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January 31, 2011 / jadettman

Getting Ready for a New Game

I can’t decided whether I’m getting too old to play new roleplaying games or whether there is some other problem going on with me lately. I have little interest in reading the new Dresden Files RPG, mostly because the system is Fate and I’ve read both Spirit of the Century and Diaspora in the last year. It just isn’t engaging my attention because so much of it is the same. And therein lies the real problem because, from what I hear, there are differences in there that I need to know about.

We’re supposed to be doing the collaborative part of the character creation process this week. The part where we write up background connections to some of the other PCs to give us a shared history. Ideally, I like this part of character creation because we get to do it as a group and because it helps to prevent too much overlap between the characters areas of competence. The problem is that we’re kind of half-ass-ing it. At least three of us, half of the players in the group, have our characters mostly made, which really isn’t in the collaborative spirit of the game, I think.

When the designers talk about getting the group together to make characters they are talking about bringing character ideas to the table and everyone making characters from scratch in a big brainstorming creativity fest that lasts a few hours. Afterward, you go home and polish the character up, maybe, but most of the creative lifting is supposed to be distributed over the group to create some kind of group cohesion and a fun dynamic. Are we short-circuiting that process by doing the polishing before the regular phased Aspect generation? I dunno, because that’s what I’m wondering.

Setting that aside and getting back to my initial problem: I really wish that folks designing with an existing system would take the time to put a page in their book explaining the changes they’d made to the system. Choose a base, and go from there. I know this is particularly hard with the Fate system because there are so many different iterations of the damn thing put together by different people (Spirit of the Century and original Fate stuff by Evil Hat; Diaspora by VSCA; Starblazer Adventures and Legends of Anglerre by Cubicle 7; Strands of Fate by Void Star; and that doesn’t include all the monkeying about by other random folks on the internet, that is just the published versions). It is all a big mess and that is why I want something in the book telling me what is different. Looking at that big heavy book I feel like I don’t want to wade through another 400+ paged reference manual to find the three or four different tweaks that the designers put on this iteration of the game, for this specific setting.

It used to be that I loved going through a new roleplaying game to learn all of the different ways that it worked. Somewhere along the way it became a chore and now I’m trying to figure out why that is.

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