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General Forge Forums => Actual Play => Topic started by: Matt Wilson on May 06, 2003, 01:23:08 PM



Title: Profiling supplemental - great experience, wrong system
Post by: Matt Wilson on May 06, 2003, 01:23:08 PM
Hey:

I'd like some more info from anyone willing regarding question 2 of the profiling thread: what were the three best games you ever played.

In my case, 2 out of 3 of those games had mostly to do with a really great group and a mediocre system. (the third one happened to include both a great group and a great system)

But those 2 games would probably not be listed as "games I've played before and that have first priority for an upcoming game."

so here's my request: if you listed a situation similar to the above, explain what the situation was and if there's a game you'd use instead if you wanted to run a similar kind of adventure/campaign in the future.

One example from me: I ran a homemade space opera game using Silhouette, a few years ago, before I knew about the Forge. I had a hell of a cool group to play with, but the characters reeked of personal stories that weren't well represented by the rules, and the players didn't have an easy way to bring them into the limelight on their own. I didn't know it at the time, but what I really wanted was something like TROS's Spiritual Attributes. If I were to play another game with that group in the same vein, I'd use a system that addressed that sort of thing. I think realizing it was a large part of what motivated me to design a game.

Aw heck, one more: I played in a Deadlands game that was over the top with character and style, and that game had some of the best lines I ever heard anywhere. But the "flaws" on my character sheet always felt like a way to get points, and there wasn't an easy way for me to bring them into the story. Natch, if I were to have my way, I'd probably want something like DD's devils.

Looking forward to what other people have to say.


Title: Profiling supplemental - great experience, wrong system
Post by: Ron Edwards on May 06, 2003, 01:36:31 PM
Hi Matt,

My calls would be ...

Oops, must clarify. By naming a game here, I'm not immediately tagging it as "mediocre" so much as "ill-suited for the kind of play we subjected it to."

1. The Babylon Project. The GM tweaked everything from the damage rules, to the Psychokinetic point-structure, to the reward system (made it more like Toon), bit by bit, until around about session three or four we were playing the Narrativist game we wanted.

2. All Flesh Must Be Eaten. Right about a third of the way through the session, Dav said, "These rules must go," and changed the hit-location rules into a whole different thing based on rolled damage. Considering the crucial role of head-shots in a classic-zombie game, it made a whole lot of difference and allowed us to concern ourselves with desert-island social dynamics among our characters, which is what we wanted.

3. AD&D (1979 version). Oh golly. Almost impossible to summarize the revisions involved, but it sure wasn't what it started as.

Funny, in none of the above instances was I the GM. I kind of have a thing for playing the game as written - not always, but almost.

Best,
Ron


Title: Profiling supplemental - great experience, wrong system
Post by: Matt Wilson on May 06, 2003, 01:41:05 PM
Quote
Oops, must clarify. By naming a game here, I'm not immediately tagging it as "mediocre" so much as "ill-suited for the kind of play we subjected it to."


Good call. That was actually what I meant to say anyway. I edited the title of the thread to reflect it.


Title: Profiling supplemental - great experience, wrong system
Post by: Clinton R. Nixon on May 06, 2003, 01:57:40 PM
1. D&D2e + 3e mix. This harkens back to my proto-narrativist days playing with Peter Seckler. We had a great Planescape campaign with the oddest D&D characters you ever did see. Still, there were plenty of times the system just said "No!" to whatever we wanted to do. A great example was the idea of our items growing in power with us, which we had to make a whole system for.

System I'd have used: Hero Wars. Oh, yeah, I'd have had to make keywords for the setting, but the idea that my club getting caught in a fire and having a burnt end making it more powerful because I named it 'Char-End' would have worked much, much better in HW.

2. Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay. Another great campaign I played in where we eventually had to add new rules and chunk old ones. My character started as a barbarian captured by carnies and sold as a gladiatoral slave (inspired by Fafhrd) and ended up becoming the leader of a truly equal-opportunity army of hobgoblins, bandits, and snotlings, pissing off half the Empire and meeting great people along the way. Rules for leading an army, surprisingly, are few and far between in WFRP.

