Thursday, 2 February 2012

Recommend Me a Game

Here is a list, off the top of my head (so probably not exhaustive) of all the games I own or have played:
  • D&D (all iterations and retro-clones)
  • MERP
  • Apocalypse World
  • Dogs in the Vineyard
  • Risus
  • Microscope
  • Iron Heroes
  • Shadowrun
  • Cyberpunk 2020
  • Rolemaster
  • Werewolf: The Apocalypse
  • Changeling: The Dreaming
  • Amber Diceless
  • In A Wicked Age
  • ZeFRS
  • HARP
  • d20 Modern
  • Call of Cthulu
  • Unknown Armies
  • Blood & Honor
  • Traveller
  • Warhammer FRP
  • Pendragon
  • Dragon Warriors
  • Tekumel
  • ORE
  • Advanced Fighting Fantasy
  • Gamma World
  • Twilight 2000
Tell me about a game that isn't on that list that I should own/play, and why.


  1. Original edition Earthdawn from FASA. It probably has the best integrated role-playing/magic/world ever invented, and there's a lot of verisimilitude to the mechanics!

  2. After the Bomb. Yeah, yeah, Palladium's system sucks, but this can be an absolutely awesome gonzo post-apocalyptic game that is as grim and serious or as much of a romp as you make it.

    I'm also kind of enamored by Stars Without Number at the moment, but I haven't played it yet.

  3. Encounter Critical. The book is free, short and funny to read.

    It's like a sci-fi oD&D parody with edible poop, sexy bee girls, and random encounters with 1d2 Godzillas.

    Beware character creation though; it's a lot more time consuming than it sounds. You'll want to use an Official Character Ability Form to ease some of the burden.

  4. Mage: The Awakening
    I HATE the storyteller system, but that book opens up so much player creativity and agency. It can be a real mind-bender.

  5. As Jack pointed out, you have a lack of Palladium in your diet.

    Yeah yeah I know It's Inexplicable And Alien but seriously if you like Gamma World and have room for the Mormon Game you have room for Rifts and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

    If nothing else, the enthusiasm in those books is infectious.

    And I just wrote that recent entry all about 2nd ed Chill which might have a few up-your-alley ideas what with the terror and literature and all

  6. I've gotten the impression that Palladium games didn't have much penetration outside of North America, but as others have suggested, I would recommend at least taking a look at them.

    I'm also surprised at the lack of superhero RPGs here -- again, this may be a US vs. UK gaming thing.

  7. Tunnels & Trolls!
    Forget the old school renaissance, T&T has stayed old school from the get go! :-)

  8. Ars Magica

    I'm not sure it's something that you would want to play by itself as it has a very odd structure (characters are, as you would expect from a game that centers around mages, very isolated and playing it as a "party" based game is tough -- I'd say it works best as a bunch of inter-connected solo sessions); however, it's a great resource because it's much closer to medieval studies than other fantasy games, which can lead to some great re-thinking of how to handle themes and because the verb-style magic system is pretty unique while retaining some aspects of Vancian magic and other standard RPG systems.

  9. Thirding Palladium. In no particular order: Ninjas & Superspies and Mystic China (great 80s-vibe action/martial arts), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (and the associated After the Bomb series; don't forget to check out Mutants in Avalon!), Beyond the Supernatural (fairly decent take on bog-standard horror), Heroes Unlimited (fun old school superheroes), Palladium Fantasy (fairly decent take on bog-standard fantasy), and Rifts (just so you can say you've played it; stick to the earlier stuff unless you want total gonzo).

    There's some strange alchemical process that occurs when you read a Palladium RPG or supplement in which you are simultaneously drawn in and repulsed and you end up saying something like, "That's so cool! Except this part, which is totally ridiculous--I'm going to fix it!" And then you end up writing a lengthy blog series or (as I did recently) drafting up notes on the psycho-sexual development of Changelings. It's lots of fun.

  10. If you are interested in any modern supernatural sort of play then the top of my list is C. J. Carrella's WitchCraft RPG.
    Every modern interpretation of magic is featured. Great for people that enjoy conspiracy games, horror games or even just magic in a modern age game.
    The system is simple and elegant. Attribute + Skill + Mod + 1d10. The metaphysics systems is the best I have played.
    And you can't beat the price, Free.
    WitchCraft PDF at DriveThruRPG

    With this system you can also pick up "All Flesh Must Be Eaten" and "Conspiracy X".

