I’ve been thinking about what RPG I’ll run next after my current online game. I mean its not anywhere close to ending, but I’m finding 4e rather heavy for online play. I’m more comfortable with rules light systems now, after playing CoC for a year now, and a session with the full BRP rules. I’d love to run Call of Cthulhu online I am not sure how much interest there would be. On the other hand, it is rules light enough the players don’t really need copies of the rules, so we will see. Anyway I noticed a thread on Google Wave about free RPGs for online play. While there wasn’t much interest in it I added some Retroclones and a couple other games, as I figured it could be useful. I was going to cross post it here, but I then realized you could get almost all of it from other sources much faster. They did miss Microlite20 as its not a retroclone, but a stripped down d20 system. I’ll link to that wave if someone shows me how.
Anyway I started thinking about what I’d like in a rules light game:
- No arbitrary restrictions: For example if class/level based there shouldn’t be ‘no elves can be rouges’ or ‘no dwarf mages’. Other things I don’t like are maximum level limits on demihumans. They just feel restrictive and unfair to me.
- No holdovers from early D&D (Or at least few of them): AC should go up. There is no reason for it to go down (that I can think of anyway, I guess nostalgia). I’ve heard arguments that it makes more sense if you just have a track on your character sheet like people did back in the TAC0 era. However you CAN just write the same thing if AC goes up.
- Preferably nothing obviously broken out of the box. I’m still trying to figure out how the autofire rules in BRP got past the editors (+5% to hit per bullet, roll to see how many bullets hit? Ummm yeah…. So firing 8 bullets gives me +40% to hit and I hit with 1d8 bullets. Biggest complaint with the system so far.) On the other hand I don’t think 3e or 3.5 was broken out of the box. Sure there will always be some edgecase that the games doesn’t do well, or one class will be a hair more powerful, thats fine. I just don’t want everything busted when I sit down to play.
- If there is magic I want it to be useful outside of combat: My biggest problem with 4e right now is that in reaction to all the ‘scrying and teleporting broke my adventure’ magic isn’t that useful outside of combat in 4e. It takes forever to cast and is skill based. Some combat powers are useful outside of combat, but still. I like solving problems through creative solutions. Sadly in old editions of D&D each non-combat spell you carried took away from your combat spells so I usually could only have what scrolls I could afford. Really this has been a trend for a while as I noticed it in 3e as well. I’m guessing it was due to some of the stupid stuff I saw on the net from old editions (flying battering rams, gnomish flying machines powered by oil of blasting)
- On the other hand magic shouldn’t take over the game like it had a habit of doing with high level 3e, where most of the time was spent buffing
- While I normally love battle maps I’m spending too much time on them in my 4e game, even with Rich’s great silverlight map. So something position-light would be nice. I know 4e can be run sans-map, but its still reasonably position heavy. Same with 3e, though less so (most combats became stand around & hit it anyway)
- Characters that are statistically different from one another. Back in 2e two 10th fighters looked very similar. Wizards got new spells so each one would have a different selection, but if you had two in the party they’d probably swap spells anyway. I want some way to customize characters as they level. Skills, feats, proficiencies something.
- Characters have to be able to advance. While this is kinda a no-duh one there are some old RPGs without this. Traveller springs to mind (My version is old enough that you can still die in character creation). Levels, advancement through usage, skills, advancement points, something.
- Non-random character creation preferred. While I’m using that right now in my CoC game I originally started it as a one-shot. It’s gone pretty well, but I think non-random eliminates a lot of problems. I can work out what the average roles would be and make points however.
- Action-Reaction based: I’ve seen two types of RPGs. I don’t know if there are official terms for them, or at least commonly accepted ones, but I’m going to call them action-reaction and shared narration. Action-Reaction is the traditional type: The player takes an action, the DM describes the result. If there is a conflict or chance of failure you break out the dice. See D&D, Alternity, CoC, BRP, GURPS. Shared Narration can be fun, but I don’t think I want to run it right now. For those curious I count it as ‘Player succeeds at something and describes the result’ For examples see The Pool, Wuxia, Fung Shei.
- This usually goes along with a traditional system: As in one in which the characters act continuously as in a simulation of the world. As opposed to ‘cinematic’ or whatnot systems where there are set scenes to overcome and everything in between them in blurred over. I’m mostly thinking of a game called ‘Story Engine’ or some such I played once for this. Also a game where each player uses actions & acts to influence what is happening rather then everyone declares what they are doing, and uses some abstract system to determine the outcome.
- Something I can find an adventure for. This is a big one: I don’t have time to write adventures. I’ll modify them heavily, but it has to be easy to do so. I’ve kept playing CoC because the book comes with no less the FOUR adventures. While some are a lot better then others none of my players have finished all four. (Several players are on the 4th: I’ve rerun several adventures with different groups and let players move between groups as convenient.). I’ve also bought another book about Arkham which has more adventures, and a book of adventures set in Arkham. Whereas I bought the Conspiracy X book (Unisystem edition) and have never played it as it doesn’t have a sample adventure for me to cut my teeth on.
- This has always been my problem with old editions of D&D: How do you tell what is a fair challenge for the party? 3.X had CR, which while buggy worked pretty well though it took more math then I was willing to do. 4e has a great system for this. I need some kind of guideline
- BRP/CoC doesn’t have this but the power curve is pretty flat. Skills go up enough that you feel like your advancing, but your not that much stronger in any one area.
- On the other hand if I’m running a single published adventure I don’t care about this as much.
This isn’t a complete list by any means. just something I threw together to try and collect my thoughts.
I’m thinking BRP with a CoC adventure would work. On the other hand combat & dungeon crawling seems to be more popular with my players so I may go with some sort of D&D type game. Suggestions?
Anyway, its late and my wrist is getting sore (I injured it a while ago) so I’m going to head off now. Until next time Stay Geeky!