System I'd have used: The Riddle of Steel. There's not much about the original game I used I didn't like - I liked critical hits, I liked lethality, I liked the non-prevalent magic. However, Spiritual Attributes would have ramped this game through the roof.


Title: Profiling supplemental - great experience, wrong system
Post by: DaGreatJL on May 06, 2003, 02:00:29 PM
I have to say I'm rather glad this thread was made.

1. AD&D, 2nd Ed: This game was done VERY differently from the way the rules are written; it was done online, via posting on forums, and most actions were simply PCs interacting and developing IC relationships; there was quite a bit of Director stance used, under the general (unstated) rule that "if it doesn't effect another PC or a storyline someone's trying to develop, it's fine?" It also had LOTS of PCs (50-100), and about a dozen GMs, who set up most encounters as kind of Bangs, without planning out the results. I played in three different games of that type, and having been searching/trying to figure out how to remake it with more formalized rules ever since.

2. One of my favorite "campaigns", for lack of a better term for a series of interconnected games, was a Heros Unlimited game I ran, with a setting made up myself. I say "made up" instead of "written" because I kept it pretty vague: It was modern-day, with the existence of supers a secret suppresed by the evil, controlling US government; the PCs were gathered by a wealthy philanthropist/martial artist who wanted to fight the system. I didn't do much prep for sessions; I liked to just set up a conflict and let the exteme personalities of the characters do the rest. Unfortunately, Paladium was actually a pretty terrible system to use for this purpose: making complete NPCs took a LOT of work, and just making part to serve whatever wouldn't help much for the "just make it up according to the way PCs take the action" I was trying to do. In short, I couldn't make NPCs on the fly.


Title: Profiling supplemental - great experience, wrong system
Post by: Matt Wilson on May 06, 2003, 02:15:37 PM
I must not have made clear what I was looking for in my first post.

If any of the games you listed as "best ever" on the profiling thread required extensive drift and wouldn't be on your list of games that you want to play again soon, that's what I want to know about.

I can list tons of games that didn't work the way I wanted them to, but are there any that you still listed as "Best gaming experience ever?"


Title: Profiling supplemental - great experience, wrong system
Post by: Clinton R. Nixon on May 06, 2003, 02:22:53 PM
Quote from: Matt Wilson
I must not have made clear what I was looking for in my first post.

If any of the games you listed as "best ever" on the profiling thread required extensive drift and wouldn't be on your list of games that you want to play again soon, that's what I want to know about.

I can list tons of games that didn't work the way I wanted them to, but are there any that you still listed as "Best gaming experience ever?"


Matt,

Ah, that makes sense. It kind of disqualifies my two above examples, except...

I've listed them in Profiling threads before! It's only been in the last year that I've been finding a group I love combined with games that friggin' work, so they're not listed any more.


Title: Profiling supplemental - great experience, wrong system
Post by: Ron Edwards on May 06, 2003, 02:29:26 PM
Oops, me neither. I think I listed the Babylon Project in an older Profiling thread, though.

Best,
Ron


Title: Profiling supplemental - great experience, wrong system
Post by: Jason Lee on May 06, 2003, 02:29:57 PM
Well, I listed My Own Unnamed Game, Gamma World, and GURPS (fantasy).

As for My Own Unnamed Game, I'm obviously biased - It's just the best period.

The GURPS game also joined system and group rather nicely.  The game was very much about making the most bad ass character you could with 100 points.  Given the nature of Currency is GURPS, it was the perfect game for this.  I seem to remember the best answer being to spend your points on money and use the money to buy magical armor.

Gamma World was all group, so much so that I don't even remember the details of the Gamma World system.  Hell, I don't even remember what edition it was.  That says to me we didn't use much of the system, and hence it must not have matched very well.


Title: Profiling supplemental - great experience, wrong system
Post by: Gordon C. Landis on May 06, 2003, 02:57:18 PM
My DD3e Dark Sun entry drifts the setting a good bit, and uses the system in a particular way, but I think that system would be entirely recognizeable as DD3e to folks.  This is still running, and I'd probably prefer a modified HeroWars/Quest as the system, but 3e's not *such* a bad fit I would recoil at the thought of using it again.

