Monday, 6 August 2018

Games I missed out on

There were plenty of games I either owned or had access to that I never truly dived into and yet always wished I had. There was so much I would have loved to have done with the settings and worlds they presented. Here are four of them.

Image result for earthdawn#1 - Earthdawn

I managed to pick up a copy of the first edition book as I'd been looking at the recent editions and just wanted to get back into it. I remember looking through it when it first came out back in the early 1990s as we were in the middle of a Shadowrun game and the GM at the time wanted to run a similar game but using Earthdawn. I didn't know at the time that Earthdawn was the world eighteen thousand years before Shadowrun, and that you find out the true history of the awakened races that inhabit the future.

I remember wanting to run a Shadowrun game that alluded to ancient artifacts, and then run an Earthdawn game that explained where the artifacts had come from. It never came to pass, and Earthdawn was put away.

I've been reading up on it recently and so acquired this second hand copy, and all the original memories came flooding back. I wasn't a fan of the system at all, and to be honest if I ran it now I'd probably use the Runequest system. But the Mesoamerican feel, the takes on the different races, the idea of the Horrors and the people emerging from the Kaerns, which in turn gave a decent reason why there were dungeons to explore, instead of them just 'being there'... it was all fantastic, rich stuff and I'd run a game in this world in a heartbeat.

I regret missing out on this game when it first appeared. My next campaign is going to be a science fiction Cthulhu game, but if my players asked me to run a fantasy game I'd use this setting in a flash.

#2 - Birthright Campaign Setting

It's easy to see why it was I missed out on this; I'd already fallen out of love with AD&D 2nd Edition long before this campaign setting was published so let it pass me by, but I know if I had sat and read this when it first came out I would have dusted off my multiple polyhedrons from my Basic D&D boxset and set about running a campaign. I'd have even gritted my teeth and put up with THAC0.

Birthright has everything I'd love to run in a fantasy setting, especially these days with the up-and-up of Game of Thrones and even such dramas as Pillars of the Earth. The intrigue, the political wrangling, the looming wars. There were lots of different kingdoms to choose from and plenty of scope with characters, backgrounds and adventures. I have the option of running a straight forward D&D dungeon bash, or a political intrigue game, or a murder mystery, or all three together.

There's plenty to do in the Birthright campaign setting, and I was overjoyed to find the website www.birthright.net that had plenty of versions for download (all fan created). I downloaded them and absorbed the setting, but I'd still love to have the original boxset.

This is probably the only reason I regret abandoning AD&D 2nd Edition. It's a great setting with a fantastic sense of depth and wonder.

#3 - 2300AD

I played a little Traveller in the 1980s - sadly, the majority of the games were Star Wars inspired but lacking in any kind of adventure or excitement, but I enjoyed the game system immensely. When the West End Games Star Wars RPG supplied the pulp science fiction adventure I was looking for I then started to look for much more hard sci-fi games, the kind of games I wanted Traveller to supply me with. I found 2300AD: Man's Battle for the Stars in Virgin Megastore, at a time when Virgin Megastores had huge RPG sections, and the attendant told me 'yeah, it's kind of like an updated version of Traveller'. So I bought it, and found out later that it was nothing like the Traveller I remembered. So thank you, Virgin Megastore shop assistant, for not really knowing what you were talking about, even though you were right about the Traveller connections.

2300AD is a great game, with some very hard science fiction ideas and a great background, pretty much picking up the future 300 years from where GDW's Twilight: 2000 RPG left it. The system was pretty good, even though there was a lot of mathematics involved, but I thought this just added to the hard science fiction feel of the game.

I wish I'd got a game off the ground and done a proper campaign with gamers who would appreciate a hard sci-fi game and were also really good at maths. I still have that hard sci-fi itch to scratch even after all these years. I've just got Traveller once again so maybe that'll help.

#4 - Judge Dredd: The Roleplaying Game

To be fair, I didn't really miss out on this game - I just used it for a different purpose. I'm a huge 2000AD fan and I've got two decades worth of comics, graphic novels, Casebooks, Best Ofs, Megazines and specials. And a signed issue from John Wagner, Alan Grant, Simon Bisley and Colin MacNeil. So, yeah, I'm pretty much into it.

The Judge Dredd RPG was released by Games Workshop in the 1980s and, as far as I can tell, did quite well. The system wasn't anything to write home about. In fact, it wasn't that good, being a basic roll-under-percentile-score system in which starting PCs had stupidly low scores. But, it was functional and could be modified quite easily (changing the Combat Skill score to the two scores Weapon Skill and Ballistic Skill a la WFRP solved many issues, and giving the player about fifty extra percentiles to divide up between the scores made them much more competent). I had the hardback book, not the boxset, and I used it quite a lot... for Strontium Dog games. My mates didn't really want to be Judges and with the mutation tables in the back it was perfect for a Stront game, and my mate Andy's Ralph the Goblinoid hunter had several months of fun.

The reason I missed out on this game is because I never used it for it's intended purpose, roleplaying as a Judge. I had great plans for playing Brit-Cit judges, and even had ideas involving the Apocalypse War and Necropolis. But these ideas never came about because we were having too much fun playing S/D agents.

I'd like to get hold of a copy of this game again, just the hardback rulebook. It was wonderfully atmospheric and captured the feel of 2000AD of the time really well. I'd love to have a proper go at it.