It's the last day of 2013. It's been a busy year. But 2014 looks promising too.
UbiquitousRPG with Friday Night Roleplay
Probably the biggest investment of time made this year has been in working with the Friday Night Roleplay group to run a fantasy-genre game. This started towards the end of 2012 and is still going. Just about.
Through the year, however, we have developed our own iteration of OSR-inspired fantasy roleplaying rules, which I rather egotistically dubbed UbiquitousRPG. There have been four major revisions of the rules, along with alterations in the way the fantasy-specific bits work, and the system now seems to play quite well.
As with all ongoing campaigns, however, there are always periods of inertia (like Christmas, which kills play for over 6 weeks). The challenge this week is to get back to running the game for the first session of 2014 on Friday 3rd. What's promising, however, is that we look set to have a full house of players.
Gaming at School
Alongside the home group, there is also a small gaming club that runs at the school where I work. Here is where the ongoing campaign is being run (albeit falteringly) by a newbie GM using the Imagine RPG.
Gaming here is totally different. It's much more like the gaming that used to happen 30 years ago back at my own school: fantasy-dominated, broadly hack-n-slash adventuring with a group of charmingly precocious teenagers. It's a lot of fun... when they get going.
This year, trying to be hands-off and let them learn to play independently, there has been less consistent play... but what the guys are doing is their own. I've only run one game outside of their campaign, and you can read about what I learned from The Funnel
in that post.
The biggest thing has been a reminder of just how little support a group of teenagers really needs to get playing. Once they are exposed to roleplaying, you can get out of their way. They will create, play, and enjoy without adult intervention.
Serene Dawn Minimalism
One of the side-effects of writing for the home fantasy campaign, and the design of UbiRPG
, has been an increased focus on what makes a good game. Working with +Scott Templeman
on the Serene Dawn SF setting has also opened up some fresh ideas on how to create a really simple system. Putting those sets of influences together has given birth to the Affinity System
. You can read about Affinity System
in the introductory post
, so I'll not talk details here.
What's been really interesting has been exploring the idea of minimalist gaming. At the start of the design process, some three weeks ago, we were simply rolling 2d6 and seeking to beat one of five difficulty numbers (3, 5, 7, 9, or 11). To be honest, that works pretty well for a highly narrative game.
We're now at the stage where, in the interests of defining character more clearly, we've added concepts which seek to be flexible - namely Affinities and Knacks. What intrigues me is to realise how much many RPGs "lock-down" the stats and abilities of characters. The process of design, in which everything is fluid, has opened up thinking about how much we can maintain that fluidity and flexibility in the final game.
Looking to 2014...
Yes, I want to keep playing on Friday nights. Certainly I want to keep the school club going. And, yes, I plan to develop Affinity System further.
I also want to play some other games. I have shelves and stacks of RPG books, many of which are untouched. Here's a run-down of 5 things I'd like to try in 2014:
- Get into Glorantha. Every time I come across this fantasy world I feel drawn to play there. I (mostly) don't care which game system gets used, I'd like to get into Glorantha.
- Try out Traveller5. After years (literally) of being involved in the playtest forum, I'd like to have a game... preferably as a player, to be honest, but GMing it is doable.
- Figure out Hero System. I own Hero 6th Edition. I'd like to get my head around why this is a good game and worth the effort. I've played it a couple of times... do I need to play it more?
- Play online. I've got an account with Roll20. I'd like to find a way to use it. Is online play going to open up new opportunities?
- Become a "better" GM. Reading Graham Walmsley's excellent "Play Unsafe", I want to play more freely and with less prep... and thus, become a better GM in the sense of being more true to my own style of play.
That's it. Retrospective complete.
Labels: Affinity System, musings, UbiRPG