Friday, September 25, 2009

The Sweet Spot

In the light of the culmination of my publishing plans (I have the proofs of Beat to Quarters and will most likely make my orders this weekend), a surge in work hours putting a crunch upon my spare-time, the continuation of our excellent D&D game and the growing urge to GM something to someone, I have been thinking a lot about how best to use my time when gaming.

I've been pondering why I am enjoying D&D so much? I've come to the conclusion that it is a combination of two things. The first is that the longevity of our group has made for a very comfortable gaming environment. We understand each other and that makes playing games in a way we like very easy indeed. The second is that the game sits in a sweet spot between my self-confessed love of gritty, 'gamist', tweakable systems and nicely cuddly narrative bolt-ons that we have added. The way the game has been modded, with stunt points, legacy items, round-robin adventure seeding and all manner of other little touches really appeals to me.

I've also been pondering why I have almost no yearning to write any other games? Certainly there is a degree of mental fatigue from a three year project that has encompassed about 80% of all my reading in that time. Some of it almost certainly is about the way that the online community that inspired me to create a game has turned into a nasty, judgemental, entitled cesspit of incestuous bollocks with its head so far rammed up its own arse I simply cannot bring myself to read it never mind participate. However, a lot of it has to do with the plethora of rather cool looking games that are available now. I just don't see the need.

Take, for example, Diaspora? Its an SF version of the Fate 3.0 engine (which powers Spirit of the Century and the upcoming Dresden Files rpg) and works on the basis of a small cluster of star systems. It sounds perfect. Why would I write a space game when there is this potential gem waiting to be played.

I've even been pondering what sort of games I want to run. Its been a bit of a joke with my group that I have bipolar gaming tendencies. I like to play crunchy games but as soon as I take the GMs chair I jettison rules like ballast from a runaway balloon. It goes beyond that. I have a sort of personal rule that I like to play games as they are meant. Now clearly thats not 'rules as written' (members of my gaming group reading this can stop sniggering now) but rather that I like to play them in the manner they were meant to be played. So, for example, if I'm playing Buffy, I play Buffy. If I'm playing Hot War, then I play Hot War. I don't have time to be modding games and making rules tweaks and such. Indeed, I barely have time to consider setting! I need something that I can play, as it is bought.

However, and this may well seem contradictory, I also take inspiration from Andrew's tweaking of 4e D&D and the way we have consciously bolted-on the bits of game 'best practice' that we really enjoy. Taking that concept, I could take just about any system and include our package of prefered gaming practices and *boom* its done. That wouldn't be modding - its more moulding.

Of course, the true balancing factor in all of this is time. Something I have none of at the moment. Which sucks.

Anyway, pondering - I'm doing a lot of it.

1 comment:

Fandomlife said...

I've pretty much set on Fate as being my system of choice. It's more of a traditional game than most 'indie' games, but settles on a narrative / story reality rather than a simulative or gamist one, while still giving a enough 'story tactics' in the game to make it interesting (combat is great in the sense its narrative combat that has tactical / visual options). It also removes equipment as a significant factor, and with aspects paints a picture of who the character is and who and what they are concerned about and giving those rules effects. It also places less emphasis on character development in a 'power up sense'.

Ironically, it's come at a time when I'm less inclinded to run - despite looking for that balance for some time.