RPGaDay 2018, Week Four: WHICH…

RPGaDay 2018 infographic

RPGaDay is an annual celebration of tabletop roleplaying.

Week Four: WHICH…

  1. … game mechanic inspires your play the most?
  2. … dice mechanic appeals to you?
  3. … non-dice system appeals to you?
  4. … game do you hope to play again?
  5. … RPG do you think deserves greater recognition?

20th: Which game mechanic inspires your play the most?

This is a tricky one, because while there are games that can inspire play, it can be difficult to credit specific, separable game mechanics for the same. Sometimes it’s the whole thing, sometimes it’s the setting, or the other fluff, or just the way that the players have engaged with this particular campaign.

I guess I’ll fall back on an old favourite, Smallville RPG. Smallville (or Cortex Plus Dramatic Roleplaying) is a system for super-powered teen soap operas. Lots of different mechanics and moving parts contribute to that, but the one I’m going to focus on is the escalating contest: you roll when you want another main character to do something, then they roll, then you both keep rolling in turns until one of you voluntarily does what the other one wants or you get stressed about it. I’ve played a few campaigns of this game now and it always leads to high melodrama, which is absolutely the intention.

Smallville is out of print, but elements of the system exist in Cortex Prime, including the escalating contest. It isn’t framed in the same way, but you could run a dramatic game by ruling the following: roll when you want another main character to do something, if they voluntarily give in before rolling they don’t take stress, if someone cannot beat the previous difficulty then they take stress. That should set you up nicely for some melodrama, yeah.

21st: Which dice mechanic appeals to you?

I’m fairly easy when it comes to dice mechanics: one die or a hundred dice; standard process or different every time; whatever it takes for your specific game.

22nd: Which non-dice system appeals to you?

Rather than gush over Microscope again, I’m going to interpret this as asking about games that I haven’t played yet and talk about Undying.

Undying is a diceless Powered by the Apocalypse game inspired by Vampire: The Masquerade. It’s one of the best structured RPG books I’ve read in a long time, and so many little things seem intriguing, but in general it is the game’s focus on theme. In Undying, ultimately it all comes down to blood. Vampires need it to live, to fuel their powers, to maintain their status, etc. Blood is a spendable resource, and choosing how and when to spend it drives most of the game’s mechanics. The handful of other traits in the game (status and humanity, mainly) range between 0 and 3, whereas your maximum blood is between 10 and 20. And, of course, you can always get more blood… it’s right there for the taking…

23rd: Which game do you hope to play again?

A bit sad, considering this was my answer to a similar question back on day 1 of RPGaDay 2017, but I would still like to play Kagematsu again, for the same reasons I talked about last year.

24th: Which RPG do you think deserves more recognition?

Oh, I don’t know. Basically anything that’s not D&D, I guess? I play D&D, but that’s not all there is, and it’s a shame that when I tell people I like roleplaying games I have to introduce them to the concept by means of the only one they’ve ever heard of. That is, if they’ve heard of any at all. Heck, some people don’t know about D&D either, so I guess the real answer is: all RPGs deserve more recognition. The entire industry deserves more recognition.

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