “magic”. But any experienced DM
can use the notes in the back of the Game Masters Guide to make a fine fantasy
genre version of the games basic mechanics. The games core mechanics are quite
user friendly. In retrospect, I think AD&D would be even bigger if it had
been done this way originally. But its like comparing apples and oranges after a
When I run a game I insist on a few factors. The players have
to understand that it is far better if “everyone” is having fun. This is a
great deal easier to accomplish with groups that exclude back stabbing play
styles. This is the primary reason why I don’t let players go to far. It easy showing
them just how hard it is to survive against the other players, my monster
encounters, and other do-gooders out to make the world a better place. True
it looks like heavy handed moralizing. But duhhh my game world still accepts
what's true to the real world, why should my paper people
be able to ignore it.
Some of my game running friends have styles that are not
totally identical to mine. Which is okay. I don’t want them to be me anyway. I
try for a game that is driven by player actions (makes the planning a lot easier
too). I like amusing interactive role playing mostly. Some people get way to
excited by way to much combat. If all they want is combat, a good wargame would
be more efficient. If you force the person running the game to support enough chances to roll
dice, your PC will just end up toast sooner than later. Currently my gaming is
heading towards an episodic style. Just can't nail down people that can be at
one place reliably each week. Might not even be entirely worth it though.
Most of my energies are normally directed at making little
sub routines to handle maintenance of the game. Doodles that help in the story
telling. Clarity is everything. Normally all you have to work with is paper and
your voice to describe what’s going on to the players. The only really
important tool is your imagination, that and a good grasp of your language
helps. I have some role playing friends that would likely enjoy the game more, if
it wasn’t for being tongue tied. Fortunately I have an over active
imagination, and a wit that is maybe overly aggressive. Its about the
only reason I think that my friends like the games I run
Eventually I am thinking of putting a Game players essential
reference section in here to describe what I think makes the perfect role gamers
library. Additionally I might make some of my doodles available (PC record
sheets n stuff that I have created). Of course any that wish to contact me can
get excellent access to my rather nicely organized collection of TSR .pdf files.
I have almost everything they ever created in easy to use document form (but ya
gotta ask me for it).