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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4283 Members Latest Member: - otto Most online today: 60 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: What do YOU buy? Why?  (Read 2510 times)
contracycle
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Posts: 2807


« Reply #15 on: January 20, 2003, 05:38:40 AM »

I largely follow Jonathans criteria; Beauty = Good, partly because I am very sympathetic to the Buckminster Fuller quote, "When I am working on a problem I never think about beauty. I only think about how to solve the problem. But when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong.".

Mechanics that are inherently elegeant.  Worlds that are well developed and rich (not just empty venues).  Graphic art that does exposition and mood setting.

I also wanted to echo Clintons remark about the character sheet, if a book is not sealed the charsheet will be my first port of call; this is IMO the single most important implementation of the rules system and, as above, if it is is not itself evocative I will need some other overwhelming reason to get it.

I'm biased against the polyhedral dice; IMO is this is trying to bring the mainstream into the ghetto, as it were.  I say if it can't be done with d6, or d10, it probably shouldn't be done (see Bucky quote above).
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xiombarg
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« Reply #16 on: January 20, 2003, 12:00:07 PM »

1. Nearly anything I've "heard of". "Heard of", in this context, means I know something about what the game is about and what makes it interesting before I buy it, or at the very least I'm familiar with and like the author in some way. Thanks to the Forge, I've "heard of" a lot of indie games, which is why I own a lot of indie games now, when previously I didn't.

This criterion is an absolute must for me. All the other crierions listed below, from 2 onward, make purchase more likely but have to combine with #1 in nearly all cases.

I admit this means I'm highly suseptible to "buzz", for this reason. However, where the buzz comes from means a lot -- I trust y'all here at the Forge more than press releases.

2. Ideally, what I'm buying should be immediately useful for a game I'm running right now (or ran recently in the past -- I buy a lot of game supplement on the "I wish I'd had that a year ago" theory), or on the flipside...

3. Out-of-print or otherwise difficult to find. The latter is also why I buy a lot of indie games -- you can't just go to Waldenbooks and buy the core books like you can with D&D.

4. Not an adventure. I hate adventures.

5. Crunchy. Increasingly, I'm more interested in innovative mechanics than settings. I have enough interesting settings now to choke a horse, and I know I can grab more via d20 if I want 'em. I want a good "toolbox" for different type of games.

(Ironically, this is how I was hooked to the Scarred Lands d20 setting. I bough Relics and Rituals for the crunchy bits, but the setting-specific flavor encoded in the crunchy bits struck me as innovative and interesting enough to hook me.)
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richks
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« Reply #17 on: January 25, 2003, 07:21:09 AM »

I'm a total sucker when it comes to buying stuff, but it has to be interesting.  I buy way more than is healthy and way more than I realistically ever use or even read.  I've got core books I paid 25GBP for 6 months ago which I've never got past the intro, skimmed the system and thought "that's got promise, I'll read that properly when I've got some time".

This is a long post, skip to the end if you want to avoid my opinionated drivel.

What I do like.

What I buy tends to be fairly chaotic really.  There aern't any game lines that I follow and buy any and all for.  I rarley sit and wait for a new suppliment to be out.  I tend to buy core books for games with interesting setting and acceptable mechanics.  Mechanics are of interest to me, but for the last 10 years I'm quite happy to wing it if the systems not to my taste.  Having said that, when I run a game, I'm not going to waste hours re-writing the system if I really don't like it, I just don't have time.  Why would I buy Spycraft and make the rules work for me when I can just use Gurps or something.

What I don't like.

High fantasy settings really turn me off.  I don't care how well the mechanics of a system reflect wizards and elves and orks and knights, I'm just not interested.  Some games recently have had a darker, less Tolky feel such as Agone and Children of the Sun, which I actually find interesting, but standard fantasy stuff's just not for me.

Anything that uses "traditional" rpg rules.  By this I mean games with systems that use any of the following mechanics will be put back on the self and never, ever bought, played or even discussed:

    Random character Generation,
    Levels,
    Classes,
    Hitpoints[/list:u]

    Another thing that's important to me is the way a publisher decides to publish their work.  I'm not interested in spending 20 quid on a book which won't give me enough to run a game.  Games which require a seperate Player's book and GM's book also won't get looked at for instance.  If there's a main rulebook I'd better be able to use it to run the damn game.  I'm fine with there being suppliments and such, a players guide / companion / whatever, but if you can't even think about running a game without them I don't wanna know.  The worst example of this I've ever seen was Deadlands, every chapter pretty much said "there is a type of character like this, there's a suppliment for them called this, if you want to have them in your game go and buy that book".

    Other turn offs (won't stop me buying/playing a game, but makes me think twice) include use of dice other than d6s and/or d10s, any kind of alignment system, anything which uses % systems or records stats and values of the order of 100 (I prefer lower values), games with negative statistics, systems that add a layer of extrapolation to character statistics by claiming that numerical stat's don't exist when they do and whole lotta other stuff.  This is an aesthetic value on my part, and not some attempt to change the way the industry works.

