Tuesday, August 25, 2015

#RPGaDay2015: Days 22-24

22nd) Perfect gaming environment
I could rack my brain for what the ideal environment would be, but to be honest, my current set-up (our dining room) fulfills all the basic needs pretty well as it is:

- A table big enough for the gridded easel pad that I use for a battle mat and still have room for everyone (including me) to put their character sheets, notes, and dice. (Our dining table is a bit smaller than we'd really like, but it works.)
- Decent overhead lighting, so everyone can see the map and their own stuff clearly.
- Bookshelves within easy reach for storing my gaming books, dice, notes, and minis. Before game, I'll put out the stuff I need to run that session at my place at the table, or on top of an extra chair beside mine. But I like having the rest of the collection within reach if I need something unexpected, and it's easier to set up and put away everything if it can all just stay in the same room.
- Easy access to snacks, drinks, and a bathroom.

There are only two real drawbacks that I can think of right now:
1) It is our dining room table, so we do have to clear it off regularly. This is a factor for any other games, puzzles. homework, or other projects that take up time and space, too.
2) Our gaming group includes a couple who have a toddler, so right now, we usually play at their house so that the little one can be put to bed while we game. That means I've been getting a lot more practice at packing as lightly as I can and still be fully prepped for a session. (Fortunately, if we ever forget something absolutely essential, home is just a few blocks away.)

23rd) Perfect game for you
I like simple mechanics but I also like crunch, so my favorite RPGs include such dissimilar systems as d20, Unisystem, and BESM.

The d20 System (by which I mostly mean v.3.5 and Pathfinder, which are the versions I've played and enjoyed the most) pretty well defines the upper limit of my comfort zone for complexity and fiddly bits. But even there, I've never tried to acquire and use every splatbook for a given edition--it's just too much information to digest and track. (To give you a sense of what I mean, Pathfinder is my group's go-to "default" system right now, but we're still mastering what's in the Core Rulebook, Advanced Player's Guide and Advanced Race Guide. The only "ultimate" book I've acquired so far is Ultimate Campaign, though I do occasionally look up material from the others in the PRD.)

At the moment, BESM Third Edition is my favorite generic RPG, though I've pretty much only used it for the The Kynthiad so far. It's less gritty than GURPS (my previous favorite generic system), but has a lot of the same flexibility in character creation.

And of course, I'm still exploring new systems, as much as I can find the time. Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition shows promise for a less complicated, but still robust, d20 experience. The upcoming new edition of Blue Rose has made me curious about the AGE system--the setting and the simple rules seem like a good fit for my kids. I also own Fate Core and would love to find the time and opportunity to put that system through its paces--I have at least one campaign idea that I suspect it would be a good match for.

So the short answer? For me, there is no one perfect game. Or at least not yet.

24th) Favorite House Rule
I run most RPGs using the "rules as written," because I prefer to learn and teach how the rules actually are supposed to work before tinkering with them too much. Because of this preference, the "house rules" for most of my campaigns are mostly just a summary of which optional rules are being used, or what sourcebooks are allowed in play, rather than brand-new changes to the rules.

That said, here's one of my favorites for d20 games:

"Half Minus One": Rolling poorly for a new Hit Die can prove deadly, and not much fun. One of my DMs instituted a house rule for minimum hit points at each level. If you rolled below half the maximum, minus one, then you replaced your roll with that number: 5 for a d12, 4 for a d10, 3 for a d8, 2 for a d6. It offset some of the risk of having an overly fragile character without taking away any of the glory of a lucky high roll. This rule doesn't help wizards at all ("half minus one" of d4 is still 1) unless you're playing Pathfinder, but it does help ensure that the warrior-types can take those hits they're meant to soak, and everyone in between doesn't end up too short on HP.

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