#RPGaDay: Week One

So far on this blog, I’ve been talking a lot about War of Ashes.  Which makes sense – this blog was set up specifically to talk about it, I signed a pledge saying that I would do so, and with the playtest only running for a limited period of time it’s been the focus of my attention for the last few weeks.

However, I said in my first post that I intend this to be a space to share thoughts about RPGs more generally, and I meant that.  Whilst looking for other things to talk about, August’s #RPGaDay thing seems an appropriate starting point, especially to introduce my background in roleplaying games.

Obviously, I’m not doing this daily, because characteristically I turned up late.  But a weekly roundup of seven-at-a-time is just as good right?

  1.  First RPG Played. It’s either Inquisitor (Games Workshop’s roleplay-skewed wargame about grim-faced Inquisitors and their antiheroic acolytes in the 41st Millennium) or Dark Heresy (Fantasy Flight Games’ wargame-skewed RPG about grim-face Inquisitors and their antiheroic acolytes in the 41st Millennium), depending on what counts as an RPG.  Warhammer got me into tabletop gaming aged 9, I played my first Dark Heresy game at 18, Inquisitor kind of bridged the gap between the two.  Warhammer and 40K remain my first love, and it’s entirely appropriate that my roleplaying career started here.  But I’m glad to have branched out since then.
  2. First RPG Gamesmastered. Very similar answer to (1) – I ran a few Inquisitor campaigns for friends in school (which involved in-character decisions outside of encounters, so there were certainly roleplay elements), but if that doesn’t count it would be Rogue Trader.  I look back on the Inquisitor campaigns I ran with fondness.  Even though there’s so many things I would do differently now, these were my formative years in accumulating GM’ing experience, and I wouldn’t swap the lessons I learned from my mistakes there for anything.  In contrast, I look back on my first Rogue Trader campaign and cringe.  Using a system designed for space-bound exploration and then stealing their spaceship with Act-of-GM to force them on a planet-bound-railroad?  Not good at all.
  3. First RPG Purchased. Inquisitor (purchased in a three-way split with my brothers to save pocket money) or Rogue Trader.  Hmm.  This is getting dull.  So here’s a mildly diverting anecdote: about a year before I got into roleplaying proper, I stumbled upon the Serenity RPG rulebook.  Having just gotten into the Firefly TV show, I was tempted to buy the book for the background material, but decided against it because of how much was devoted to rules content.  A year later, I did indeed purchase the Serenity rulebook to actually play the game, and almost immediately regretted my decision.  Turns out that book had far better value as setting material than as an actual roleplaying game.
  4. Most recent RPG purchase. The Gaean Reach.  Interesting one this – I’ve known this was coming for years and had no interest in buying it (partly because I’ve no familiarity with the source material).  On a recent visit to Orcsnest though, I picked this up on the strength of the back-of-the-book blurb alone, though the fact it was only £11 didn’t hurt either.  It looks a lot of fun.  I like Gumshoe and I like the Lady Blackbird-esque setting creation that comes from bouncing off a defined start point to an adventure.  Looking forward to giving it a go.
  5. Most Old School RPG owned. So I have a copy of Ars Magica Second (Third?) Edition on my shelf that I’ve never opened.  A friend was throwing out RPG books they didn’t want anymore, and it seemed a shame to let it go to waste.  Then again, Ars Magica was pretty innovative in its day, so it’s not so much Old School as it is… Old.  I’m going to go with the sourcebooks I have for Wizards of the Coast’s Star Wars Saga Edition (specifically the Legacy Era and The Clone Wars supplements).  Because they’re the only D20 games I have, and that’s what I think of as Old School.
  6. Favourite RPG I never get to play. The Leverage RPG is one of those games that I’ve bought and read the rules start-to-finish several times and have *still* never played, but it doesn’t count – it can’t call it my favourite if I haven’t played it at all.  So my answer is probably Savage Worlds.  I love this system, and used to run a lot of it a few years ago (including a mid-length Men in Black game that remains one of my favourite campaigns ever), but it’s been a long dry spell since then.  It’s just a bit too crunchy to introduce to people who don’t know it already for short games, and Fate Core has taken over as my “generic-system-insert-setting-here” of choice… but I will run something in this system again.  The alternative way to answer this question is “favourite RPG that I run all the time but I never get to be a player in”, and there are so many answers I could give for that.  I’d love to play in Night’s Black Agents, and can never get in enough Fate games, but Apocalypse World probably tops the list.
  7. Most “intellectual” RPG owned. Really don’t understand this one.  Don’t understand what the airquotes mean, don’t even understand if this is supposed to be criticism or a compliment.  PEOPLE are intellectual, GAMES are not – or if they are, they’re only as intellectual as the people playing in them.  I guess Diaspora has some pretty smart/confusing flavour text about how hard sci-fi would actually play out in reality, but I’m going to answer Apocalypse World because (a) it’s very intelligently designed, (b) it’s very good, and (c) reading the super clever high-level game designer philosophy on the creator’s blog makes me feel like an idiot.

Phew, just in before the end of the seven days – this time next week I’ll be at GenCon (woo!).

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