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blog:20150104_gaming2014

Gaming in 2014

After several years of running and playing long campaigns (each lasting at least a year), our roleplaying group decided to try lots of different games last year, trying to keep a single game down to 4-6 weeks. The idea was to go for games we've never played before, to give people a chance to get out games they'd had sitting on their shelves for years.

Ars Magica: This was the tail end of a 20 month campaign that I finished running at the beginning of the year. It was our first stab at 5th Edition (I've played 3rd and 4th before), which is a greatly revamped version of the rules, and also the most well supported (in terms of number of source books). As much as I love Ars Magica though, for a fifth edition it still felt like it had a lot of inconsistencies and broken rules. It's still a good game, but feel likes it needs a 5.1 release.

Legend of the Five Rings: Though I've played 1st, 2nd and 3rd editions of this game, this was our first time playing 4th. Unlike Ars Magica 5th, this felt a lot more like an iterative improvement over previous versions. I like the game and the setting, and it was a fun return to the game.

Legend (Runequest): This is based on the Runequest II game system, and we played an adventure set in the world of Glorantha, so effectively it was Runequest. I've never been a fan of the d% based games like Runequest (they always seemed more complicated than they needed to be, e.g. working out all the base starting skills), but this was a tidied up version of what I've played before. Glorantha was always a detailed, high quality, world setting but it never quite grabbed me in the same way that some of the lower quality but more accessible D&D settings did. Now I have the comprehensive material from the Glorantha kickstarter though, things may change.

Pathfinder: I first heard about Pathfinder back in 2013. Having stopped paying attention to D&D since 4th Edition, and no longer having a decent local games shop, we were completely unaware of the game. For me, it's an improvement over D&D 3.5 (which I preferred to AD&D 2, which was an improvement over AD&D), whilst keeping the nostalgia feel of the old AD&D. So though I'm not a fan of classes and levels based systems, I loved the world setting (Golarion) and decided to run a Pathfinder game, using the Rise of the Runelords adventure path. It's not a simple or lightweight game, but there are oodles of options. I had fun running it, and people seemed to enjoy it enough to want a second outing at the end of the year with the second adventure in the path.

Edge of the Empire: Having had much fun playing the old D6 Star Wars game, this was an interesting return to the universe, but I'd have to say that I much prefer the original system. Though others liked the dice system, I didn't personally. The fact that I have oodles of dice already, but can't actually use any of them in the game is somewhat annoying. I also like dealing with simple numbers rather than trying to remember what all the symbols mean. It was fun, but I'm not a fan of the system.

The Laundry Files: Based on the books by Charles Stross, the Laundry Files is a modern take on Call of Cthulhu. The idea is that you work for a division of the British Civil Service, hunting down nasty things that threaten the existence of humanity whilst filling in time sheets and expensive claims. I'm not a fan of games set in the modern day, nor of Cthulhu, but those in the group who like both had great fun.

Eclipse Phase: This was a setting I've been meaning to play or run for years, and I finally got a chance to run it. It's a great Hard SF setting, but the rules were not so great. Again, it's a d% system with a horribly complicated character generation system. As GM, I also never quite got the hang of the faction system, which is an important part of the game. We had fun playing it, and I may want to return to it at a later point, but I might look at using a different set of mechanics.

The One Ring: Technically, we haven't played this yet, since we've only got as far as character generation. The setting is Middle Earth, which I haven't played since Rolemaster back in the 90s, and the system is a lightweight set of rules with some interesting mechanics. Character generation seemed to make it hard to design a character if you had a concept in mind, but was easy if you were happy to just go with the flow. We'll see how this one pans at at the beginning of this year.

D&D 3rd: Lastly, I've been running a 3rd Edition D&D game throughout the year online using Roll20. Playing online allows me to play with friends who no longer live locally, and despire the odd technical issue with microphones and things, Roll20 seems to work quite well. I've decided that this campaign will be my last run of actual D&D, so I'm using the opportunity to use various books I've never used (even going as far to use the Epic rules), and playing through some of the first D&D modules I purchased - D1-3 and Q1. The group is up to 14th level now, but I intend to get them up to Epic level this year in time to fight Lolth herself in Q1.

This year we will probably do more of the short adventures. As well as The One Ring, we have Shadows of Esteren in the queue, more Pathfinder: Rise of the Runelords and I'd like to give Savage Worlds and Riddle of Steel a try.

blog/20150104_gaming2014.txt · Last modified: 2015/01/04 16:32 by sam