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.
And between sessions I think about what’s going to happen next. It’s easy to structure these games around a simple ‘collect the items’ approach. Four magical beasts, five magical feathers, six magical swords, that kind of thing. Each session sees the heroes recover another beast (or feather, or sword) and the finale features a huge showdown with the leading bad guy.
7. What was your most impactful RPG session?
In late 2003 I moved to Amsterdam and pretty much stopped roleplaying. For whatever reason I couldn’t find any gaming groups, and no pointers to any online. Then, many years later I thought I’d try again. Thirty seconds of googling while waiting for my train to work unearthed both a regular RPG Meetup in Amsterdam and the ConDamned weekend convention which was happening that very weekend.
At short notice I freed up an afternoon and went along. And I ended up playing a game of Duty and Honour, which had been ported to a setting in the 41st millenium. As games go it wasn’t amazing, but it was a lot of fun. I realised just how much I’d missed gaming, and resolved not to stop again; and, I got a quick glimpse of how far the roleplaying world had come in the years that had passed.
We played a game with no dice, players who got to influence what the plot was, and combat was handled by conflict resolution rather than task resolution. All pretty standard these days but mind expanding for me at the time.
I subsequently went on to run a few short campaigns using the Duty and Honour system, and I’m delighted to hear there’s a new edition in the works.
Other sessions that make the shortlist here are my introductions to Fiasco, Lady Blackbird and Montsegur. And of course I should mention the first ever session of Amazing Tales, played with my daughter when she was four and a half.
8. What is a good RPG to play for sessions of two hours or less?
Amazing Tales. Make up your own adventure in about the time it takes to watch a Saturday morning cartoon. That was one of the design goals, and it can be done, although my experience is that as players age the game takes a bit longer.
For my kids a session takes about an hour now.
9. What is a good RPG to play for about ten sessions?
I think I’m going to suggest Dungeon Crawl Classics here. Old school games are built around the notion of repeated sessions and character advancement, and ten sessions is enough time to get through two or three of Goodman Games’ excellent modules, and perhaps make it to the heady heights of, oh I don’t know, level 3?
Normally I’m a fan of people writing their own games, but the Goodman Games stuff is excellent, has a distinctive tone and really shows off the system. I also think that there’s something nostalgic about pitching your old school characters against the unforgiving nature of a pre-written module rather than the flexible narrative sentiments of a modern GM.
If old school isn’t quite your cup of tea something I haven’t done but would be interested in trying would be playing through Night Witches for a full campaign. Grey Ranks is something I’m intellectually interested in, but I suspect I’d be emotionally exhausted after the first few sessions.
10. Where do you go for RPG Reviews?
RPG.net , and not just because once, briefly, a long time ago, I used to write a column for them. Otherwise I don’t have a fixed source of reviews. If there’s a game I’m interested in I’ll find people who are talking about it on social media and follow the conversation from there.