Gaming Thursday: RPG System X: Timeout

When I started this series of posts about two years ago, A) I knew it would be a long meandering project (two years already??! Aiya!) and B) I indicated that my tastes in RPG systems where shifting. As I take a moment to pause here and reflect, I’m not sure I realized back then just how much my tastes were indeed in motion.

I had the fortune of becoming familiar with a number of new systems last year, mostly in the category of what might be termed both fiction-first/collaborative-storytelling-emphasizing and of the rules-light(er) variety. I played my first games in FATE (Dresden Files, plus our own Broken Lands) and have been growing to really like the system (which made me happy that I had supported their Kickstarter!). I also read the Cortex Plus rules (used in the Firefly and Leverage RPGs), the Apocalypse World Engine (both in The Warren – another Kickstarter! – and Dungeon World), the Burning Wheel rules (used in Mouse Guard), and re-acquainted myself with the D6 rules. This all came on the heels of my group’s less-than-exciting encounter with the FFG’s Star Wars system, which was decidedly not a rules-light narrative-based system, no matter what they say in their introduction.*

All this exposure has given me a lot to digest, a lot of different viewpoints and entry points into a different style of gaming than I was used to. While more narratively driven and streamlined, FATE ran pretty similar to my usual RPG experience(s), though that streamlining and focus do allow for a nice expansiveness to the game. The Apocalypse World games, though, they come from a very different place. I haven’t had a chance to play one yet, but reading a nice primer on Dungeon world (start on page 50 here) really grabbed my attention. I’d really like to give this one a try. Similarly with Mouse Guard, with concept of two turns – A GM turn and a Player turn – indicating who’s guiding the game at the moment.

Add to that some D6 gaming this month that has me amazed. For a system that is nearly 20 years old from its last official revision, it ran very well and led to some very explosive and adventurous play.  The bones of the game are very good.

All this has very much cemented my thoughts expressed in that first post, especially around the main assertion that detail is valuable only if it makes a meaningful and palatable difference in the experience of play. Many of these systems have less, but more meaningful distinctions. And these distinctions can be player-created, baking flavourful and interesting characters right from the get go.

All this also fuels my continued interest in the development of my own system. I’m still interested in the idea of the 3×3 set of attributes, and the advantages of the D6-like dice pool system. Being able to take these and apply a few concepts and notions from this new crop of games I’ve been exposed to excites me.

So this development journey will continue!

Probably at the same pace as before, mind you, so… grab some snacks. It’ll be a slow and somewhat steady ride…


* See both my experience written about here and also this review by The Alexandrian.

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