My Talislanta entry drifted the magic system a lot - but that was it.  Ron's recent comment about how 1987 Tal essentially *is* the d20 core engine is no news to me . . .   I'd probably favor trying the new Tal magic system (the main - though not only - thing that's changed since the Tweet ver) if/when we play a Talislanta game again.

And obviously - by that homebrew label -  my OD&D homebrew entry drifted OD&D, but that was back in the day when it may not have been possible to play D&D without drifting/adding greatly to what was presented.  If I were to do something like this one over again - definitely NOT D&D of any kind.  Maybe something like a broad-brush Universalis framework strapped to a Sorcerer or RoS fine-scale engine - this was a "shared GM'ing" game where we took whatever TSR/Judge's Guild/etc. products seemed cool and found a way to fit 'em into our campaign.

Hope that's what you were looking for,

Gordon


Title: Glad you brought this up!
Post by: rafial on May 06, 2003, 03:06:00 PM
Hey Matt, I'm really glad you posted this question, because it reflects exactly on my thought process when making my selections for the original thread.

Two of the games I selected (Traveller and Champions) made the list due to sheer volume.  I played so much of them that they included plenty of peak experiences (as well as a few bummers).

However, the game I *almost* put in third place was OAD&D.  And this is because despite the volume of OAD&D I played, my memories of it were generally negative, except for *one* campaign, which still holds pride of place in my memory as the best game I ever played in, soley for the interaction between characters and players, which were in no way supported by the rules system.  For me, the ephiphany came during character creation, when I had decided that I wanted to play a wandering Zen Monk, and after realizing that there was actually no system support for my character conceptions, I simply said "I'm playing a fighter".  Except during the course of the game, my "fighter" never donned armor, only fought with a quarterstaff, and spent much of his time trying to convince the other characters to seek peaceful solutions.  Much in the same way, the other players tended not to concern themselves with what was "system optimal" for their characters at any given point in time, instead driving play with their personalities.

To answer Matt's question, I'm not sure what system I'd pick to try and recreate that particular campaign.  It would seem that something like Hero Wars might be good, although I know the system only by description and reputation.

On the other hand, the fact that we were playing "against the system" led to a feeling of "Idealists against the Real World", as characters often tried to do things that they really weren't so good at.  So perhaps it all worked out, although in retrospect it is quite clear that it only worked because we had a shared but silent agreement of what we were looking for.  It's that darn Social Contract thing.

My *actual* third choice was Flashing Blades, which I found supported the swashbuckling style of play quite well, so I'd have no qualms in running it again.  Exept that Swashbuckler surpasses even Flashing Blades in *one* area (combat) although it fails in many others, so what I'd probably do is make an attempt to weld the two together.


Title: Profiling supplemental - great experience, wrong system
Post by: Jonathan Walton on May 06, 2003, 04:43:49 PM
In my opinion, two of the best settings in existence, Nightbane (originally crafted by C.J. Carella) and Wormwood (based on concepts by Timothy Truman and Flint Henry), were written for the mother of all bad fantasy heartbreakers, the Palladium system.  There weren't even any major tweaks made to the system either, despite the uniqueness of the settings.  Nightbane is a modern horror game in which players discover that they can transform into their worst nightmares and that evil forces from a parallel dimension of night have taken over the world's governments.  Wormwood takes place on a living planet, where the very ground itself responds to the prayers of the clergy, and players battle a demonic infection.  I've run amazingly fun campaigns in both, mostly because of the people I was playing with and the setting itself, despite the fact that the Palladium system is perhaps the most broken mainstream system in existence for the type of play it tries/claims to support.

I was also in a Vampire game that was run by the director of a local theater company (also in the game was the company's dramaturg, so these guys were seriously good actors).  Unbelievable experience, but the system didn't really help us out too much.  We were focusing on interpersonal relationships, especially the strained ones between the PCs.  It taught me a ton about how PC-antagonism doesn't necessarily mean player-antagonism, and how characters can try to kill each other while both players look on with shock and awe, caught up in the heady emotion of the narrative.  But we weren't rolling dice very much.[/i]


Title: Profiling supplemental - great experience, wrong system
Post by: Bankuei on May 06, 2003, 06:35:08 PM
Since Drift is so very common, I think this is a thread that's been long over due!

