Today I have made the decision to leave Twitter. I haven’t been properly using it for quite a long time, and I don’t want people to give the wrong impression that Twitter is a good way to get in touch with me. So I’ve decided to close down the @StargazersWorld Twitter account in the next days.
If you want to keep in touch, feel free to follow me on Google+.
For quite a long time I started new campaign on a whim with an extremely short prep period. This works out well enough if you’re at the top of your game, creative, able to think on your toes. But if you are stressed from work and other things, perhaps even feeling a bit under the weather, this just doesn’t work out anymore. My friend Roberto has a different approach to GMing. He usually plans his campaigns way ahead. I think he’s already planning the campaign he wants to run in 2015. I don’t think I’ll ever plan ahead that early, but I’ve decided to change the way I prepare for my games.
At the moment I am running two games: a mini-campaign freely based on the XCOM series of computer games and a campaign based on the Fallout 1 computer game. Both games use Fudge rules, for the Fallout one I even wrote a pretty extensive conversion document. The XCOM game will probably be over two weeks time, so I am already planning for the game that will follow.
My players have asked me to run Shadowrun, so I started reading 5th Edition. Alas reading 5th Edition felt like gnawing off my own foot, so I decided to look for alternatives. At first I thought just tossing the Shadowrun rules would be best, but in the end I settled on Shadowrun 4th Edition. For some reason I find the game much more approachable. I’ll still think the same after I’ve finished reading the book.
But I will not stop there. As soon as we start playing Shadowrun I’ll think about what I could prepare next. Currently I am very interested in the Hero System. I picked up the current Bundle of Holding, and already started leafing through the various PDFs. I always wanted to run a superhero game, and Champions Complete may be the perfect game for this. If the Hero System turns out too much of a hassle after all, I still have a couple of alternatives up my sleeves. BASH Ultimate Edition looks like a more rules-lite approach to super hero gaming for example.
Do you usually plan way ahead for your games? Do you have several projects brewing at the same time, or do you prefer to focus on only one game at a time? Please share your thoughts below.
A while ago my players asked me if I could run Shadowrun for them. They love the Shadowrun world and the gameplay should be right up their alley. So we decided that after we finished the XCOM mini-campaign that I’ll run Shadowrun. Recently the 5th Edition was released and what I’ve seen so far looked pretty cool, so I ordered a copy of the game.
Oh boy, what have I done? While I totally love the look and production values of the book, the rules are just not my cup of tea. Reading the background sections was a joy, but as soon as they started talking about the rules my head started to spin. I have run Shadowrun 1st and 2nd Edition back in the day, and somehow I managed to cope with the game’s crunch back then, but the latest edition of this game seems to be even crunchier and more convoluted than earlier editions (at least the ones I know).
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that Shadowrun 5th Edition is a bad game. It just proved to me again, that there are some rule systems I just can’t handle. I have always been a player and GM who enjoys trying out new systems. But this also means that I just can’t put too much time and effort into a single system. And from what I’ve seen so far, a game like Shadowrun 5th Edition needs a lot of time and effort to be run properly.
So what I am going to do now? At first I’ll have another look at the 2nd Edition. Perhaps the fact that I’ll run the game in the 1990s will make the task of getting into the game again a bit easier. On the other hand I could just use a different system to run a Shadowrun game. Fudge comes to mind and I’ve already found a Shadowrun conversion for Savage Worlds. Alas HexNoir, the magic supplement for TechNoir hasn’t been released yet, since TechNoir looks like the perfect ruleset for the job, but Shadowrun is not Shadowrun without a healthy dose of fantasy.
My players already told me that they don’t mind what system I’ll use. They are more interested in the setting than the rules. So not all is lost!
Yesterday I picked up the latest Bundle of Holding containing 6 Hero System products, namely Champions Complete, The Hero System Equipment Guide, the Hero System Resource Kit, Fantasy Hero, Pulp Hero, and Star Hero. I have to admit I haven’t played any Hero System game before, but I own the Hero Basic Rulebook for 6th Edition which I leafed through a couple of times. While Hero System looks a bit crunchier than my regular fare (especially when it comes to character creation) I am interested to give it a try in the future.
But since I am no Hero System veteran some questions cropped up. Is the Basic Rulebook sufficient to make use of the books in the Bundle of Holding? How compatible is the 6th Edition to the 5th? Luckily the three bonus books in the bundle are not just Hero System sourcebooks but more like treatises of their respective genres. I’m sure I’ll get my money’s worth out of Fantasy Hero and Star Hero even without actually running a Hero System game.
Are there any Hero System experts among my readers? If so, could you please share your experiences with Hero System with me? What should I pick up in the future to being able to properly run a game using the system or should the Basic Rulebook have me covered? As always every comment is highly appreciated.
And if you haven’t done so, check out the Hero System Bundle. It’s an awesome value for the minimum price of just $6.95. If you’re beating the average price, you’ll get all the stuff listed above including the awesome Fantasy Hero and Star Hero.
