Help Me Find A New Game

So I’m having a bit of a problem. My friend Drew does not like 4e. I no longer like 3.X. We both like Call of Cthulhu and I’m still running that game, but Evan, the other core player isn’t able to attend much for personal reasons. Therefore I’d like to have a second game on the go, so I’d like to find one we can both enjoy.

General requirements: Neither of us like overly complicated rules like GURPS or Aces and Eights. Conversely Feng Shui & Wuxia are too rules light. This would be a casual game & we’ll probably have people dropping in and out each session so the rules should be easy to pick up & characters easy (and fast) to generate. Having a sample adventure is a must, so I can see how its supposed to work.

Games I can remember playing:
-Played a game of Dark*Matter using the Alternity rules & premade characters: Liked the system, but characters seem a bit hard to roll up

-I really like the tactical nature of 4e, whereas Drew hates it. As I’ll be DMing this is a more minor point for me: I have enough to do I don’t get bored like I do when I’m playing.

-Drew really likes the abstract nature of White Wolf games, whereas I hate that. Also Drew likes the freedom & flexibility of those games whereas I want more definition in what my limits are. Now I am biased against WW games due to a VERY poorly run Vampire the Masqrade game where the storyteller had the only copy of the books and ran a number of the rules wrong. Also it turns out I was only invited as I had dice, so I couldn’t do anything, even what other characters with the same skills as I could. This has given me a preference for games with clearly defined rules where I can ‘stand up for my rights’ so to speak.

-I really like systems with premade adventures. I’ve only just started customizing a module in my online 4e game. If its a standard fantasy rpg I’m more cool with this, especially  if its got clear guides on encounter design (see why I like 4e) as I can adapt existing adventures.

-I like the ‘modern’ design 3e started: No silly restrictions (Dwarves can be wizards, no class/level limits), AC goes up, however I’ll certainly look at older games.

I looked at some Retro-clones even though I’m not a fan of oldschool D&D. What bothered me most was the ham-handed attempts to balance the races. I did like the simplicity however, so if anyone knows of a game in that style that does not have stupid racial restrictions on who can be what class, or what class can advance to what level let me know.

Now to throw another twist in it, we have another regular player, Switch, who gets distracted/bored easily. When that happens he gets silly and does a half decent impression of the looney from those old 4 types of role-players lists. However I’ve noticed he gets bored a LOT less in modern games, so that might be preferable. The downside to modern games is they usually don’t have many adventures and are harder to write adventures for. So if anyone has suggestions on this pass them along as well.

So if anyone has suggestions or questions of my needs/requirements leave a comment! One of the reasons I got this blog is so I could have longer & more detailed discussions with people. Well, I’m off. Until next time Stay Geeky!

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Update: I was rushing to get this post done as my battery died so I missed 2 important points:

-One of my other players is sick of horror, and a few others would like a change.

-The game pretty much must be free or have a fast play version of the rules available: I’m not dropping $50 on a game without trying it.

In response to the comments I’ve gotten: SF is certainly Ok, though if you could give me some sort of idea of what type of SF that would be great. Star Trek is very different then say, Keith Laumer’s Bolo or the Warhammer 40K universe.

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Published in: on July 26, 2009 at 11:34 am  Comments (17)  
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  1. Hitting all those buttons is pretty tough! Based on the nature of your groups, I’d take a long look at Savage Worlds.

    I’d call it ‘rules medium’ as far as a system goes. Tactical combat, but quick. They have these ‘Plot Point’ settings, which is a pre-written campaign, witch has tons of adventures, in a thread with an overarching story arc, all sorts of different genres.

    Mongoose’s Traveller is also might fit the ticket. It’s Sci-Fi, which you might not want to touch, but they’ve released a couple decent adventures, and there is a LOT of resources in the corebook for generating scenarios for the characters (I think Mongoose has some scenarios in their free PDF magazine too.)

    Lastly, take a look at Spirit of the Century, it doesn’t have published adventures (there is one in the book), but it does drop-in players well, including on-the-fly character generation, and doesn’t NEED a ton of work to put together a game. The setting is Pulp 30’s adventure, but drifts really nicely to other settings. The downside is it doesn’t particularly protect against Jerk GM’s.

    Hope you find something that works for your group.

    • I’ve heard about Savage Worlds before, will have to have a look.

      We tried to original Traveller, couldn’t find what you were supposed to DO with it, as in there doesn’t seem to be a reason to go adventuring.

      Drew is a fan of Spirit of the Century, so we’ll have to have a lok at that.

  2. You’ve already stated you like Call Of Cthulhu. If you guys like anime, give CthulhuTech a try. The framework system paints characters in some very broad strokes, leaving many of the details up to player roll play definition. They are also pretty fast to make.
    The core book includes a couple of prepared scenarios to play to illustrate both major starting factions, but may need a bit of rewrite to be playable. The setting is very story driven, and you won’t find a lot of prepared adventures, so be prepared to write your own. It’s also about the larger details–big mecha combat (with a VERY simple combat system), eldritch horrors, an invading army, and legions of cult activity. Just like in anime the minor details, such as money and mundane arrangements, are largely ignored to keep the focus on the cinematic style play. If your players are the type of rules lawyers that like to count ever copper, they probably won’t get into it too much unless they can look past it and focus on the ‘character’ of their character.

    • I’d love to try CthulhuTech however my group is requesting a change from horror (I forgot to mention this, I’ve updated the above post to reflect this, thank you.)

