Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Fun-School Dammit!

I'm tired of the occasional self-conscious ripples that spread through the old-school blogosphere. [I'm sure similar shit happens in new-school crowds I'm just not around to see it] I'm sort of annoyed that there even is an "old-school" blogosphere, can't we all just be RPG Bloggers. No, I know we can't. I accept there are (valid) reasons. Some people are strictly interested in old-school or more accurately their narrow view of what old-school is. They don't have time to wade through the deluge of content. Can't blame'm, its a Sisyphean task. I know, look at that blog roll I follow! [1/2 you all need to quit posting interesting stuff.]

I've been perusing, playing, and pondering RPG stuff for almost thirty years. I learned from it all. Today I find my self strictly between the lines. In no mans land with old-schoolers telling me my unified mechanics are crap and new-schoolers not knowing how to have fun unless it is fed to them on a silver plated story.

Personally, I never felt that the old-school moniker applied even though I probably agree with 80% of what 90% of people say is old-school. Lately, the term has been gathering too much baggage. And that will only get worse as more people (no not you, them) realize there's money in them thar hills. Now, I wish to eschew the label completely. I'm starting my own school.

Fun-School, Bam!

Whatever you and your players have fun doing, that is fun-school. Whatever 4tards have fun doing, that is fun-school. It can't be argued over. Hopefully it can't even be talked about it. It's for gamers who don't want to be on either or any side, who want to proclaim non-affiliation with everything except fun.

Fun is the thing. We play games. Internet meta-arguments, tis for the other peeps. We're gamers first and preferred style of play second. ('Cept those Forge dorks, they're idiots)

So, Fun School dammit!

Wow, diatribe mode deactivate. My original plan for this post was to list out loud, brainstorm, and solicit advice on how my next campaign would be like. That follows.

I want rules-lite and rules-simple, I like a little crunch too. The ideal would be a game that was easy to pick up (10min) for newbies and that layered on options and features as the **players** gained experience. Something like Avalon Hill's "programmed instruction". I've considered doing very simple LL(that's BECMI right?) or OD&D until a player gets a character to say 3rd level. Then let them at expanded options for their next character.

No epics, no scripted encounters, no storypaths. No plot. Maybe plot hooks but undetailed. Left to the players to expand. This will be so sandboxy characters will be picking sand out of their..., it'll be a sandbox.

Long term, campaign play. Some games will be at my house, some will be at FLGS. Different mixes of players but all in the same world. I hope characters reach past name level, establish castles/towers/outposts in the wilderness thus creating "home bases" and possibly ruins ;) for the next wave of 1st levels. Proly the have henchmen become one when you die entourage flavor.

Less culture building, more environment building. That one is for the DM, me. Also Mythic Dungeon and Mythic Wilderness.

A game of bashing monsters (or better yet sneakin round them), stealing their loot and then squandering it!

Some quotes:
"Hey, I've created this world for you to come mess around in. The basic idea is that your PC is seeking fortune and glory. We'll riff off each other and see what kind of cool stuff comes out of it..." -- http://www.philotomy.com/

"I don’t want to play any game where my players can't buy sacks." -- http://www.thegamerdome.com/ from www.critical-hits.com

"To me, D&D is not about trying to recreate 12th century England. It's Conan meets Aragorn and Boba Fett to go kick Kulan Gath's boney behind." -- Hussar on EN World

Castles & Crusades and True20 are two systems that have piqued my interest. I'm playing the former and have quickly reviewed the later. I also dig Mutants & Masterminds and have seen the Swords & Sorcery conversion but it's too crunchy and evokes a play style and atmosphere I'm not wanting for this campaign. True20 also seems to lean that way so I'd proly Houserule the Hell Out of It. I've even considered running two rulesets to cover the broadest swath of Fun-School possible.

Rolemaster' every weapon has it's own chart and AD&D/others weapon vs armor. Both way too rules heavy/non-simple. But, I was wondering if having a 3x5 index card made up for each weapon that would have graphically well designed and simple chart would work well. This might even be a boon for newbies as it would have all the info and steps (roll d20, add to this) needed for combat in easy to handle card as opposed to buried in imposing character sheet. [more on this in a future post]

Heroic Paths from the Midnight RPG

NO PRESTIGE classes, Worst idea ever.

NO SKILLS. I don't even want simplified skills. I think players need to go cold-turkey on this.

No tactical combat, nearly 98% sure. Probably still use minatures for marching order, general grouping, etc.

Screw balance, esp for casters. I will work hard to make sure you have fun. If, in a roleplaying game no less, you can't have fun cause someone is more uber than you then gtfo and good luck with life.

Unified mechanics (to a degree). d20, roll high.

Less mechanics, less min-max. More S&S, more phantasmagorical, more bam!

Stats -> not important. But consistant! No different bonii for each stat. I dig how C&C assigns save to each stat. Proly 3d6 in order(it's fast!) Proly this, that +3 scares me...
18 +3
17 +2
16 +2
15 +1
14 +1
13 +1

No nostalgic need for every character to have different XP / combat charts [charts are for DMs] In fact I don't really even like the multitude of classes. True20(and OD&D) has the right approach. Three archetypes. Fighting Man, Casting Dude and Expert Guy. But with with no skills that last one is right out. I'm thinking to replace him with Jack'o'Trades. They'd have the middle combat, middle saves, possibility to learn some magic, extra perks/feats/whatever. For example if mixed in with SIEGE Engine Jack would get three Prime stats instead of two.

Class flexibility built into system and not dependent on class proliferation. GURPS and other generic systems are crunchy and flexible but they are metric tonnes of heavy. And so not even maybe 10min for chargen+rules explanation. Again True20 lookin good with it's three classes + feats.

Not sure about 3.x style multi-class. prolbably out, you min/max bastards.

Less "arbitrary" restrictions esp vs demi-humans lvl restrictions. (Gygax et al were flaggin racists <- joke). This ties into having special class abilities, why can only rangers track? Why do I need a special class just to have a wizard that can track? I like the concept of perks/feats/abilities aka "stuffs" gained with level advancement. But 3.x splat'o'feat is the ugly way. Star Wars Saga Edition does it ok. True20 and/or Midnight are ok. And it needs to not be a power escalation tool or min/max playground. The stuffs need to provide more options, not boost existing options.

[I have to digress to mention the coolest new word I learned today. Truel, a three way duel.]

"Conditions" from 3.x, proly needs less of them but I like the concept.

The problem with all this; I've just described a massive homebrewed pile. So, I really need to make it seem like some published system. d20, C&C, True20, LL? Get players to make that first step into the world. Once they're there having a blast they won't care what the rules are.

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