A question which comes up regularly is how Fate compares to Fudge. If you’ve been following both games for a while now, you may remember that Fate was once based on Fudge. Some people even called it a Fudge variant back in the day. And in it’s early days Fate actually was just that. But over time Fate changed and moved away from its Fudge roots. Fate’s latest iteration called Fate Core has been redesigned from the ground up and aside from a similar dice mechanic it doesn’t have anything in common with Fudge anymore.
So what makes Fudge and Fate different? First and foremost Fudge is basically a rules-light traditional roleplaying game while Fate is a modern storytelling game. In Fudge the focus is on the characters and their abilities while in Fate the focus is clearly on the story. While you can basically run Fudge like D&D, Fate needs a different mindset. Fate just doesn’t work without players taking the initiative and driving the story forward. This in one of the great strengths of the game, but if your players prefer to be more passive, Fate doesn’t really work that well. For a Fate game you need a group of pro-active and creative players that have stories of their own to tell, and who are not willing just to follow the GM along.
While Fudge definitely makes roleplaying easier for everyone by just not getting in the way, it’s not as important that all the players are enganged in the story fully. Fudge is a great game for any GM. You can basically tweak it to your hearts content, make it as rules-light or rules-heavy as you like, and even graft elements from other games onto it. But at it’s core it’s still a pretty traditional game. For games like Fate you need to get yourself into a different mindset.
While I love both games for what they are, I have to admit that Fudge feels easier for me to run. It’s closer to the games I played when I was first introduced to the hobby than Fate. If I started with games like Apocalypse World, FATE and Fiasco, I might see things differently, but this wasn’t the case.
In my opinion Fate and Fudge are two totally different games that are both very enjoyable. Treating Fate Core as a Fudge variant doesn’t do either game justice.
What are your thoughts on this topic? Please share your comments below. As always every comment is highly appreciated.
My relationship to Fudge was a pretty strange one. While I always loved certain aspects of it (the dice mechanics are pure genius), I didn’t really “get” it for a long time. I approached Fudge’s 10th Anniversary Edition like I approached most other games. But alas that just didn’t work. You can’t just pick up that book and start running. At least that’s not how it worked for me. Fudge offers endless options and I felt overwhelmed by those options pretty quickly. I always try to use rules-as-written at least for the first time I run a new game, and I just couldn’t decide which of the rules I wanted to use for my game.
Then I stumbled upon Micro Fudge. Micro Fudge is a very lightweight implementation of Fudge that did some of the heavy lifting for me. The author, Jonathan Snyder, has already picked a couple of Attributes and Skills and decided which options to use. This makes getting into Fudge so much easier. When I ran my XCOM game I basically just used Micro Fudge. Later, when I started to prepare my Fallout game I used the attributes and skills from the computer game but still kept a few elements from Micro Fudge. So Micro Fudge helped me to open a door to the huge world that is Fudge gaming.
After running Fudge a couple I feel much more confident with the system. And I am realizing that there is not one Fudge, but many. The whole idea of the system is to make it your own. So it’s more than likely that your Fudge game is totally different from mine, even though it’s still Fudge. That’s probably the reason why there’s a certain hurdle to overcome when you want to get into Fudge, but if you get over this obstacle, you quickly see what Fudge has to offer. The system is extremely versatile, and as lightweight or heavyweight as you want.
Does this mean I will now exclusively use Fudge? No, of course not. But I’ll definitely use it more often in the future especially when I want to run a game inspired by computer or video games. Both the XCOM and the Fallout games worked like a charm and I don’t think things would have been as easy with most other games.
Last Friday I ran the first session of the Fallout Fudged game I wrote about. Character creation was pretty fast even though I had to translate a couple of terms for one of my players. The party consisted of a Albert, a good-natured Science guy, and his childhood friend Ares, who prefers fists to words when it comes to conflict solution.
My heavily-modified Fudge rule set worked pretty well, but I did some last minute changes to how character advancement works. In an earlier draft Fudge Points were also used to raise character skills and buy perks, but I changed it so that Fudge Points are only used during the game, while Experience Points can be used to improve one’s character. This change made sure that the players actually used their Fudge Points properly and didn’t save them for later.
Combats were fast and pretty lethal, but it still took them a while to take down the Rad Scorpions in the cave near Shady Sands. At the end of our first session they reached Junktown, spoke with Killian Darkwater, dealt with the assassin sent by Gizmo and managed to place a bug in Gizmo’s office. The next session will start off with Killian, the player characters, and a few guardsmen trying to arrest Gizmo. But I fear this might turn into another bloodshed.
The players and I had a lot of fun. Even though we are all pretty new to Fudge, things went pretty smoothly. The rules never got into the way and the players really managed to immerse themselves into the game world. After the game the players told me that they had a blast and they can’t wait to see how things will progress. Hopefully we’ll be able to schedule another session soon.
In the title of the post I mentioned anxiety. For a long time I wasn’t able to run anything. Probably because of the depressive episode I had earlier this year, my confidence as a GM was totally shattered and I felt extremely anxious whenever I planned to run a game. But now I feel that my confidence is slowly coming back. I guess it might take a while until things are back to “normal” but at least my life is turning into the right direction again.