Friday, May 31, 2013

So what is the opposite of Nerd Rage?

I guess it's nerd praise, that being said I am about to lavish some on one specific source. Game designer Mike Pondsmith, and R.Talsorian games. I had been an avid gamer geek throughout most of the 1980s but in 1987, my gamer obsession went into overdrive looking for new systems, and new games. From DC heroes, to Palladium's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, to Top Secret S.I., I was getting more and more into the hobby, when an article in Dragon Magazine was reviewing comedy RPGS, like Ghostbusters, Toon, Paranoia, and Teenagers from Outer Space. I was both intrigued and hesitant. I could not imagine playing a game like Toon, having to figure out THACO for a boston cream pie seemed a bit excessive, as I said I was kind of new to the hobby, but the Dragon review did make TFOS seem like it could handle a comedic rpg with style and class, and do so without over complicating the rules. SO I took some summer job money and ordered it.

DAMN! it was a book rpg with it's own (albeit very tiny) dice! the game was a blast I ran a campaign for most of my freshman year of high school, and soon was introduced to a whole world of real near humans, not very near humans and real wierdies! It's one of the few RPGs that has never left my gaming collection at all, even for a short time. and While I have since upgraded to second and 3rd editions (a new edition a new power chart) It has always been one of the RPGS I grab out when I want to introduce the hobby. It's not anywhere near as complex as D&D, pathfinder, or Champions, and it focuses on roleplaying not rules. Later in the year I got introduced to a local game club that met at my local community college, the Burlington Area Game and Game Information Nexus Society, or B.A.G.G.I.N.S. and it was there I would meet my friend and later best man at my wedding Dave Fageol, he introduced me to Mekton II

While I had played other mecha games by this point. Battletech feels decidedly un-anime, it's more like game of thrones with high tech walking tanks. and while Palladium's Robotech features mechs from my all time favorite anime series it too falls flat on the feeling like an anime mecha show. The less said about hero games's robot warriors the better. But Mekton, Mekton was simply the best. It covered every convention of mecha combat in ways that seethed Gundam, Robotech,Voltron, Gunbuster and more! It was my mecha nerdvana. Admittedly we almost never used the game world of Algol, and mostly did mecha combat for the sake of mecha combat it was the bomb! It was not too long after when I went to my first gaming convention, Quadcon. and there on the shelf were two huge new sci fi RPGs set in the dystopian future. Fasa's Shadowrun which had a full city display and demo team showing it off with it's elven decker, and mix of magic and tech and another one.
I went with cyberpunk, for 2 reasons, first to paraphrase Douglas Adams, it was slightly cheaper, and secondly it was compatible with Mekton. The idea of merging mecha and cyberpunk, at my own whim seemed far more enticing than forceably mixing D&D with
cyberpunk. and thus the choice was clear. The only problem, is I had moved to a new town my sophmore year and while I could find players for D&D Cyberpunk for some reason was like pulling teeth. Seriously everytime I set up a game my group would find an excuse, any excuse not to play, they did the same thing with Call of Cthulhu but that was because they found the 1920s boring, but this one I just could not understand, it sat and it languished. until at another quadcon I saw it's replacement.
Sure 2020 was an improvement, but what's the point if my gaming group wouldn't touch it with a 10 foot pole? well I decided to put my old 2013 into the auction and recoup my losses and pick up 2020 hoping I would get some use out of it. The result? I spent the next 3 years running Cyberpunk 2020 almost exclusively.  The same high school friend who wouldn't touch it before now were asking me to run it all the time. at it's height I had about 12 players in one game. Mostly because one player had been double crossed by another, and had vowed revenge leading to a massive inter party battle. but it was brilliant. I have way too many fond memories of this game. even when after the high school play, I was asked to go to the big after play party that the "cool kids" were hosting, at the Pzazz and requested to bring my Cyberpunk books with. so here we are keg in the room high school nonsense and in the corner table here I am running 2020 with the remnants of my wizard's make up on (the play was once upon a matress, and I got cast as the wizard.) From our parties attempts to take over the narcotics rackets of night city to running from Arasaka hit squads. 2020 was my high school gaming mainstay.

Now granted I had done other games Runequest, Warhammer, Warhammer 40k, Lace and Steel, Champions, Gurps, Twilight 2000, but punk was what I always seemed to come back to. after my dalainces with the World of Darkness I did another huge cyberpunk stint and got rather burned out on the game. I did have fun with it's sister game Cybergeneration for a campaign but then the next big leap in gaming hit me.
 It was in many ways the polar opposite of Cyberpunk. Honor, and civility were far more prized traits than attitude. Trying to build up a full-on combat spec before reaching cyberpsychosis was not even a possibility. no dice, no character sheets. and a high drama victorian story was the focus of Castle Falkenstein. even the book's layout showed how different a game this was. The book was divided in half. The first half was a short novella about Tom Ollam's disappearance into this steampunk Austria where the Fey existed, magic and anachrotech were real, and the Mad Kin Ludwig was still in power. and the second half was the actual game. And as dice were for the games of the "lower born" Falkenstein used cards. focusing on hands and numbers gave the game more of a feel of controlling the story even from the player's perspective. While many other games have since used cards, it is what I really loved about Falkenstein. I recall this game teaching me one of the most valuable lessons of GMing, which is if the players are having fun, let them go. I had run a module with this huge plan to turn it into a massive globespanning object hunt againts the world crime league. My players were playing the Austrian answer to Sherlock Holmes and company, as they were invited to Paris to help secure the emperor's crown, they would take a train from Vienna to Paris. the 5 minute intro of which (I.E. boarding the train) became the whole basis for the night's session, no combat, almost no use of the rules just pure roleplay for about 4 hours and my players ate it up and asked for more. Not every game that can do that.

Furthermore Pondsmith and R.Talsorian are responsible for the 2 best gaming supplements in Come il Fout, we got a ton of background and story for Falkenstein that made the game even better, and a wealth of information on the victorian era enough to turn a newb into a jolly fine chap to fascillitate this fine game. and Listen Up You Primitive Screwheads, the most indispensable GM guide for cyberpunk and beyond. chock full of dirty tricks and evil schemes it is a GM's dream!

Then After trying a particularly unsuccessful Mekton Zeta Campaign (my fault I bit off far more than I could chew) we got a view of RTG's new system Fusion. We played a bit of Bubblegum Crisis, with a so-so gm. and at this point I was less interested in the new direction I skipped Votoms, and DBZ (never being a fan of the anime) I bought into Cyberpunk 2032, but it did very little for me. the whole altcult thing just did not appeal like the old days. and as Pondsmith headed off for greener pastures (working for Microsoft on games like Crimson Skies (Which I loved)) I began playing a lot more Legends of the 5 rings, Deadlands, Savage worlds, Traveller, Pathfinder,Heavy Gear, and of course minis gaming.

However recently there has been rumblings from RTG, a hint about an english translation of their mekton gundam game, and this.

HOLY CRAP!! Mekton Zero?! a new Mekton? a new Interlock system Mekton? SWEET! Promising a more streamlined mecha design system, a faster combat mechanic and all sorts of bells and whistles, of course I had to kick start it! I have kinda been thinking about a mecha themed hunger games kind of story line, and rather than hunting down an old copy of Zeta, I will wait until Zero finally drops. So to all you out there in cyberspace who love RPGs and love Anime, this is gonna be big. I highly recommend checking this out and kickstarting now, if nothing else, who knows can a new TFOS, Cyberpunk or Castle Falkenstein be far behind? only if we are lucky!

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