Friday, February 25, 2011

Open Friday: More Envy

I mentioned yesterday that, despite the fact that I don't play Tunnels & Trolls, I'm nevertheless a little bit envious of its fans and the community that's been built up around their game. This made me wonder if anyone else felt similarly about a game they didn't play (or no longer played) and why.


  1. Right now, I'm envious of anyone who has a gaming group.

  2. Maybe 4E? If only because it seems to be the most popular kid on the block right now, and at least two groups of my friends play it. I could jump in but still choose not to.

  3. The Call of Cthulhu community that has built up around

    I'd love to play a game that had that kind of massive, enthusiastic, creative and positive fan-support all in one place.

    Even publishers of CoC, its support material and spin-offs get involved at Yog-Sothoth. (I guess part of this harks back to your earlier piece about the new edition of CoC as well).

    Echoing faoladh, I'm envious of anyone who gets to game more than once a month... it's so hard to move a campaign forward with 10 or so (short; two to three hour) gaming sessions a year.

  4. RuneQuest. The conversations between RuneQuest players from the old days are always in this impenetrable dialect of in-jokes and references to products I never heard of. I often wish I had learned their secret language when it was easy.

  5. @JD: 4E might be popular in some places at our local convention next weekend it's only the RPGA running it. Pathfinder seems to be getting a lot more gamer love there.

    I agree with The Acrobatic Flea - I'd love to play Call of Cthulhu with all the props and costumes. In an old spooky mansion while we're at it. :)

  6. @James: I always forget how close you are. Come to Guelph next Saturday and join us for a game of classic D&D. :)

  7. I totally have Pathfinder envy.

    I wish I could stand the system because it would be so much easier to get players.

  8. the Tekumel community, which has always seemed so, well, knowledgeable and cool.

  9. Shadowrun players. I never particularly liked the rules for that game, but the setting seemed unique and different and I always wanted to get into it more, but the game system itself has always felt like it leans more toward roll-playing than role-playing.

  10. I guess if I had to pick it would be Call of Cthulhu. It seems like there is a ton of good vibes about this game and its community. I have to admit I don't get it. I love Cthulhu stuff and all but I just don't see how my gaming group have gotten it's 20+year history together with CoC. It doesn't seem like there is enough material in game and out of game to allow it.

    Say what you want about D&Ds play style, history, incarnations, edition wars, and corporate support but all of these things combine to give the game greater legs as far as actual play time then anything else I have seen or tried.

  11. Now that I think about it, Savage Worlds really fits the topic better than my first answer. They have an energetic, thriving community and I've tried to like the game, but it just doesn't work for me.

  12. Chainmail and DBA @ 25/28mm basing players - not many to be found in the Windy City.

    I'm also envious of the large OD&D contingent in Texas that seem to have enough DMs that they can switch and swap sometimes.

  13. Growing up I was always envious of the CoC groups in my hometown. They seemed to have such a cool time.

    @Robin: I am with you on Savage Worlds. The community looks great and very supportive, the rules just don't work for me and not for lack of trying.

  14. I've never been envious of other gamer sub-communities.

    The ones I'm involved with:

    Call of Cthulhu: yep, lots of good stuff in the CoC community. Always been a blast. IMO, when the Delta Green stuff came around, that was a huge shot in the arm for CoC gamers.

    OSR: livin' the dream, baby! Been involved with the OSR since 2002 (I consider Hackmaster the start of it) and been loving it ever since. Heck, check out the Roll for Initiative (Which I co-host) and Save or Die podcasts.

  15. Middle Earth Role Playing. I tried running it once, but the game was dead after character creation; the players were simply exhausted afterward.

  16. Empire of the Petal Throne. Always interested but could not get a group to play.

  17. I have to agree with faoladh in the fist comment. I've just no time for a gaming group.

  18. @ Those without regular groups, I highly suggest skype gaming. I game weekly with my two best friends one of whom is in LA the other is in Denver and I'm in Albuquerque. It is not exactly the same as being ftf, but most of the difference are small (e.g. you can't share consumables). Most people who sneer at the idea don't have any real experience with it.
    Really give it a try, you will be surprised.
    Anyway, I'm happy to answer any questions about how we do stuff contact me at (Themetalearth AT gmail DOT com).

    I envy no one, really.

  19. I think the OSR community is pretty amazing. Incredibly dynamic and full of creativity.

    I mean it is really creative! So much stuff is produced by the fans as well as publishers (who are really just fans who have taken one more step) that I can't keep up! And it's generally of such high quality.

    And then there is Fight On! and a bunch of other eZines to carry the torch along with the various forums and blogs.

    Sure...there's the odd rumble now and then...but on the whole it is as friendly, enthusiastic and accessible as it is dynamic and creative.

