Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Alternative Timeline - Part II

Continuing my rather academic trip down memory lane, I bring you all to the end of 1987, and the start of 1988, my first year of college at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. One of my classmates is the brother of an employee of West End Games, makers of the first official Star Wars RPG, which remains one of my all time favorite games (mechanically it is probably my favorite). I find myself running a lot of Star Wars.

It is also around this time that my friend Jason M. (or 'Big Jay' as I used to call him) reintroduced me to the Traveller game and universe via MegaTraveller. Around the same time, he and I discovered Japanese Tabletop RPGs existed and the next generation of my gaming style took hold.


Take Two: The Next 10 Years


1988-1989:

I am GMing around 95% of the time I am gaming, maybe morer. I occasionally get into one-shots or very short campaigns, but they are few and far between.

Although I am working part-time while going to college, I still get the chance to game fairly often. I have a game running at school and another every other weekend.

My games are primarily Star Wars, Star Trek (FASA), Mekton II, Teenagers from Outer Space, Champions (4th Edition), and the occasional game or short campaign of Paranoia.

I still get the opportunity to run and play other systems and settings, but these are almost always one shots. 

Between 1987 and 1989, my good friends Nelson and Anastasia introduce me to friends of theirs living in New Jersey and meeting at the house of two fellow Anime/Comic/Gaming geeks. Many fans of many subjects saw this house as a Mecca of all the things we enjoyed and it would eventually be a place I visited many times to run and play in games. 

As mentioned above, my buddy Big Jay sold me on trying Traveller again and I loved it. Soon after the introductory session he ran, MegaTraveller was released and I purchased it. Not long after that I ran my first Traveller/MegaTraveller campaign. 

Big Jay and I also began investigating the Japanese pencil and paper RPG market and started buying magazines that talked about them (though we couldn't really read Japanese). One of the first RPGs I am able to learn anything about is Wares Blade. 

After a year at Pratt Institute I transferred to The School of Visual Arts. There I reconnected with some old gaming buddies and made some new ones. One of the first campaigns I ran there was a Shadowrun game.

1990-1991:


While I tried many games during this period, none really stuck. My various groups and I kept returning to our favorites. At the same time, my homebrew one-shots and short campaigns became more experimental. I tried to do games based on unusual topics and settings. I ran a game in which the time frame went backwards. I ran a musical RPG.

The most significant game to come out for me during this time was Vampire: The Masquerade, the first introduction to the World of Darkness. Next would be Cyberpunk 2020 by R. Talsorian Games. While the latter was played a lot more often, the subject and nature of the World of Darkness intrigued me. It was different from what I was used to and 'exotic' in a fashion.

I was also able to play a few Japanese RPGs at Gen Con. Members of the staff of Fujimi Shobo - Japan's Dragon Magazine - are present at the convention and showcase Sword World (The Record of the Lodoss War RPG), The Gundam Sentinel RPG, and a few others.

I definitely ran some epic campaigns during this time including a somewhat short but awesome Shadowrun (FASA) game and a Superhero game set in the Victorian Era using a modified Space: 1889 (GDW). 

1992-1996:

New games come and go, but my ability to try new ones is becoming more limited. A lack of funds, people wanting to stick with ones they like, and availability of those with smaller distribution hinder my hobby within the hobby [of trying out new games just to try out new games].

The tried and true preferences continue to see play. Star Wars, Star Trek, Mekton, TFOS, Cyberpunk, Ars Magica, World of Darkness (combining Vampire, Werewolf, Mage, and several other titles), Champions, and Traveller top the list. 

At this point I haven't played D&D in a long time. A friend had run one short campaign some time between 89' and 93' (I think) but I hadn't run it myself in many years. I all but completely missed out on AD&D 2nd Edition. 

At this point my games have several things in common.

Story and Characters (especially PCs) are paramount.

The style and approach of my games are based on the subject matter. 
Star Trek is largely episodic. Superhero games are short arcs like the comics of the era. Etc.
If not based on a pop culture IP, like Ars Magica, Traveller, or the like, the games are fully open world, sandbox, or 'Storybox'. 

I play some crunchy games to be sure, but my personal preference remains simpler, less rule-heavy RPGs. What rules exist should support the genre, setting, or 'feel' of the game's subject matter.

More to come,

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Barking Alien







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