Sunday, 10 June 2012
The Weird World of Free Role-Playing Games
Jhkim's list of free RPGs is, I think, the biggest and most comprehensive of its kind (not that I've spent a great deal of time looking for others). It makes for interesting, strange reading - you get a sense, scrolling through it, of just how odd a hobby this is. I mean, just go and look at the list. Look at it. Is your mind boggling? It should be. There are over 500 games on that list.
In some sense I feel obscurely proud of all that creativity (glory by association) but in others I find it faintly depressing. Who, for instance, has ever played ARPLE (the "All-purpose Role Playing Logistics Engine")? Bestial Acts? (It's based on the dramatic theories of Berthold Brecht!) What about Fantasized Adventures, set in the world of Ba'kara? It has 6 arch-duchies.
I'm not poking fun, I hasten to add. Producing a free RPG is more than I've ever done. But don't you get a kind of empty feeling looking at the list and thinking of all the hopes and dreams that those designers might have had? Even though I'd suggest the vast majority of those games (the ones which aren't retroclones, previews of "real" RPGs, or the odd success story like Barbarians of Lemuria) have never been played once by anybody other than the designer and his friends.