The liche lord raises the vile looking Vorpal Deathbringer Blade over his head, he has got the drop on Lord Farketor! With a terrible scream he slashed downward at Farketor’s head……wait, didn’t he had the Blademaster feat? Or was it the Bladedancer? And his Longsword skill was a 65%, so add 5%, double it, subract 25% for the low vision and subtract another 10% for Farketor’s DarkFighting feat….what do we have? Someone got a calculator on their phone???
We have all been there right? Maybe not, some people enjoy that moment of calculation, I have a brother-in-law who is an account, he might like that. I on the other hand, really hate it. Now, before we all go jumping around angry and writing lovely flames (which I enjoy reading btw), let me preface this with I have played many games over my 30 or so year or playing, most of those were spent behind the screen. Just so it is said, I am approaching this discussion from the viewpoint of a GM.
A few friends and I have recently been talking of starting up another campaign. We all agree we want a long term solution here, a campaign that could run for months, if not years. I guess we are all yearning for those games of yesteryear. Thus has begun the search for THE GAME. The one we can all agree on and the one that will serve us well over time. Many have been suggested: Risus, PDQ, Savage Worlds, Swords & Wizardry:Whitebox, DungeonSlayers, and most recently Chronica Feudalis (I am reading this now, and blaming YOU). All of the games, minus the last one, I have ran and loved, ((don’t get me started on my love/hate relationship I have with Risus)), and that brings me to my point here.
As a GM, and regardless of how much the players love a system, I need to love the system. Maybe I am being selfish here, but if the system is a pain my rump, I will not have a good time running the game. Period. Being that I am older now, and have a fairly important and demanding job, time resources are limited for me, spending six hours planning to play a two hour game is something I have not only a hard time doing, but justifying. It is just something I do not want to do on a regular basis. So limiting prep time is a must for me.
Now, many will say that once you get in good with a system, you can run it easily… Ok, great, I don’t have time for that either. I want to jump in and start playing in my comfort zone…not three months or more down the road. One of the games I fell in love with a few years ago, and now cannot stand is a perfect example of one area or segment of games that I just do not like anymore: Savage Worlds. Taking a cue from, or perhaps they started it, I don’t know or care, the whole Edges/Hinderances thing that is like the 3e feats. Gah! I hate those. For me as a GM, taking these things into account when designing an adventure is just a pain. Give me a 5 level fighter and i know what he can do, now add in some feat that allows him a +2 against creatures with the middle initial of D or a +1 against bad guys who failed to file their taxes the last three years….it just hurts my head. Then you have the whole issue of creating NPCs, and while it can be said that you just flesh out as you see fit, well, I still should add feats to these guys…if nothing else but to toughen them up to handle our pumped up heroes, right? To make interesting and cool bad guys they need those!
It just seems to me that it used to be heroes were pretty straight forward, and all those cool little quirks were things the players did via role-playing or in sidebar discussions with the GM and all those neatO powers were things only the bad guys or monsters could do.
I should say that part of my pain comes from the fact that I want to create some gaming supplements (a la Lapsus Calumni) and having an overly complicated system, will mean it is that much harder creating stuff for it. This is one of the key things I love about a game like Risus, creating a town is monumentally easy: Fort Minor- A gritty and gloomy dump only outlaws can call home, A stopping point on the crossroads of all major trade routes, A city ran by a crime lord with a thirst for power. Done, town completed. Easy as pie…now do that in another game system, well, you get the idea. Creation I want to be easy, to encourage the creation process, not hinder it.
All this just gives me a headache…..