Sunday, 31 August 2014

#RPGaDAY: Day 31 - Favourite game of all time

Well now, here's a doozy of a question to finish on. I've talked about my favourite campaigns and systems and moments, but I actually don't think that I have an overall favourite RPG because no RPG is complete in itself. There are those with better or worse material in them, but when push comes to shove it isn't until you take the book or books containing the system and the setting and sit down with a bunch of other people that you actually have a game.

With that in mind, I'm going to look at a few of those elements and what I think makes for a good game.

System

We've already looked at this, in some depth, on day 18. Following from that, what I like in a system is flexibility, tactical - but not over complicated - combat and some kind of dramatic narrative system so that you are never entirely at the mercy of the dice, yet still in their shadow if not their thrall.

Setting

A good setting has space to move. I think that's critical, because unless you feel you have the world to play in, then there is always a danger - especially with licensed products - that you will end up feeling constrained by obedience to canon, especially in a licensed product. The necessary space can be achieved either with a vast setting, or a loosely defined one. It gives the PCs the freedom to wriggle, to pull a fast one or slip a mickey without upsetting a defined world history.

In James's A Song of Ice and Fire game, I went to some length to try to have Jaime Lannister offed while in Robb Stark's captivity, just so that I would be on a level playing field with the people who had read the book; especially since I already knew our side wasn't going to win (unless I could manage to field a force of devastating dire-boar cavalry, as was my secondary plan; not that my family were supportive of my efforts.)

People

A good gaming group is a strange work of alchemy. It needs between four and eight individuals, each combining qualities of motivation, individuality and cooperation. They need to be on some level on the same wavelength, so that what makes sense to one makes sense - with a little explanation - to all, but diverse enough to come up with lots of different ideas. And they need to be available at the same time on at least a semi-regular basis. That last one is a bitch.

As you'll no doubt see, my ideal gaming group is a tabletop one; that's just how I roll. Many people prefer a fest LARP vibe, but I'm not much one for camping.

So, all-time favourite game... That I ran, probably Boomtown, the WFRP game I referenced on day 29. To play in, Enemy Within or Rose Crescent (referenced on days 17 and 12 respectively.) It's not coincidence that James played in or ran all three of those, that Boomtown and Rose Crescent had a 75% player crossover, and that Enemy Within ran with a group of three years shared experience. I'm not saying you should always run with the same group - I'm currently in a game with three friends I've never TTd with before and it's going swimmingly - but it can help.

So, that's been #RPGaDAY on Out of My Mind. I hope that if you've found your way here via the hashtag you'll consider sticking around for my more irregular and unstructured gaming thoughts.

You can also check out, and even follow, my other blogs:

My Life as a Doge - Movie and TV reviews

The Iconomicon - Thoughts and reviews on books and comics

Food of the Blue - My food blog