    If you prefer a more cinematic game might I suggest "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" or "Angel" of if I may be so bold "Ghosts of Albion"

  11. Mage: the Ascension is a great game full of creativity, stay away from the Nwod Mage: the Awakening though, it just sucks. In a similar vein, Godlike is another great game that puts a cool spin on the whole superpowers genre. Being able to throw tanks or being invisible only to Japanese people is too much fun.

  12. I am surprised not to see "Vampire" on there, considering the other WoD games. Has some interesting ideas, which you might have already captured.

    d6 StarWars was my first RPG, and it has some fun aspects.

    I hear that the Rogue Trader game has some interesting mechanics re: wealth, in that it is a stat relating to cashflow more than a fixed number. Plus, Rogue Trader.

  13. I am obligated to suggest Neoclassical Geek Revival, if nothing else than because you roll against your awesomeness.

    But if you are looking for something very different, I'd suggest taking a look closer to the board game side.

    The old Hero Quest board game is great for a dose of mindless, heavily inebriated dungeon crawling. I try to have a game with friends at least once a year, just to remember the sheer tactile fun of running around looting, where leveling up means saving money to buy nicer stuff.

  14. I would say Palladium's TMNT or even Super Heroes Unlimited. It is a bit gonzo of a system, as other have pointed out, yet it could be fun. Also, I don't see any Star Wars, so that is my secondary recommendation. Either the West End d6 version or the Saga. Both have their strengths and weaknesses.

  15. Hmm ... in no particular order, looking at the bookshelves:

    0: Torg
    1: Morrow Project
    2: Space 1889
    3: Empire of the Petal Throne
    4: Top Secret
    5: Star Frontiers
    6: Aftermath
    7: Cyberpunk / Cyberpunk 2020

  16. Second for Earthdawn. Another one that is pretty nice is Whispering Vault

  17. You don't have Runequest up there.

    Way simpler skill system then Rolemaster, but more complex combat than D&D. A great middle of the road game.

  18. Another plug for ars magica , the magic system is great, and there's like a over abundance of magiky things to do, that make your wizard want to immediate go out and get exp. I'm not sure if that was the point but it works well as a sandbox system. Spells have good names and some sweet horrible effects, and the noun verb magic system is great. THe idea of having a different player playing g.m ever no and again and each player having like one wizard, 2 specialist and 4 shit kicker characters that you would rotate between depending on who was running what story and where had some bite to it.
    Ars Magica is kind of strange beast to tackle whole, and it's not that straight forward to just take bits and pieces off it and leave the rest, but it's definitely worth a look. I think I played 3rd edition and I have no idea what they did with later versions. Also the magus grimoire was great for for more spells and golem and lich rules.

    Yeah it's a system for you if you like your fluff and your crunch really blended togther

  19. I was going to say Tunnels & Trolls as well, but how about Legend of the Five Rings RPG. The latest version is really nicely done.

  20. Where to begin...

    OK, another big thumbs up for Ars Magica. The single, best medieval fantasy RPG ever made IMHO.

    InSpectres, my current favorite RPG I think, by Jared Sorensen of Memento Mori Games.

    Aside from being incredibly simple and easily modified and adapted, some of the mechanics give it a surprising level of depth in play.

    The concept of 'Franchise Dice', which are awarded to the entire group's franchise at the end of a session and what you do with them can turn into a mini-resource management sub-game.

    I also love the 'Confessional' concept, which enables plays to 'flashback' or really 'flash-sideways' I guess, and use some creative storytelling to retroactively save their butts.

    Finally, and most importantly, is the way the game describes generating mysteries and their investigation. It basically turns the who idea on its ear, with the GM having to solve the problem of what's really going on based on clues supplied by the players.

    Love that game and love its spin-off InSpace, created by Ben Robbins of Microscope fame.

