I’m on something of a mission to break out of my own habits, and the biggest one by far is Dungeons & Dragons, I’ve been role-playing for eleven and a half years and I’ve branched out into… one other role playing game ever, Pokethulhu. I mean, including Pathfinder I’ve played a total of four different editions, and I’ve played in other people’s games, like Dragon Age, Call of Cthulhu, Battlestar Galactica, and others. But I don’t run enough of a variety.
So what do I do? Give myself a bunch of deadlines and cram like mad! Here’s what I’m up to…
Call of Cthulhu
Moving from a heavy combat system into something that offers a very different kind of threat is a fun shift in terms of writing. As a fan of horror it’s nice to put players in front of a situation they can’t stab to death, so naturally I’ve been composing something where the characters are about as bland as I can muster, a bunch of office workers trapped in an industrial estate in a “situation” (don’t want to give too much away here, GM’s prerogative) that they are completely ill-equipped to handle.
The principle mechanic is the Sanity system and that’s the thing I need the most practice with. My biggest mistake was applying sanity effects without a numeric reflection, lesson learned there and I should know better than to separate mechanics and narrative. The character sheet communicates a great deal about the intent of the game, and the CoC sheet is heavy on the skills… extremely heavy on the skills, but there’s a lot to play with in character creation, you can basically create any scale of investigator, from the slick 30’s high-collared detective to the most mundane office worker.
Sentinels Comics: The Roleplaying Game
Superheroism has been on the to-do list for a while, and I rather like the roster of characters from Greater Than Games. The card game, Sentinels of the Multiverse, is based on a fictional comic book universe featuring some new faces that are oddly familiar, almost as if they were drawing some unapologetic inspiration from elsewhere. It’s all about action and heavily focused on visual story telling, as the intent is to describe your actions in the form of a comic panel. This means I have to get better at my visual descriptions but given that I go heavy on the “theatre of the mind” it shouldn’t be too difficult to shift.
In terms of the mechanics, the character sheets are… if anything too thorough, so for my players it was awkward to pick out exactly how to put together their attacks and techniques, but once that hurdle was overcome it actually proved pretty comprehensive and useful, and has the potential for a lot of scenarios. Currently I’m only playing the preset scenarios which takes me out of my comfort zone, but without the full product in front of me I’m unwilling to start writing. If you’d like the full product the Kickstarter only ended in February, so preorders are still in the works.
Era: The Consortium
My regular group are unaccustomed to d10 systems, and frankly so am I, nor am I all that great at writing science fiction, but this was fun, if anything this was the most fun, especially because it’s one I’ve been studying for a while (including roping in a friend to help me break it down, thanks Chris) to make sure I get it right, but actual practice has been slow in coming. I’ve played systems before where your skills determine the number of dice you roll, first time running one, it’s… interesting not setting the target numbers, there’s a lot less of the “winging it” that I have become accustomed to.
But running sci-fi is good! I never get grenades, or guns, or systems to hack, or vehicles, oh am I going to have fun with vehicles. I’m playing The Consortium over the weekend, but I’ll be spending some time thereafter writing games, putting together some one shots and maybe a campaign or two. Sci fi opens up a few options in terms of social commentary in terms of narrative, offers a new toolkit for action scenes. The Era universe has the backbone for corporate warfare which is all kinds of my thing, but I think I made need to give the aliens a soft intro to my writing, so for now I’m going human-heavy, and bringing in the races of the Consortium over time until I can do them justice. It’s nice to finally get some momentum going, anyone want to play some sci fi?