  3. The elevator pitch for traveller would be Firefly with Jump FTL. Pocket edition is all you NEED. Generally a ragtag group in a clunker ship, mortgaged like crazy, taking jobs, trading when they can. Easily could drift to Trek or Starship Troopers, warhammer would be tough. But the default reason to adventure is you’re broke.

    All three I recommended would be cheap/free to try.

  4. Man, maybe you should stop playing with Drew. :P
    I mean, what’s his problem with 4e anyway? Other than being well-designed, it’s not much different than 3.x, really.

    As for Savage Worlds, it does sound like it’s the best fit for your wildly divergent needs, though in my expereience, my group could not make SW not suck. We keep trying, though. :)

    I still recommend PDQ. The core rules are free and it’s a good system, though it’s probably too abstract for your tastes. It does tweak well to various settings, though. Jaws of the Six Serpents is a very nice “Sword & Sorcery” game. See my PBP game:

    http://forums.dndorks.com/forums/thread/808471.aspx

    It’s also been adapted to “swashbuckling” (Swashbucklers of the Seven Skies, also PDQ# for free) and superheroes (Truth & Justice) and a game about people who lost their souls (Dead Inside, sort of WoD-like).

    But honestly, it sounds like you guys are on opposite sides of a spectrum. Maybe you should do 4e one week and 3.x the next or something.

  5. if you have d20’s you can play star wars here is the site to download it your computer then print it the site also has a good character sheet recommended.

    [Link to torrent removed by Canageek]

    • Thank you for your help, but I’d prefer my game be legal, and really rather not to have links to torrents on my blog. Also Drew doesn’t like the idea of a Star Wars RPG as I’ve suggested it in past.

  6. I always enjoy (running or playing) a good game of Paranoia. Very accessible for the non-geeks (players *do* have various statistics, but the GM is very much encouraged to simply fudge all dice rolls in the interest of malevolent fun) and brilliant fun.

    Paranoia’s a lot more focused on the players’ quick thinking and fast talking, rather than intricate strategies and debates on the merits of buffing AC for the next round or setting up a strong defensive perimeter..

    Have a look :)

    • I own the most recent version of Paranoia (Paranoia XP, with the XP removed due to a lawsuit) and my Dad has 2e. I can see running it as a one shot but not as a long term game. Also the whole fudge all dice roles annoyes the heck out of me as you might as well just play make-believe. I like my consistent ‘game physics’ where if I do something I know I have roughly X% chance of succeeding. Paranoia being a comedy game is ok since its not serious. I mean as a DM I fudge rolls, but on the PCs behalf.

  7. It’s odd that you say World of Darkness isn’t well defined in it’s system, because my experience has been that it’s more defined than D&D of any edition is, at least in non-combat aspects. The system is lighter than D&D but more broad spectrum and covers aspects of role playing that 4e prefers to leave abstract.

    • What I meant by that is suppose I want to do action X. The DM picks a ability and a skill and you roll: Its not clearly defined in the book that when you do this you ALWAYS use X+Y. Or at least I don’t THINK it is. As I said, we found out the storyteller was lying about some things. Also DMPCing and blatant favouritism, so its hard for me to tell. But I find in WoD games the Storyteller does a lot more based on ruling and how they think things should work then a DM in D&D. I could just be playing with DMs that run it that way though: I’ve never read the rules.

  8. If you ever get a chance read the rules. They’re far more consistent than your shitty GM would have you believe. They are a far-cry from anything resembling D&D, but they are consistent and versatile. I’m a big fan of the new stuff, especially the psychic stuff from Second Sight, the Vampire Requiem stuff, Changeling and Hunter are quite good too. Exalted is my fantasy thing of choice, though it’s a little heavy on rules for anyone not indoctrinated in it’s ways from birth… Exalted is cool because it’s not Tolkeen fantasy, but that also means that you basically have to re-learn a whole new set of fantasy conventions, and that sucks if you don’t have a tutor.

    • I don’t see why I’d want to play Exalted: While I like some anime none of it involves oversized weapons & big hair. In addition to that bad game I’ve also played: Scion and a bit of HtV. I always get bored in combat: The Storyteller sets up badass combats: I mean in one Scion game I was driving a god-car on two wheels across a ledge narrower then that car at 120mph while the party leaned out the window and shot at the demon-toad-titan-thing following us. But I didn’t have any choices to make: All I could choose to do was go faster or slower, and at one point jump the chasm or take the ledge. But except for the fact that if I screwed up we all died I didn’t get to DO anything but keep rolling. If I’m a gunslinger I get to roll dice to shoot. In D&D3.5 I can play a spellcaster and make a choice each round. In 4e I get to play ANYTHING and make choices each round. In WoD/Scion…no combat map, no powers, just dice to roll.

    • I talked to someone about the nWoD rules vs the oWoD rules: It sounds like the new ones are a lot more consistent (IE Difficulty is set so only number of dice varies vs number of dice and difficulty and number of successes needed varying) I am enjoying a Hunter the Vigil game I’m in, it just does not run much as of the 3 players one is in the arctic working and the DM is fighting with one of the other ones about an real life issue.

  9. That’s an issue yes, it’s an issue with most games that favor narrative over tactical gameplay. Exalted is slightly better for adding combat versatility with it’s charm set, but it gets pretty unwealdy at times too and the flavor isn’t for everyone. So if your GM’ing style is combat heavy then chances are Storyteller isn’t gonna be for you.

    • Its not so much combat heavy as I get bored whenever combat is just ‘I attack, I attack’: I’ll run entire sessions without combat. I think 1-2 combats ever 4 hours so or is about right in D&D, less in CoC or such.


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