This post probably isn't going to make much sense (or be of much interest) to my non-gamer nerd readers, but who knows. Any, I figured I'd give a little update on the Table-top RPGs that I've been playing lately, and decided to combine that with my commentary on the ongoing "Edition Wars", since I feel the dust has finally cleared enough for me to make some personal assessment.
I follow a lot of RPG Blogs (I recommend at least subscribing to the RPG Bloggers Network as lots of great stuff is compiled there. Maybe I'll make a future post about some of my favorites). Anyway, there has been, since the release of 4e, Pathfinder, and a barrage of OSR products, a ridiculous amount of contention between the Old School Renaissance, the 3.5 or die folks and those that went with 4e. Personally, for DMing, I went down the 4e path, because it was something new. I was in the middle of a multi-year 3.5 campaign, which was my first RPG experience since my teenage years. I was looking for something different, but I wasn't quite prepared to step outside the D&D universe. 4e was fresh and new and kind of exciting.
Now that I'm approaching my 4th year "back into the hobby", I am feeling a little burned out on the modern equivalents of D&D. I've been in at least one active 3.5 campaign since January 2007 and have been DMing 4e since the Summer of 2008. In that time, I've spent a lot of time (and money) reading about Savage Worlds, Warhammer 40k RPG (Dark Heresy, Rogue Trader, Deathwatch), Call of Cthulhu, Hackmaster Basic, Aces & Eights, OSR games like Lamentations of the Flame Princess, Labyrinth Lord, Dark Dungeons, and Swords & Wizardry.
Both 3rd Edition and 4th Edition D&D are good at what they are and I've had a lot of fun with both games, but I'm really feeling the crunch to expand those horizons. At some level, I guess I'm interested in the mechanics of a game, even over what the intent behind the mechanics might be. I want diversity, because I don't feel like the mechanic of the game makes "the game" good or bad. That responsibility really lies on the game master and the players. Sure, there are poorly designed games out there, with lousy mechanics, and there are certainly games and gaming styles that might not be for everyone, but I'm guessing there has been some group out there that's been able to have fun with most of them.
I've been playing in a Call of Cthuhlu game for a while now, which has been a blast. We tried some Dark Heresy, too, but I was having a hard time holding it together. Only two of us really had a good grasp of the universe and the combat mechanic turned out to be a little on the complicated side. I'd love to get back to it eventually, but I'm not sure when that is going to happen. I've been dying to try Savage Worlds, too. It looks like it should be pretty fun and there are opportunities for all kinds of games/scenarios. Playing Labyrinth Lord and reading Lamentations of the Flame Princess has gotten me really excited for some stripped down old style D&D. It was really refreshing to play out and abstract combat, where we didn't need to worry about what powers we were "wasting" and whether we made the best tactical movement. Those 2+ hour combats in 3rd & 4th Editions really pull me out of the situation. It's almost like you are starting a new game or something. It has a totally different mindset from the rest of the interactions in the game.
I talked to my 4e group about taking a break from the campaign to try out some other stuff, and everyone seemed pretty receptive to the idea, so we'll see what happens. I think a few months off 4e may refresh my interest in the campaign.
Forgotten Realms [WoTC 4e]
I started running this 4e game back in October 2008, I think. It is my first experience trying to DM an entire campaign, and there have been some ups and downs, but basically, I think it has been fun for both me and the players. It has been mostly the same group (I had a couple drop out) since day one. One player swapped his Dragonborn Paladin for a Githzerai Monk. We also have a Tiefling Warlock, Eladrin Wizard, Human Warlord, and Genasi Figher/Shaman. They've just hit 12 level, which was significantly slower advancement than I anticipated going in. We play almost every other week, but only manage to get about 3 hours of gaming in, because it's a weeknight. In those 3 hours, we usually only get to tackle one or two encounters, because combat can be so slow. We've tightened some stuff up, but a lot of the fights still turn into a grind.
Ravenloft [WoTC 3.5]
Due to a very literal series of unfortunate events, this game has been on hiatus for months. Hopefully we'll be starting up soon. It's been fun playing in an evil party with totally wacky character concepts. We're on the verge of trying to start an inter-gang war so an organized crime group we've joined can take control of the drug dealing in one of the cities in the setting. Yowch.
Forgotten Realms [WoTC 3.5]
This game has had a player retention problem. Only two of the original five have made it this far. I think almost ten people have played at least a game or two. It has lead to some disconnects, but Tim is doing his best to hold everything together. Some cult or something totally wants to kill our asses, but we're doing pretty good otherwise. Going to be leaving Lantan via an airship in the next game!
Call of Cthulhu [Chaosium]
Due to some of the same unfortunate events that are stalling the Ravenloft game, the CoC has had a few starts & stops. Hopefully everything gets back in track soon. We're playing through the Masks of Nyarlathotep module. Last game, both of my characters were killed, but that's okay. I'll be returning to the table with a psychiatrist turned occultist. We'll see how he fares.
Labyrinth Lord [Goblinoid Games]
I played my first game of Labyrinth Lord last Saturday and I loved it. It's an old-school clone of D&D. Remember when you could just be an elf or dwarf? No class. Just an elf? It's like that. You roll stats, 3d6 straight. You barely have any special abilities. There is no skill list. Wizards can only cast one spell and only have a couple hit points. Anyway, it was great! The DM designed this huge dungeon and our only goal is to clear it out, keeping any treasure we find. No other long term goals. Just kill things and take their stuff. Brilliance in it's simplicity.
Design Flow: One on One Play
20 hours ago