1) Feng Shui
2 year long campaign, tossed out the Shot/initiative rules, the massive amount of "Hits"(HP, or whatever they were called) and went with a informal, "when you're hurt enough" system, and their rules that prevented time paradoxes from popping up.  This is, to date, still my favorite campaign, that ran something like 4-6 full story arcs.  We instituted Fortune in the Middle, although we didn't have the name for it at the time.

If I was to do it again, I'd use Feng Shui again, although I'd take a closer look and formalize the drifted rules better.

2) D&D2E
Kicked out classes, instituted a "build your own class" sort of thing that determined how fast/slow your character leveled up, including a nifty set of rules that allowed you to develop general fighting styles or martial arts specific to your character("I want my AC bonus to increase!", "Ok, that's 200 more XP to the baseline!"). Magic was tossed out for a "not quite Mage" sort of system that utilized the elements of Good, Evil, Light, Darkness, Life, Death, Law, Chaos with 9 levels in each.  Mix and match for spell effects.  

Do it again?  Definitely go with something that better facilitates the flexibility while satisfying my inner gamist.  I'd probably use Zodiac(http://www14.brinkster.com/zodiacrpg/).

Chris


Title: Profiling supplemental - great experience, wrong system
Post by: Alan on May 06, 2003, 07:45:36 PM
My most-enjoyed games were Trollbabe [Player!], Sorcerer (Charnel Gods) [GM], and Hero Wars[GM].  In retrospect, all three of these choices reflect my current joy at discovering games which favor narrativist play.  

I've played 25 years worth of RPGs and can recall many joyfull moments - but I also recall many hours of the boring grind through combat turns and other processes, all waiting for the moments when things came to life for me.  I enjoy many things about RPGs, but the thing I like most is being able to act on some value decision and have it make a difference.  

These three games have given me more bang per single session than many other games have given in weeks of play.


Title: Profiling supplemental - great experience, wrong system
Post by: wyrdlyng on May 06, 2003, 09:30:38 PM
The old TSR Marvel Super Heroes game.

I loved the simple, open character system (the ease of statting up characters was one of my favorite parts) and the Karma system (which doled out XPs for doing heroic things on a scene-to-scene basis) but didn't like the Charts, Column Shifts and general ineffectiveness of Karma to influence a roll unless you dumped tons of it into modding a roll.

So, loved the character system (an sucked large bits of it into later Supers games I played) but disliked the resolution mechanics.


Tangentially
Oh, also abhored the Ultimate Powers Book which totally sucked the soul out of character write-ups and turned them into Powers Lists.


Title: Profiling supplemental - great experience, wrong system
Post by: jdagna on May 06, 2003, 09:34:14 PM
My reasons for listing Palladium (Robotech/TMNT) are pretty much what this thread is about... though not so much because we had to drift it to get what we wanted, but because little elements of the system just kept nagging at me.  I liken it to a wool turtleneck.  It feels fine at first and is nice and warm... but by the end of the day (or eight years as the case may be), it's scatched all the skin off your wrists and neck and you're just so glad to be rid of it.


Title: Profiling supplemental - great experience, wrong system
Post by: John Harper on May 06, 2003, 11:25:09 PM
Two of mine:

Feng Shui (GM)
2+ year series with the two best roleplayers I've ever played with. It was a "buddy movie" that turned into a very long, twisty, deep story that nailed melodrama as no RPG experience has before or since. We didn't tweak the rules very much, but we did drift it in the sense that our play sessions became all about giant, violent set-pieces and churning character conflicts/passions, all at once. The FS rules really only touch on the first half of that equation. If I had to run it again... I'd use... hell, I don't know. Maybe that game needs to be written.

Pulp Heroes d20 (player)
Our GM wrestled the system to the ground and made it his bitch. I learned that d20 can really deliver a kick-ass pulp genre experience, even with "level one" heroes and other such nonsense. We played 13 episodes and it wasn't until the end that I realized what Tony (the GM) was doing, making us start as (wussy) little level one d20 characters. We were playing out our origins. Season Two was gonna be the "superhuman pulp hero" story. Season One was "who are the heroes and how did they team up?"

