Wednesday, 1 April 2009

The Imp of the Perverse

I've been more-or-less using BECMI D&D as my default for Yoon-suin, but the contrarian, obscurantist part of me (which is a rather big part) keeps wanting to use something Unusual. Candidates include:
  • The oft-overlooked and almost entirely unknown Zeb's Fantasy Roleplaying System, with its Sword & Sorcery vibe and colour-coded charts. Advantages: atmosphere, ease of use, can probably be included whole with whatever pdf I put out without invoking the Dark God, Litigation. Disadvantage: Obscure.
  • Advanced Fighting Fantasy, the by-all-accounts-horribly-broken, but incredibly rules-lite (Tunnels & Trolls eat your heart out) system of my youth. Advantages: Almost criminally easy to use and learn, endearing disregard for realism, cool Dark British Fantasy vibes lurking somewhere beneath the innocent exterior. Disadvantages: Legally dubious, would require extensive rule-fiddling.
  • Risus, the Anything RPG, because I love it so. Advantages: Easy to use, simple, free to use. Disadvantage: Has 'humourous' connotations I don't necessarily want.
  • Some sort of hack of Amber Diceless, which is my new obsession after I finally started reading the copy I've owned for about 16 years. Not a serious option, but hey.
  • Swords & Wizardry, which I'm sure you all know. Advantages: Easy and simple, free to use, familiar to 95% of role players. Disadvantage: A bit too fashionable for my obscurantist tastes.
I probably will end up sticking with BECMI. But the Imp of the Perverse is calling me...


  1. But BEMCI loves you! Don't run away from it!

    *grins* ;3

  2. There must be some Oscar-Wilde-era-pre-Gygaxian decadent Victorian parlor game you could use--"Knaves & Harems" or something.

  3. Y'know, I just realized, writing that comment, what it is that seems so interesting about your Yoon-Suin setting...

    The problem I've always had with Lovecraft in games is that his world isn't really meant to be ADVENTURED in--the idea in his books was: some guy goes through the normal world, finds a few hints of an unspeakable horror, then is swallowed up by it as soon as he realizes the full extent of it. Story over.

    It works fine in a horror story, but it kind of prevents the sort of D&D-like world-building richness and complexity and internal logic that adventure games build up over time--a Lovecraft story (like most horror stories) is a story basically about one monster at a time.

    Call of Cthulhu, the game, has a similar issue--it's not really about exploring a mysterious world over the course of a campaign, it's about short forays into madness.

    Basically, Lovecraft's world seems incompatible with thorough exploring, politics, campaigns, and intrigue--get too much into the details and you literalize the metaphor and kill the magic.

    I mean, Cthulhu is allegedly some kind of priest. Literally imagining it doing priest stuff is ridiculous.

    However--Yoon-Suin seems to hit a nice balance--it is creepy and exotic and alien, yet at the same time, it's still a whole world to be adventured in. The monsters seem to have a level of intelligence and not-quite-totally alien-ness that makes you believe they could have intrigues and schemes between each other even though they're slug-people and yet they're inhuman enough to still feel as uncanny and unreadable as Lovecraftian monsters.

  4. Roll your own, baby! Or, you know, synthesize your own by judicious borrowing from all of your favorites...

  5. I didn't know Swords & Wizardry was "fashionable" these days...

  6. I think ZEFRS is cool too. I liked the old TSR Conan game and with the fan create rules, you have a document that is easily house ruled.

  7. taichara: I will always love BECMI too, but sometimes I feel the need to, you know, see other people. I think she understands. ;)

    Zak: I never thought anything I did would be compared to Lovecraft. Very flattering though... wait, is that comment part of some elaborate scheme to butter up the DM? ;)

    Martinsz: Aha, an unholy hybrid of AFF, ZeFRS, S&W and Amber... the mind boggles.

    Edsan: More fashionable than AFF or ZeFRS, anyway.

    Mike D.: The people who did the fan-created ZeFRS project are true unsung heroes. OSRIC and the like might get most of the glory these days, but that ZeFRS site is a genuine labour of love.

  8. Why don't you just give in and go with Tunnels and Trolls? More fun and more support than any of those other games you mentioned. :)

  9. Ken St. Andre: Wouldn't happen to have a vested interest, would you? ;)