Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Awesomesauce RPG family tree ...

Plundered from someone who plundered it from someone ... very cool indeed

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Unicorn Game ... the RPG that is all things to all people ...

Does it exist??

4e since its launch has been a lightning rod of controversy with legions of devoted fans who ardently defend it and many naysayers attacking it from afar ... generally stubbornly clinging to their 3.5 (a very few clinging to 2nd ed or an old school clone). I put myself with the 4e group ... I've played the hell out of 3.5 with many different groups and DMs. I have fond memories of those experiences ... but 3.5 is a bastardized amalgamation of broken combos and min max, feat centric complexity that I leave happily behind.

To me I think the big thing that all of the RPG theorists out there are missing is the simple equation that every game is bound by ... TIME ... you can do either deep complex roleplaying where you interact with dozens of NPCs and become embroiled in political intrigue, investigation, discovery ... dénouement! ... OR .... you can have awesome tactical grid based combat where the party works in  unison to defeat challenging encounters via a minis centered tactical skirmish game.

Yes you can have amazing RP with 4e quite easily ... you could even use the skill rules from say 2nd ed combined with the combat of 4e ... but at the end of the day ... if you play in an average group. You are constrained by TIME ... how much time do you have to get what it is done that needs to be done? Years ago I played in a weekly game where we met at noon every Saturday and went till 3 AM. We had alot of time ... we were doing 2nd ed ... we had alot of RP and did alot of combat. These days those kinds of games are rarer and rarer ... even hardcore gamers without busy schedules struggle to put together a five or six hour weekly session. So with a game like 4e ... that has somewhat complex mini centric combats that take an hour or two on average to resolve ... unless you have a good 8 or 10 hour block on a weekly basis ... trying to add deep long RP into the game ... well your not going to be able to get much done. So then you end up with a DM fudging exp so players level up reasonably fast, etc. etc. and you have all these wonkey add on house rules etc. etc. ... as I said ... I'll pass on that. 4e shines at providing cool gritty combat and it just flat out does NOT shine at facilitating really good RP. Yes of course you the DM and you the party can add that in ... but the RULES do not facilitate that. Whoever said previous versions didnt do that ... yes they did ... there were complex skill system sets that had rules for huge amounts of non-combat activity and that added to the options that players had for RP. If your chr was a rogue with alot of aprasial abilities, forgery, etc. etc. you could use that to springboard into RP stuff. All that is removed from 4e and you have a bare bones skill set that is ultra generic and ultra universal ... PERIOD. So 4e DOES NOT facilitate the RP like older versions of D&D did AND as 3.0 and 3.5 did ... 4e kills the RP mood frequently with the abrupt jump to the grid ... that really pulls people out of the abstract RP side of things and plunges you into tactical mini skirmish land ... where things function alot more like a minis game/board game than an abstract deep RP style game.

So for me as long as I'm gaming with people who have time constraints ... I'm always going to pick one or the other ... deep RP ... or crunchy combats ... the folks I game with just don't have the time necessary to really do awesome RP combined with awesome crunchy grid combat ... justice.  I've been there done that several times now with trying to make 3.0/3.5/4e be all things to all players ... and it just fails miserably. I strongly advocate that DMs/GMs and players match the kind of game they want to have with the system they are using.

I've also really come to believe that many people doing RPGs aspire to doing "deep role playing" but that of those throngs of people who say that ... only a small percentage really want to put the time and effort in to pull that off. Deep story driven games take a huge amount of prep on the DMs side ... and again ... many aspire to this ... but few want to actually put the time in. On the players side ... pulling off deep RP takes more than a 10 page backstory ... it takes actual roleplaying ability, focus during the game ... controlling yourself so your not constantly causing sideline BSing, and taking away from the immersive experience ... etc. etc. Deep story driven RPing is hard work. I love it ... but to be honest I've only experienced it a hand full of times in all the years I've been gaming. So this is another aspect of trying to have a game where your doing complex mini centric tactical skirmish combat ... AND ... doing awesome deep roleplaying. I think this might be a unicorn to be honest. I hear alot of bloggers out there claiming to be pulling this off ... but I'd love to sit in the back of the room and watch their group ... I'd wager that the vast majority of these so called "everything" games are falling far short of the mark.  


