Thursday, July 21, 2011

I Love Rules!

So, I've been thinking I'm going to start a megadungeon campaign at the game store. I had a great time with the game I ran on Free RPG Day, and my regular group has been a bit flaky lately since my sister is pregnant and everyone is just really busy with life. I gotta figure out what I can actually commit to, but I'm thinking once or twice a month with long (8+ hours) Saturday sessions. I figure people can play the first half, or the second half, or both, or whatever they want. Not sure if that schedule maintains a high enough frequency to keep interest alive, but that's about all I can do.

BUT - the dilemma I am running into is what to play. I love DCC, but there are a few things I don't like about it, mostly just having to do with the fact that it's not yet a finished product. I can say with certainty that I will be using some stuff from it (spell checks), regardless of what the final game is. Anyways, here are the rules sets I've come to love lately:

  • DCC Beta - This game is just hands-down fun. I just don't like the old standby human/elf/dwarf/hobbit guys. I'd probably add separate race/class, using the classes fighter/sorcerer/thief, and these races: human, pict, cambions/tieflings, bird men (kenku/tengu), goblinoids, redcaps. Players would make 4 level-0 guys, and 3 would have to be human. Seems like a good solution for having weird races, but keeping them as minorities. But part of me also feels bad about hacking the hell out of the game in open beta. I feel a bit selfish about turning it into the game I want instead of playing it as written and giving feedback. In fairness, I did run the Free RPG Day game and post notes about that. I did proofread the draft of the beta, and I have contributed a lot in the way of forum discussions and homebrew content. It's not like I've been all take and no give.
  • S&W Complete - The physical book I have (hardcover) is a specimen of utter crap, but Matt did a great job with these rules. It's almost like a stripped down AD&D. The content is really good.
  • BHP White Box - I've always loved this set and really need to play it someday, but I know I will start piling on the rules once I get my hands on it. I like the idea of being able to give each player a little book or two that has the info they need in it. Even if I don't play this game I may have to make little books because they are awesome.
  • Holmes Level 12 - This is probably the best hobbyist rules set on my hard drive. I wish I could get hardcovers of it. Only hangup is decending AC. I just don't dig it.
  • OD&D - Would be fun for the coolness factor, but I don't know how practical it is. Also leery of doing public gaming with all my bootleg LBBs and such. Not that I'm scared of getting in trouble or anything, just more that it might be viewed as distasteful.
  • D&D 3.0 - I just recently got these books back from my sister's house, where they've been collecting dust for 10 years. I'm really impressed by it. The feats list is short, the spell names have the familiar IP (Bigby, Tenser, etc.), it seems readily playable without minis. It almost feels like Pathfinder light. Although I'm sure this won't be my choice, I would like to give this a shot some day using just the core books and no mins... and no buying/selling magic items... and no skills.
So basically my hangup is that no matter what I play, I want to fiddle with it. I don't know if that's okay for a gamestore game. Do players need to be able to have an expectation of the rules? I was thinking of just making up character creation guides, and having it so only I know the actual rules of the game, and the players just tell me what they want to do, and I adjudicate it. That's cool for me, but is it fun for players? As a player myself, I like to be able to dig into rules a bit and make clever use of them on occasion. That's part of the fun for me. If I run a heavily houseruled game, am I taking that agency away from the players, thus making the game more lame for them?

Also, none of these are things that the store will be able to get from their distribution channels. The guy already told me he doesn't care if I run out of print games, but I still feel somewhat odd about it. I feel like it should be a situation where a player can sit in on a session, say "that was cool", and purchase a copy of the game on the way out. DCC is the big contender here, because even though it isn't currently available, it will be. Also, the store in question does have funny dice available.

So I don't know, my brain is just overloaded. Any advice is welcome.