Lots of RPG BooksAt the end of a campaign sometime in 2010 our gaming group came to the realisation that we had been playing a version of Dungeons & Dragons for nearly 20 odd years with very few breaks in between. We had collected the books for other games, maybe even run through character generation once or twice, but we had never played a different roleplaying game through properly.

So throughout 2011 our gaming group at Dice of Doom spent a year on our Grand Gaming Experiment. We resolved that over the course of the year we would play 12 games run by 6 GM’s. We would try old classic games, we would try new indie games. We’d play sci-fi, fantasy, modern day, alternate reality rpg’s. Throughout the experiment, we’d rotate GM’s each month to grow the experience and skills of the gaming group and share the burden of learning new systems each month.

Overall we found the experience to be incredibly rewarding. Our podcast and reviews on the site led to other gaming groups trying the same thing. As the gaming experiment continued, we came to realise that this experience that our group had had was one that was worth sharing.

This is why we are promoting October 2011 to be ‘Play a New RPG‘ month.

Why a month?

From our experience running our Grand Gaming Experiment, we found that around four weeks was the good amount of time to try out a new game. If you treat week one as developing characters and going through the rules and a sample combat, it leaves you three weeks to run a short campaign. A three session campaign allows for the players and GM to have fun trying out the system while not placing to much strain on their usual campaign.

What’s wrong with just playing D&D?

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st EditionAbsolutely nothing! We love D&D and have been playing it in various editions for well over two decades. We are merely encouraging people to explore other games out there, to broaden their horizons and try new things.

The gaming community benefits from a wide variety of games being available – it promotes the development of gaming titles and keeps people working in the industry.

And finally, something that we have found to be very true – you will learn lots of new things by exploring new systems.

Supporting our gaming community

Part of this project is to support the vibrancy of the gaming community, and that means (occasionally) spending some money to help out the developers of games. Gaming books are expensive to develop and print (the artwork alone is prohibitive to many entering the market). For this reason we ask that you not merely download PDF’s of games and seek to purchase the games that you would like to play. If money is an issue, ask the members of the game group to chip in. Promoting the diversity of the gaming market is a primary goal of this project.

 

PANRPG LogoIt’s less than a week till the official start of Play a New RPG Month so I thought I’d write an update on what has been going on in preparation for the month. It has been pretty humbling (and downright awesome) to see people that we don’t know discussing PANRPG independently of our involvement. This means that the idea is spreading, and we couldn’t be happier.

Continue reading »

 

We’ve been cycling through a game a month for nearly 10 months now and we’ve learnt a few things from the experience that we’d like to share.

For the GMs

  1. Identify the game you’re going to play and get group buy in. If your group doesn’t want to play the game, it is not going to work
  2. Distribute the core rules early on (at least a week before the game starts). You only have a month, and you want to hit the ground running.
  3. Spend the first session focusing on character creation and core rules. Make sure everyone understands how their characters are put together, then run through some sample combats, skill checks, and any other rules that you think might come up. This will reduce the amount of time spent frantically rummaging through books looking for a ruling during a game.
  4. After the first session, ask your players for feedback on how they think the game went. Try to head off any concerns they might have. If they have picked the wrong class, race, etc, let them create a new character during the week and just ret-con it into the game during the next session.

For the players

  1. You will get a lot more out of the experience if you read the rules (at least the main sections) before the game starts. Things will not be as fun for you, or your fellow players, if you have to spend a lot of game time checking up on things
  2. Keep an open mind – you never know, you might find your new favourite game :)

Choosing an Appropriate Game

Our experience has shown that some games are more suited to a month long campaign than others. Your choices will be affected by what past experience and preferences your gaming group has. We’ve found the following games have worked best for us:
  • Spirit of the Century – A pulp based pick-up game designed for just this kind of thing.
  • All Flesh Must Be Eaten – A spine chilling game of surviving the Zombie Apocalypse.
  • Dragon Age – Based on the computer game, a lot of players already know the setting and the rules are pretty straightforward.
  • Star Wars RPG – Again, a lot of people know the setting very well, and the rules are a modified d20, so most people are familiar with them.
 

Gamma-World-Boxed-Set-CoverGamma World is a post-apocalyptic game set in an alternate reality where mutations are the norm and resources are scarce. Character generation should only take 5-10 minutes as everything is either completely random or pre-generated. Your ‘race’ is determined by a primary and secondary mutation combination. This means you will be playing an Android Cockroach Swarm or Yeti Plant. You only start with two powers so the book keeping is really simple.

The game introduces a collectible card game component. Mutations and rare technology are determined by drawing cards from the relative decks. These decks can be stacked in a player’s favour if they’re willing to purchase the booster packs.

The current version of the game is currently the 7th edition, although it is marketed as D&D 4th Edition Gamma World. The box set that the game comes in is of a very high quality with lots of tokens and maps and enough Alpha and Omega cards to keep the game interesting.

The rules are essentially a much simplified version of the D&D 4e ruleset, so if you’ve been playing a lot of D&D, the transition should be pretty straightforward. We found that the game was great for a quick pickup game being easy to pick up the rules and quick character generation.

 

Star Wars Saga Edition CoverStar Wars RPG Saga Edition was released in 2007, and uses a heavily modified version of the d20 System. Sometimes called a “3.75″ system, it has many of the good features of both 3.5 and 4E D&D.

The Star Wars setting is obviously very well known, and translates quite well into an RPG. Anyone who enjoys the Star Wars movies will enjoy playing the roleplaying game, even without being a Star Wars nerd.

