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Least essential RPG

Crayne

It's all in your head
Validated User
NPC stuart said:
so... i'm digging around in a milk carton in the back of a mall hobby shop last night, and what should i come across but a copy of the indiana jones rpg. but based on reading this thread earlier that same day, i kept going (not that i was that into the idea of an indiana jones game regardless).

also in the box, and also not very essential, the streetfighter rpg. and the dragonball z rpg.
Yeeeessss, but only the TSR game sucks any major ass (IMHO). The Masterbook game is decent enough to pick up if I ever run across it...

Crayne
 

mearls

really should be working.
Validated User
Re: Pulp and COC

Timothy Moerke said:


I don't think that's what Mearls means when he uses the term "pulp." I am guessing he means things like the Indiana Jones RPG or Adventure!, which are very different from CoC. It's not the origin of the game's source material so much as the tone of the game.

And Mearls, if my interpretation is wrong, feel free to set me straight :)
Bingo. That's exactly what I'm talking about. If you want to call Cthulhu pulp you might as well shelve the romance, fantasy, and history all together in one group because, y'know, they come from the paperback genre.

- Mearls
 

Doctor Futurity

Camazotz the Death Bat
Validated User
Try these tarnished gems

Synnabar has already been mentioned; every time it is mentioned an angel loses it'swings.
Try Cyborg Commandos; it can only be outdone by.....
Dangerous Journeys! Which can only be outdone by......
Immortal, where every single friggin' gaming term known to man was changed in ways unimaginable and without appropriate explanation or indexing.
Not sufficiently frightened yet of what "game designers" are capable of? Try Imagine, then move over to Ravenstar, and then skip on over to The old Midnight at the Well of Souls (great book....game system left something to be desired).
What about Fantasy Earth?
See if you can choke down on Gatecrashers.
Then try digesting the Masterbook system.
Dead yet? Disgusted with the gaming hobby yet?
Experience: Golden Heroes from GDW.
That should do you in.


BTW: Feng Shui and Tunnels and Trolls do not deserve to be in these lists; both damned good games! I cut my baby teeth on T&T; back in the old days it was vitally necessary to hook in the gamers who couldn't stomache 1st edition AD&D and all its pomposity.
 

mearls

really should be working.
Validated User
Re: Re: Re: Re: My Opinionated Response

Pramas said:


A few big holes in your list. Any catalog of important changes in game design must include:

Runequest
Champions
Ghostbusters (1st edition)

You might add Over the Edge and Amber, both of which pushed design in a different direction.

I would also argue that Rolemaster, GURPS, Rifts, Deadlands, and Unknown Armies are not in the same league as the other games on that list.

Chris Pramas
Yeah, it was on off the cuff list and I realized the Champions mistake right after logging out.

I'd replace GURPS with Champions, and Rolemaster with Runequest. Not sure about Ghostbusters. I'd also bump UA in favor of OtE.

Rifts I'd point to as a game that breaks all the "rules" of game design yet is still a top RPG on the market. It belies the thought that rules "develop" or "evolve" towards a superior, rather than a simply different, state.

Deadlands is the end development of the metaplot/RPG as IP trend in game publishing. I think it's the last RPG we'll see that succeeds with a strategy that leans heavily on RPG fans who read, rather than play, a game.

- Mearls
 

Dan Davenport

Hardboiled GMshoe
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Re: Re: Pulp and COC

mearls said:


Bingo. That's exactly what I'm talking about. If you want to call Cthulhu pulp you might as well shelve the romance, fantasy, and history all together in one group because, y'know, they come from the paperback genre.

- Mearls
I have to agree with your point here. Yes, "pulp" describes a literary medium that featured a wide variety of genres. But like it or not, it <u>also</u> now describes an <u>RPG</u> genre largely distinguished by 1920s-1940s-era "two-fisted action" with anachronistic superscience and assorted other weirdness.

That said, I'm curious as to why you lump such games in the "least essential" category. Is it just because they've had such a bad sales history?

And if you're speaking in terms of influence, I'd point to TORG. It's definitely a pulp game in style, and literally a pulp game where Terra and the Nile Empire are concerned. And I'd say TORG was fairly influential in its emphasis of cinematic action and player influence over the plot, long before Feng Shui and Adventure! tried these things. (If nothing else, it was a huge influence on Deadlands.)
 

Leofwyn

Registered User
Validated User
Re: Try these tarnished gems

Tori Bergquist said:
Experience: Golden Heroes from GDW.
That should do you in.

[/B]
Hey you missed Battlelords of the 20 something godawful century and Interseller Elite - a game like Living Steel except w/ damage rolls in the 10's of thousands and an interstellar war between planets that required 60+ years of travel to get to and had totally unplayable rules!!! AUUGGGGGHHHHHH!!! I hurt just remembering I bought the game!!! :mad:
 

mearls

really should be working.
Validated User
Re: Re: Re: Pulp and COC

Dan Davenport said:

That said, I'm curious as to why you lump such games in the "least essential" category. Is it just because they've had such a bad sales history?
I view pulp RPGs as inessential not because of its poor sales record, but I do see that as a major indicator of its irrelevance.

