Tuesday, May 19, 2009

What to do

I haven't posted in quite a long time, and for that I apologize. But, like many of you, real life has so blatantly intruded into what I want to do. An unfortunate truth is that something must give, and that friends is the blog. Not that I have any kind of an "audience" per se, but still, I feel a little guilty.

So what to write about? My family game has dwindled down to nearly nothing with the approach of summer and the warmer weather. The girls don't want to sit inside and roll dice when they can run around outdoors and play their imagination games in a much more tactile and active manner. I don't blame them one iota. And again, real life has been rearing its ugly head, it's just tough to find the time to sit down lately.

Ah, but there is yet something I can chat about. I've been playing a game with one of the guys from my every-other Tuesday night group. We've been playing a low-level game on the off Tuesdays that we don't gather to play 4E. Neither he nor I are huge 4E fans so we've been contemplating trying other rules systems. The one that he's latched onto is ICE's Rolemaster.

Now, I've got to say, we were attempting to find something that was a little less constrictive than 4E. Or so I thought. It turns out that Rolemaster is a beast of a rules set. I'm sure that many of you already know this. I've heard it but I hadn't ever experienced it till now.

Holy Fancy Dancing Moses! That is one very serious rules system!

I'm absolutely overwhelmed with charts and tables, huge character sheets, massive character creation processes, long detail oriented battles and hugely complex systems that describe every facet of your character imaginable. I don't want to denigrate the game in any way, but I'll have to say that in my estimation, we went the wrong direction.

The other guy I'm playing with obviously likens "grit" with realism. He likes all the little fiddly bits, the things that simulate the unfortunate reality's of life. You know, things like bows breaking because you pulled it back too hard, slipping on the grass and missing drawing your sword and knocking yourself silly while fighting a bandit...Things like that.

Me? I don't mind that kind of thing, but what I don't like is having to pour through charts and tables in order to see how the heck something like that takes place. My buddy's got the right idea, he wants to just have me describe what I want to do and then he applies the rules as he sees fit. I love this...It's from the long ago days of Dungeons and Dragons, when the rules were more of a framework and less of a "how to" compendium.

The only issue w/ that is that at least one of us has to understand a decent portion of the rules. He's trying. He's been reading a ton, and really giving it his best shot. But man...there's just so bloody much. I have my doubts.

So, what to do. Do we continue on this track and slowly build our way up to a decent understanding of the rules and then, as we "get it", piece by piece, we pick up momentum and get into the real rhythm of playing? Or, do we go to a more recognizable rule set? Something along the lines of OSRIC, Labyrinth Lord, Swords and Wizardry, Castles and Crusades, get our feet under us quickly due to our years of experience w/ a system that's nearly identical, and then BOOM!, we're off to the races right quick.

I'm sure that due to my wording it's pretty obvious what I'd like to do. The end of my rope is nearing...I'll give the other system a little while longer, but I've always been a believer in an "additive" process rather than a "subtractive" process of gaming. What I mean by that is that it's easier to take a simple system and add complexity where needed, rather than learn a complex system and pull off pieces till you've got what you're looking for.

Anyway, I really dig the way that my buddy DMs. He's very creative in his descriptions and sets up some really awesome scenes that are very memorable and easy to submerge oneself in. One of the things that he's looking for is to recreate the games from our youth, in that he's opting for low levels and a slow advancement. He likes the scrapping for everything and relying on nothing but wits in order to win the day.

Conversely, he's not at all into high level characters that can waltz into a full-grown dragon's cave w/out fear, and in just a few short rounds, lay the beast low and walk out w/ a king's ransom. I think that I tend to agree. Although, I do like it when a character has battled, sweat, and bled his or her way up through the ranks, and is able to do things that the common man or woman wouldn't, or couldn't imagine doing.

I mean not ridiculous stuff, but some epic, song-worthy kinds of things. Like saving a village from a war band of orcs single handedly. Or driving away the ankehg swarm that's infested the local farmer's field. And yeah, maybe getting rid of that dragon that's been plaguing the dukedom lately...with help of course.

I'll keep you all updated on how this transpires.