Tuesday, 8 August 2017

RPGaDAY 2017 – 'Which RPG cover best captures the spirit of the game?', 'You can game every day for a week. Describe what you'd do!', 'What was your most impactful RPG session?', and 'What is a good RPG to play for sessions of 2hrs or less?'

Here I catch up on the last four days of RPGaDAY. I honestly don't know if this is in the spirit of the thing, but...

'Which RPG cover best captures the spirit of the game?'
I'm not sure how to answer this, since honestly the best covers tend to gel smoothly with the design so that you barely notice them as a discrete element of the whole. Covers that fail to capture the spirit are the ones that stand out, usually when you get about halfway in and find yourself thinking 'why are five centuries of British history all happening at once and where the actual fuck are the pirates?'

1668? Bollocks more like.
Yes, that's right long-time readers, I'm talking about first ed. 7th Sea again, and in particular the fact that its cover very clearly promised one thing – swashbuckling adventures in the Golden Age of Piracy (1668, to be exact,) and instead delivers a mishmash of historical fantasy including the weird assumption that Elizabethan drag never went out of fashion in a pseudo-Britain where Scotland is hardcore post-Catholic Stuart and there is no Commonwealth, because after all, history doesn't consist of related events at all.

You know, it's never really occurred to me before, but I think that after the massive dissonance with the cover, the thing that stopped me getting back into 7th Sea however many people told me it was the most amazing thing ever(1) was that its world-building grated so much. Thea is a world put together from an anachronistic assemblage of each nation's 'classic' period, without regard for the fact that history is a great, interlocking machine, and that you can't just ignore those interactions and have each nation have reached their idealised historic peak simultaneously. Also, the Eisen looked ridiculous, and I turn out to have a serious twitch about a swashbuckling game with a full-fledged magic system.

Now, it's entirely possible that there is a solid fictional history behind the cultural clusterfuck of Thea, and I hear that the second edition is a very high-class piece of game design. I'll likely never know, because with my time so brutally curtailed by the demands of adulting, it's hard for me to take a chance on something new, and harder still to take a chance on something that's burned me before.

'You can game every day for a week. Describe what you'd do!'
A whole week with no other demands? Sleep?

Okay, if I am required by the terms of whatever scenario means that this can happen to be gaming, then I'm going to hire a place in the country and put together a programme, damnit.

Mornings would be fresh air and exercise after a late start and a good-size breakfast: Nice walks or visits to local parks and places of interest with my daughter, because yes I'm taking my daughter with me. Late morning we'd have board and card games out for those back from their walks.

There would be a social, but not sit-down, lunch at about one o'clock, after which we'd begin in earnest, with two hours of 'A Game of Ponies', followed by breakout boardgaming. A light dinner would be served early, followed by a large-scale boardgame while whatever kids are with us are put to bed, followed by a late supper for the grownups and the meat of the week, a five-part campaign, probably run in a relatively freeform fashion using Fate Core rules.

'What was your most impactful RPG session?'
The climax of James Holloway's long-running Unknown Armies game was a big one, dramatically reshaping a lot of my expectations of how a campaign should go when we wrapped up by running into a burning building with no real expectation of survival and called it an unqualified win.

'What is a good RPG to play for sessions of 2hrs or less?'
Wait; there are sessions of more than two hours? That would be nice.

(1) And there are a lot of them, and people I trust, although in truth a lot of the enthusiastic descriptions have served only to convince me that this isn't for me. One friend described the awesome pirate adventures her PC had while near-permanently shapeshifted into a cat. Weirdly, I would be more enthusiastic about a pirate swashbuckling game in which you could opt to play as the ship's cat, than one in which you could turn into a cat.