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What is the least playable RPG?

the cat

Drone
Validated User
I persuaded my wife to try that one once early in our marriage. She may have forgiven me by now, and we're coming up on our 20th.
Ha ha! Yeah that game was rough. I was determined to make something work with that game but it would never happen.
 

WistfulD

Registered User
Validated User
I reckon HYBRID doesn't count. For one thing, I doubt anyone has actually tried to play it, whereas the other games mentioned so far have had people playing them (even KABAL).
HYBRID usually gets left out of these kinds of comparisons (including the 'worst RPG ever' type ones) because it kinda seems unfair to dump on an author who, by most accounts, had a severe untreated mental illness.
I had this discussion ~25 years ago in a film class. If you didn’t put any other criteria on it, the answer to the question of ‘what is the worst film ever?’ would almost always devolve to a bit of film that got caught against the projector bulb and started burning (or maybe some failing art students student film, if it was bad enough :p). So you have to put up some standards. Given that much of modern indie games are self-published these days, the threshold of ‘was able to get the thing published and into game shops’ doesn’t seem very helpful. The one that I find works best is this:
  1. the author had some intention of people actually picking up the game and using it for the purposes of playing a game. This rules out anything put out merely as a political statement, done merely to prove you can do it, as a joke, a found project where one can’t determine intent (or whether the version in question was considered a final draft, etc.), or something like HYBRID.
  2. someone else has to take the thing even a little bit seriously. This rules out something that the designer thought was a finished and serious project, but no one else reasonably would, while still including things like FATAL (which, despite being rigorously ridiculed from day one, was treated by others as a game (just an amazingly bad one). That’s dangerously close to ‘it’s art if enough people say it is,’ but honestly, you kinda need a something like that.

Immortal: The Invisible War
Immortal definitely had some problems, but it wasn't any more difficult to run than your typical Storyteller game, almost certainly easier than some.
Agreed. Exactly what you were supposed to do with the game was very nebulous, and the game mechanics didn’t seem well suited towards actually playing as the supposed immortals or the like, but if you wanted to make the characters, move about in the world suggested for them, and do physical tasks, perform combat through the given combat engine, or use your abilities in some way, you could do it fairly readily.

Aftermath is difficult and needlessly complicated but far from unplayable. I don’t see how Palladium Fantasy even made it into this thread - it’s one of the most playable and straightforward games I can think of. Especially 1e.
I agree. These two exemplify to me that we’re not all talking about the same concept. Both of those are very straightforward games that frankly do a good job of telling you what to do to accomplish _____ (character creation, in-game task resolution, etc.). It’s just the case that the what to do is often overly complex for little overall reason (complexity without benefit, as it were).

The very first, original, three little booklet, D&D.
How anyone ever got a playable game out of it I don't understand.
Lucius Alexander
The palindromedary couldn't make heads or heads out of it.
Who boy, there’s a tough hair to split.
First and foremost, the game (as presented by strictly the LBBs) is incomplete and declaredly so – you were supposed to use Chainmail’s combat resolution system (and later, when that clearly wasn’t going to be the case, a ruleset was put in a the company magazine and also in the first game supplement). I don’t feel we can count that part, since there are examples of such all over the place that we don’t consider knocks against the product (I have a pasta-maker that does not work if not attached to my mixer. Does that make it not a good pasta-maker?).
After that, the rules are extremely hard to decipher, but once you have, they really aren’t all that different from B/X or the BE portion of BECMI. Sure the specifics are different (all weapons do 1d6, hit dice go up in stuttering starts instead of 1d4/6/8 for the different classes, etc.), but most of the game rules are, in the end, the same. I won’t link it because I don’t know if it’s legal, but someone made a re-edit of the game (admittedly including the alternate combat system and I think supplement I), using the same rules, just reworded, and it looks like a perfectly reasonable OSR game.
So that gets to the question: are the game rules the specific wording of said rules? And to that I don’t really have an answer. If so, then yes, LBB OD&D is unplayable (without outside intervention or of course house ruling), if not, it’s the ruleset itself is absolutely playable.
 

Dalillama

Registered User
Validated User
Both of those are very straightforward games that frankly do a good job of telling you what to do to accomplish _____ (character creation, in-game task resolution, etc.). It’s just the case that the what to do is often overly complex for little overall reason (complexity without benefit, as it were).
In the case of Palladium, there's also holes in the task resolution system all over the place. E.g., TMNT has powers that double your normal jumping distance, but nowhere does it say what the normal diatance actually is. There's skills that don't actually do anything, skills that duplicate other skills, and internal rule inconsistencies and contradictions. 95%+ of it could be fixed by a pass from a competent editor, but Palladium has never employed such a person and probably never will.
 

WistfulD

Registered User
Validated User
In the case of Palladium, there's also holes in the task resolution system all over the place. E.g., TMNT has powers that double your normal jumping distance, but nowhere does it say what the normal diatance actually is. There's skills that don't actually do anything, skills that duplicate other skills, and internal rule inconsistencies and contradictions. 95%+ of it could be fixed by a pass from a competent editor, but Palladium has never employed such a person and probably never will.
Yeah, I'll buy that. I was thinking in broader brushstrokes than this level of specificity (also haven't played since the 80s). Palladium proper was a straight-forward reaction to D&D, so I'm unsurprised that it has a un-rigorous skill system.
 

zorg

Non-Registered User
Validated User
I'm not pretending it's the most difficult game to get going... But even the fans of Shadowrun think it's a mess of a system.
Shadowrun 2ndEd, the last version I really played, could certainly be abused, but it‘s not even close to „unplayable.“
 

CWalck93

Doom Priest of Peace and Happiness
Validated User
Continuum may be this. The big issue isn't with the mechanics, but how hard it is to follow the premise with a group bigger than a couple people; because everyone can time travel, they could end up in different times. And alteration can lead to Fragging (basically Paradox) that cause big problems, which can make the excitement of time travel... less so. It's really interesting, but I can see why it didn't take off.
I have this book... I still to this try and figure out how in the world anybody could run that with more than one person as a player. Really... it's just... amazing concept but couldn't be played.
 

jimwise00

Registered User
Validated User
What I remember about Shadowrun 2E is that we generated standard beginning-level characters, and our first encounter was an ambush in an alley -- 5 hired thugs with submachine guns and minor augmentation blazing away at our party of four.

And blazing... and blazing... with no apparent effect on either side from hundreds of shots fired by the party and their antagonists (and buckets of dice rolled).

Finally, after something like 15 minutes of in-game time, the troll street samurai in the party, realizing that bullets weren't dangerous, walked up to the thugs... and killed each one with a single punch.

Now... we absolutely may have been playing wrong. Can't tell you for sure, because there was no appetite for more of the system in our group.
 

Pluvinarch

Registered User
Validated User
I know it is pretty tame in comparison to the most hardcore examples, but when I was a kid I already had a hard time groking the GURPS combat rules.
And then after that chapter there was the ADVANCED combat rules. I just looked at it and said "NOPE".
I can now read it and understand it. I would personally play a less crunchy combat system, but it is funny how your perception of unplayable also changes with time.
 

MonoRed

Registered User
Validated User
What's that post-apocalyptic game where characters can die during chargen, and the rules state that you're only allowed to roll up three characters, ever, before you...never get to play the game again, I guess?
 
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