We started with an elevator repairman, a pilot, an ex-soldier, and a journalist. We ended up with a Genius Inventor, a Rocketeer, a reborn Atlantean Explorer, and a Psychic Investigator. Instead of writing our backstories, we played them. It was brilliant, and fun, and cool. If I had to run it myself, I'd still use d20 because Tony taught me how to make it sing.


Title: Profiling supplemental - great experience, wrong system
Post by: Drastic on May 07, 2003, 12:37:22 AM
Two of my three fit here.

I played Werewolf on a MUSH with strict character-app control (we were known here and there on the exploding WoD-MUSH scene as fascists), that had no dice-rolling code and very little of the standard character sheet coded for in chargen.  Rather a lot of drift from the tabletop game as-writ.

AD&D 2nd shows up in #2 for a common enough reason of nostalgia, plus there was a lot of sense of fun in how we played.  I have fond memories of my Erisian cleric, whose prayer sessions often included screaming arguments with his goddess about the particulars of the spells he needed.  Some large amount of systemic drift also happened, but I don't remember the ruleset anywhere near well enough to be sure of that.


Title: Profiling supplemental - great experience, wrong system
Post by: Lance D. Allen on May 07, 2003, 07:09:03 AM
Quote
We started with an elevator repairman, a pilot, an ex-soldier, and a journalist. We ended up with a Genius Inventor, a Rocketeer, a reborn Atlantean Explorer, and a Psychic Investigator. Instead of writing our backstories, we played them. It was brilliant, and fun, and cool. If I had to run it myself, I'd still use d20 because Tony taught me how to make it sing.


That... that's brilliant. That, right there, could possibly solve many of the grievances I've had with d20 and it's ancestors over the years. Not all of them, as I still dislike levels and character classes, but many of them. This thread has proven insightful to me. Thanks.

I can't add anything about my experiences, as the games I've liked I've liked the way they were. WEG Star Wars, Shadowrun and V:tM all work just fine for me as written, so I've little else to add.


Title: Profiling supplemental - great experience, wrong system
Post by: Tim C Koppang on May 07, 2003, 08:27:42 AM
Although I didnít post this in my latest profiling update, I have historically listed Shadowrun among my favorite gaming experiences.  For one, I played so many SR games that of course some of them were really rewarding.  However, on the other hand, over the years, I came to despise the rules as written.  I found myself actively trying to adhere to the rules more and more, but with less enthusiasm for the game in general.  Eventually I had to drift the game.  For the most part it became straight up Gamism with myself in the GM seat; with short stints of Sim play concentrating on exploration of character.  Only when I threw out the Decking, Rigging, and most of the detailed combat rules did I start to have the good times I once experienced in my more youthful RPG days.  I put the emphasis on figuring a way past all of the high-tech security building and badass mages.  Then, the fun ensued.


Title: Profiling supplemental - great experience, wrong system
Post by: Ben Morgan on May 07, 2003, 08:47:49 AM
I'm going with Cyberpunk.

Most gamers I know were raised on a steady diet of AD&D, but I grew up on Cyberpunk. I've played a hell of a lot of it over the years. When we started, it was a great system. "Hey, the damage rules are way more realistic than D&D's hit points!"

Didn't realize until very recently that over the years, my needs as a gamer had gradually changed. I had a lot of fun playing the game, and there were some really cool "oh shit" moments. However, due in part to the style of the GM, these moments were the exception rather than the rule, and when they did happen, it was really kinda by accident (didn't help that the GM was a bit of a control freak, and wanted to be the only one who could do cool things, while we sat around and marveled).

I knew that there was something wrong when the game who's tagline is "Style Over Substance" did nothing to encourage style, but instead rewarded the guy with the biggest gun.

What system I would have used: If it had existed, the system I'm using now. It's still Cyberpunk, kinda, but stripped down, with bits stolen from Sorcerer and octaNe (with Lumpley's philosophy about guns in RPGs), the system is designed to: A) give the players control over the direction of the story, through Kickers, and B) offer a reward system that encourages players to actively try to achieve those "oh shit, that was cool!" moments. So far, it's been running fantastically.

