Monday, August 11, 2014

#RPGaDay - Catchup and #11: Weirdest RPG Owned

I'm showing up a bit late to this party, having only found out about it a day or two ago, but I figured it might be fun to post stuff for the #RPGaDay hashtag that's been going around lately.

As such, I wrote up the following post to catch up on the last ten days worth of topics, as well as cover today's topic. So, without further ado, here goes:

1. First RPG Played - Big Eyes Small Mouth
My first time playing an RPG was the Big Eyes Small Mouth anime roleplaying game. It was a short-lived campaign, based on the equally short-lived anime series Grenadier ~The Senshi of Smiles~. The setting was similar to feudal Japan, except there were special warriors called Enlightened, who are skilled in the use of firearms. So it was basically a mash-up between samurai and cowboys.

I vividly remember my first game of Big Eyes Small Mouth. I had created a very typical anime character, an orphaned boy who had studied in the ways of the Enlightened in order to hunt down and exact revenge upon the Enlightened bandits who had murdered his parents. While wandering, he came across a town being oppressed by its corrupt, Enlightened guards.

I can't remember the specifics now, but at one point - I think it was a rescue attempt - he raced blindly into the guard barracks...only to find himself faced with about a dozen guards in the main courtyard in the middle of firearms practice. Cue anime bug-eyes and comical running from gunfire. Despite my character's (admittedly self-inflicted) poor luck, I really enjoyed my first game, and I've been hooked to the hobby ever since.

2. First RPG Gamemastered - Cinematic Unisystem
Okay, that's a bit of a fib, the first RPG I ran was actually an urban fantasy themed game using a homebrew system that my roleplaying society at the time played with. However, the first commercial RPG I ran was a Stargate SG-1 campaign which was based on the Cinematic Unisystem ruleset from the Angel RPG (plus some adaptation rules written up by a guy who went by the handle Barachiel on the Eden Studios forums).

The players took on the role of the members of SG-10, and included ex-SAS veteran Colonel John Sharpe (who we decided was played in-series by Sean Bean), Captain John Engar (a secret drug-addict played by Timothy Oliphant, being blackmailed into co-operation by the NID), Prestor John (a civilian consultant who eventually wound up sharing his consciousness with the digitised persona of an ancient Chinese Goa'uld host) and Captain John Fitzwalter (who had to be reassigned for continued insubordination and nearly causing a diplomatic incident by inappropriately flirting with a Chinese liason). Yes, they're all named John in some way or other, and are jokingly referred to as 'SG-John' by the rest of the SGC.

Their nemesis was Nezha, an insane Goa'uld inventor long thought dead by the System Lords, but who had survived by digitizing his consciousness into his ship's computer. When SG-10 boarded Nezha's ship to salvage it, they inadvertantly released the Goa'uld into Earth's global communications network when they brought the ship into to Earth orbit. After that, they find themselves dealing with Nezha and the numerous cybernetic bodies (*cough*Cylon replicas*cough*) he has created for himself on Earth. To maintain a sense of connection with the main series, the campaign took place parallel to SG-1's adventures from around Season 6 to Season 8. To this day, I count it as the most successful campaign I have run.

3. First RPG Purchased - Rifts
Okay, yeah, in retrospect this wasn't one of my wisest purchases of all time. What can I say, I was new to the hobby, and I liked the sound of the setting because I'm a sucker for parallel universes and crossovers. Unfortunately, while I dug the setting, the rules were incomprehensible to me. Too much complexity, and they weren't very well explained in the book either. It didn't stop me buying a couple of extra sourcebooks, since I was sure I could run it using a different system and use the books as setting reference material. However, that never happened, and I eventually sold all of my Rifts books at an RPG jumble sale at GUGS's Big Geekend this year.

4. Most Recent RPG Purchase - Firefly RPG
I haven't read it cover to cover yet, but I'm looking forward to giving this game a try. From the moment I heard Margaret Weiss Productions were doing a new game based on the Firefly TV series, there was little question that I was going to buy it. I had their previous Serenity RPG - based on the film rather than the show - but never got around to running it. To be honest, the system didn't seem up to much back then, but they've improved on it a lot with Cortex Plus, so I'm sure this will be a worthy investment. My plan at the moment is to run a couple of one-shots in the first couple of weeks of GUGS in the new term, one an official pre-written scenario, the other an adaptation of a Traveller scenario from Steve Jackson Games' Journal of the Traveller's Aid Society. After that, who knows? I might try running an on-again, off-again campaign, having a new session every once or twice a month. Not sure I'm up for running it on a weekly basis. Not just yet.

5. Favourite RPG Never Get To Play - Dresden Files
It was a toss-up between this and Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space, but Dresden Files won out because I've recently been running a DWAiTAS campaign that's lasted a year, and GMing counts as playing (no matter how much I would rather just play as a PC) so Dresden Files it is.

I played in a campaign of Dresden Files a couple years back, Streets of Seattle, and I really enjoyed it. I like the Dresden Files setting, and I liked the collaborative city building stage before actual character creation. I also loved playing with the Fate system. Magic system looked a little bit on the tricky side, but I never really dealt with that as much, since my character only had a minor psychic talent.

