Since my GM hiatus started back in June 2017, I used the opportunity to play in as many games as possible. For a very long time I was basically the go-to GM for many of my friends, but I didn’t get to play as often as I liked. Being the GM is fun, and it’s something very dear to me, BUT sometimes you just need to stay on the other side of the GM’s screen for a while. So, what games have I been playing during these almost 12 months?
Mutant Year Zero & Gen Lab Alpha
If you’ve followed this blog for a while you know that I am a fan of post-apocalyptic settings in general and the Mutant games by Free League in particular. Mutant Year Zero is definitely one of the most exciting and immersive games I’ve played so far. Since I am playing one of the bosses in our Ark (which is a derelict aircraft carrier), the game is sometimes pretty political. My character, Washington, is an idealist, trying to build a new civilization on the ruins of the past. He strongly believes in compassion, reason, and justice. In a way he sometimes feels like an anachronism. I have to admit that Washington shares a lot with myself, aside from the fact that I don’t have the Mind Terror mutation in real life.
MY0 has all the elements I love: drama, politics, intrigue, exploration. Matthias, our GM, is also doing an awesome job running the game. He even manages what usually fails spectacular: while he’s running the game, he also plays his own player character. This is usually a recipe for disaster, but in Matthias’ case it works great.
I’ve already wrote about our Genlab Alpha game in my review of the core rules, so I will skip it here.
Shadowrun 3rd Edition
This is a game I’ve been playing for years now. And even though I think that the rules are a mess, the game itself can be a lot of fun. Planning runs, trying to get to our goals without even raising an alarm is a lot of fun, and sometimes we even managed to have some flawlessly executed heists. But usually things go terribly wrong and everything ends in a messy fight. Since we usually ignore some of the more tedious rules (like bioware stress etc.), our characters got very powerful, very quickly. While some games might break down with characters that powerful, our GM just raises the stakes a bit. Our Shadowrun campaign is over-the-top and great fun, but all good things must end eventually, so we decided our current adventure will be the last. We’re dealing with dragons and their machinations this time, which is IMHO very fitting for our last bow.
Numenera is one of the games I enjoyed running the most. It perfectly suits my GMing style and improvising whole scenarios was perfectly possible. From a lazy GM’s perspective the Cypher System is just a joy to work with. But I also fell in love with the setting. It’s fantastical, wild, weird, and fun. When I first picked it up I hoped someone else would be willing to run it, so I could play it myself. So I was overjoyed when my Shadowrun GM invited me to his Numenera game which he has been running for a small group of friends for a while. After leafing through the Character Options 2 book, I quickly decided to play an Artificially-Intelligent Seeker Who Speaks to the Datasphere. Unfortunately scheduling has been a bit of an issue, so we haven’t played more than once since I joined, but I had a blast!
Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition
When our Traveller GM told us that he wasn’t able to run as often in the future because of an increased workload at his job, one of the players stepped up and offered to run “Curse of Strahd” for us. So we decided to pause the Traveller campaign for a while, so that we can play some D&D 5th Edition in the coming months. Ravenloft is one of my favorite D&D setting and I think the latest iteration of D&D is probably its best. I had mixed results actually running it, but the prospect of actually playing it made me quite excited. I eventually decided to play a Moon Elf Warlock with a Celestial patron, with a custom background: Detective. Think of an Elven Sherlock Holmes. One of the other players even decided to play my sidekick, so in a way he’s the Watson to my Holmes. Together with a Human cleric and two Dwarves (one sorcerer and one ranger) we were sent out to investigate Wolf attacks in Daggerford, which turned out to be caused by Werewolves. While following the tracks we were suddenly engulfed in Mists which brought us to a different plane…
While I was looking for inspiration for my character I noticed that a lot has happened since I last looked into D&D 5th Edition. There’s a lot of homebrew and 3rd party material available, which is usually of high quality. I got also quite interested in Matt Mercer’s campaign setting again, and currently I am tempted to buy a copy – just in case I want to run D&D 5th Edition again.
Star Wars Edge of the Empire
The most regular game I currently play in is our Edge of the Empire campaign in which I play probably my most quirky character. Zid, or Captain Zid, as he usually calls himself, is a Gand Fringer who recently discovered that he has some connection to the force. After an exploration of the Jedi temple of Tython he started to follow the path of the Jedi, which sometimes comes in conflict with the realities of the hard life on the Outer Rim, and his naiveté. While I was pretty skeptical about the games’ mechanics at first, I quickly fell in love with it. It might not be as simple and straightforward as WEG’s Star Wars which still has a special place in my heart, but interpreting the dice rolls can lead to some pretty cool results sometimes. While we have dealt with some pretty grim and serious issues in the campaign so far, the mood at the game table is usually quite light-hearted and fun, sometimes bordering on the silly, especially when Zid is doing one of his weird dances again.
Last but not least there’s the Jovian Chronicles game I recently joined. It seems I am not the only person out there who loves the hard-science mecha RPG by Dreampod 9. An old friend of mine introduced me to this GM who was dying to run this fine game, and I immediately took the opportunity. What I am not too fond off are the rules of the 2nd Edition (which is the one were using). While the basic dice mechanic is quite simple and easy to understand, the overall system feels a bit quirky and has a lot of fiddly bits to it. From what I remember (I haven’t read it in a while) the 1st Edition made more sense to me. But I can live with this as long as the game itself is fun. And so far it is! My character is basically the Jovian equivalent of Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan. At least that’s how I conceptualized the character, we’ll see how he turns out after playing him for a while. In our first session we ended up in the middle of a terror attack by unknown forces and my fellow player characters were “volunteered” for the Jovian intelligence services in order to help me investigate the incident. Unfortunately for my character this feels more like a job for a chaperone.
I am currently extremely excited about what the GM will throw at us next.