Saturday, May 15, 2010

Tom Cruise vs Emperor Palpatine

I would like to start this post with an assertion: Star Wars is ace!
I mean, don't you just love the imagery, the look and feel, the cross genre cool.
I mean, check this out and tell me that you're not stirred.

Star Wars is awesome. Specifically, Star Wars Saga Edition Roleplay Game is also awesome. It's award winning, for one (Ennies 2008 Gold Winner Best Rules, Best d20 Product, Best Game. Silver Winner Product of the Year), and rightly so.

Wizards of the Coast Star Wars RPG products have traditionally been used as a testing ground for new D&D rules, which is a little odd considering Lucas Arts charge through the nose for the license, so you would have thought that the rules used would be tried, tested and definitely not experimental.
However, WotC have been using SWRPG as a testing ground. The 2nd Edition was a bridge between D&D 3rd Ed and 3.5, and resulted in some aberrations and jarred a little in places.
Saga Edition is no exception, and straddles 3.5 and 4th Ed.

The only difference is that it rocks!
They've kept all the stuff that worked in 3.5, and introduced all the stuff that works in 4th Ed. The result is a really easy rules system, multi classing options that make sense and Jedi that don't piss all over the other classes.
I love it.

The only downer is that due to the RPG market being in some form of vegetative state, and Lucas Arts demanding so much money for the license, WotC have decided to drop the game.

Not to worry though, there's still stock on Amazon, and my wishlist includes many Saga Edition books. Buy them now before they become rare.

However, onto the the actual point of the post, hinted at by the title.
Hands up if you've seen Valkyrie. It is also ace.
After I watched it, my immediate thought was 'Wouldn't this make a great Star Wars game?'
And it would.
Concept: The players are all high ranking Imperial officers - Moffs, Admirals, Generals etc. The Emperor has just dissolved the Senate, disintegrated Alderaan and allowed the largest, most expensive and most ambitious space station ever built to be destroyed by rebel fighters.
These are dark times, and Emperor Palpatine is leading the galaxy down a path of madness and destruction. He, and his enforcer, Darth Vader, must be stopped. The Empire must be preserved.
The players plot to assassinate the Emperor and Vader, and to take control of the Galactic Empire.

I originally saw it as a letter writing campaign, but wouldn't really know where to start with that, let alone run it.
It would have to be high intrigue and involve meticulous planning by both myself and the players.
It would also be fantastic.

Edit/Update: Well, WotC have now discontinued their Star Wars RPG pages. It's the end of an era. Everybody hand their heads during a moments silence...
On the topic, Will Hindmarch has blogged a post (is that the correct terminology?) regarding why Sci-Fi doesn't sell, which is kind of relevant to this topic.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Deep fascination with game design... Crunch vs Smooth

A couple of weeks ago I tried to drum up some interest in this blog by spamming a bunch of my gaming buddies, new and old, and basically begging them to follow it.
I've received a couple of replies, and one, from Andy Mason, made me think.
He said he'd add it to his RSS feed, but as he didn't share my deep fascination with game design, he didn't see himself commenting that regularly, all of which is fair enough, however it did surprise me, as I've never seen myself as preoccupied with game design, or even game crunch.
In fact, this blog was not supposed to be about design, it was supposed to be about play.

So what went wrong?

When I started nook.geek, I was happily playing every week at my local gaming group, and really just wanted a medium to froth about what I think are cool ideas and moan about the world not understanding my artistic vision (or not liking zombies as much as I think it should).
Then, pretty quickly, the world turned (hello unexpected pregnancy and potential redundancy) and weekly gaming stopped.
Which is where I think things changed. Rather than plot out countless chronicle ideas i'll never run or generate dozens of characters i'll never play, I decided to start writing a system.

I've quickly discovered that writing your own system can bog you down with details and questions almost straight away.
I mean, I started with a nice idea about what I thought should be in a cool game, and then started trying to think of a way to express that with mechanics, but not complex mechanics, and then suddenly i'm spending hours trying to think round combat/damage/defence mechanics and what exactly should a gun  or a knife do?

Which is what I always hated when running store bought games. In fact, I recall banning certain firearms from my 1950's vampire chronicle simply because I couldn't be bothered with the various gun rules.
Thinking on it, I stuck with the White Wolf / World of Darkness games not so much because I liked them (I do), but because i'd learnt the system and therefore did not want to have to learn another one.
I also developed a hatred of D&D 3.x simply because the system got so number heavy, with so many different permutations and exceptions.

So, yeah, i'm surprised that i'm spending so much time on crunch, as i've always preferred smooth.