    Then there's always Champions, can't forget Mutants and Masterminds and, OH! Faery's Tale Deluxe, Star Trek (FASA or Last Unicorn Games' ICON system), Star Wars D6 (West End Games, I prefer 2nd Edition), Mekton II or Z (how could I almost forget Mekton), Teenagers from Outer Space...a whole mess of free free games count? I count'em! Doom & Cookies, Mini-Six...what's that? What? Stop? Sure, sure...only 75 more suggestions to go...

  21. I second InSpectres or the very similar game octaNe (gonzo post-apoc setting.) Both use essentially the same dice mechanic, with some variations. But also, there are two free supplements: Blood & Steel (barbarian fantasy supplement for octaNe) and UnSpeakable (Lovecraftian supplement for InSpectres.) My personal experience with UnSpeakable is that it is the best Lovecraftian horror RPG, even better than CoC. The Pit Dice mechanic controls the pacing of the deadliness of the game, and Sanity disappears much faster, especially when the characters start fighting the occult with the occult. No session of UnSpeakable is over until someone goes permanently insane.

  22. If your group drinks while they play, they may enjoy Deathwatch. I can't say I've had much better times rolling bones than when I was half-plastered and screaming "DIE XENOS SCUM!"

  23. I do also have Godlike, Tunnels & Trolls, and Mutants & Masterminds. Forgot to mention those.

  24. Openquest and Mongoose Runequest 2 / Legend are the two best fantasy iterations of the Runequest system ever created.

    If you like systems that are lighter on rules, go for Openquest, if you like more crunch, go for Mongoose Runequest 2.

  25. Lady Blackbird is short, free, and a lot of fun. It's a one-shot scenario with pre-made characters and it's own rules built in.

    Burning Wheel is a fairly-crunchy fantasy game that puts more focus on the characters and their goals than on stuff the GM creates for them to explore. Mouse Guard is a less-crunchy, more explicitly mission-based, version.

    If you like noir, A Dirty World is the noir iteration of ORE. It has stats that change over the course of the game based on what you do as a way of encouraging certain noir-specific behaviours.

  26. Encounter Critical is really great. Try it!

    Hmmm... I guess I'll recommend Castle Falkenstein. Its an amazing game of Victorian steampunk and fantasy mash-up, but with a really original setting and a flavorful (and simple) card-based system. The core book alone is more than enough IMHO.

    It was the game that made my AD&D-fanatical players enjoy entire sessions of roleplay without any combat.

  27. I think that Cold City and Hot War would be up your alley, especially because of the terrifyingly realised settings.

  28. Talislanta 4th edition, for several reasons:

    - It has one of the most clever systems I saw, both flexible and elegant. You can grasp it in half and hour and never have to consult the rules again, either for combat, magic and whatever. Realy, it is all that d20 system should have been.
    - The magic system is both free-form and evocative, with and unified mechanic binding together 11 arcane traditions. It makes you beg for playing a wizard.
    - The setting, man, the setting: demons and airships and death-cults and magic crytals and slavers and drugs and races and races and races...
    - the character generation takes like 5 minutes... for the whole party.
    - The core book is all you need for years of gaming: it has rules, setting, adeventure seeds and lots of flavour.
    - Also, the book itselfs is fucking beautiful.

    (Oh my, I'm such a Talislanta bitch...)

  29. I've just started playing a Dragon Age campaign, and I highly recommend it. I did a review here.

    I also didn't see any FATE games up there. Spirit of the Century is the usual starting point, but there a lot of variants out there now. I don't think it will be your cup of tea long-term, but just wrapping your head around Aspects will change a lot of your ideas about how rules and story should interact.

  30. That's a lot of good games.

    I think Burning Wheel is well worth checking out, if you can muster the investment. And by that I don't mean money but patience and focus.

    I very much enjoyed playing 1001 Nights. It's not exactly a RPG by traditional standards however (it reminds me of the old Baron Munchhausen game, maybe).

    Danger Patrol is insanely fun, but it's currently still in playtest and between versions, so I'm not sure about recommending it.

    I could go on and on, but those three felt right at this moment. Also 1001 nights and Danger Patrol are legally available free on the internet. (Well, Patrol definitely, maybe Nights has been taken down.)

