The way I Roll

No bad/wrong fun. You play the games you like, the way you most enjoy. I happen to enjoy a certain style of play, and am particularly enamored with a particular system that I have played with for some years.

I started gaming in 1981, and have played with a variety of systems. The ones I remember were Basic D&D, along with 1e and 2e, Star Frontiers, Top Secret, Gatecrasher, Paranoia, Toon, Palladium Fantasy and Rifts, CoC, Twilight 2000, Both MSH and DC Heroes, V&V, Cyberpunk 2020, Fasa Star Wars, and early WoD, in its original form, LARP, and ported to GURPS.

I have played GURPS  since 1989, and enjoyed a number of translations of other settings, principally CoC and VtM. I discovered skill systems in 2e, and am a firm believer in your character having competencies that are measurable  and checkable with probability as well as roleplay. The description is always integral to the resolution, the numbers are a mechanic that determines success, much the way more than mere intent is neccessary to resolve things like combat. Do you remember the thing, or were you asleep during that class? Can you make a positive impression, (or do you have spinach stuck in your teeth, or did your voice crack)? Can you craft something on the fly, or jimmie a lock in the dark? Do you recognize the noble’s house by their heraldry, and do you know their properand preferred form of address?

I stopped playing for about ten years, and when I started up, I collected every retroclone I could find, and have had tabletop experience with DCC and SW:CL, as well as GURPS. I have also read Torchbearer, Fate, Mothership, and Dungeon World.

For the last 6 years, I have run GURPS Dungeon Fantasy. As I recently told someone, my style of play involves deep construction of a sandboxy world, that has both a measure of secrets and an internal consistency that requires building on my part. My need for this is partly tied to a memory problem I have. Players shape the world, according to the limits and abilities of their character concept. They also do some shaping of the world during character creation. You were trained by a mystic order? They, and their enemies, are out there. Suffered an injury at the claws of a dragon? Don’t  be surprised to see her shadow flying overhead at some point.

Now, we play with a certain set of expectations; these are covered in my online information about the game (the game is a play by post. ) I want the characters to be built from certain sourcebooks according to, or very close to template, and customazeable to an extent within your character concept. Technology is limited to specific tropes of the genre. I take characters at a few different power levels, higher powered concepts are not something I am equipped to deal with at this time.  Expect that your character will be excellent at the primary features of their concept, fairly good at some related things, and not so good at things that are not part of your chatacter’s main focus. If you wanted a sort of multifaceted jack of all trades, you might be good at a lot of things, but not particularly amazing at any one thing.

You can expect that other characters, much like yours, will have their own motivations, dreams, fears, limits, and connections to the rest of the world, and are invited to participate in these aspects. You can expect to have some effect on the world, actions have consequences, and good deeds make the world a better place.  There are a certain amount of fate-influencing conditions that can be built in to a character design (GURPS is a point buy system, so it is a very thoughtful choice to make to include things like this). Advantages like Serendipity, which will always place you in reach of what you need, assorted varieties of luck, Weirdness Magnet, which keeps things interesting, Wild Talent, that lets you try and spontaneously learn things you have no training for,and Gizmo and Widget, which make sure you packed your whatsit when you needed it. There are modular abilities that let you become a temporary expert in any topic, and there are social advantages ranging from allies you have a close tie with, and enemies likewise entangling your life, smaller scale things like “I know a guy” and Favor that kick in in a pinch, but there are no real narrative switches that are player defined the way they are in FATE or AW.

You build your character, and that is a worthy endeavor, and I build the rest.  This is not to say I am giving you a script, but a stage with scenery, lighting, perhaps thematic music, and I hire all of the actors not in your troupe, and write some of their lines.  I keep track of hundreds of NPC’s and their motivations, some with minimal notes, others growing in detail as their interactions with players define them.

A good knowledge roll may inform you that there are tunnels below the city, and that they have been used for smuggling, but it will not tell you that the nearest manhole opens directly into the ninja’s secret lair, because I know all of the entrances to their lair, which ones are trapped, which are guarded, and which are forgotten.  At the same time, someone built their character as a member of the Sewer worker’s guild, and paid to have a rudimentary map of the undercity.

The same way you can build a character who oozes magical terror, and someone else can be immune to fear,  you can build someone who is (expensively) supernaturally attractive and inhumanly charismatic,  and anyone else can have a (cheaper and easier) build that is simply immune to their charms;  A bonus laden roll to use sex appeal on someone completely uninterested will not sway them to your cause, sometimes the best response you might get is a polite “You are cute, but not my type”.  Likewise, a terrific search roll will not reveal a secret door that isn’t there. I usually reward critically successful search rolls with the discovery of something valuable that the inhabitants of the area are unaware of, but abilities like inventing a door when you need one are worth almost half of you character’s base points  (Warp, -10% (accessibility) for requiring a search roll to “find” a temporary door (+0% special effect) that leads where you want to go: 90 points).

Around the time of the collapse of G+, I had been to the gauntlet forae, and attempted to initiate conversations about the type of games I play, and was greeted with the same kind of condescending hostility that I used to only get from ZS and Pundit back in the day, for not playing their kind of way.

My game isn’t colonial, folks are largely exploring an area that was depopulated after a plague, and dealing with undead in the same areas, or fighting bullies, or rescuing a mixed couple from an angry mob. Sometimes they are fighting demons, cultists, and ninja, other times they are helping people the local law enforcement choose to ignore.  One group (I am running eleven threads, each with its own party of characters) is helping a village that is comprised of refugees who left their homeland without their genealogical records, and as such cannot call on aid from the ancestors they have forgotten the names of in order to combat evil spirits.  One group I had all ready to throw down with an alien elder thing, and to my surprise they parleyed, and the dice delivered an awesome reaction roll… now they have it living in their compound – an abandoned set of tenements they are revitalizing in the wake of a set of serial murders and a magical disaster that collapsed the streets. Another team had been accompanied by a GM PC that was a  godborn demon hunter.  The huntress was banished back to their home plane, leaving them to track down a magically moving shop on their own, and the gang split up to try and summon her back. I wasn’t expecting them to want her, but apparently they became very attached to the four armed celestial, and now she is back in the game.

I told someone the other day that my play style and my game were not a good fit for any systems Powered by the Apocalypse, and they asked me why I didn’t want to improve* my game, without knowing what or how I play. It all depends on what your group likes.  My daughter expressed an interest in having me run a game for her friends. I love my GURPS, but, if the game actually formed, I would be spending a bit of time learning what their assumptions and preferences were, and might end up running Far Away Land, Blood & Treasure, or 5e (like the fancy kids play) for them depending on what they wanted. I might go with BFRPG because I could get everyone the books. It depends on what they like or want. There is no wrong way to have fun.

 

 

*What they had said is why wouldn’t you want to be improving your game, but had meant doing more improv (improv-ing maybe should have been improvising) not making improvements…

 

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