I started as a player, so here are #7rpgsplayed
- D&D 2nd edition
- Vampire the Masquerade
- Star Wars
- World of Darkness mashups
- Lowell's fantasy hack
For those that have never gamed with me, I will start by stating that I prefer to run games, not play in them. I cannot speak to as why. Perhaps, it is due to playing in bad games. Perhaps, it is due to playing in games with bad players. There are games not in this list that I have played and enjoyed moments therein, but they did not provide me with the level of experience that I gained with those within this list.
I discussed my experience with D&D 2nd editionhere. Playing in a game set in the Empire of the Petal Throne was my first real foray into a campaign. It was a very good experience. I was playing with seasoned veterans and a good GM. I was unfamiliar with the setting, but had read my share of fantasy novels and as many D&D books that I could get my hands on. This game connected many of the dots I did not grasp or did not know existed in the D&D rules. I would later play in other D&D games I did not enjoy with players and GMs I did not enjoy. I played in an 1st edition Oriental Adventures game while living in Memphis that I enjoyed. I also ran a 3rd edition game years later that was fun. I even played in a few 3rd edition games with a group of friends, all older than I, that was enjoyable. Still, there was something about D&D and my experiences between EotPT and my 3rd edition game that turned me off of fantasy and D&D, in general.
The next campaign I remember experiencing was Chicago: by Night for Vampire: the Masquerade. From rolling d20s to the concept of dice pools was a change that I enjoyed. We played in a friend's basement, we started after nightfall, and made it a rule to end before sunrise – we were gother than thou. This was in the early 1990s and we were all in college. We compared all vampire movies to the game, we eschewed non-vampire horror films, and White Wolf had yet to expand its game line out to Werewolf, let alone Mage, Wraith, and Changeling. It was a good time to be alive and we spent Friday nights participating in skullduggery and Clan warfare.
When we were not playing White Wolf products, we were busy playing West End Games' Star Wars. Sometimes, there were plots, sometimes, there were not. Many of the games I first ran were pickup games that were barely more than cause mayhem, shoot it out with storm troopers, get to the ship, fight tie fighters in space, blast into hyperspace, and then do it all over again on the next planet. After I moved to Memphis, I played in a game that was built around many of the characters and situations from the old Marvel Comics Star Wars comicbook series. At one time, I had owned the first 90 or so of those comics. I loved the series and where it went. I gave it away to a friend, but have since gone back and picked up a few of the collected graphic novels. This game taught me that there could be much more to a Star Wars game than simply run and gun. I would further experience that through conversations with a friend that I made after moving back north. He ran a Star Wars campaign that culminated with the players running the Battle for Endor, following the movie's characters had been caught and executed on Hoth.
I have played and run several World of Darkness mashups. I ran one for several years we referred to as the “Creature Feature.” The game was set in the area in which we lived and the players portrayed fictionalized roles of themselves. I would later discover that many other groups had run through similar campaigns. Other WoD mashups would be run and played. I played in several of MrFenris' and one of Lowell's. For the most part, we all had fun with them. They allowed us to create our own settings or play in others' settings. Something like the Matrix wasn't far off from several of our games – especially those that involved sci-fi elements. Lowell's game would even involve elements from Highlander.
Traveller: The New Era was a game I purchased while I still lived up north, but would not get a chance to experience until I moved to Memphis. It would be a year or two until I discovered the history of the game with the Little Black Books and the controversy of the virus. One of the first games I played in Memphis was a Travellergame. The GM gave everyone a secret that no one else knew, but would be drawn into the game. The game was gritty, nasty, and used completely unfamiliar rules. Psychics mimicked those in movies and books, at the time. The entire game was unfamiliar territory and it allowed me to try new things as a player, to go in directions that I had yet to experience, and I think much of that was due to the make up for the group. These players were much more experienced than I and brought a great range of diversity to the table.
After moving back to the north, I would play in a fantasy hack that Lowell put together. For rules, it combined elements of GURPs, Rolemaster, and Unknown Armies. There were seven or eight players and this was a high fantasy game – something I was not overly familiar in playing. This campaign lasted seven years and would earn the moniker of “The Freakish Band of Adventurers.” Elves, half-elves, a former demoness, assassins, cat people, dog people, and a lone human made up this group. The campaign moved from location to location as the players tried to put together what happened during a lapse of amnesia, the recovery of land that fell from the sky, a murder of elves, a battle on the moon with Ratkin, and a return of ancient evils. The rules felt wonky at first, but I think over the course of the first year, we figured them out, and did not have any problems with them over the course of the next two years. Lowell's notes on the game several posts in his blog.
Lowell puts together good mashups. I did not realize this at the time. At that time, percentile systems and high fantasy were not something I was comfortable with – I liked the idea of the former, but didn't realize quite why I did not care for the latter. Lowell has gone on to mash up several different games, both for settings and for rules. Everything from L5R to WoD to Changeling: the Lost to Fate and Fudge to making up his own rules using cards. I do not have images from the old Freakish Band of Adventurers game, so I'm using an image from his profile from this entry.
Steve over at Kaijuville put together a group to take on Green Ronin's Freeport using the True20 rules. All of the players had played various forms of D&D and wanted something better than that. We agreed the True20 rules set would give us the freedom to play pirates appropriate to the setting, while still allowing the GM the freedom to pull from as many sources as he wanted. Steve did a great job of keeping the group together. The players in this group were as divergent as the characters from The Freakish Band of Adventurers. We would lose two players over time, but the core stayed in the game until the monstrous end. Steve's notes on his game can be found on his blog. Steve combined Pirates of the Caribbean and the Cthulhu Mythos to make this a bang up game. I do not know how much of the material we experienced was his own work and how much he pulled from Freeport, but I also do not care. I had fun and found that I could enjoy a game that used a d20 and was fantasy. It was not high fantasy, but it was fantasy and Steve did include some standard fantasy tropes.
I have not played in a game since Freeport and if I can find one that really interests me, I may play one next year...