  31. Well there's one game I have to recomend; Wisher Theurgist Fatalist, or WTF. Brilliantly self-referential game about making the world real.

    Also you might be interested in "thou art but a warrior" for the game polaris. It's about the tragic fall of the muslim kingdoms of southern spain.

  32. no doubt the game that you must try is the PARANOIA as the computer is your friend and you want it to show

  33. HoL. Just HoL.

    Post-apocalyptic survival on a planetary prison/dumpster/reality show.

    The rules are nice and simple, the setting is a laugh, the narrative voice is fun and the layout of the rulebook is insane-in-a-good-way.

  34. Underground, an early-mid 1990s game of superheroes in a very dark future. The book is very funny, and the art wowed me at the time although it looks a little dated now.

    I think it is the place I first saw Wm. S. Burrough's "Thanksgiving prayer," which is quoted as flavor text.

  35. Dang, how could I have forgotten Torg? What a freaking cool game that was!

    There's also The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen!

  36. OK, yes, wait...knew I forgot...

    Mouse Guard
    Og / Land of Og
    Monsters and Other Childish Things

    Too many more to be honest. How do people find the time to play D&D? ;)

  37. I can't believe noone has mentioned Savage Worlds yet.

  38. Seconding Paranoia. 2nd edition is probably best for having a simple yet iconic setting, but XP/current gen is nice too. You do have to greatly shift your expectations though, and unlike many other games player-vs-player combat is entirely the point.

    I've always wanted to play Ghostbusters.

  39. Everstone: Blood Legacy. The best point based version of the OGL I've ever seen.

    The Mutant Epoch. Old school post-apocalyptic vibe with a new, fully supported system.

    There are reviews for both on my YouTube channel.

  40. Seconding Mage: The Awakening, though in addition to the bad system it's saddled with a goofy new age mythology in the first few books (though it's implied to be a lie).

    It's lends itself better to sandbox play much better than most modern rpgs, having more in the way of exotic locations filled with treasure and monsters from out of time (especially compared to its predessesor, Mage: The Ascension, which was not merely focused on wizard politics but set up in such a way that everything else was meaningless). The books on enemies and items are also inventive enough to be useful in other games.

    Changling: the Lost is also great for similar reasons, and more consistently well written, but genre wise it's strictly limited to survival horror - sort of a cross between Labyrinth and Call of Cthulu.

  41. Check out Technoir. It's sleek, beautiful system that's currently revolutionizing my thinking on game structures and scenario design for RPGs.

    The basic setting is "cyberpunk noir". Or "Shadowrun without the magic".

    Mechanically, the game consists of using verbs to push adjectives onto other people. So rather than shooting someone, you'd use your Shoot verb to describe them as "bloodied" or "pierced" or "fucked up" or "maimed". It sounds gimmicky, but it's actually incredibly elegant.

    The scenario structure is fantastic: The GM creates a plot map which is fed randomly from the setting guideline as the PCs pump their contacts for information. It minimizes prep, structurally reinforces noir-based play, and is bloody brilliant in practice.

    Since getting the game for my birthday in December, it has been monopolizing my gaming.

  42. Seconding Savage Worlds.

    Its aimed at Pulp but does most generes at least well and often excellently. Also if you like Westerns Deadlands Reloaded uses the same system and leverages many of its more interesting features quite well.

  43. Savage Worlds is pretty cool - it's somewhat like GURPS in idea, though not in execution. Easy to put just about any style of gameplay into play with just a little forethought. The publisher (Pinnacle) has various and sundry sourcebooks but really the little A3-sized Explorer's Handbook is all you need.

    I saw WFRP on your list - Fantasy Flight has a nice expanding series of WH:40000 games that are mechanically similar to 2e WFRP. I do have all of their 'system' books (Dark Heresy, Ascension, Deathwatch, Rogue Trader, Black Crusade) but aside from odd bits like psyker systems and the Wealth and Influence that someone else mentioned from Rogue Trader, I think you could probably pull out something similar with 2e WFRP. That's presuming that you'd be interested in a WH:40000 game, of course. I collect 'em for the fluff and to keep FFG producing books, but really pretty much run a hybrid game that sort of mashes all but Deathwatch together.