Sadly, this particular day is the easiest entry in the whole schema thus far. Most of this has to do with the fact that I’ve been languishing in something of a limbo since I moved, stranded without any semblance of a solid gaming group as I settle into the new house. Granted, the old group that I had held together for several years finally started drifting apart, so I was going to be faced with this dilemma anyway. This sort of thing seems to happen on a periodic basis, just because people tend to shift in and out based on work and school, but it doesn’t make regular groups any easier to keep solid.
As such, instead of the two to four groups I used to run with in a given week, I’m down to one. Occasionally, we’ll get a second session in, for a different game, but it’s not terribly consistent.
Most Recent RPG Played
Oddly, this happens to be for a game that I hadn’t been terribly interested in, initially. One of our crew picked up the latest iteration of Outbreak: Undead last year at Gen Con, the stand-alone book for Outbreak Deep Space. He tends to be a fan of zombie games in general, with a prodigious All Flesh Must Be Eaten collection (one of the few systems that most people own more of than I do) and a scattering of others.
I should note that the new Outbreak edition is coming out shortly, with Pandemic Organized Play system. It’s a bit like the old Infiniverse newsletters that WEG used to do for Torg, with some interesting tweaks. The new edition looks amazing, with a lot of solid refinements that will move the game forward nicely.
Anyway, Outbreak Deep Space is a fascinating system, being as I was largely unfamiliar with anything of the original system in the first place. It uses a percentile system, which is nothing unusual in its own right, but it really starts to get innovative with the Descriptor system. Descriptors run along the same lines as Tags in Fate, where certain qualities of a person’s equipment or background can come into play in different ways.
Consider a character that has spent time in the military. Along their career progression, they’ve picked up some bits of knowledge about firearms, the ability to weather harsh conditions, and a certain amount of tactical knowledge. In play, the character can draw on certain Descriptors to help them in other tasks. The firearms knowledge, for example, can be used as a static value that can add to their actual shooting skill, as well as rolls to recognize certain models of pistol or rolls to effect repairs to their weaponry. The Descriptors aren’t tied to a specific roll, instead being able to be used in relevant situations.
Being a zombie game, at its heart, there is a lot of focus on certain tactical decisions within the game, such as how well the characters equip themselves and what sort of strongholds they employ to gain some measure of safety against the undead hordes. In space, this comes in the form of the starships that come into play, which can serve as more broadly universal facilities than buildings might in a normal, contemporary Outbreak game.
There are some rough edges to this edition, to be sure, but there seems to be some movement toward a revision and update of this edition, moving toward more setting specific game lines. (These are the things you learn when you can actually track down and bend the ear of the designer themselves.)
The other games that I’ve been involved with lately (though not as recently as the Outbreak game) are Star Wars by Fantasy Flight and Pathfinder. We’ve sort of rolled a lot of the different aspects of the FFG line of games into one central whole, with my character, a Falleen Jedi, alongside an Ewok marauder and a murderbot. There’s a lot of Edge of the Empire and Age of Rebellion aspects being bandied about, making the game a proper gestalt. Eventually, I would love to see a comprehensive edition of this game that incorporates all three game lines into a single line, but I can understand why they split it into separate books. If nothing else, the Jedi rules needed more time to distill and tweak. They’re easily the largest headache for any designer.
Somewhere, it has been said that the ultimate purpose of all role-playing games and systems is to be able to create Jedi within the rules. I can’t argue this. As such, when it’s part of the oblique purpose, you have to be able to do it correctly in the end result.
I’ve also had occasion to play Pathfinder, but that’s less of a revelation and more of an admission that I still game with normal gamers here and there. I’m hoping there will be opportunity for a larger, more dedicated game to be run (one put together and run by someone else for a change, I would hope), but that’s hinging on greater logistics than I can wield at the moment. Too many balls in the air and all that implies.
Going forward, the games I would love to be able to play occupy a much more fanciful niche. I’d like to see a longer, more involved game with the Unisystem rules, like Conspiracy X or possibly All Flesh Must Be Eaten perhaps. The few times I’ve sat down to play Unisystem, I’ve enjoyed it, but they’ve been few and far between. There’s also the Cipher System, which includes Numenera and The Strange, neither of which I’ve been able to find in any of my gaming groups.
And finally, I’ve been looking to some future point where I might be able to either run or play something using one of Green Ronin’s non-D20 systems, either AGE System or Chronicle System, which run Dragon Age and Song of Ice and Fire, respectively. I’ve run a couple of sessions with ASoIaF, here and there, and I’ve liked everything about it, but all of the sessions have been distressingly short-lived. The backstory and world-building that the game implies have been spectacularly solid in the sessions I’ve run, but nothing ever lasts beyond a couple of sessions, for one reason or another.