I think that efforts at pulp games date back to the early 80s, with titles Mercenaries, Spies, and Private Eyes, Danger International, and others, though I may be off by a few years. For the past 20+ years, the same game model/genre has been offered again and again, and each time it fails to achieve a sustainable level of commerical success.

My problem with pulp stems from this foolish insistence on trying the same thing, over and over again, with the same results, over and over again. Pulp games are all retreads of the same core ideas and gaming principles. None of them try anything new. No one has made a Deadlands or L5R leap of "Well, this is a cool core background, but it hasn't done well in the past. How can we change that?"

In pulp's case, the answer thus far has been "Let's try doing the same thing again, and see if things turn out differently!"

The undying revenant that is pulp gaming underlies one of the most fustrating aspects of the gaming industry, IMNSHO. When you're dealing with low margins, poor profits, and low barriers to entry, I think you can see one of two situations develop:

1. Creativity runs wild, and a steady stream of new product appears. The bean counters and investment morons who think "writing is easy, so I should have creative input into this project" have no role in the process. Lots of bad, weird stuff comes out, true, but many out of leftfield, completely new, breathtaking products also pop up.

2. Margins are tiny, so companies aggressively avoid risk. They cluster around the tiny fires of what can sell and never venture on into the darkness of new ideas. Creativity stagnates. People produce more pulp games. 'Cause, hey, pulp's cool, right? Everyone on line seems to like it, so let's get it out there.

It's interesting that you brought up TORG. I've heard about it, always wanted to buy it, but never got a chance to. Pyske talked to me about the system on the drive back from Origins, and it sounded pretty cool.

But TORG also comes from that one, last burst of RPG creativity, one that sadly enough came with the great decline in RPG sales brought on by D&D2. In the late 80s, very early 90s, we had a groundswell of creativity that yielded Ars Magica, Shadowrun, TORG, Vampire, and others. Unfortunately, most of these games swiftly killed themselves through metaplotting and setting creep.

TORG is the perfect example of that. The basic game comes with this easily comprehended, epic conflict built right into it. So what do the geniuses at WEG do?

THEY END THE GAME'S CENTRAL CONFLICT VIA THE METAPLOT.

IDIOTS, IDIOTS, IDIOTS.

That's like releasing a D&D module where the PCs watch a big bad NPC kill all the gods of orcs and goblins, and then from that point forward never allow any official adventures to include a dungeon, because they're all empty now. It undercuts the entire point of the game.

The problem with RPG marketing is that everyone wants to be D&D. They want to produce a shiny, cool, core rulebook, and then sell infinite numbers of new and interesting supplements. That path leads only to failure. Games have lifespans, very short, and very decisively demarcated ones. There will never, ever, be another game like D&D.

Hell, we may never see another TORG or Shadowrun.


The second problem with RPG production is that producing background material and fiction is cheaper, faster, and easier than producing robust rules sets. RPGs exist as bad, serialized fiction. The simple truth is that Al, who buys an RPG, reads it, and posts about it on the Internet, is a sales blackhole.

Nobody who would not normally buy an RPG does so because of Al.

Bob, who buys an RPG and runs a weekly game generates new sales. Bob's friend Carl goes out and buys the core rulebook, because he wants to learn the rules. Dave plays a fighter, so he picks up Ye Compleat Book of Hacking to find cool new feats for his character. That's the key; people gotta play these games for them to mean anything, for them to survive.

- Mearls
 

Misguided

Head Miscreant
Re: Re: Re: Re: Pulp and COC

mearls said:



TORG is the perfect example of that. The basic game comes with this easily comprehended, epic conflict built right into it. So what do the geniuses at WEG do?

THEY END THE GAME'S CENTRAL CONFLICT VIA THE METAPLOT.

- Mearls
But Mike, the metaplot was half of what made TORG unique! Now, there are other things about TORG that I love, but the idea that your gaming group could shape how the game world evolved..how incredibly cool is that? Well, I thought it was. It also provided incentive for groups to purchase and play the canned modules, so they could submit the results.

That said, there is so much material in TORG that you could easily play for years without any of the metaplot, so if you don't like it, you don't have to use it.
 

Marion Poliquin

I eat plants.
Validated User
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Pulp and COC

Misguided said:


But Mike, the metaplot was half of what made TORG unique! Now, there are other things about TORG that I love, but the idea that your gaming group could shape how the game world evolved..how incredibly cool is that? Well, I thought it was. It also provided incentive for groups to purchase and play the canned modules, so they could submit the results.

That said, there is so much material in TORG that you could easily play for years without any of the metaplot, so if you don't like it, you don't have to use it.
I think that what Mike was saying is that WEG "killed" their own setting through the metaplot. Who cares if you decide to ignore the metaplot ? The company has just closed the door on the possibility that there are going to be any more interesting products unless you throw out canon material.

TSR made the same mistake with Dark Sun when they wiped out almost every single interesting background element in the first five novels.

Now, admittedly, WEG ended the metaplot because they knew they were putting a stop to the game line. But I believe it would have been preferrable for them to leave the setting wide open for fans to continue to explore. Sure, I can go on playing if I want to. But by ending the main storyline, they made me not want to play anymore at the same time.

It's much easier to go on doing something when you don't have to ignore some kind of signal in the back of your head saying "it's over !".
 
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