Random Thoughts on the Week

Man, it has been one hell of a week, hasn't it? Bombings, shootings, fertilizer plants exploding. Three days of cold and snow and ice in the Denver area (nearly skidded off the road one day - didn't thanks to the SUV having all-wheel drive). It's enough to make anyone tired.

So, instead of my usual features, I'm just going to post some things that have occurred to me, regarding RPGs, these last few days.
  1. I can not, for the life of me, focus on a single game system. It made me briefly nostalgic for the old days, when one was forced to change systems to change genres - D&D (or RuneQuest for a different flavor); Boot Hill; Danger International or Top Secret; Champions or Villains and Vigilantes; Aftermath! - a different setting demanded a different game back then. Now I have to decide which of these really intriguing generic systems to spend my time on today...
  2. GURPS: Thaumatology still proves to be my favorite supplement for the 4th edition of the game. For a while there Martial Arts was giving it a run for its money, but every time I return to it I learn something new. The problem right now is trying to contain all of those ideas in my head at once as I wrestle with the magic systems for the Taming of the Eastlands campaign setting.
  3. Encountered my first Traveller T5 review in the wild, and, well, it wasn't good. Breaks my heart, honestly - I've been a fan of the game and the setting since the beginning, but find myself glad that I didn't invest in this particular Kickstarter.
  4. Feel left out by the fact that fundamentalist christians aren't yelling at you about your tabletop gaming, like we got yelled at when we were kids? Well, be jealous no more - now you too can be part of a further-marginalized subculture!
And just to keep the conversation flowing, a broad question for all of you gamers out there: What are the game system design "deal breakers" for you, that when you encounter them as an integral part of a system, you are immediately turned off, or if they're an optional system, you swear to yourself that you'll never employ that option? What are your hot button issues?


  1. 1. For quite a long time I've been the opposite here: I tend to have a single system that I use for just about everything. For a while it was Rolemaster/Space Master; then there was a thing I hacked together based loosely on GDW's House System; these days it's GURPS. I'm not completely opposed to using a setting-specific system (hello, Pendragon), but I need a compelling reason.

    2. Every once in a while I dip a toe into Powers and come out tingling all over. It's a truly impressive book which I resort to only rarely, but it always comes through.

    3. Thanks for the T5 review link. Darn it! Reminds me of Cyberpunk v3: there might be a game in there somewhere, but really it's mostly Pondsmith stream-of-consciousness Cool Stuff.

    4. Oh, wow. He's still alive! And for those of you who haven't met it before, Dark Dungeons is still on-line! See Jack Chick reveal the TRUTH being role-playing games! (Much as he revealed the TRUTH behind the Roman Catholics, Moslems, homosexuals, freemasons, Halloween...)

    Deal breakers. Hmm. Not sure there's any single thing that would cause me to put down a game and never pick it up again. Over-complex dice mechanics put me off, particularly when it looks as though the designer doesn't know much about probability - dice pool systems are particularly vulnerable to this. It's unusual these days, but use of fake units (like the D&D inch) instead of real-world ones. Exponential scales, again when it looks as though the designer hasn't thought them through (RQ3 sorcery).

    1. Powers was the book that made me stay away from GURPS for so long. Even after years and years of Hero system (back when it was Champions, mostly) I had such a hard time wrapping my brain around Powers. I could still use an advanced course in how to understand when one needs to make a roll for something...

  2. I'm disappointed that Martial Arts lost the battle, and surprised that anyone f-ing cares what Pat Robertson says or doesn't say.

  3. So long as you know that it may have lost the battle, but it's far from losing the war. :)

    I still reference MA constantly, every time I play, and lovingly craft styles for worlds that never get off the ground out of it. But I was a Magic User guy back in the D&D days, so spell systems always find their way into my heart. As much as I love what the Design Mechanism guys did with RQ6 combat, the magic systems are still the things I keep coming back to.


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