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Jeff's Gameblog
Thursday, 15 July 2004
If You Build It, They Will Play
Topic: RPGs
Last night at the Avatars campaign Dave announced a sea change in his gaming habits. Savage Worlds has been dethroned as his system of choice for new games. He obviously still likes and plans on using the game in the future, but only for published SW adventures. Avatars is the last homegrown campaign he plans on running with Savage Worlds. For gaming projects that aren't canned campaigns he plans on reviving his RPM project. RPM is a homebrew generic system that he was working on a few years back in some sort of association or collaboration with some other local gamers. The project went dormant at some point, but not before an ashcan edition of the rules circulated at a Winter War awhile back. The version of RPM I flipped through back then seemed to be descended from the HERO System and/or GURPS. From the brief discussion last night I'm not sure that it jibed well with Dave's vision of the game, as he made some remarks regarding a need to trim some fat from the previous version.

Anyway, kudos to Dave for pursuing his own work in the hobby. I think I know exactly where he is coming from on this. He needs to do his own thing. I'm not big on whipping up new game mechanics, but I feel the same urge when it comes to fantasy settings. I love many of the old stand-by's, the World of Greyhawk in particular. I've also had a lot of fun running MERP and Bard Game's Atlantis. I look forward to checking out the latest version of Arneson's Blackmoor as well as the World of Khaas, the new 800+(!) page worldguide for the Arduin setting. And there are lots and lots of other great settings out there for rollicking fantasy adventure.

But still, everytime I use someone else's setting I start to hear a naggling little voice in the back of my head: "Write your own setting, Jeff! That's what all the grown-ups do! Who cares if it's a patchwork of derivative hackwork? It would still be your setting and no one else's!" That voice has gotten especially loud since Ron Edwards outlined his great "Your Own Private Hyboria" worldbuilding techniques in Sorcerer & Sword. The 6 Islands setting started out as my most recent stab at a generic kitchen sink fantasy setting, but I've co-opted it for possible future use with World of Synnibarr, which is decided more science fantasy.

I guess this worldbuilding urge is part of my gaming purist streak. Probably motivated by little else than addle-brained nostalgia, I long to run a D&D Basic/Expert game in a nice little pseudo-Arthurian/faux-Tolkien setting of my own devising. Nothing big or particularly fancy. Just some knights and wizards and dragons and princesses and all the other stuff that nowadays seems to be tired old cliches. Still, these cliches are an important facet of my hobby and 20 years after starting I still feel like I haven't finished exploring them.

Posted by jrients at 1:17 PM CDT

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