  20. Savage Worlds.

    I'd say the Hero System/Champions community, but I was part of it for a very long time and still look in and say hi once in a while. I think it's a comparable bunch, but I can't speak to being outside it.

  21. I'd say all of the AD&D communities (OSR, OD&D, Pathfinder and 4E) since I've been a Rolemaster junkie since the parchment days... :)

  22. Runequest is the game I wish I could have the same level of enjoyment the real fans do. I mean I've read it, I own a couple editions, and I really -like- it.

  23. I am madly envious for anyone who gets to play ANYTHING by Pelgrane Press: Dying Earth, Mutant City Blues, Trail of Cthuhu, etc. I think these games are fantastic and I wish I had someone interested in playing 'em.

  24. MERP! Not for the community, but for the really awesome support it received. Getting those books now can break the bank!

    RuneQuest for the community. It seems to me (now) that the game is inpenetrable and without an identity, a bubbling broth from which I can no longer identify the ingredients and figure out if I'll like it or not. No-one seems able to explain it to me, or why I might like it. ANY discussion of the game goes two minutes before heading onto (seemingly) unrelated tangents and I lose interest.

  25. Diplomacy players/community. Maybe they could teach me how to enjoy a game that's collected dust on my shelf for 20+ years.

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  27. For a year or so I looked longingly at the whole OSR thing. I usually play dirty hippie games (those things that came from the Forge), and at first didn't think that old school playing could be something for me until blogs like this finally got me to understand that I didn't have to be and autocrat and that I didn't have to push »my story« on the poor players — they can just go and find their own.

    I've still only run one session — using Holmes! — and despite the fact that it didn't go very well I'm itching to get more people into the dungeons. Envy eliminated!

  28. Redundant to mention, but definitely T&T. I have lurked at the fringes of that community for a long time, and am looking to insinuate myself into it in the near future.

    Also, to echo Aos' comment, SKYPE GAMING RULES! Definitely worth checking out for anyone lacking local players. I too would be happy to discuss how my group handles it, contact me at csoles666 at gmail dot com if you have questions.

  29. Well I am quite envious of all the people able to attend cons, especially the major ones in the US and UK. Many of the discussions I get at second hand are quite interesting.

    I'm impressed by how the Ars Magica community has grown over the decades and had such a profound influence on the production of the new editions. Unfortunately I never really had the time to follow it after it left Lion Rampart.

    On the other hand I've finally left the Glorantha/Runequest/Heroquest communities. Because I never made the change to Heroquest, it means it was getting less and less applicable to stuff I was doing {although it was hastened by the increasing rudeness of some of the non-Uz trolls on the list). So that's a group I've become "anti-envious" of.

  30. Ok, it's weird but... I'm envious of "Rolemaster" grognards. I knew some of them years ago, and they knew their game like a good child knows his lesson. They enjoyed "Rolemaster" so much, and I use to think that, perhaps, I never played it right.

  31. Gangbusters anyone? I remember cobbling together a campaign connecting all of the TSR published adventures with a dedicated gaming group in the late 1980's. Every player had at least two characters or more to accommodate the multiple plots.

    The reason I remember this was that while I usually was a DM (I hate the GM name) in the campaigns - I co-DM'ed the campaign with a friend and we alternated plots/adventures/ game sessions. The lesson: I was a terrible player - losing characters right, left and centre. It became a bit of a running gag. In any event we choreographed the outline of the finale's timing together but I modified it (so as not to give my co-DM any advantage) and ran the finale.

    The finale was epic with fistfights, car chases, gunfire etc. all scheduled to reach the Lake Geneva (Chacago) trainstation in time to engage in a huge battle between all of the factions. I know the Untouchables was out. Fun times but the usual result was "campaign fatigue" when it became difficult to top the earlier adventures we moved on to a different game.

    I tried to set a campaign in Los Angeles but the sheer work involved dissuaded me and we moved on.

  32. I'm kinda envious of people who got to play (or still play) the Fantasy Trip. When I started in the hobby, I saw it advertised in White Dwarf, but it was never stocked in my local gamestore.

  33. No real envy I can think of. Maybe the fact I never got to play unalloyed OD&D.(As of yet.)

    Skype gaming and suchlike:
    'Most people who sneer at the idea don't have any real experience with it.':
    Absolutely subjective. 'Most'?(I would've agreed with 'some', 'there are those', 'a few', etc...) There are a fair number of people who have tried it and simply don't care for it.(And even those who haven't, but don't care for the idea have a valid viewpoint. It's a game after all, and deciding not to play via remote relay is hardly a big deal. NOT utilizing this option does not make those who opt-out a technophobe or a dumbass.) The actual presence of people adds a LOT to a game, imo. Virtual gaming is fine for those who want it or have no other option, I'd say.

