Friday, July 24, 2009

ENnie Award

The polls are open for the 2009 ENnie Awards. This years nominees for Best Rules -- and isn't that really what makes an RPG a game? -- include A Song of Ice and Fire, Starblazer Adventures, and the juggernaut that is D&D 4th. Normally I'd be inclined to vote for Starblazer Adventures as the only SFRPG, but I don't care for the FATE game mechanics. So I may give it to Green Ronin just for being plucky indie game publishers.

As you might have noticed by that logo in the upper corner of the blog, there's some controversy over the Best Free Product category. It turns out that most of the entries are nothing more than demo versions of commercial games, including two of the nominees for Best Rules. The only entries that really are free games are Swords and Wizardry, a"retro-clone" of the 1974 original Dungeons & Dragons, and Trial and Terror: SVU, a supernatural play on the popular "Law and Order" TV show. So if it matters to you it might be something to keep in mind when you vote.

The biggest problem with the awards are that as usual I haven't even laid eyes on the majority of the entries. I might be familiar with a few of the nominees, but the most of them are a mystery to me. That means I either don't pick a second or third choice, or I just vote by the item's reputation, which is hardly fair. I guess I'll just play it by ear as usual.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Dice fetish

One of my friends once said that role playing games are just an excuse for people to indulge their dice fetish. Not to single anybody out, but a couple of recent posts at Geek Orthodox and A Rust Monster Ate My Sword... suggest he may have been right. No wonder some Traveller veterans claim D&D stands for "Dice & Dice." After all, don't most gamers carry their polyhedral dice around in luxurious velvet bags, like some precious gems looted from a dragon's hoard?

I don't have a problem with people getting excited about dice, but It's not an enthusiasm I share. I think it's one of the reasons I tend to prefer games like EABA or Fuzion that use nothing but regular six-sided dice. Not that I'm entirely immune to dice geekery. I admit I have more than a few pair of Flying Buffalo's "Death Dice" in my possession.

Maybe the only real way to escape the dice fetish is to play a diceless RPG, like Active Exploits.

Monday, July 6, 2009


Christopher B. has been posting some great material form his old Stormbringer campaign. That brings back some fond memories for me as well because it was one of the first games that really clicked with me. Sure, I had fun playing D&D but the rules never made much sense to me. T&T was better, but still came up a little short. But Chaosium's Basic Roleplaying hit the sweet spot as far as I was concerned. For the longest time I swore by those rules. Every game I ran used the BRP system. Not that I'm a system snob. I'll play in any game with a good GM, regardless of the rules. It's just that when I find a rules set I like I stick with it.

One thing I really like about BRP that continues to set it apart from most other RPGs is that it completely dispenses with experience points. It seems like almost all games have some kind of mechanism by which the GM can bribe the players. BRP has none of that. No brownie points to massage die rolls or the like. No bonus XP for "good roleplaying." Characters succeed or fail based on their skill and the roll of the dice. To increase a skill you have to use it or find someone to train you. And even then it comes down to a die roll as to whether or not you'll actually benefit from it. There's something refreshingly unbiased about it all.