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A Gaming Decision or Three

One of my New Year's resolutions is to run an rpg for at least 4 to 6 months. While this may not seem to be a problem that a lot of gamers have, for some reason my Sunday afternoon gaming group never manages this. The Friday night group has played a few rpgs for long periods, but that was some time ago, and I realized that I haven't enjoyed rpging as much over the last few years. Part of the business with the Sunday gaming group is to find something that both Tammy and spross want to play for a long period of time without losing interest in it.

So, I talked to both the Friday and Sunday gaming groups, and polled them on what they would play from a list of games that I presented to them. I gave them a specific list as, while it was important that they pick a game or three that they want to play, it had to be something that a) I wanted to run; and b) that I would enjoy running for a long period of time. You would think that this would be the case with any rpg that I chose to run, wouldn't you? but the truth is as far from that in some ways as I can possibly imagine. The only two rpgs that I have enjoyed running for very long periods of time are the DragonQuest fantasy rpg and the Universe sf rpg, both published once upon a time by Simulations Publications, Inc. (aka SPI). The other game that I liked running, despite the mathematical nightmares of the game, was SkyRealms of Jorune, but I never ran that for more than three months at a time (and on the Sunday gaming group, the game never got past the second adventure or so), as there were too many other games that I ran in the mid- to late 1980's when I wasn't running DragonQuest or Universe.

What came out interesting was that both groups were unanimous that they wanted to play Universe as the science fiction system over any other sf rpg. In some ways, I can't say that I'm surprised by this, since both the Friday and Sunday gaming groups have terrific memories of some of the more interesting events in the campaigns of that game; heck, some of my best memories of gaming come from the Universe rpg games that I've run.1 However, the bigger surprise was that SkyRealms of Jorune was both groups' overall second choice for rpg that they wanted to play. Granted that the players enjoyed themselves with Jorune quite a bit, even if spross moaned about the learning curve when it came to the Jorune glossary and all. I guess my biggest fear in regards to both choices is that the players will get bored playing two science fiction rpgs (even if they are very different from one another), but I guess we'll find out over the course of 2009.

When it comes right down to it, I have no problem with running long-term campaigns of both Universe and SkyRealms of Jorune2, and I agreed to start the Universe campaigns immediately; the players on Sunday actually started to create their characters for the game, in fact! Both games are immensely enjoyable to me and challenging, both from a world/universe pov, and from the pov of the concepts and ideas found in the games, but I will definitely miss running a fantasy roleplaying game during the time and all. Perhaps I'll convince them to play in one at some point down the road (when they tire of the sf rpgs, perhaps? hehe; and who knows, perhaps it'll be DragonQuest if they decide they really like the feel of the SPI game mechanics and all?), but I am content to run both these systems during the next year or so. The other system that I want to run again down the road at some point is Hollow Earth Expedition, the Pulp adventure game of the 1930's with a focus on the Hollow Earth, as that is a roleplaying game that I have enjoyed tremendously over the last few years, and I have good memories from this game as well. (See, there I go with the memories thing, again!)

I am pretty glad that the gamers made this decision, and that I've got a pair of excellent rpgs to run on them for the coming year. You'll be hearing about the two campaigns here in my blog, as well as other thoughts on various rpgs and the like over the course of the next year or so, but I suspect that this will make for an interesting year of gaming. And it's got me thinking of running a Universe scenario at CanGames now... :)

1 And if anyone wants to hear some more about this, they have but to ask in the comments, and I will provide some memories of Universe rpg play. Heck, some of the players from those games may even contribute to this, perhaps!

2 Such as they may be, given that I'm 53 years old these days, and who knows when I will pop off this mortal coil.


( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Jan. 7th, 2009 05:25 pm (UTC)
Out of curiosity, James, what forums are these where the game is being mentioned? Might help me figure out why it's coming up. :)

Jan. 6th, 2009 06:06 pm (UTC)

The game has always given me the screaming blue heebie-jeebies.