    Finding a 'gaming' group:
    I've had at least one at any given time. Guess I've been lucky from some comments I've seen.
    Friends, family, acquaintances, anyone who shows an interest is a great place to start, ime. I never understood why some people require other players to be 'gamers', as if it were some kind of profession or something.

  34. I would have to go with Pendragon. Always wanted to play in an Arthurian campaign. Loved the books and the idea of the game. Not sure if it would have played well, but sure would have liked to have been given the chance.

  35. I was a RuneQuest/CoC/DnD kid. We played a lot of other games, but those were the main three. The one I was always fascinated with, and a lot of my friends collected the books, was Rolemaster. I tried three different GMs out who ran ICE games, and no matter how good a GM they were, I hated the system. I've had MERP sitting on my shelf for years, never used. I ran a LOTR game with RQ3 for a while.
    I have honestly not met more than 5 people in all my years gaming that were real fans of ICE games. I know such people exist, because they wouldn't have been able to sustain printing all those books throughout the 80s and 90s. I would just like to have had a favorable experience with ICE so I understood what all the fuss was about.

  36. I have a few. First and foremost is probably the Harnmaster fans. It's much closer to the historical period I study (the Twelfth Century) and the quality of the products seems very high. Still the buy in is a bit steep, and I'm not really sure what to do with it. My gaming is typically a bit more gonzo/surreal.

    RuneQuest is another one. I love BRP, but I've never owned a copy of Chaosium's RQ and know virtually nothing about Glorantha. The people who discuss it in various circles make it sound tantalizing, but alas I doubt I shall play it in the near future.

    Tekumel would be my last one, but only in it's pseudo-OD&D form. I think it has a great pulp fantasy in the extreme kind of vibe, but I just can't seem to wrap my head around it entirely. Oh well.

  37. Hack Master. Kenzer & Co. have produced a great game surrounded by a great community, but I've never found players who appreciate the crunch.

  38. First, I would like to third the motion that I am jealous of anyone with a regular gaming group. I have played one 4 hour session of D&D in the past..... oh......17 years?

    Second, I have fond memories of the community that sprung up around Cyberpunk 2020 back in the day. Well... other than Dana Jorgensen. But I can let that slide, since he mostly just slammed idiots. But for a while, there was a vibrant community. I can remember helping put out a few issues of a fanzine for a while, and contributing to the Neo-City One Project, which was also sweet. There was also a lot of interaction with Mike Spindsmith and Ross "Spyke!" Wynn back in the day. Sadly, by the time V3 came out.... it was all over but the crying.

  39. Ummm... that should say Pondsmith, not SPindsmith... stupid typing on a mini-keyboard.....

  40. @ velarian
    You read way too much into my comment. I'll leave it at that.

  41. d20 or 4E, because if I wanted to DM either I might be able to find players :(

    Alternatively, Call of Cthulhu, because their players seem to expect that characters might die.

  42. I'm envious of people who played in really wild and imaginative settings with seriously loyal fan groups. Top of the list is certainly Empire of the Petal Throne. The same goes for Jorune as well, to a lesser extent.

  43. @Aos:
    I don't think you were trying to be jerkass or anything, and I think, upon reading my post, it could 'sound' as though I presumed that(Though I didn't 'call out' the SKYPE RULES guy if you notice... :-)); partially due to my natural verbosity, I think. I think I should've qualified the 'technophobe' and dumbass'' statement as the two most common reaction of over-'enthusiastic'-VTTers(a rare breed, I think. Most people seem to see it as a tool, not the One True Way, The Next Big Thing In Gaming, The Birth of the Singularity, etc...) to those who don't much care for the experience. I'm neither, actually. But I've done it, was ok with it, but prefer facetime, by far. My roommate used it for a while to keep contact with his group, and liked it well enough.(Which I forgot to mention in original, dangit.)

    Thanx for your response. Apologies for seeming to 'take offense', especially over something that's really a non-issue in a game, of all things!

  44. @ Velaran: fair enough. just so we're clear, I'm not a one true way kind of guy. I prefer ftf to skype. however Skype has some advantages, namely I can play with my friends from across the country. I'm pretty sure Cater (the Skype rules! Guy) is in the same boat. As for me, I'd prefer to play with these guys online as opposed to strangers face to face.

  45. I second Badger King's comment. :(

    I've got two communities I'm envious of:

    Earthdawn. I used to read the core book almost every day (or so it seems now) and jumped at the chance when I had to chance to play and renew old acquaintances (a different tale for a different time). That's when FASA held the license. Try finding players now...

    Savage Worlds. I have quite a few sourcebooks (mined for ideas), but really can't find a group to try it. Especially Savage Mars. It's almost like saying "I'd like to drink the Kool-Aid" but can't find anyone to mix it.

  46. @Aos:
    Oh yeah, we're clear. It was my imprecise response, due to tiredness, I'd say(up way too long at the time!), that was confusing.

