Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Current State of Things...

Jeesh, it's been over a week since my last post. I keep promising more details about my S&W campaign, but time just isn't on my side these days. Between being busy at work (lots of boofungus going on there, which is spurring a pretty frantic job hunt), and the typical crazy summer schedule of things to do with the kids at home I'm left with no time to myself to do much of anything other than sleep. If things progress along a couple fronts, I hope to have more free time soon, which will allow me to start churning out updates like crazy...well, comparitively.

About the only gaming I've been able to do of late is a little Skyrim on the PS3. I waited for the Legendary Edition to come out so I wouldn't have to bother with purchasing DCL seperately. While no CRPG matches the experience of gaming with friends gathered around a table, Skyrim is a pretty damn good game. I've been enjoying it emmensely, even if I've only be able to log a couple hours in it.

I was going to continue on the video game front with the whole PS4 vs XBox One debate, but seriously, it's been done to death. I'm in the PS4 camp primarily because I'm already an entrenched PSN user, but I'm not writing off the XB1 yet. At any rate, I'm waiting on picking up any next gen system. I learned my lesson with 3 RROD'd XBox 360's and one YLOD'd PS3. Let the early adopters ferret out the hardware issues and I'll swoop in when the systems are cheaper and in a much more stable state.

Friday, June 07, 2013

I Want to Like You, I Really Do. But....

My gamer ADD isn't solely video game based. I bounce around from RPG system to RPG system, but unlike video games, where I may walk away from a game I enjoyed and never come back, I tend to have my old stand-bys that I keep coming home to. Still, I like to buy and try out a lot of different games. Who knows when I'll find a system that just blows me away? I may be attracted to a game by message board buzz/word of mouth, cool artwork, excellent setting details, or interesting stated design goals. Sometimes I hit paydirt, like when I dediced to pick up Savage Worlds on a whim, but most of the time I have a little fun either reading or (too rarely) playing a game before it's relegated to the shelf or harddrive. Occasionally, there are the games that I'm disgusted that I wasted time and/or money on, but thankfully those are rare.

Today, I'm going to look some systems that I really, really want to like, but the thought of trying to play them makes me cringe. These are games that I find bits of to be brilliant, but the whole package just isn't palpable to me. In most cases, I still buy product for the system just to rob for setting fluff and conversion fodder for "better" systems.

Exalted: This is going to be a common theme for many of these games listed: "I love the setting, but dislike/hate the rules." I love the setting. I really think it's some of White Wolf's best work to date. I'm not even a fan of anime, but I dig the artwork. It just oozes style and really conveys what the setting is all about: high drama in a mythical psuedo-Oriental world where people with lots of power battle. The production values are through the roof. However, the rules leave me feeling cold, and that's both 1st and 2nd edition (though I do have to admit that I haven't played the 2E rules yet, just read them and the breakdown of differences on message boards and such). I don't hate the rules for Exalted, but I dislike them enough that I really won't play Exalted unless the Storyteller knows the system backwards and forwards, otherwise the game moves with a snail's pace. That's just not right for a game who's genre involves people that can leap through trees and combat is a blur of weapon flashes and lightning-fast kicks and punches. To me, Exalted is like a movie where the previews make you think you're going in to see a comedy and it ends up being a melodrama.

Anima: This is another anime-inspired RPG and another game where everything is just gorgeous. The GAIA setting is interesting in the sense that it's feels like a what Tolkien-like setting would look like when looked through the lens of being developed as a Japanese role-playing video game. It looks and feels so reminiscent of Final Fantasy, which (until FF 12) was one of my favorite series of CRPG's. Where Anima falls apart for me is rules. They are very Rolemaster-like (I believe I recall seeing somewhere that Anima is based, at least in part, on the Rolemaster rules) with lots of charts and calculations. The explanations in the rules aren't the best either. Now that might be due to inconsistencies in the translation (Anima was a Spanish RPG originally), but if that's the case (and not me just being dense...which is entirely possible) then that's a failure on whoever did the translation. This may just be the old man in me, but the system is just too complex. I don't want to spend a ton of time and need the help of a spreadsheet to build a character or monsters. So my pretty Anima books sit on the shelf, every now and then being referenced for an idea to carry over to Swords & Wizardry. I've never had a chance to play Anima. Sadly, my group balks at it everytime they try to make a character. It's a fairly long process and it immediately turns off most of the group. Maybe someday I'll get the chance to find out what combat is really like, but if it's anything like Rolemaster like it appears to be, I won't end up being a fan.

HERO: I've played a good bit of HERO system (mostly in the Champions setting) over the years. They've built a great setting and really for all the complaints of needing a slide rule to play the game the mechanics aren't that bad once you get into them. That said, the system is still where HERO fails me. There are much better systems for supers that does what HERO does far simpler. I still pick up setting books for HERO games, though. They are great resources for use with other systems, no matter the genre.

Rifts/Palladium: Out of all of the games on this list, I hate the Palladium system. It's inconsistent, needlessly complex, and sadly will never likely receive the major overhaul that it so desperately needs. That said, I have had a lot of fun playing both Rifts and Palladium Fantasy over the year, though definitely in spite of the system. Rifts, for me, is really the perfect setting being a mix of post apocalyptic, supers, fantasy, and sci-fi. It's a smorgasbord of crazy wahoo insanity that just flat love. For as wacky as the setting is, Kevin Siembeida makes it work. Now, don't look too close as the population figures or how ley lines and such work and are laid out because there's some pretty big holes in the logic wall, but that said KS puts it all together in a way that feels right. Sadly, it's bolted to a system that was a wreck when it was built. The same goes for Palladium Fantasy. The setting is great and is one that I have used for D&D several times over the years. The Palladium system works better for Fantasy than it does for Rifts, in my opinion, but there are still systems that do what it does simpler, faster, and cleaner. In spite of my hatred of the rules, I have a large collection of Palladium material that I continually use to convert to systems that are simply much, much better.

I'm sure there are a few other games that fit my critera of wanting to love, but just can't. These are the main ones mostly due to the amount of time and money I've spent (and in the case of Rifts and HERO, still spend money/time) on them.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Goings on

I've been pretty quiet this week for a variety of reasons all tied to work and home. However, I haven't been totally ignoring my projects.

First off, I'm up to 1680 creatures for my S&W monster collection. At this rate, I'll be ready to close the door on Monster Codex 2 and move on to collection monsters for Monster Codex 3. (I'm trying to keep page counts down to keep the books in a manageable size.) I've also picked up a new new monster books off of RPGNow to add to the conversion pile!

I've got a lot of notes on my S&W setting. I hope to start posting setting material dealing with the "Core Nations" of the world (mostly those covered in the D&D Gazetteer series) shortly, likely starting with the Grand Duchy of Karameikos.

After a lot of hem-hawing around, I picked up Barebones Fantasy and the Flesh and Blood sourcebook. I'm not usually big on percentile-based systems, but I like what I've seen so far from Barebones Fantasy. The use of classes as skills is an interesting twist. I haven't made it through the entire core rulebook yet, and therefore haven't started a character and tried out some quick fights. I hope to get around to that tomorrow.