Finding the “perfect” RPG vs. Writing it Myself

There are days when I feel torn apart between finding a RPG I feel truly comfortable with and writing it myself. And most of the time both goals are equally far away.

For many years I have been looking for that special game, a game I could pick up and play anytime. Sometimes I think I’ve found it, but more often than not I quickly move to the next one. There are days when I think I should “just” write that game myself, but this feat is even more daunting.

My fantasy RPG “Warrior, Rogue & Mage” has been praised by many fans and critics alike, but for me it hardly feels perfect. I am pretty sure there are hundreds of people who got more enjoyment out of this game than me. Yes, I tend to be my worst critic.

Recently I started working on a Scifi RPG – again – just to reach a point where I would rather start from scratch than carry on – again. I guess the fact that I am a perfectionist when it comes to such things doesn’t really help.

At the moment I am trying to find out what I am actually looking for. I want a game which is pretty rules-light, but which also allows interesting and varied characters. The game should also not focus on combat and have support for scifi settings.

Other Worlds and HeroQuest are at the top of my list at the moment, even though I have the feeling that I don’t fully understand how these games are supposed to work. I also looked into a few other games with strong narrative focus. I am pretty sure a lot of people will at this point recommend Fate Core which has a lot of strong points speaking for it, but it seems I am just not meant to get comfortable with it. The system Over The Edge uses also sounds awesome on paper. It seems that at the moment I am leaning towards pretty freeform systems which feature player-defined traits.

I also looked briefly into some Cortex Plus games. Leverage looks pretty cool even though I haven’t watched a single episode of the TV series. But I guess it should work for any game focused on heists. It should even be possible to hack it into a cyberpunk game. The Firefly RPG also looks pretty sweet, but I am not sure how easily hackable it is.

The thing is I am looking for a different experience in RPGs right now and I also want to find something generic or hackable enough to use it for various settings and genres – even though I would love to run a Scifi game next. Sometimes being a GM and wanna-be game designer is very hard. Especially if you are also a perfectionist of sorts. Smiley mit herausgestreckter Zunge

Musings about Combat in RPGs

One thing I noticed while reading RPG rules (and even while writing them myself) is that combat rules often make up the majority of rules. Even in rules lite games, combat rules are usually more complex and deep than the rules needed for non-combat activities.

Even in games which are not focused on fighting monsters and taking their stuff, combat seems to be of vital importance. I don’t think I know a roleplaying game without any combat rules – although I am sure there do exist a few out there. Regarding the history of roleplaying games it’s no surprise that combat rules are so important. Everyone’s favorite fantasy RPG Dungeons & Dragons pretty much started out as an extension to a miniature combat game.

Some games – especially modern indie games – replace the rules focused on combat by conflict resolution rules which can be used for social conflicts as well. Having a game where combat is handled by a single dice roll are pretty rare. The whittling down of hitpoints by exchanging blows (or shots) is much more common.

Recently I noticed that this focus on combat starts to bother me. Combat often takes a lot of time and because of all the details involved a couple of combat turns can take hours of real time (Shadowrun is especially bad when it comes to this). Non-combat actions are usually handed by just one roll, but when the guns (or swords) are drawn, we switch into tactics mode. Is this really neccessary?

There’s also another problem. If your only tool is a hammer everything starts to look like a nail. In most roleplaying games the characters are no people I would like to spend time with. Often they are more likely to bash your head in than to start a pleasant conversation. Conflicts tend to be solved by violence because that’s what characters are usually optimized for.

I don’t know if this is really a problem that needs solving. I am just thinking out loud here. It’s just something I noticed. So, what is your thought on the matter? Do you think combat is a vital component of any RPG or do you know of any games where the emphasis is on non-violent solutions? What about games which solve conflicts with a single roll? Share your thoughts below!

RPG a Day 2016: Guess who’s coming to the game? – Day 16

Welcome to Tuesday and the continuing series of posts for #RPGaDay 2016. Today’s topic is one of those common questions that get asked a lot in questionnaires and lists of this sorts, and one I’m not particularly fond of.  But I’m committed to this challenge so I’ll soldier on. The question is:

August 16: What historical character would you like in your group and for what game?

Coming up with a historical figure can be daunting, we think we know these people, but we rarely know more than bits and pieces of their lives. While the Wikipedia entry on the Historical Figure gives a useful definition, while stating that there is an ongoing discussion whether these famous persons have really had such monumental impact on history (the great man theory vs Herbert’s idea of such men as products of their social environment) , let’s use that definition for the purposes of this post has proved really hard for me! Continue reading RPG a Day 2016: Guess who’s coming to the game? — Day 16

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