Thursday, 21 August 2014

Rules & Ruminations

...and once again I feel myself being pulled in another direction, starting a new game and a new campaign before any of the other three have finished, or even come to a reasonable stopping point. Partly I'm just bad at finishing projects, but also I'm just starting to suffer from combat fatigue. As much fun as dungeon exploration can be, I feel like the main way my PCs interact with their world is by hitting things. Asking Mythic questions about what they can do is all well and good, but it requires a lot of arbitrary decisions about who can do what in the first place, and determining their relative levels of skill or competence on the fly. Now, this is something that never bothers me as a player or as a GM, but when I have to be both it's just too much; I might as well just be writing a story rather than gaming. Plus, I'm a simulationist at heart. I like game rules that model the real world, more-or-less, plus whatever fantastical elements the setting requires. I'm not a fan of larger-than-life PCs, overly abstract rules, or cinematic anything (varied and interesting combat is fine; John Woo-style heroics not so much).

For solo gaming, I find that having more definite rules makes it more like playing a proper game. For example, if the random dungeon generator gives me a 20' wide underground river bisecting the corridor, I like to be able to look over the character sheets and come up with a plausible solution for getting across based on the characters' skills and equipment (and probably have it made more difficult by the amount of crap they're hauling around). And the rulebook gets to be my GM; this is more fun for me  than saying 'O Mythic, I say it be Somewhat Likely that yon party can cross this Stream by dint of Skillfulness and a length of Rope: What say'st Thou?'. Sure, they're more likely to succeed with a roll on Mythic's Fate chart, but where's the fun in that? and when else am I going to get to use the swimming and drowning rules, anyways?

T&T avoids the all-combat problem with SRs, but that still leaves things quite open-ended. The simple solution would be to pick up with the Traveller game again, but I'm still in a fantasy mood. I thought briefly about trying to switch systems in the elven campaign, but that always strains my suspension of disbelief ('hey, Aldira, remember when magic used to work differently?' 'Yeah... what the hell happened last Tuesday?'). And in any case I am in the mood for less standard fantasy. Thus, all signs pointed to Runequest.

I haven't had much time to play lately, and I have other projects demanding my attention still, but I did/do have enough to think things over. And over. And over. After some edition waffling (I love 3rd, but 2nd has a lot of charm) I was finally won over by the possibilities of the newest (6th) edition. It does, hélas ! promise cinematic combat, but as a solitaire player I can manage to keep that toned way down to realistic levels. Besides, there shouldn't be all that much combat in the game I have in mind.

I also had an interesting idea about random idea generation during games, which I will showcase as I get playing. It's not really one I could suddenly throw onto my current campaigns (well, maybe T&T), so a fresh start seemed like a good idea.

Runequest, of course, really wants a good setting to be played in, and much more so than a lot of other games owing to the level of detail it lavishes on culture and communities. Since I'm not going to be using a published setting, that will necessitate some world-building. Fortunately, I have found another way around doing too much of it, one which is part of the random idea generation process I came up with. More on all of this in the next post.


  1. I really like Runequest, specially the fact that you do not have to think about experience points but you advance through advancement rolls every time you do something :)
    But recently I find it too complicated for my middle-aged mind, so I paused my campaign at the middle of nowhere and turned to simpler rulesets :)
    I will have to come back to it some day....

    1. The simpler rules sets were just seeming too simple for playing without a GM.

      Runequest 6 sort of does have experience points. I am considering using the old advancement rules instead. Especially for solo gaming, not having to think about XP is a real bonus.