For the sixth year running, there is another RPGaDAY month in August! This year, instead of a set of concrete questions, there’s a single term for each day, and it is up to the respondents to interpret that term and tell something about how they experienced RPGs in a way that is related to that term.
You can see the full announcement here.
What with business travel, recuperating from that, visiting a festival and recuperating from that, I only now have the time to sit down and post my answers. So today you’re getting a catch-up post! I’ll try to do a single entry for each day from now on, but we’ll see how that works out.
My first RPG was Rolemaster, what is now called the ‘classic’ edition. In the fall vacation of my 14th year, a boy from school told me he was going to run RPGs at his house every day, and he told me that it would be right up my alley. Turned out he was right! I was given the ‘easiest’ character to play, a Hobbit Thief (of course), and with a crew of adventurers we set out to solve the mystery of Minas Anghen, the first adventure of the Haunted Ruins of the Dunlendings Middle-Earth module.
For years, Rolemaster would be my go-to Fantasy RPG, and it would take me years before I’d even play Dungeons & Dragons, because it just wasn’t a factor in my immediate gaming circles. TO be fair, my teenage self even looked down on D&D, since it lacked the skill-based customisation options that were baked into Rolemaster. At least that was ‘rectified’ by D&D’s 3rd edition (which came at a time when nobody was playing Rolemaster anymore), and even taken to the extreme with Pathfinder…
D&D and its direct descendants promote a mode of play that is sometimes derisively called ‘murder-hobo’: the adventuring party is a group of exceptional outsiders that roams the wilds, killing and looting as they go, without too much connection to the places they visit. Over time, attempts have been made to circumvent this mode of play and make D&D games something different — with varying success. Still the XP requirements of D&D steer towards murder-hobo’ing.
In Ryuutama, the players are ‘normal’ people (craftspeople, farmers, healers, hunters, etc) that go on a long, extended trip — there is a justification for it in the setting. And while there are combat rules (that are expected to be used), the focus is not on killing monsters and taking their stuff, but on experiencing the trip. Instead of gaining XP for killing things, in Ryuutama you get XP for travelling! This mode of play takes the murder out of the hobo’ing, and that is pretty unique for a game that features extended travel.
And because it’s a Japanese game (it has been translated to English, French and Spanish), it has a unique flavour to it, too.
The very point of RPGs is to play it with a group of people. Together, you create ‘the fiction’ (as the Apocalypse World Engine calls it), and interact with that through the rules. This means engaging with the GM and the other players, but also with the resulting story. The stereotype of the antisocial gamer can’t exist in RPGs, because to play an RPG you will have to play with others.
When klik was at her retreat, I started writing a Macross-inspired RPG. I didn’t get too far, and all the good parts are based on the text of Blades in the Dark or Monsterhearts II — all the bad parts are my own… I’ll just share how far I got before the week ended. I will revisit it and continue work on it, when I have more time.