Choosing a role play game system

[Welcome to the final 2007 recap post of stuff what was on the site before I started messing about with it.  I am writing this about a month before this post is due to go out, so hopefully I will have some kind of rhythm set up of posting so something else will fill these Wednesday slots.]

One of the first things that you must do when setting up a role play group, is to choose your role play game system. So, what is involved in this? The first major decision that you have to make is the timing zone that you want to set your game in. Here are some of the major themes that characterise most of the main games:

  • Sword and sorcery: based in the realms of Lord of the Rings style mythology, with humans, Demi humans, and other miscellaneous races. This is a fairly popular genre of role play games, and was the first one to be started by Dungeons and Dragons, and has remained popular ever since.
  • Modern-day role play game: many people, acting like James Bond is something they would really really like to do. Having the rules to be a higher power human being is pretty cool and so of course there are the rules for it. There are also modern-day role play games, such as Call of Cthulhu which is a horror role play game set in the 1920s.
  • Near future/cyberpunk: imagine a world not dissimilar to ours, but with technologies that has advanced over the past 60 or so years, possibly with insurgents of magic and definitely with a rise of corporations. This is the cyberpunk genre, and it popular with games like Shadowrun. My personal favourite.
  • Far-future settings: games like some of the GURPS settings, Star Trek the role play game, and Rogue Trader which are set in the far future, and encompass many of the science-fiction genres to make them interactive by groups of friends to play these games.

Once you have chosen one of the settings you have to choose your game. It could be a very long article here if I listed every single game, so take a look at some of the games that I have mentioned, and see if they tickle your fancy, as these are ones that I mainly have played and enjoyed.

Your local comic book store, or role play game emporium is also an excellent place to start, as you can talk to people who actually know about the stock they have, and can talk about the different games on offer and show you something suitable.

At the end of the day, when choosing a role play game, the answer lies between yourself and the group you want to play with. If you dream about slaying dragons with the might of magic and feats of arms, something in the fantasy genre of sword and sorcery is probably for you. What I tend to do, is have two, three, or even four different games that we rotate on a regular basis, and play these different games, as we feel like it. This means that we can choose the best from all the genres, and players alike.

Shadowrun overview

[This is the penultimate post from my past persona.  Shadowrun is probably my favourite RPG ever.  This was written in the time of SR3.  I think we are on version 4 now.  In any case, there is a new Shadowrun Returns computer game coming out from a game company called Harebrained Schemes, which I happened to of helped kickstart.]

Imagine a world about fifty years head of now. The whole world has been turned upside down, with magic resurfacing, the races of Tolkien becoming real, with people going through goblinisation, and humans giving birth to trolls, elves, dwarves, and orks.

This is the world of Shadowrun. In a place where corporations rule the economies and governments for profit, while attacking each other to get hold of the latest ‘bleeding edge’ technology and products. The shadows – the place outside the law – are where shadowrunners rule. As a role play game, you are a shadowrunner, living outside the law, doing the dirty work of the corporations and breaking and entering, doing various missions, all for the cash to get the latest technology.

Oh, did I mention that magic had become real? This role play game really does have a lot going for it. It has futuristic sci-fi ideas, in an almost recognisable setting, with fantasy races, magic, and big guns!
One of these role play games, you take the role of a shadowrunner, and there are no ‘careers’ as such, but several archetypes. For example:

  • Street samurai – High on honour, martial skill, tough, with sheer destructive power, this is the fighter of the future. Using cyberware (Mechanical parts implanted directly into the body to ‘upgrade’ parts), guns, and awesome skills, a street sam is just the thing that a shadowrun group needs to uneven the odds in favour of them, and against the corpers.
  • Decker – a hacker of the future. No boring typing for this guy, deckers have computers wired directly into their brain. Using 3d topography, in the Internet version 2 – the Matrix. A 3d environment where thoughts are actions, and computers take on a persona. Deckers are great to get the information you need to get the job done.
  • Investigator – In the dark and dirty streets of shadowrun, there needs to be someone to dig up the dirt. The investigator is the guy to do it. Knowing the streets and having the contacts to get the information needed, this shadowrunner is a person who can find out anything. Not really a fighter, armed with trusty equipment, and a string of contacts, still a worthy member.
  • Rigger – either with an army of drones at your command, or the ability to drive any vehicle that moves, with the repair skills to get it moving, a rigger is the addition for any role play game group that needs to get moving. More trusting of machines, than people, any shadowrunning team will need the backup that this member provides.
  • Mages – there are several types of mages, but they are all powerful. There are hermetic mages which are academic wizards, who learn spells by rote, and shamans, similar to the native American shamen. Then there are aspected mages, who study one part of magic in depth, but lack the wider perceptions that having magic bestows.
  • Adepts – one of my favourite forms of shadowrunner. These channel the power of magic through their body to become awesome. Gaining many of the abilities that street sams get, but with none of the disadvantages, plus access to many other levels of ability. The comfort of knowing that you can only ever get more powerful is one of the things I like, with sams limited by their meatbod.