Another Sunday #RPGaDay2015 challenge entry, Day 23! Today’s topic is one of those over which edition wars are fought in the trenches of internet message boards, perfect game! Thankfully David Chapman (The creator of the challenge and whom I haven’t linked to back enough! Thank you for this idea.) added the caveat, for you. So here we go…
Day 22 – Perfect game for you
There may be those who argue that for the characteristics I’m about to list there is already a system out there that covers them, and I’ve tried many, but haven’t found one that meets all the requirements to my satisfaction. Let’s make a list of the characteristics of the perfect gaming system for me:
- A moderately complex rules medium game that emphasizes role-playing and creativity.
- If it is point based (doesn’t have to be!) the math has to be simple, preferably not greater than a hundred.
- It uses a single mechanic, preferably roll high and the math complexity is limited to adding and subtracting.
- The rules reward creativity and allow for players to have narrative control over aspects of the story pertaining to the characters, including resource management that allows rerolls or mechanical control as well.
- It uses traditional polyhedral dice, no rare dice or dice with symbols that must be interpreted.
- The rules are easy to pick up for a new player, but it allows for more complex options and rewards the player for learning the system with.
- The major complexity would be in character creation, easy to follow and apply in the game, but with plenty of options to create the character the player wants.
- The final character contains most of the information you’ll need to play in the character sheet, reducing the need for looking up rules.
- When you play the rules applications and interpretations are easy to implement and follow.
- The mechanics are applied uniformly to skills and combat, and there are sufficient tactical options to keep play interesting without it slowing down.
- Combat works with a map and minis or theater of the mind, its ok if some complexity is available in the later and not the former.
- It maintains the illusion of realism through the application of armor and damage, but action feels cinematic and fast paced.
- The rules support short and long term campaigns, allowing for characters to grow at the appropriate pace of the campaign.
- Leveling up ties into the options and complexities of character creation, but is not a chore, nor does it penalize players for not making the right decisions long term.
- Preparation for the Game Master is easy and minimal.
- It allows the Game Master to create encounters and opponents with minimal work that feel as complex as the player characters.
- Pre-made adversaries are easy to re-purpose, re-skin.
- Handling out experience, or however the advancement process is handled, is separate from the narrative or mechanical control, the players don’t need to decide whether they advance or use the experience resources for other mechanics.
- There is no overreliance on outside factors for character viability, i.e. magic items, trinkets, they can add to the experience but are not integral to the characters viability.
- There is internal balance between options in the game, avoiding some options to be suboptimal when compared with others whenever possible.
- The game would ideally be able to handle multiple genres with little rule variation, but power scaling may be an option.
Those are the main points I can think of. You could argue that there are systems that do this, Savage Worlds, True20, Mutants & Masterminds, GURPS, even the Cypher System, but having played most of them, none meets all the requirements I’ve outlined above. And that’s a tall order to fill, I know, but as long as were are going with my wish list for a perfect system, I can dream can’t I?
Let us know what’s the perfect game for you in the comments. See you all tomorrow, hope you had a great weekend!
I have to say, I don’t know how Savage Worlds doesn’t meet all of these requirements.
Kristian, I’m currently running Savage Worlds and as much as I love it, using it out of the box with no tweaks, my biggest complain is long campaign viability. We’re 55+ session in and the PCs are almost legendary, for the type of campaign I run, I think I would tweak for more granularity on skills, or play with handing out experience. hindsight is 20/20. On almost all others I agree…
How do you handle long campaigns with SW? Any pointers?
Some of my players want more options for character creation and don’t love the math in the game, but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it.
Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment.
I guess I’m not sure what the problem is yet. You’re saying they’re almost Legendary, but I dont see why that’s a problem. The game doesn’t stop at Legendary. Almost everyone I know who has run long campaigns with Savage Worlds has been fine with continuing with Legendary characters. Advancement shifts a bit at Legendary, but that’s the only real change.
If the issue is challenging the PCs, remember they’re Legendary, not immortal gods. It’s not the same as epic-level play in D&D.
I recommend hitting up the Google+ Savage Worlds Community if you’re looking for additional advice from experienced GMs.
Regarding character creation options, are you using core rules only or a specific setting? Did you employ Setting Rules such as Born a Her? Di you leverage any supplements such as the Horror Companion or the Fantasy Companion? There are also tons of fan-made additions on the web as well.
I used the Sci-Fi Companion and some content out there, and I know that Legendary is not the end, but I’ve found that some challenges become to easy on the Legendary scale. I think it’s a preference for pacing and character growth over the life of a campaign. I reiterate,I’ve enjoyed the system, and I’m creating more challenging encounters for them, but some mundane tasks in the setting (its a very Firefly like sci-fi game) become routine and there is no risk or failure in some aspects. As much as I enjoy Savage Worlds it’s not the perfect system yet… Still in my triumvirate (Fantasy/Sci-Fi/Supers) Savage Worlds fills the middle spot thus far. Some of my players are not so keen on playing it again though…
OK, I see where you’re coming from. I would say up the stakes rather than the challenges. Being Legendary implies they’ve done a lot… A lot that would get them noticed and targeted. If they fail, there should be bigger consequences in the story.
We saw some of that in the film Serenity. The characters are more than capable as we saw throughout the series, and challenges like shooting, robbing, etc. became run of the mill with some bigger threats and consequences messing things up. By the time we get to the film, the stakes are even higher.
I totally get where you’re coming from though. I’d love to hear how other systems handle that concern. Is it just a matter of taking more time to get there despite the same challenges from the GM’s side being present, or do they solve that problem with the scope of the system and setting?
I’ve learned a lot from running this campaign using Savage Worlds, and when I run another one I will apply those ideas. I like the system a lot, I had previously ran a one shot and a short seven session game. It is decidedly one of those games that runs better than it reads, my first time reading it, and I was a little baffled by Shaken, Wounds, the initiative system, but once you play it it flows so nicely. In many ways, even in combat, it becomes transparent.
I would say my biggest hurdles have been a couple of players who don’t like/enjoy the math, and another couple of player’s who are reluctant to learn a new system and have not really learned the nuances or intricacies and them complain that the character’s don’t do what they want, but that has NOTHING to do with the system and everything to do with taste, and hey I know people play for wildly different reasons. It is sometimes hard breaking the D20 mold, which is what we mostly play.
And mind you, there are other systems I play, Pathfinder, Mutants & Masterminds,next D&D 5e, that don’t handle a whole lot more of my points as outlined in the post. I’m reading the Cypher System, and while I like some of the stipping doen they’ve done of the settings built intot heir previous two books, is still not perfect!
for the sake of the post, I outlined a perfect system, but there probably is no such thing, it’s what comes closest to your taste and those of your players, good reason to keep on playing…
Again, thanks for the comments Kristian, and feel free to add any other thought you may have on the matter. Have a great week.