#RPGaDAY 2017 – Share a PWYW publisher who should be charging more.

I can’t really answer this. I don’t browse enough electronic RPG listing to know off-hand who utilizes PWYW AND has quality-enough products that they really should charge a minimum. I assume that any company who has something you’d expect to pay money for and is actually giving it away has a source of revenue to keep them solvent.

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#RPGaDAY 2017 – Which RPG has the most jaw-dropping layout?

All the glitz and glamour of a jaw-dropping layout doesn’t do any good if the book is a chore to read and often books that look the prettiest can be hard on the eyes. For me, I’m more impressed by a book’s layout if it doesn’t call attention to itself. For me, no RPG book has come close to Ptolus’s layout. An entire city campaign setting design to resemble a travel guide complete with sidebar cross references? Easy to read in print AND in PDF (and this is where a lot of really flashy, fancy designs fall down–what’s easy to read in print doesn’t necessarily translate to easy-to-read on a computer monitor or tablet screen).

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#RPGaDAY 2017 – Which RPGs are the easiest for you to run?

Paranoia and Star Wars are the easiest RPGs for me to run because they’re the ones I’m most familiar with and most comfortable improvising with. That may sound strange since I’ve said Dungeons & Dragons is the RPG I started with, played most, and prefer for open-ended campaign play, but its reliance on balance makes it harder for me to ad-lib encounters; for some reason, I’ve just never gotten the hang of improvising a D&D session. I can run a perfectly cromulent Paranoia game off the top of my head (the game is mostly about being unfair and provoking PvP anyway) and Star Wars isn’t much more difficult. I had a lot more Star Wars toys growing up than D&D-releated toys (’cause there really weren’t that many, though I did have some of them… I really liked that Hook Horror and Dragonne and I still crack up at Warduke’s impractical armor).

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#RPGaDAY 2017 – Which RPG does the most with the least words?

Fate Accelerated. The rules are robust enough to run just about any kind of game you want, but simple enough to fit in a short, $5 booklet. I’ve run Atomic Robo, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen 1980s edition, Fallout (albeit, I did add stunt-like cards to represent weapons and drugs), and Saturday Morning Superheroes with it. As long as your players buy in to the amount of narrative control they have, the game will feel pretty much like it should and it will be fast.

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#RPGaDAY 2017 – What is the best source for out-of-print RPGs?

If there’s an out-of-print RPG I’m looking for, my go-to place to look is Noble Knight Games in Janesville, Wisconsin. I’ve never actually been to their store, though, I use their website. They’re also my go-to place if I’m looking to sell RPG books, incidentally. They have an excellent selection, I’ve always found their prices fair, and their customer service is top-notch. Their domestic shipping rates are reasonable and they pay shipping for items they purchase. I like them better than my FLGS; they have a better selection and better service.

If I can’t find something I want at Noble Knight (or I want to try to pay less money), I’ll go to eBay. The auction market is pretty volatile, though, and often I don’t wait that long and risk a bid sniper winning the auction out from under me at the last minute (inevitably while I’m commuting or sleeping).

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#RPGaDAY 2017 – Which RPG feature the best writing?

Judging RPG writing is a tricky things. More tricksey, even than nasty hobbitses. Some people think RPGs read like a technical manual and are impossible to get through; they use them as a reference only. I have many RPGs like this. Some RPGs have so much prose that have nothing to do with the rules that they’re incomprehensible for use as a reference. Others strike a nice balance.

There has been one, and only one RPG that I’ve been able to read straight through, from beginning to end: Monte Cook’s Arcana Unearthed. The setting was the most evocative I’d read at the time, even though the rules were essentially tweaked D&D 3.X. Reading it made me want to run a game, play a game, write. I enjoyed reading it, and that, to me, is the most important metric when determining if something is well-written. A piece of writing can be technically perfect, but it can also be dry, dull, and lack soul.

I also have to give props to Shadowrun’s 4th edition Anniversary edition. I was tangentially familiar with Shadowrun when I acquired it, but had never played a game nor read anything about it. Much of the rules system still puts me off, but the setting… oh my, the setting. I fell in love with an alternate future where magic, elves, dwarves, trolls, and other monsters returned to the world, a future where uncaring corporations wield nation-like power, a world that ours is beginning to resembling in a frightful way, but without all the cool accoutrements. Shadowrun is also an excellent example of a game that I would never run using its native system; though I have yet to find an alternative that presses all the right buttons. But, that’s a topic for another day…

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#RPGaDAY 2017 – Which RPG have you played the most in your life?

I started with Dungeons & Dragons and I always come back to Dungeons & Dragons. Since my first experience with the Moldvay (and Mentzer; we mixed and matched freely ’cause we didn’t know the difference) boxed sets back in 1982, I have played every edition released: D&D, AD&D, AD&D 2nd Edition, D&D 3rd edition, D&D 3.5, D&D 4th edition, and D&D 5th edition.

There have been other games, to be sure. We played a LOT of Paranoia when I was in school in Germany because it was quick and easy and we could play it during our lunch period. In the ’90s I played a LOT of West End Game’s Star Wars RPG because the friends I played with weren’t allowed to play D&D (the whole Satanic Panic thing). But through it all, there was always Dungeons & Dragons.

No matter how I feel about a particular edition, there’s a part of me that still wants to play D&D. I expect that won’t change, even if the edition I play and the current edition don’t always match up.

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#RPGaDAY 2017 – Which RPG have you owned the longest but not played?

This would be the Dragon Age RPG. I bought the first two boxed sets when they came out, but never played them, despite being very intrigued by the mechanics (especially the stunt mechanic which I’ve often thought about porting into my D&D 5E game, but that would require me to make rules, and if you’ve been reading this month, you know how I feel about that).

This was a surprisingly difficult question, because I don’t have a record of when I purchased many of my RPGs and this question is not to be confused with the oldest RPG I have but not played (because I recently acquired a 1974-vintage original D&D set), of course. Now there are MANY RPGs I have that I’ve had a long time and haven’t played in even longer, like Marvel Super Heroes. I have played them, though, it’s just been 20+ years.

 

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#RPGaDAY 2017 – Which RPG do you enjoy using as is?

The vast majority of RPGs I use as-is, especially when they’re new to me. Creating new rules isn’t my forte, so I avoid it whenever possible. As Dirty Harry said, “A man’s got to know his limitations.” Sure, I house-ruled AD&D 2nd edition, but I chose from provided options, so it was more like a salad bar.

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#RPGaDAY 2017 – Which RPG do you enjoy adapting the most?

Short Answer: None.

Long Answer: First, I don’t like tinkering with rules enough to make an adaptation. I just want to play the game. Second, in my experience, most adaptations don’t work as well as a game purpose-designed to emulate a certain style of play/genre/licensed property. There are exceptions, of course. Going back to the Star Wars RPG, I never felt like the d20 adaptation fit the feel as well as WEG’s or FFG’s versions; it always felt like D&D playing at Star Wars. D&D in SPAAAAAACE, as it were, but without the gonzo fun of Spelljammer’s scro, giff, or miniature giant space hamsters. I don’t really consider using options in generic rules to fit a certain type of game “adapting;” it’s kind of what those games are designed for, although if you start writing your own rules to cram a square Savage Worlds into a jagged oblong Fallout hole, then that would be adapting.

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