Thursday, September 24, 2015

What I Want Out of It


There was some discussion this week (instigated by this guy and this guy) about what the OSR was and what different playstyles were in an out with what crowd. It got me to thinking what I like in a game and what I like to have in games I run.

As a player--or more accurately, as a potential player--my tastes are pretty broad in fantasy. I can see the appeal of bleak "no one here gets out alive" horror fantasy but also absurdist/gonzo stuff and a lot in between.  I think in what I tend to enjoy most in play might be a bit more specific. I have something of a preference where the characters are roguish to one degree or another: Cabellian wags, Vancian scoundrels, Taratino-esque hoodlums--it's all good. Not that I am averse to more noble protagonists, but this is more the default. I'n fine with hearts of gold, beneath the tarnished exterior.

I like a rich world with clever bits in it. It does not have to be super-detailed or require deep knowledge like a Glorantha or a Tekumel. It doesn't have to be coherent or particularly realistic. It just needs to show some imagination and inpsire me to use my imagination within it.

I prefer city adventures or relatively brief explorations/excursions to long dungeoncrawls or gritty hexcrawls. This may be my most heretical opinion, but there it is. I'm not saying I don't like them at all--there are just other things I prefer.

I also like to roleplay a bit, and I like for the roleplaying moments to matter rather than outcomes being strictly decided by rolls. I want to hear my DM do some funny voices. I don't want to roleplay every single interaction, though. Some things can be narrated or elided.

I GM the sort of game I like as a player, though it may be that I like to run adventures for somewhat more heroic parties than I typically play in. I'll have to think more about that and see if that's actually the case.

My NPCs tend to run to comedy relief and I do funny voices (not always well). Whatever else is going on, this tends to lighten the mood so even what I initially conceive as horror doesn't come out quite as horrific at the table.

I tend to be fairly low mortality and unashamed. I'm not opposed to a character dying if they seem to have a deathwish and persist in an unwise course of action, but I never set out to kill them in my approach or in my design. Player's suffer complications and setbacks a plenty, not often mortal ones.

So that's me. How about you?

1 comment:

Sean Bircher said...

I don’t really like bleak horror fantasy, but I’m fine with adventure-horror through weird gonzo. Lankhmar’s mix of weird horror, roguish adventure, and sexiness is my sweet spot.
My player characters tend to be living ids, either Gray Mouser-esque tricksters or clever barbarians like Fafhrd. (Crap! I’m a living Leiber knock-off!) This doesn’t always gel well with the few other GMs I’ve played under; some short-lived campaigns I’ve played in featured a cat-man who conned Strahd von Zarovich into making him a commissar, a metrosexual barbarian who tried to grapple every opponent into submission, and a blatant Lupin III rip-off with the powers of the Monkey King. The GM was never really comfortable with any of them.
I love the original Gray Box Forgotten Realms because it’s just enough detail to improvise with (and a weirder, more morally-gray setting than what it became), though I’m happy enough to steal from later iterations when I need to. When trying to learn new settings, I like them to have a snappy, evocative high concept and not too much lore. That’s probably why I incline more toward Savage Worlds than other RPGs.
I keep trying to make wilderness exploration adventures work and failing miserably at it. Urban-based political/intrigue campaigns spiced up with monster fights seems to be my forte as a GM and player.
I enjoy roleplaying but also enjoy occasionally breaking the fourth wall. When GMing, I vastly prefer being able to show off my array of character voices to silently listening to the players plot. I rarely play NPCs as deliberate comic relief, but I can’t help it if they get in some zingers.
I think the last time I killed a PC was in 1992.