Thursday, August 23, 2012

Deciding what to run

Do you ever have problems deciding what game to run? Those who know me know that my RPG collection is well in excess of 1,200 physical books, with at least 40 different settings and a multitude of editions among those settings. That's just physical books, you can probably double that if you include PDF related games excluding those I have physically. As a result when deciding to actually run something again (I was never out of role-playing, I still collected and read, I just didn't actually play) the choice was rather difficult.

So how do you decide what to run? If you're anything like me you're easily got into the mood for a particular game/setting based on external influences. This is useful for really getting into a particular game, not so useful for when you thought you'd made your mind up then watch a cool movie or TV series which throws you off on a tangent again. For six months I went up and down my collection, reading as much as I could from one setting for a week, another setting for a night, and perhaps yet another setting book to flick through while sat on the porcelain throne. Not exactly conducive to focusing and figuring out one game.

I went through stages with maybe a dozen different games, but finally it started focusing down to just a handful.
  1. Call of Cthulhu
  2. Shadowrun
  3. Deathwatch
  4. Traveller
How to decide. Well there are obviously many factors in deciding what to run, and all of them did have an input. A good set of questions are;
  • What does my gaming group like? Well I don't have a group right now, so that's of no help.
  • What is selling well in my area? I live in Toronto and the perennial best sellers appear to be D&D and Pathfinder. I have no inclination to run either of those, so again no help.
  • Which rule system do I like, or can I stand learning? This was really the death knell to Deathwatch at this time, I just couldn't be bothered going through all those rules. I love the 40K setting, and I'm sure I could run it easily, but the thought of the rulebook just put me right off.
  • Which can I just run with almost no effort? Call of Cthulhu I've always loved, but I find it can be complex to get an adventure just right. I wanted to ease myself in again and didn't want the hassle associated with trying to get the atmosphere right, do the writing etc at this point, so Cthulhu unfortunately was set aside for now.
  • How easy can I run with the setting, make stuff up and add colour at the drop of a hat? Traveller and Shadowrun both have universes that I'm very familiar with. Pulling detail out of nowhere would be child's play with both games.
  • What would just plain be fun? Both Shadowrun and Traveller are fun in their own way, but I think these days people can associate with and get into character more easily with Shadowrun and the default characters.
So there we go, games narrowed down and the winner of what game I am going to run is Shadowrun Legend of the Five Rings.

Hold on what? That wasn't an option. Well sometimes no matter how much process you apply to something, your gut just jumps in and makes a last minute decision for you. C'est la vie. So yes, I've been reading up on running Legend of the Five Rings. It ticks all the boxes above for me that the other games did, and I've always loved the setting. So Five Rings ho! (and yes I watch Big Bang Theory too, and know ho means calling attention to a destination, but who cares. Five Rings ho!!)

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