If I gave the impression that rules are necessary for good RP ... no they aren't ... you don't even need rules at all to RP ... if you have a good enough group with enough comfort, skill, etc. you can just hang out and weave a cool collective/interactive story ... but really ... be serious ... who does that?  What  I am arguing is that  rules that encourage RP can facilitate newer players ... or even experienced players who THINK they know what good RP is but really don't ... in moving towards better RP. At any rate that is my  main point . I don't mean to imply that rules are necessary to support decent role playing. The other main point is people focus too much on having a game that provides awesome combat and deep RP ... I'd argue NO version of D&D has ever done that very well. Along the lines of the mythical interactive story group ... that kind of group is exceedingly rare maybe just a myth.

For someone who is in gaming group building mode ... forming a new group with mixed ages and RPG experience levels ... rules can help. As for GURPS and any of the massive encyclopedic rules heavy systems ... again ... if you have a bunch of older gamers who aren't averse to that kinda game ... cool. If you have a mixed group, some hardcore gamers some not so hardcore ... some 36 some 19. No offense but GURPS, RIFTS, Shadowrun (all games I've played extensively, along with 3.5) are pipe dreams ... people get bogged down in the rules, people get bogged down in min maxing ... the games derail fast if the GM isn't a ripping bad ass master of the rules ... players get bored .. the game ends after 4 or 5 sessions. That's my experience anyway. Anymore I just hope that we have a DM/GM who is a master of the rules to such an extent that the game doesn't derail and that the players are having enough fun to want to come back the next week.

Monday, July 19, 2010

First game of 40K in a LOOOOOOOONG time ...

Well the struggles ... trials ... tribulations ... to get decent mini gaming back into my life seem to be finally paying off. I played my first game of 40K in quite some time. That entire quarter of the board is my Ork Horde (fully painted no less! once I get a proper display board and get some of my auxiliary units done up like the loota boyz and tank busta boyz along with the battlewagons ... I'll get some photos up) ... it was 1750 vs. 1750. Sorry that I'm not doing a full battle report, but honestly this was the first game out for both my opponent and I since last summer. We are both potentially decent players, but we were rusty as hell and  had some herky jerky ... stops and starts as we looked up rules or got things wrong, etc. That said though the game was AWESOME!!

We both made a few tactical errors that we likely wouldn't have made had we been back in the swing of things. We got a couple things slightly wrong (like him shooting at units with other units after they'd gone to ground, etc.). 

Though the setup favored the Tau (as you can see NO terrain that really offered much cover) ... we were playing an Annihilation mission. We went a full 6 turns and I barely pulled out a win (5 to 6). As you can see my list is basically Ghaz and lots of boyz with Ghaz in one truck with 10 nobs and a warboss in another truck with 10 nobs. My opponent was running an ultra shooty Tau list with 2 pathfinder squads, 2 hammerheads, a lone broadside, 1 min sized fire warrior squad and two squads of Kroot. It was in some respects my worst case scenario ... and I would have bet money each turn that I was doomed ... but da ladz proved me wrong and managed a victory anyway. Really fun times ... some tweaking will occur on my list ... but I'm not running Orks to win games ... that matters not to me ... being a bad ass at 40K is like being good at picking your nose ... its a nasty habit and rather pointless.  

I'd rather just enjoy games and have fun. I strive to make viable lists that give my opponent at least a bit of a challenge ... but I vastly prefer playing a somewhat thematic army at least loosely based on the actual backstory of the game. I also prefer to be running a fully painted army vs. another fully painted army (I'm working on the folks in the group to get their stuff painted ... we are doing paint nights, etc. ... we'll get there).  All this said it is possible at some point the gaming group might form a 40K team and run some jerk power gamer net lists against each other so we can attend some local tourneys  (facing the store trolls who will be running unpainted stuff with the BoLS list of the week *shudder*) ... but if we as a group do it together and work as a team to get better that might be fun (at least for a couple of months or so ... then it will be time to take a 40K break and do some WHFB 8th for awhile). 

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Jervis Johnson on 8th edition Warhammer Fantasy

Some general comments by Jervis Johnson on 8th edition Warhammer Fantasy ... for your viewing: