So, here’s the plan. I’m going to answer all the RPG A Day questions for August. For those who don’t know RPG A Day exists to promote the roleplaying hobby. Every August 31 questions are posted with the idea of stimulating discussion around RPGs, and, at least judging by my social media feeds, it works.
This year, watching the answers of my friends scroll by I realised that my answer to many of the questions was, rather predictably, ‘Amazing Tales’. But that’s OK. I’ve decided to take a crack at the questions with a view to providing some insights into how I approach my gaming, and why Amazing Tales is the way it is. A kind of designers notes thing. Maybe it will work. Maybe it won’t. But it’ll be fun finding out.
1. What published RPG do you wish you were playing right now?
Well Amazing Tales isn’t out yet, so I can’t choose that. For me gaming has always been more about the people than the system. I like systems that fade into the background and don’t get in the way of the story. I like worlds that are good to discover, but for me that’s always been more about the quality of the GM than the depth of the source material.
The game I’ve felt most intrigued by lately is Night’s Black Agents. I use it as the system for my own Delta Green game. But I’d love to play in a game where the GM had fleshed out some of the ideas in the book, and really got to grips with the system. I don’t use mechanics much when I GM, but I’d love to experience Night’s Black Agents being run by someone who really knew what they were doing.
6. You can game every day for a week, describe what you’d do
Every now and then I get to do this. In the summer holidays we go away, typically for a week or two, and fitted around our holiday activities we make up a story. That means the kids and I play Amazing Tales and Mum takes a break. Usually characters in Amazing Tales don’t last very long before the kids get bored with them, two or three sessions at most, but on our summer holidays we can stick with characters and a plot for a week or more at a stretch.
These are the only Amazing Tales games I do any real preparation for, and it’s not much. I’ve found it’s helpful to draw a map for the game. Once I’ve sketched out some landmarks I invite the kids to name them, and to suggest more. Over the course of the week we’ll make sure their characters visit them all.
11. Which ‘dead’ RPG would you like to see reborn?
To my mind RPGs don’t die. If you can find a copy of a game you can play it. That’s one of the joys of the hobby. But I think what this is really about is community. Games do best when there are players around the world having new ideas and sharing them.
Stormbringer. That might be a good one to have more people thinking about. I’d quite like to see the revival of Top Secret work out well too. I don’t think I’ve ever played a straight forward espionage game.
16. What RPG do you enjoy using as is?
I think small simple games get the most use ‘as is’, simply because there’s so little to change. I don’t think I’ve ever changed a thing when playing Fiasco for example. And in that spirit of small games, I’m going to name The Quiet Year. It takes a couple of hours, it gives a great story every time, and it’s very simple.
21. Which RPG does the most with the least words?
One fan of the playtest version of Amazing Tales suggested entering it for the 200 word RPG challenge, I imagine the answer to this question is somewhere in there. Sadly the 2017 deadline had gone. Still, here is the Amazing Tales system reduced to 200 words, I might enter it in 2018.
26. Which RPG provides the most useful resources?
I’m one of those gamers who likes everything in one book. I’m not a fan of DM screens, custom dice, campaign expansions and the like. So I’m not well placed to answer this question.
But, as I’ve got older, and had less time, I’ve come to appreciate the value of the pre-written scenario. So I’m going to suggest Goodman Games. There stuff is very genre specific, but it’s very very good at what it does.
And then there’s the fact that the most useful resource a game can have is a community. I’ve never played much D&D, but in recent months I’ve been poking around the D&D community and simply as a function of its size it produces some amazing content, way more than any publisher could ever hope to. So that’s my other answer, good ol’ D&D.