Here's part I of my RPGaDay answers. Let's get to some more questions, shall we?
#7: What was your most impactful RPG session?
I've had RPG sessions that were so bad that it forever changed how I approached the hobby. Some games were too boring, others too difficult, many too complex, a few that were too stingy. I've talked about many of these experiences before.
One that I've never mentioned happened just 2 or 3 years ago. Not sure why, but I was interested in joining a D&D game as a player. There was one I had heard about in my home town and even knew one of the players. Looking back, I can't remember if it was D&D or Pathfinder. I was coming into the middle of this "adventure path" type campaign. The entire session was getting from A to B and encountering a few things along the way. Most of it was combat and everyone had this specific role, including my character - a wizard. We were mid to high level and I just kept lobbing fireballs. While it was mildly exciting being in combat, the entire thing just left me wanting. So, I never went back.
Also, the game took place in this guy's cold, unfinished basement that smelled weird with boxes of kitty-litter everywhere and cats with dried dingleberries on their bottoms constantly roaming around. Oh, and we were seated on metal folding chairs that were super uncomfortable. Are you surprised I never returned?
These days, I've got to play somewhere decent and always try to give players something for their characters to do besides these ubiquitous robo-battles that could easily be handled with some kind of RPG autopilot or computer program.
Personally, I think both dungeoncrawl fantasy and investigative sessions are best when there's at least 3 hours to play.
What works best for shorter sessions, in my opinion, are RPGs that focus on interaction. These also take the most out of a GM, so it's probably a good thing that they're usually shorter.
Over the past year, I've run about a dozen 60 - 90 minute sessions of Alpha Blue on Roll20 and while they felt short, it seemed like quite a bit was accomplished. You go somewhere new, talk to some people, get in some trouble, have a short combat encounter, and get laid. Boom! Done. In, out, and put the kettle on.
#9: What is a good RPG to play for about 10 sessions?
Pretty much anything. If you're not doing a one-shot, I think somewhere around 10 sessions is just about ideal for any campaign. But then I prefer shorter campaigns.
#10: Where do you go for RPG reviews?
RPG.net, TheRPGsite.com, Endzeitgeist, Ten-Foot Pole, Tenkar's Tavern, and Swords & Stitchery.
#11: Which "dead game" would you like to see reborn?
Although, if the game exists, it's not dead. Sometimes, a company can kill an RPG by over-supplementing it. Like a really great movie, sometimes sequel after sequel dilutes its awesomeness.
#12: Which RPG has the most inspiring interior artwork?
Dungeon Crawl Classics is probably the best black and white interior artwork RPG I can think of. I was going to also pick out one with color artwork, but I'm drawing a complete fucking blank!
#13: Describe a game experience that changed how you play?
I'm trying to remember the first time (or just a vivid early memory) of using random tables during an adventure to improvise some detail about the adventure. I must have been exposed to random tables early on and loved them because that's the thing I'm probably best known for.
Hmm, besides rumors and wandering monsters, I can't come up with a damned thing. Too bad, that would have made for an interesting anecdote. [Edit: ok, I took a short walk before posting this and came up with something.]
I used one of the introductory adventures in the back of Call of Cthulhu 4th edition multiple times - especially when I wanted to introduce new people to the game. I dimly recall a d6 table for what happens when someone touches or activates this strange cube found below the house. Back then, it struck me that rolling on the table would send the rest of that adventure into entirely divergent narrative threads. And it did... forcing me, as Keeper of Arcane Lore, to go with the flow. Controlled chaos!
#14: Which RPG do you prefer for open-ended campaign play?
#15: Which RPG do you enjoy adapting the most?
If by adapting, you mean "changing," then I'd have to say D&D. There are so many rules and so many editions and partial editions or versions of the rules, plus all the retro-clones and retro-compatible RPGs that it begs to be adapted... molded to suit each individual table. In 2017, no two D&D games are exactly alike.
#16: Which RPG do you enjoy using as is?
The RPG I've adapted/changed/house-ruled the least might be Call of Cthulhu. Turning everything into a percentage role is so easy to use that it's almost a shame. I'm a firm believer that house-rules should organically occur during play - it means you're group is interacting with game instead of merely adhering to its rules.
There are a few RPGs I acquired in the late 80's / early 90's that looked promising but for one reason or another, we never ended up actually playing. Here's a brief list...
- DC Heroes RPG - too complex.
- Kult - lack of accessible entry point, but love the vibe.
- Skyrealms of Jorune - what are you supposed to do in the game - try to become a citizen? Uh, no thanks.
- Cyberspace - I'm not sure why I never tried to run this. From what I remember, it wasn't overly complex, though it did have a lot of numbers. Maybe lack of an introductory scenario?
Ok, I'll try to get the final installment of my #RPGaDay Q&A posted tomorrow.