• The Infractions Forum is available for public view. Please note that if you have been suspended you will need to open a private/incognito browser window to view it.

Games, Supplements, and Editions that Have You Asking "... Why?!"

The Sword Emperor

Member
RPGnet Member
Validated User
We've all seen them: gaming supplements - or even entire game lines - that have you scratching your head, wondering "what was the developer thinking?" This is a thread to discuss our "favorites".

I'm looking for examples of games where the game developer didn't understand why they were making this game in the first place. Typically they're being made because it's popular ("I should get in on this cyberpunk trend") or the designer is hoping for fame ("I'll make the next D&D"), rather than because the developer was passionate about the game in the first place.

In the case of a supplement or new edition, I'm also looking for examples where the designer had forgotten what the original game was about, or a new developer doesn't understand why the original game existed. Sometimes a game finds new purpose under new direction or inspiration, but these are books where the designer really should have re-examined why they were making this game.

In either case, these are books that - regardless of their accomplishments (if any) - have no power to inspire. In advertising, they typically list what they have ("fast combat", "a revolutionary leveling system" or "beautiful artwork") rather than giving you any insight into why the developer made the books.

The first book which jumps to mind is Secret Societies: Sophia's Daughters, from 7th Sea. The original game is about swashbuckling and piracy in a mythic Renaissance Europe. The game includes Secret Societies, which are large organizations dedicated to a hidden purpose. Sophia's Daughters were originally cast as a womens' rights movement, fighting in the political arena and lending a helping hand to individuals in distress. The original book hints that they also knew some magic, which was odd, but seemed like a minor point.

By the time we get to Secret Societies: Sophia's Daughters, the matter of womens' rights is a footnote (literally relegated to sidebars in the book). Instead, the book focuses on how Sophia's Daughters is an occult organization trying to stop the end of the world, and their magical powers take primary focus. The book is so tone deaf that the organization is unrecognizable.

P.S.
This thread was inspired by Start with Why. The book's focus is on why some businesses, movements, and ventures succeed where others fail. The principles apply well to tabletop game design theory (and personal development, if that's your thing).
 
Last edited:

Wart

Registered User
Validated User
Paranoia 5th edition, by far.

Paranoia's 2nd edition was perhaps the funniest core book ever published, and did an excellent job of conveying the game's overall style.

Paranoia 5th edition thought that calling itself "5th edition" instead of "3rd Edition" counted as a joke.

I am on my phone right now but if you search about there's prior threads where people have taken it apart.
It’s certainly... something.
 

NPC Brown Cow

Registered User
Validated User
I'm looking for examples of games where the game developer didn't understand why they were making this game in the first place. Typically they're being made because it's popular ("I should get in on this cyberpunk trend") ...
I would say most of GoO's d20 line of games fall into that category. d20 was popular so they made d20 versions, ignoring that their base design assumptions were nearly opposite to the under pinnings of what made d20, d20.
 

Godfatherbrak

Registered User
Validated User
I haven't looked at the actual books yet, but when I saw that Call of Cthulhu, a game which is pretty rules light, had 3 books for their most current edition, I was a bit flabbergasted.

To be honest, I can't remember many differences between earlier editions. I can't imagine there was any good reason to split the game into 3 books. It's not the kind of game where players need to reference the book much during play.
 

wilphe

Member
RPGnet Member
Validated User
The game:

Cyberpunk 2020

The Supplement:

Maximum Metal

The first part of this is the vehicle system, which is ok and needed. Well mostly. Because your game about making hard choices in the dystopian future really needs stats for tanks.

The second part, the one with the rules for ACPA? Yeah, might want to consider where you started from because this wasn't a game about guys in powered mechs hitting each other with swords or firing the .50cal gatling built into their arm before now
 

Wart

Registered User
Validated User
I haven't looked at the actual books yet, but when I saw that Call of Cthulhu, a game which is pretty rules light, had 3 books for their most current edition, I was a bit flabbergasted.
It really doesn't though - the slipcase set comes with the core book, investigator's handbook and (IIRC) Petersen's Guide to Cthulhu Monsters but the core book is complete in itself.
 

MrTim

Registered User
Validated User
the slipcase set comes with the core book, investigator's handbook and (IIRC) Petersen's Guide to Cthulhu Monsters but the core book is complete in itself.
A couple of additional adventures, actually. Petersen's is separate. And I would argue that a) CoC is only rules-light for an 80s game, and b) the vast majority of what's been in every edition I've ever seen (4th, several versions of 5th, 6th, and 7th) has been fluff rather than rules.

On topic, I'd have to go with Cute and Fuzzy Cockfighting Seizure Monsters, a supplement for Big Eyes, Small Mouth 2nd edition that allows GMs to "explore the implications of fantasy societies
that treat adorable little beasties as pro-wrestlers; gladiators or slave-soldiers." Played straight, and with the typical Guardians of Order multi-page history of the genre in the front.
 

Scurrilous

Registered User
Validated User
Cute and Fuzzy Cockfighting Seizure Monsters
Best title ever though.

I think that the blow up the setting for the new edition thing of Traveller The New Era, Silent Death the Next Millenium, and more recently Warhammer Age of Sigmar deserve a mention. Lots of People love this so we should ruin it for them for all time to draw in new players. I actually like TNE and SDtNM but it does make you wonder why anyone thought it was a good idea.
 

King Snarf

Registered User
Validated User
The Shattered Coast for Deadlands: Hell on Earth. Not for the book as a whole, mind you, but some of the stuff in there... Like the Rubber Chicken Men monsters. Or the Arcane Background for the Librarian.
 
Top Bottom