My Monday night gaming group, which I’ve been playing with since I moved to town in 2001, might be coming to an end in the not-too-distant future. One of the three guys I play with is moving to NYC (he’s finishing up his second Ph.D. from the U of I and got a teaching gig). Last night we came to a stopping point in the long-running, nostalgia-driven Greyhawk campaign.
Now we are moving on to pick up an Aberrant campaign that we’d put to the side some time ago. I’m more or less OK with that. Storyteller games have grown to annoy me, but Aberrant and Adventure! are the versions of it that I can best deal with – and my character in that game is fun (Alem Tefatzion, the vaguely geeky/Westernized nephew of a Eritrean warlord who can control gravity).
There were requests for me to pick the Exalted game I’d been running back up, but I just can’t do it. Exalted, to me, exemplifies the confusion in game design that Ron Edwards is always going on about. It is trying to be a highly tactical and fiddly game of fast-action heroics with player freedom to alter a setting that is highly detailed. It is just too much in too many different directions. The frustrating thing? I like nearly all of it, just not all together. Add that to the fact that the group dynamics in the game just weren’t working. One player had created his own plot in his background and only wanted to pursue that, while another player wanted to move in a different direction every session, never completing anything. The third wanted to dwell on the minutia and focus in on every little thing. In an attempt to rectify things, I tried to move the game to a more episodic format, but the players weren’t interested in that.
If I were to run a game now, I’d probably want to run something like a city-based fantasy with steampunk/pulp/noir elements. I’d set it up to be mission-based within a story-arc. Something Shadowrun-like. I’d probably run it with a houseruled d20 system, though Secret of Zir’an might be tempting, since it fits the feel near-perfectly. Setting-wise, I’d either make up my own or use a D&D city that incorporates some of the feel I am going for – either Sigil (Planescape) or Sharn (Eberron), depending upon how weird I was feeling.