Given the chance, I'd love to play in another campaign, preferably in RL rather than online, but I'd play over G+ Hangouts if need be. I'd consider running it at GUGS, but I'd have to be careful as not everybody has read the series - or at least read as far as I have - so I'd need to take care to avoid spoilers. I'll have to try and do something with it again sometime, at least, I paid good money to pre-order the two core books, and I haven't got a lot of use out of them.

6. Most Old School RPG Owned - Traveller (Mongoose Edition)
While the Mongoose edition of Traveller is much more recent, as far as I know it's more or less the same as the classic RPG, just with some extensive revision. Traveller was one of the first sci-fi themed RPGs to be released, and this edition maintains the 70s sci-fi feel of the original. I bought it because I remembered playing the Traveller computer game, Megatraveller: The Zhodani Conspiracy on the Amiga years ago, and decided to buy the revised version of the game out of nostalgia for that game.

I've killed time on several occasions by just rolling up new characters with the character generation system, and I ran a short-lived campaign with some friends at the Stirling roleplaying society, using a homebrew Cthulhu-meets-Space-Opera setting I had come up with. We could have run for longer, but I had trouble adapting things to compensate for the death of the party's captain. I might try running it again one of these days, but I have a lot of other games I want to try out at the moment.

7. Most "Intellectual" RPG Owned - Shock: Social Science Fiction
I've yet to get the opportunity to try out Shock: Social Science Fiction, but it's probably the most 'intellectual' game I have in my collection. Why? Because it's designed specifically to emulate the more thoughtful science fiction stories, the ones that use the genre as a lens through which to look at society and say something about it. I love those kinds of stories, and science fiction is often at its best when used this way. Unfortunately, I've put off playing it because the game itself looks more complicated than it actually is, which might be a turn off for potential players. Not to mention, I'd need the right kind of group to play the game as intended. I'll play it some day though, hopefully.

8. Favourite Character: Bayushi Kiyoshi (Legend of the Five Rings)
It has to be Bayushi Kiyoshi, my character from the Legend of the Five Rings campaign I played in between 2012 and 2013. Kiyoshi was a member of the Scorpion clan, who are traditionally the 'underhand' of the Empire. A low ranked magistrate, Kiyoshi was more idealistic and held more closely to the code of Bushido than his fellow Scorpions. This set him apart, and impeded his progress through the clan ranks. However, when he attends the funeral of a provincial governor - and a friend of his father's - his ideals and very identity are put to the test. He is contacted by the spirit of the dead governor, who urges him to protect his true heir - who has been raised in secret and has been working as a meiko - and help her succeed him as governor of the province, in place of his son (who would only be a puppet to his mother, a former Scorpion who had the governor killed).

Along the way, he discovers that the governor is his father by blood, and he clashes with Spider clan allies of the governor's wife, as well as a blood mage (who isn't really connected with the governor's death at all). The experiences he had, and the choices he had to make along the way, forced him to reevaluate his identity and his ideals. The full story of Bayushi Kiyoshi's journey can be found here; it's almost certainly one of the deepest - if not THE deepest - character arcs I've experienced in all my years as a roleplayer.

9. Favourite Die/Dice Set: L5R Scorpion Clan d10 Set
At the end of the aforementioned Legend of the Five Rings game, James - our GM - gave each of us a set of Legend of the Five Rings d10 dice from Q Workshop bearing the mon (crests) of our respective clans. So, for purely sentimental reasons, I'd have to say that the Scorpion Clan d10 set I received at the end of that campaign is my favourite dice set.

10. Favourite Tie-in Novel/Game Fiction
I haven't really read a lot of RPG-related tie-in fiction. In fact, I've only really read one novel and two short story anthologies. If I had to pick my favourite from those, it would be Dinocalypse Now by Chuck Wendig. The book really captured the pulp adventure feel of the Spirit of the Century setting, brought the example characters from the book to life, and was just a fun read overall. I still need to get around to reading the other Spirit Of The Century tie-ins (including the sequels to Dinocalypse Now itself), but I'd definitely recommend this for anyone who wants to get a feel for what Spirit of the Century's default setting might be like in play.

11. Weirdest RPG Owned: Don't Rest Your Head
I struggled with this one, but settled on Don't Rest Your Head by Fred Hicks, just on account of the setting. In the game you play as insomniacs who have been awake for so long that you have become Awake and gained superpowers as a result. You can see the Mad City that is hidden within your own city, a dark and twisted secret world populated by Nightmares who hunt down Awakened folks like you and...well, best not find out, eh? Now that you're Awake, you can't sleep, because if you do they'll get you. It's like a darker and edgier Alice in Wonderland for adults, filled with as much gonzo dream-like nightmarish imagery as your GM can muster. The system is pretty different too, a dice pool mechanic that uses three different colours of dice, and has consequences depending on which pool 'dominates' in dice rolls. I've only ever played it once, but I'd love an opportunity to play again, maybe even as a short campaign.

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