    But it means that I never look at d20 stuff.  That system pretty much embodies everything I personally regard as "bad and broken".  But again, that's just my opinion and it's my money and d20 products don't get it.  A d20 label on a product saves me from having to decide if I like it: I know I won't.

    This probably sounds really negative, but there's so much being published these days that I'm not in a position to wade through all of it and decide if it's any good.

    Recent (last 12 months) books that I bought and was impressed with include Mechanical Dream, Transhuman Space, Nobilis and Hero Wars.  Hero Wars is way outside my usual taste in terms of setting, but the way the system works intrigued me and I saw a discounted copy so bought it and it blew me away.  THS is just a well crafted, but not desperately innovative setting.  Nobilis is perhaps a bit too arty for my tastes, but very well written and a nice coffeetable book full of neat ideas and a rather wonderful atmosphere.  Mechanical Dream's rather naff editing isforgivable and adds to it's charm.  Uninspired system, but a lovely and very alion setting.  For some reason I bought White Wolf's Deman game, which really made my skin crawl.  Like Clinton, I can remeber really liking their setting and games about 6 - 7 years ago.  I like the idea of a consistent gameworld, so that the players know about things before they get into a situation.  Knowing what a Troll Street Samurai is likely to be capable of helps set the tone of a scene, for instance.  But I also love the way that GURPS books tend to be writen, as a toolkit you use to build you own settings.  Both types of book have a lot to offer.
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Scott_Lynch
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Posts: 12


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« Reply #18 on: January 26, 2003, 08:43:09 PM »

Interesting thread developing here. What I *will* buy is too swayed by circumstances (financial and otherwise) to have any consistent formula, so I'll address what I almost certainly *will not* buy:

--Anything with a preening leather-chick built like a porn star in the cover illustration gets a pass. I'm a heterosexual male and I *like* the female form, but if I'm looking at a book on, say, d20 Valkyries, a leering Anna Nicole Smith clone in a white fur bikini and brass nipple clamps standing on a snowdrift doesn't excite me, it makes me laugh. A lot.

--Anything with back-cover blurbs or advertising copy slamming other games or styles of gameplay; "At last, you can role-play rather than roll-play!" or "Not a clumsy adolescent power fantasy like D&D" aren't marketing blurbs, they're admissions of fundamental prejudice or snobbery.

--Anything with an unnecessarily messianic bent in its blurbs and copy. "The next real revolution in game design!" "At last, a game that elevates multiperson simulational interactive Dramatainment(TM) to the level of an art form!" Bah. Feh. Gah. Not on my watch.

--In general, I am *not* interested in games that use mechanics to give the players some portion of shared narrative control, though I do look at 'em. I am especially not interested in games that do this in combination with an unnecessarily messianic attitude as described above. I'm a sentient adult human being, not a helpless plebe "trapped" in an "outdated paradigm." You're not rescuing me from anything, chief. Save your propaganda for your own gaming table.

--Artwork used as a space filler, totally unrelated to the nearby text. I also frown on its cousin, unrelated artwork that the designers *think* is relevant because they add a little text beneath it describing what it supposedly is. I think *Earthdawn* (which I do like) introduced me to this concept... they'd have the occasional totally abstract and bizarre illustration, and the text would say something like: "Allajorana makes a long-distance phone call!" Riiiiiiight.

--Books with blank pages at the rear for "notes." Render unto me a freakin' BREAK. Especially when you have eight or more such blank pages! Especially when you don't have an index or a character sheet!

--I also look at the usual suspects, writing and editing. Generally, three to four paragraphs is enough to reveal whether you're dealing with a real writer or a self-deluder. If I pay money for your words, I expect and demand that they be worth paying for in some respect. I have 800 pages of gaming material that I charge money for... and five times as many pages in my files that I wouldn't inflict on anyone even for free! Writing is an entertainment art, and an author had better be communicating clearly beginning with page one, paragraph one. There are many authors out there also deserving of my money and attention, and if you can't write, then find a real writer or insert thumb in posterior and spin, with all due respect.

--I try to avoid games that attempt to plaster a layer of fraternal politics over everything by adhering to what I call the Generic White Wolf Template: Characters are CoolNouns, separate from the blind and sheeplike HoiPolloi, fighting the EvilNoun via their secret AdjectiveNoun powers. Characters are all members of FactioNouns. Characters make frequent use of a lingo of ProperNouns. The GM is not a GM but rather a Pretentious Noun, and this is not a game but rather a Shared DramaWeave.

Note that it isn't entirely White Wolf's fault for establishing this template, but rather the fault of dozens of WW-inspired-neophytes (like me, once!) for claiming it as their private gospel. It turns a lot of potentially cool games, for me, into nothing more than footnotes for later consideration ("Note to self-- at a later date, write a game about cybernetic disco dolphins in space that doesn't suck nuts.")

Cheers and best,

SL
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