-- Ben


Title: Profiling supplemental - great experience, wrong system
Post by: Zak Arntson on May 07, 2003, 11:07:37 AM
Weirdly, my biggest experience with this was Donjon (http://www.anvilwerks.com/docs/donjon). One of the most flexible and entertaining games I've ever played. Our group, at the time, included a very casual gamer, myself and my two attention-span-challenged brothers, and all of us complete video game heads. And not much D&D nostalgia which makes parts of Donjon really gel.

I wanted _more_ improvisation (yikes), particularly in the realm of monsters and adventure creation. I wanted everyone to have access to the same system, regardless of whether they were spellcasters or not. We wanted to get rid of the ability scores. All my players created characters/archetypes from nostalgic video games (a surprise at the time, but not in hindsight). Soon we all wanted to see crazy special moves and flashy graphics.

So I created Fighter-D Alpha (http://www.harlekin-maus.com/fighterd/fighterd.html) to address that. It's kind of like Donjon's second cousin.

EDIT: I should point out that most of my experiences with a system that didn't fit the group were ended with an early end to play, rather than any system tweaking.


Title: Profiling supplemental - great experience, wrong system
Post by: Michael S. Miller on May 08, 2003, 03:25:41 AM
I've regularly listed AD&D 2nd ed. as a favorite of mine, because of an awesome campaign I ran my freshman year of college. The best story arcs were either completely unsupported by the system or cobbled together by me.

I had a paladin put on trial for murder. How do you run a murder trial in AD&D 2nd ed.? We just freeformed it, and it was awesome.

The players organized a peasant revolt against an evil overlord. Couldn't find rules for that, either, so I just kind of added the peasants/soldiers as bonuses to the main PC/NPC rolls, I think.

But the best storyline was a glass skull I had the neutral wizard find in a dungeon. It was a relic of a long-dead evil mage, who wanted to come back. He offered the PC a bit of magic resistance here, more spells there, in order to get him to do the rituals that would allow the evil mage to live again. In the end, and without prompting on my part, the party devised the best way to trick the mage into manifesting and destroyed two of their most potent magic items in killing him permanently. It was a thing of beauty.

Of course, I realize now it was a Sorcerer story, and 2nd ed. did nothing to enhance it.


Title: Profiling supplemental - great experience, wrong system
Post by: szilard on May 08, 2003, 08:42:04 AM
One game I listed was a weird Shadowrun game that used WoD creature-types and the Storyteller system. The GM decided to do this rather than run a straight SR game because all the players were familiar with White Wolf. He was a great GM and the group was a lot of fun. Some of the players were a bit younger and munchkiny, but over the course of the game they really matured... which oddly translated into some nice character development.

The Storyteller system really wasn't the best for this game, though, despite the fact that it supported a wide range of character types. The game centered on a lot of interpersonal relationships, planning, and cinematic action. The system did very little for the first two and bogged down the third. On the other hand, I don't think that the Shadowrun system would have been any better. . . and the GM did some interesting things with his reinterpretation of a cyberpunk pseudo-WoD.


Stuart


Title: Profiling supplemental - great experience, wrong system
Post by: John Kim on May 08, 2003, 10:23:13 AM
Of my three "Most Enjoyed", two were highly varied from the original system.  The other was Champions, which I generally played pretty straight out of the book (with some mods like changing Stun Multipliers and Move-Throughs).  I still find it a great system, but it has a horrendous learning curve which makes it inaccessible to the people who I want to play with.  

My current campaign is using RuneQuest, which I have modified in a bunch of ways -- most notably by using Whimsy Cards in play.  Still, it is getting pretty close to where I want it.  I don't know of any system which would have been closer to start with.  

The other was a Call of Cthulhu campaign from several years ago, which was more heavily drifted.  This was the campaign which was the inspiration for Chris Lehrich's "Shadows in the Fog" game.  I guess I would have preferred that as a system, though I haven't played it yet.  Certainly we didn't get much of anything out of the CoC mechanics per se.