It's not the most complex game (nor the least) but it has never given me a good feeling, on multiple reads (but no plays, as there are other sf games I've always prefered.

Jan. 7th, 2009 05:29 pm (UTC)
hehe One of the things that has appealed to me over the years about Universe was the fact that the game had a very "overview" kind of feel for the game universe it presented. That allowed me to create and game the universe that I wanted to play in, and it allowed me to take some of my favourite sf conventionals and specific stuff out of sf literature, and use it in the game.

One has to remember that Universe came from the grand military and board gaming company of them all, SPI, and thus the game had a bit more of a mathematical bent. However, with a basic calculator and all, one can handle any math that comes up in the game (unless one wants to do it by hand, which is relatively easy as well). Or one lets the GM do most of the math (which is what my players tended to do over the years!).

That said, you may or may not be pleased to hear that I will be running a game or two of Universe at CanGames this year. :)

Jan. 6th, 2009 07:05 pm (UTC)
Universe was the first roleplaying game I ever bought, in a little games shop in a shopping arcade off the Champs Elysees in Paris. DragonQuest I bought the following week.

Ah, great days.

Jan. 7th, 2009 05:30 pm (UTC)
Yep, definitely great days.

(And who knows, perhaps if the gamers decide they like Universe enough again and the style and feel of the SPI games again, perhaps they'll decide to play DragonQuest again down the road? :)
Jan. 7th, 2009 10:03 pm (UTC)
Good luck with Universe. I don't doubt you'll impress the gang enough to get a second run with DragonQuest. And if not, just pull rank and lock 'em in a room with Rule 14.1.3.
Jan. 8th, 2009 05:55 pm (UTC)
Well, locking them in a room with the rules might be a way to turn them off the game, no? Given the wargame mentality that the game's writing has. (Doesn't mean the game doesn't work as an rpg, just means the rules are written like a wargame; not necessarily a bad thing, I find.)
Jan. 6th, 2009 11:02 pm (UTC)
Under such circumstances I would run a Universe campaign set on Jorune :)
Jan. 7th, 2009 05:31 pm (UTC)
Fine, Lev...and will you be doing the conversions between the two games? :)

That said, I'm rather looking forward to running Jorune again as well. :)
Jan. 8th, 2009 04:22 am (UTC)
Fine, Lev...and will you be doing the conversions between the two games? :)

Oh, that's a dangling carrot, isn't it? :)

BTW, that webspace you were looking for..
Jan. 8th, 2009 05:59 pm (UTC)
Yep, definitely dangling a carrot! I *like* dangling carrots and all that. :)

As for the webpage space, yes, I still do want that. Haven't had time to send you the e-mail message about this as stuff has been piling up (and I'm not talking about the snow!) and Real Life(tm) and all have been hectic. Will send an e-mail message about this asap.
Jan. 7th, 2009 08:13 am (UTC)
And less of the pessimism in the footnotes :)
Jan. 7th, 2009 05:32 pm (UTC)
Hey, the first footnote was a positive one! (And no one has asked for any of the memories of Universe or Jorune, so...)

But you were right about the pessimism of the second footnote.
Jan. 7th, 2009 09:32 pm (UTC)
I remember Jorune, but never played it. Not sure about Universe though.
Jan. 8th, 2009 06:02 pm (UTC)
I'm not surprised about Universe, to be honest. The game came out in 1980 or 1981, and was very rare to find after that. Poor marketing by SPI, and then the collapse of the company in 1983. A lovely sf rpg that allows one to create a game universe around a basic set of premises and assumptions.

SkyRealms of Jorune was one of the coolest rpgs out there in the mid-1980s, and remains to this day a love of my rpg life from that period. Miles Teves, the artist, did some brilliant artwork for the game; you can check out his website here.
Jan. 8th, 2009 08:36 pm (UTC)
Ah, that explains it - I only started roleplaying in 1989 when I went to Uni. Our main GM was a long time Runequest fan, so that's what I cut my gaming teeth on.
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )


John Kahane

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