“Most challenging but rewarding system you have learned?”

Burning Wheel, natch.

IMO, there is no RPG as tightly designed as BW, no RPG that demands as much of its players, and no RPG that better rewards that hard-won mastery.

BW is hard. Learning BW is like learning to play an instrument; there is a lot of woodshedding and trial-by-fire involved before you’re making beautiful music. But once you’ve got some sills, and you sit down to jam with some other skilled players, it’s like nothing else.


“Best way to learn a new game?”

Make a cheat sheet. I prefer procedural outlines, but whatever works for you.

Good ‘ol Paul Beakley wrote about this though it was shared privately, so you may not be able to see it. (Do you have public posts about this, Paul? This was all I found.)

The point is that just reading the rule book is probably not enough.

When I was running Marvel Heroic, it took making a complete outline, with page references, of the core mechanic to get me really comfortable as a Watcher (GM). It clarified the system for me, and using it at the table proved invaluable; I would just tick down the outline each time we engaged the system. After a while, I was able to internalize it and the game ran smoother and smoother.

So, my habit now is:

1) Read the rules;
2) Read the rules again and take notes;
3) Build procedural outlines from the notes;
4) Run/play the game using the outline;
5) Iterate on the outline;
6) Profit.

“What innovation could RPG groups most benefit from?”

The idea that roleplaying is fundamentally a social act that involves flesh-and-blood human beings communicating with each other.

100% serious here.

“What makes a successful campaign?”

Glib: I don’t know, but I am pretty sure that the answer lies in The Burning Wheel Codex. Seriously, in the foreward Adam Koebel talks about how he’s gone back to the AdBu* time and time again for advice and inspiration, and hell yes, oh yeah.

Realz: A successful campaign is a game that, for whatever reason, I want to return to week after week. There are a host of factors that figure into this equation, but a big one for me is: “I am invested in the character I am playing and want to know what’s going on in their lives this week.”

Honestly, the last time I felt this as a player was probably the long-running Champions campaign I was in from 2002-2007. Don’t get me wrong, while it was overall a good group, there were lots of incoherent shenanigans going on. Still, the GM created a lot of great Claremont-esque melodrama, and my PC’s life was always interesting.

Granted, basic carrot-and-stick can go a long way; the seven-year D&D 3(.5)e campaign I was in got 20 levels of mileage out of “kick butt amassing power so we can destroy the evil bad guy.” So, there’s something to that.

* AdBu = Adventure Burner, which is now OOP but is contained within the new Codex.

“Your dream team of people you used to game with?”

There are a bunch of great people with whom I’ve played RPGs. To single any of them out would be to do a disservice to the rest, I think, and it’d be geek-social-fallacious of me to assume that I could gather any random combination of them into a group and end up with perfect harmony.

There are definitely people for whom I ponder about the perfect game. I.e., they are good friends with very specific tastes (at least, ones that I have identified), and it’s a mental exercise for me to think about what kind of game I could run for them that would hit their RPG-spot and still be fun overall.

Not to mention, my Sunday Irregulars are pretty damn close to my dream team, so I’m not looking too hard.

#rpgaday2016  “What game is your group most likely to play next? Why?”

Well, I know for a fact that my Sunday crew will be continuing our D&D 5e campaign when we meet next, so there you go.

After that? No idea.

As for my hangouts BW group, we’ve had some initial talk of a new campaign with kind of an Ars Magica/fairy-tale vibe, but it’s still hypothetical at this point.