#RPGaDAY is a fun social media challenge that’s been running for four years now, inviting members of the online tabletop RPG community to answer a prompt a day every day of August, thus getting people to just write about why they love the hobby, inciting conversations, making friends, and just to get everyone thinking about the hobby.
I’m kinda cheating, because instead of flooding my Twitter feed and everyone’s RSS feeds every day (and also writing every day), it works far better for my schedule to respond in clumps of five, and that’s exactly what I’m going to do, starting today, August 5th, with the first five prompts!
August 1st: What published RPG do you wish you were playing right now?
Actually, a lot, but to pick just one, for the moment, I’m going to pick Gumshoe, because it’s the one most unlike anything else I’m playing or designing right now. Gumshoe is a mystery game designed under a key observation: finding clues is very rarely the interesting part of mystery games, and it’s almost never interesting to not find a clue. Instead, Gumshoe guarantees investigators to be able to find clues, so long as you know what skills you need to be looking with. Find a body? Use your medical knowledge and immediately find out cause of death. Find some mysterious plant particles? The group’s botanist can immediately rattle off what it is.
While this sounds like a gimme, the crucial observation Robin Laws made was that the interesting part of a Sherlock Holmes story isn’t him rummaging over a crime scene going “I dunno, something’s gotta be here”; it’s him, playing with all the clues in his head, piecing them together logically to solve the mystery. My keeping the pace of the game going by guaranteeing clues, Gumshoe lets players keep going and get to the interesting part: solving the case.
I have 2 Gumshoe games I want to run, each very different, and I can’t wait to get this game to table. Plus, the SRD is free, so anyone interested can take a look!
August 2nd: What is an RPG you’d like to see published?
The super sentai genre has always had a very solid place in my heart since watching Power Rangers religiously as a child, then discovering Kamen Rider later into my adolescence. The basic genre structure, a group of cool teens gain the power to transform into suited superheroes to fight villains in a monster-of-the-week format, helped to inform a good deal of my storytelling and aesthetic tastes in the superhero genre that not even the best Marvel movies could ever shake.
The problem is that it’s hard to adapt super sentai to a tabletop RPG. The structure is, generally speaking, pretty repetitive: teens have teen problem, monster shows up, teens beat monster, (optional monster grows section for Power Rangers), teens solve teen problem. Despite plenty of fistfights and explosions, the main characters are never really at risk, and there’s a ton of filler fights with garbage enemies that would be super boring.
But at the same time, the genre is so open outside of the codified tropes that super sentai can apply to anything. Power Rangers have been cops, ninjas, samurai, and wizards, and Kamen Riders have been vampires, time travelers, ghost hunters, and my personal favorite, two people sharing a single body.
There’d definitely be some work to do to get the feel just right, and to keep the game interesting, but there are dozens of genres and stories that would be so interesting to experience through the lens of super sentai that I’d love to see this made.
August 3rd: How do you find out about new RPGs?
I’d say I find out about new RPGs two ways. The first is when I just happen across them, which usually happens while I browse either Twitter or /r/rpg. Someone will mention a game in a thread I’ve never heard of, and I’ll go look it up, think it looks cool, and either add it to a wish list or buy it outright. I’ll also discover stuff because it gets put on Bundle of Holding, an excellent PWYW bundle service for RPGs. It’s also just a fantastic way to build up a usable PDF library of games you find interesting.
The other way I find out about RPGs is when I seek them out, usually because I have a campaign or game idea, but don’t know any systems that would run it well. In this case, I’ll post Reddit threads, scour RPGGeek, and also see recommendations for running franchises or ideas similar to my idea, until I come across a new game that fits what I’m looking for. My two most recent RPG purchases came this way: In Dark Alleys, a horror game modelling a character’s spiral into corruption as they discover the unknowable evils lurking in the shadows, and GURPS, because I couldn’t find anything that did what I wanted well, and I went “Fuck it, GURPS it is.”
August 4th: Which RPG have you played the most since August 2016?
It’s close, but because I don’t feel like counting days, I’m gonna call it a tie. My main gaming group alternates between two campaigns on a weekly basis, one I run, and one run by another GM.
The game I run is Fantasy Flight Games’ Star Wars RPG. It’s an amalgamation of all three games in the line, and a campaign I started as I was learning the rules. It’s a bit of a mess rules-wise, as some really neat subsystems ended up falling to the wayside (the Obligation/Duty/Morality system, notably, but also some of the cooler things like the item rarity rules) and some other modifications I made more knowingly (a combination of the group’s newness to RPGs and my hate of tactical combat led to an abstraction of the combat rules), but boy we’re having fun with this. I’ve written all about why I like this game, but this is maybe one of my favorite campaigns I’ve ever run.
The game which I’ve been playing in is good ol’ Dungeons and Dragons Fifth Edition, specifically the Princes of the Apocalypse adventure path. I’m, I dunno, a bit more lukewarm about this? I like the group, and I like the DM a lot (his ability to really play the individual characters I’m pretty jealous of, and is a goal I’m working towards), but I think Princes of the Apocalypse might just be really boring? The plot is kinda boring and very tropey, but I think I’m having the most friction with 5E’s character creation? I just feel very funneled into specific archetypes, and my attempts to worm my way out of those just make me feel like I’m being punished by becoming “suboptimal”. Oh well, I like the group and love the DM, so I’ll press on with a new character.
August 5th: Which RPG cover best captures the spirit of the game?
I was between this and third edition Shadowrun, but I had to pick World Wide Wrestling. The complete ridiculousness of every wrestler in frame, the action, the impact you feel from that folding chari, plus the silhouette of the woman in the crowd. “Look, Greg, Johnny Atomic is choking out the Human Flame! And Iron Maiden just hit Boy Stardust in the face with an electric chair! The ref looks pissed! This is awesome!” Considering the focus World Wide Wrestling puts on wrestling as a performance, rather than an actual battle, this works perfect.
Bonus round! What game cover worst captures the spirit of the game?
Oh my god, look how serious everyone is! There are skulls and spikes and brain-cables everywhere, and you look like some sort of British admiral/space king? What a serious game!
That’s funny, because every story I’ve ever heard about Rogue Trader makes it sound like Dipshits In Space, as the extremely grimdark setting eventually goes up its own ass in every campaign until the whole group is just wielding absolute authority in the dumbest possible ways. Allow me to treat you to a selection from this /r/gametales story told by /u/Draz825:
“After visiting an Imperial pleasure world, he [the captain] ordered corridors converted into canals throughout the ship, in order to better use his speedboat for water skiing. This actually came in handy when a rival ship attempted to board us and suddenly found themselves drowning.”