    Back in the day, my group utilized conference calling at a member's dad's office to allow 3 people(out of our total 10, sometimes 14, with occasionals. Which I keep hearing was astoundingly large....) who had moved away to participate in the weekly sessions.(It worked ok; well, except for one guy's occasional suspicion that the unseen die on the other end of the line were rolling too 'good' for the absent players.[He has a suspicious mind! ;-)]) Skype's the same deal, in my book.

    'I'm pretty sure Ca(r)ter (the Skype rules! Guy) is in the same boat.':
    From comments he's made here and elsewhere, I think so.

    'As for me, I'd prefer to play with these guys online as opposed to strangers face to face.':
    Your friends always make the best groups, ime. But... I've made new good friends(and introduced new people to the game) by taking chances on strangers!(I quite distinctly remember people who didn't know each other gathering together to play RPGs back when I was in public school and college. Sometimes it seems there's less of that today, but I haven't tried to research it.) But the main thing is enjoyment, I'd say.

    Earthdawn was interesting. The Fantasy game that gave 'rationales' for dungeon delving, treasure collecting, the need for 'heroes', and fragmented societies. It should've been huge among the crowd that needed explanations for already-standard fantasy RPG tropes.(And it had a cool vibe, as well as a a confusing relationship to Shadowrun past history, IIRC) I had the 3 free pamphlets(2 of which had 2 Characters with stats, equipment, back stories and intro to the adventure that came in the 3rd[which oddly altered some info on the PC sheets!])r in the final FASA shipped to Game Stores, and I thought it looked kinda cool, but our group never ended up playing it. Also, I though the hardbounds were a bit expensive, but luckily FASA offered softbounds shortly thereafter. Though it has a small cult following, bouncing from the defunct FASA to Redbrick to Mongoose, getting bulkier and more expensive with each edition, along with various rules changes, didn't seem to help either. Perhaps a revival of the 1st Edition is in order? :-)

    Savage Worlds:
    Huh. The game has a great buy-in: 9.95 for the core rules. The supplements aren't too expensive, from what I've seen. There seems to be a large fan community for the game, so I'm puzzled as to why some people can't find players for it! It's not my bag, due to certain issues, especially its action/fate points mechanic and injury rules, but I've known several people that liked it well enough to play, and it shows up at my local cons. Not to mention regular new releases, and 'Savage' Cthulu, of all things! ;-)
    Good luck!

  47. Games I own, have never played, but wish I could find a group that did: GURPS, Harn, Tekumel, MERP, Dying Earth, Ars Magica, Traveller, HackMaster, Warhammer FRP, Poers & Perils.

    Games I played a couple of times (20 years ago) and wish I'd played a lot more of: DragonQuest, Pendragon, Morrow Project.

    One game that sounded totally amazing - in a Dragon magazine article IIRC - but could never get my group to play: Bunnies & Burrows.

  48. I feel envious of the Exalted community and the D&D4e community. I'm completely uninterested in the first game, and less than interested in the second, but they sure do seem to be having a lot of fun. The 4e people even have folks like Wil Wheaton and several webcomics artists I like touting their system.

    @steelcaress: Earthdawn is my group's primary game. Unfortunately, we only get to meet to play about once every two months or more...

  49. Another nomination for Savage Worlds. I've even got a few of the books, but they don't seem to explain why the people that play it *love it* so very, very much. I'd love to give it a shot and find out.

    Slight tangent, but, you know... massive minis games, like Warhammer. I played Warmachine for long enough to learn it isn't my thing - too expensive, too much effort, too competitive & too much 'keeping up with the joneses'. But I do like to see the giant battles roll out, with all the gorgeously painted miniatures and the amazing terrain. I don't want to play, but I am envious of the amount of fun they're having.

  50. Re: Savage Worlds - IMO Savage Worlds is a system that plays much better than it reads.

    Plus it's not really that expensive if all you want to do is sandbox it old-school style; The base rules and the fantasy companion will set you back $30.

    What I personally like about it is that it goes fairly lite on statblocks but still has some crunch - so for my money it's a good compromise between rules-lite systems like OD&D and massive-crunch systems like Pathfinder.

    The things that may turn old-schoolers off are twofold: It has a meta-gaming feature with fate points ('bennies') and it has a map-based tactical combat system.

    Oh, and it has levels but not classes. That could go both ways. :)

  51. A few friends and myself used to love The Fantasy Trip and would do tactical battles and little adventures, but I always wanted to do a full "In the Labyrinth" RPG campaign using all the rules.

    I envy the people that did, or still do, full campaigning using the Advanced Melee, Advanced Wizard, and In the Labyrinth books.

  52. Dungeons and Dragons! That’s why I hang around these blogs, to see what you guys are building. The grass looks really green over there!


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