#RPGaDay 16: A rant

Is this a n RPG I enjoy using “as is”? Frankly my dear, I have no idea!

Day 16: Which RPG do you enjoy using as is?

I’m going off-topic on this, but I guess my short answer is “pretty much all of them”. After all Fate, which yesterday I claimed as the RPG I most enjoyed adapting, s game that you play “as is” by adapting! That’s the rules.

But my point is I think you should play every game “as is” a couple of times before you start mucking about with it. One thing that really bugs me is a GM that brings a new game to the table and says “I didn’t like (insert rule/s here) and so I changed it.” Here’s an example:

A while ago a friend wanted to play a western. I was well up for this. I have always wanted to play a western set game, And long wondered why there are so few such games being played. (Side rant here: I contend that D&D as played at many (most?) tables is actually an iconic western, a bunch of ne’er do wells wandering from town to town getting into trouble with the law, doing odd jobs and stealing treasure)

He’d checked a few out and mentioned Aces and Eights as one we might play. I looked into the ones he suggested and voted for Aces and Eights. It was (is) a bit old school, but it had a to hot mechanic that I felt fitted the genre perfectly. Every shot is a called shot, you roll to see how much you miss by, but the direction of that miss is determined by drawing a poker card and consulting the shot-clock. The shot clock is a transparent overlay that you put over a silhouette of your target (a number of coyboys in different poses and behind a variety of covers) are supplied. So, if you were aiming to shoot the gun out of the villains hand, you can call it. Hit and you get what you wanted, miss and you still might hit him, in the thigh or of your shot was really off, in the head. Or your bullet might fly off past him.

The character generation was really fun too. It’s old school enough to be random stat generation, but you also get point-buy help you build the character you actually wanted. Actually, who am I kidding? The character generation system is, by modern standards, absolutely dreadful! Get this, you don’t just roll 3d6 for each stat, you roll d100 to see how far off the next number you are. So you didn’t just roll a 9 for Dex, you rolled 9.41 or whatever. It takes a couple of evenings and a spreadsheet to roll up a character properly. And by modern standards, that counts as a big fat FAIL!  By “properly” I mean using the optional “Priors and Particulars” random background generation tables. If I’m in for a penny, I’m in for a pound, so by the roll of many many dice, I found out that I was Jacob Deveraux II, a Confederate citizen of York County, South Carolina. The son of a Doctor, and one of a family of four brothers, whose mother died in childbirth, and who doesn’t get on with the youngest, Robert, his half-brother from his father’s second marriage. Lusty, I moved out west having killed a man in a naked whorehouse duel the year before. Anyway I had fun going old school and creating the character and was looking forward to play.

Imagine my disappointment when the GM said, “I don’t like the shot clock or the wounds system, we’re just going to use hit points.” I’d spent hours, days creating that character and in a moment, the GM has turned the game into a D&D variant.

Yes the shot-clock system might have turned out to be cumbersome. We might have ended up pleading with the GM to simplify combat. But we didn’t, because we never got the chance to find out. Here was a game that was trying to capture some of the spirit of the western genre, partly through the aiming/wound system, and we didn’t even get a chance to play it “as is” for a couple of sesssions.

So, just to clarify – despite my use of an image of Aces and Eights to illustrate this piece, I can not say this is a system I enjoy playing “as is”, because I never got a chance to play it that way.

I wish I had.

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