#10RPGs — 10/10 Hilarity — Call of Cthulhu Back in high school, I ran CoC once — once. My friends were way less interested in the game than I was, but they gave it a shot. After making characters and bumbling for a while through the scenario I’d bought, there came the SAN roll that ended the game. See, when you fail a SAN roll, sometimes you don’t go insane but you do get some sort of insight. In the course of investigating the disappearance of a number of young girls — why is it always young girls? — our intrepid academics stumble upon a pile of rotting corpses in a cave. SAN roll! They fail but only lose a few points. The insight I gave them: “You realize that these are bodies of the missing girls.” My players start laughing maniacally and start jumping around the game table, saying, “THE SKY IS BLUE! THE SKY IS BLUE! NOOOOO!” And that was the last time I ran CoC for probably another decade or so. Ref: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+BrandRobins/posts/QQexibUjjMV
It’s weird how often I will post about a game that I have honestly never managed to play (I tried once or twice in my youth and failed), but RQ stuck its tendrils into my brain around age 12 and has refused to let go. A classless RPG about a Bronze Age world with weird mythic, shamanistic color and no elves or dwarves and “orcs” (i.e., trolls) that were an important race that was as much ally as an enemy? Sign. Me. Up. There is something wonderfully organic about Glorantha, and RQ felt like a D&D where all of that cultural stuff outside the dungeon was honestly way more important.
This was the first game to leap to mind at the prompt of “empathy,” as it really made me uncomfortable in a good way. I was really feeling for our PCs while simultaneously having my mind expanded. I really look forward to the full release of this one.
Doctor Who RPG, FGU’s Chivalry & Sorcery and Space Opera
It was really hard to narrow this one down, so I didn’t. Each of these is a game where I feel like you do a lot of math for no discernable benefit. Doctor Who is the worst culprit; as far as I can tell, in chargen you do a huge amount of derived number-crunching that’s basically: spend points to spend points so you can spend points on whether you are a) GOOD or b) BAD at a couple skills. C&S likewise would require massive sliding-scale-as-you-went math just to determine whether, e.g., your magic-user started the game with a wand. And, of course, the trigonometry (literally) you needed to do spaceships in SO.
My #10RPGs post today made me think about how, for me, it felt like there was so much happneing in the hobby during the ’00s: the whole d20 thing, the Forge/Indie scene, the rise of Fate, the PDF publishing phenomenon, and (for me) the rebirth and then kinda-sudden death of Hero Games.
Nowadays it feels to me less like things are happening and more like things are just Kickstarting.
Sure, the ’10s have seen two big movements (IMO) — PbtA and the OSR — but those have honestly not had a whole lot of meaningful impact on me.
There’s no one game I can point to here. 3e was the game that brought me back to the hobby, but it was the early d20 explosion that got me to join in the larger RPG community. Sure, I had been pretty active on Usenet, but it was ENWorld that actually put me in contact with other people in meatspace, got me into regular gaming groups that met for years and made me an organizer for the local Gameday. It also helped “train” me as a forum participant, paving the way for my later connection to the Forge.
Honestly, say what you want about d20 as a design, but there were some cool games getting made back then, and I’ve never seen a trad group more open to trying new games than I did when everything had a d20 logo.
Champions was foundational for me, but it was also probably the first RPG where I felt like players started with a truly blank slate during chargen. Sure, it was supers, but that’s practically a meta-genre — you can do anything if you can figure out how to spend your points. Plus, chargen was so involved that I think I couldn’t help but feel heavily invested in my PCs.
#10RPGs — 2/10 Foundation — Basic D&D, Holmes blue book.
My mom bought me this set after I saw some kids playing D&D at summer camp and I begged her. As D&D tends to be, it was totally unplayable out of the box — mine was the chit edition, so it didn’t even come with dice. I had no idea how the game worked and didn’t really even do a close reading of the text until years later. Nonetheless, I made up some rules — as we all did — muddled through and realized that yes, this is what I want to do with the rest of my life.