The Saga Edition has excellent class design and balance, such that Jedi do not dominate the game and all characters are useful. The rules are very strong, with combats resolving quickly but satisfyingly, and there are excellent rules for starship combat that are easy to get the hang of.

Because it’s based on the d20 System, Star Wars Saga Edition is very easy to pick up for those who have played D&D, especially if you have played both 3.5 and 4E.

Unfortunately, due to licensing issues, the books are now out of print, but you can still find them on Amazon and eBay. Ensure that you obtain the Saga Edition books, not the original d20 version.

 

Call of Cthulhu (6th Edition)The Call of Cthulhu roleplaying game is set in the world of H. P. Lovecraft and places the characters in direct confrontation with the forces of the Cthulhu Mythos. Most commonly the setting is in the 1920′s although earlier and later settings are covered by the rules. The game is somewhat unique in that the ‘heros’ are not particularly special. They are usually everyday people who happen to be caught up in things. The games are also often very focused on an investigation of some occurence, or some great evil. Investigators (as the heros are called in the game) are often called upon to uncover the evil machinations of dark cults, or the malevolent workings of deranged madmen.

The game mechanic is percentile based and is very light. All the rules that you need to play the game are covered in 16 pages. That said, the books come with a wealth of information on running a Cthulhu based game – which can be very useful if you have not read many of H. P. Lovecraft’s works.

Originally published in 1981, the current core rulebook is in its 6th edition. One of the great features of Call of Cthulhu however, is that the rules have remained largely unchanged since 2nd edition. The new editions are merely improving the source material and patching up a few things when required. Almost any edition of the books will give you the true Call of Cthulhu experience.

 

Vampire: The Masquerade (2nd Edition)At its height, Vampire: The Masquerade was a serious threat to Dungeons & Dragons. It was contemporary to Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition. All the cool kids were switching over to VtM and treating D&D as an old fashioned game played by kids, rather than the ‘true roleplaying experience’ that VtM was. The game got its own Collectible Trading Card Game (originally called Jyhad, but changed to Vampire: The Embrace), a couple of computer games and even its own Aaron Spelling produced TV show also called Kindred: The Embrace.

The setting for VtM is one of a dark gothic near future where Vampires live in communities, often fighting over resources and power. Humans are treated with a mixture of contempt, need for control, as food and often with envy. A powerful theme throughout the game is the loss of humanity. The more you act like a Vampire, the less human you will be, and thus, the less control you will have over yourself. In the end the setting is very rich, with the sourcebooks being well written enough to be read cover to cover.

The mechanic is a point buy system, and only uses D10′s for random results. Success vs failures determines how things go after a roll.

There are a large number of character sheets for various versions of the game (including interactive sheets) here.

 

Gurps (4th Edition)Generic Universal RolePlaying System, or GURPS is a game by Steve Jackson Games. Originally released in 1986 it stood out from most other games that it was contemporary too for two main reasons – it used a point system for creating characters, and the system was completely generic. The core rules behind GURPS are designed to be completely setting agnostic. This has proven to be one of its great strengths. Many, many, many setting books have been published over the years for GURPS, including standards such as Fantasy, Science Fiction, Horror, etc, but also for existing systems. For example, a source book has been released for both Vampire: The Masquerade and Call of Cthulhu.

The character generation process, as mentioned, is based around a point buying system, allowing characters to balance their characters out through a series of advantages and disadvantages. All dice checks are done on a D6.

With the ease of creating source books for GURPS, and all the rules amendments that came with them, version 3 of the GURPS system got very unwieldy. The current 4th edition was designed to address those concerns and tidied up the point buy systems amongst other things.

 

Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (3rd Edition)Originally created and released by Games Workshop in 1986, this was one of the first British roleplaying games to get any kind of traction. Previously Dragon Warriors by Dave Morris (another amazing game) had been released, but failed to really get anywhere. WFRP built on the success of Games Workshop’s tabletop battle system and setting and borrowed heavily from it. If you have played Warhammer Fantasy Battles at all, you will recognise the setting, the stats, even the combat rolls that are made.

What sets WFRP apart however is the character creation method. Your character will go through ‘professions’ to gain experience and skills that are tied to what they do. The character progresses through a number of professions as the go through the game.

The overall setting is pretty gritty, and the combat can be a bit deadly, but overall, if you like the Warhammer universe, you will most likely enjoy this game immensely.

To get the original Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay experience, try 1st or preferably 2nd edition and play through the Enemy Within campaign. The Enemy Within campaign is one of the most stand out roleplaying campaigns ever published. Warhammer 3rd edition has been released by Fantasy Flight Games

There are a number of articles about getting started with WFRP at Dice of Doom.

 

Tunnels & Trolls (5.5 Edition)Widely acknowledged as the second ever modern roleplaying game, Tunnels & Trolls was first released in 1975 to be a more simple and accessible game to Dungeons & Dragons. It gathered quite a following in the early days due to its elegant and cut down system. The system suited standard roleplaying games, but also Choose-Your-Own-Adventure book style games as well, and many of these were written.

If you want to replicate the original T&T experience, finding a copy of the 5th edition (or 5.5 if you can) will suit you. This edition was released in 1979 and is probably the ‘classic’ version of the game. More recently, a 7th edition has been published which adds a skill system and ‘modernises’ some of the game mechanics.

© 2012 Play a New RPG Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha