Monday, April 15, 2013

Crumbling Blocks

While I'm still languishing under a bit of writer's block (frustrating as heck), it has been easing somewhat. I'm formulating what my contribution to the Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day is going to be. To help get me further into the fantasy mindset, I've been watching Game of Thrones (excellent show, by the way), reading through various D&D books like the Volo's Guide series, the Ravenloft boxed set, and other Forgotten Realms, and Mystara/Known World material. Once I finish the last story in The New Space Opera, I'm going to start reading George RR Martin's Song of Fire and Ice series. I've switched into fatnasy mode in video games as well, setting aside the Mass Effect series in lieu of playing Torchlight II and Diablo III.

I'm still in the preliminary stages of planning the world for my S&W games. I know that it will be a sandbox-style game. It's still going to use a lot of elements from classic D&D settings like Mystara, Ravenloft, Forgotten Realms, Dragonlance, Greyhawk, and Blackmoor, but it will also have bits tossed in from other settings like Iron Kingdoms, Freeport, Wilderlands, and Scarred Lands. What I'm trying to achieve here is setting up a world with a lot of possibilites and stating off points. As my sons get older, I have hope that they will interested in gaming, and the idea of having a world set up and ready is appealing, largely because we could just jump right in and get started. Time is short now, and I don't expect that to improve much in the years to come, so I'm working on the setting now to be prepared for that time. If nothing else, if even if I end up running the setting for a group of established gamers, I'll still have the setting ready to use.

I'm not going to be ignoring Sci-Fi wholecloth, however. In light of my writer's block, I've been re-evaluating my "perfect" system. I've played through some test combats, and it's really damned deadly. Low level characters have a frighteningly high mortality rate even against "weaker" foes. It doesn't improve much with higher level characters. I don't mind character death, it's part of playing RPG's, but if there's little chance of survival no matter how many precautions the players take, then it saps a lot of the fun of playing. After all, what's the point in devising plots and story hooks, if the characters are going to die so readily and regularly? It's forcing me to look at what I'm doing wrong, and the possibility that maybe another system might even be more to my playstyle's liking. Thankfully, there are plenty of sci-fi games out there that can be used: SWN (which I already have a "just the rules" version written up), Alternity, Rogue Space, Star Frontiers, Traveller (in a mind boggingly array of versions), Hulks and Horrors, Starships and Spacemen, and so forth. I do have to admit that in my house system I fell into the trap of trying to use everything. Trying to cover every possible base and eventuality. While playable, it's still a bloody monster.

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