Well hello there! Thanks for coming back for the third Saturday installment of #RPGaDay2017. This seems to be D&D week for me. Now we’re here for a different subject. Let me introduce the question:
August 19: Which RPG features the best writing?
I love RPGs. That shouldn’t be a surprise. My social media presence is a testament to this. I’ve read a lot of RPG books through the years. While I certainly enjoy reading role-playing books, they are not all a joy to read. The D&D Red Box, which was my first RPG, was an exciting read, because I was so excited about the game, the writing was evocative, the style approachable. Exactly what you need for an introductory game. For ease of reading and understanding how to play a game that was a big win.
Reading AD&D 1st edition was… surprising. While I am fluent in English, it was not my first language, and my vocabulary back in 1987 was not what it is today (not that you can tell by all the typos around here!). The AD&D 1t edition books were NOT approachable. The style was baroque and it often felt like reading a textbook.
To this day, many RPG rulebooks still feel like that. As much as I love Savage Worlds, I think the core rules could be improved upon so much, from basic organization to examples and greater clarity. Other Pinnacle books are an improvement but the Companions also suffer. Sometimes there is so much content, which is good, but rules are scattered in various parts of the book, and finding them is a chore. I’m looking at you Science Fiction Companion!
It can be a challenging task to make rules an entertaining read, but it does happen. Often with the inclusion of fiction to flesh out the setting, or tie in fiction, which can unto itself be hit and miss. I remember loving the lore of Torg when it came out, even if I didn’t get all the rules at first. The art and morsels of the world in the original Rifts were gems in those messy, often disorganized books.
Then there are books you enjoy reading not merely for the rules. I remember being impressed by the original Alternity rules. Despite being a generic system, there was a lot of flavor in those books. They were a great read. The AD&D 2nd edition rules, while not perfect, surely made the game more accessible.
Fading Suns has the opposite effect for me, I am enamored by the lore. The rules… well let’s say I skipped the rules the first time I read the book. A modern game with old school sensibilities, which I think is a great read is Stars Without Number. Kevin Crawford has a clear, no-nonsense style, and his writings and ideas on sandbox gaming are a delight to read. I have enjoyed all his books I’ve read. Check out the current Kickstarter for the revised edition of Stars Without Number.
But my pick for best writing in an RPG may surprise you… The (original or classic) World of Darkness! Specifically, Vampire the Masquerade, Werewolf the Apocalypse and Mage the Ascension. True they could often be a little self-referential, often pretentions, but reading them gave you a great idea what the game was about. I still own and often reread the Book of Nod, I thought that was a great game supplement that transcends the game it was written for. I may not have played that much oWoD but I read a lot of it.
What did we say was the best writing over at Desde la Fosa ? Make your way to our YouTube channel and see our entry for today! Remember that the vlogs we do there are in Spanish. If you speak the language be sure to visit us, or if you don’t, please share with any Spanish speaking gamer you may know.
So, what RPG has the best writing in your opinion? Let us know here in the comments or tag us in social media.