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The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

All discussions regarding Board, Card, and RPG Gaming, including industry discussion, that don't belong in one of the other gaming forums.

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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by Blackhawk » Fri Jun 23, 2017 9:06 am

I'm sitting here in the hotel, waiting for the convention rooms to open. First up today will be a four hour session of Masks. I've played one Powered by the Apocalypse game in the past (Spirit of '77),and have been considering running Masks for my group. When I saw that someone was running it, I jumped at the chance.
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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by Blackhawk » Sat Jun 24, 2017 12:33 am

Whooph. One day, three games.

The first was Masks, a game I tried out in order to test it for our group as an option for a super hero game. I loved it. We took it in a slightly absurd direction - I was Sliver, the sidekick/protege of Mr. Wilson, the high school gym teacher whose alter ego was the hero Squat Thrust.

We raided the Squat Thrust cave to 'borrow' some equipment, including the Squatmobile (a jet powered, armored golf cart) and some cryogenic dodge balls.

It could also have been run much more seriously, of course, but we had a lot of fun.

The second game was a friend's own Universal Storytelling System, and a fantastic scenario where seven players all played Batman. We had Frank Miller's Batman, 80s movie Batman, Batfleck, Batman '66, Animated Series Batman, Lego Batman, and I played Batman 1939. It was a blast.

Last was Darken Ship, a system/scenario involving a group of junior sailors discovering that their entire ship had been deserted overnight in the face of some unknown supernatural force. The system, GM, and scenario were all fantastic.
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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by MonkeyFinger » Sat Jun 24, 2017 9:10 am

Where you at?
-mf

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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by Blackhawk » Sat Jun 24, 2017 2:24 pm

Fear the Con X in St Louis.
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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by Blackhawk » Sat Jun 24, 2017 2:27 pm

Played Dreamchaser this morning. Shinobigami is in 30 minutes.
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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by Blackhawk » Sat Jul 29, 2017 12:04 am

Due to one of my players having a pretty severe injury (ruptured Achilles tendon), we're playing at someone else's house tomorrow, as my house has a very steep flight of stairs. Since I'm going to be away from all of my supplies, we're taking a break from our usual 5E campaign and I'm running a one or two session of Masks: A New Generation. It's a superhero game based on the idea of young heroes just getting a grip on their powers and their place in the world. Think Young Justice/Teen Titans.

It's the first Powered by the Apocalypse game I've run (and I've only played in two.) It didn't take that long to read, and the rules aren't that complex, but it took a long, long time for it to click in my head. You really have to let go of everything you've learned about RPGs to start to grasp how it is meant to be played. Get rid of the idea of skills, or GMs being all-powerful, of GMs being the ones in charge of the world, of stats, all of it. Get rid of the idea of actions being based on mechanics. Hell, the GM isn't even supposed to roll dice - ever.

Unfortunately, the neighbor's mistake last week meant that I lost five days of prep time. I'd have really, really liked to do some more reading and listen to a few 'actual play' podcasts as there are a lot of concepts that are still making my head spin. I do think it will make a lot more sense once I've run a session. The nice part was that setting up the actual 'adventure' took me about as long as it usually takes to just sort out what miniatures I'm going to need. I could get used to that kind of 'prep.'
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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by hentzau » Tue Aug 29, 2017 7:52 pm

I just placed a pre-order for the Star Trek Adventures RPG...thought I would throw this referral code out there in case anyone was interested, you could use it to save 10% off of your order (wish I would have had one of those...)

Code: Select all

http://r.sloyalty.com/r/vMmgb7J35XE6
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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by Blackhawk » Thu Apr 26, 2018 11:49 am

Due to a couple of conflicting commitments, my group lost a couple of players last year, and we went on an indefinite hiatus.

Just this week three of us decided to get back together, and we've rounded up two others.

Then my ex said she'd like to play in the group. She hasn't played in probably 20 years, though, so I'm going to round up the kids (now 14 and 16) and I'll run the three of them through Phandelver, after which she'll join the main group.

Last week: Hadn't played in a year. This week: GMing two separate campaigns.
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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by Cylus Maxii » Thu Apr 26, 2018 2:39 pm

That's great news, Blackhawk! I wish I could get my gamers going again. I haven't played in almost 2 years..
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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by Zarathud » Thu Apr 26, 2018 10:03 pm

We finished Storm King's Thunder and have started Star Wars. I'm a Trandoshan Infiltrator named Khar'kiss. My technique is getting into people's faces and telling them I belong in this cell block, unless they would like to get hit with my stick. We've already thrown the co-head of an Imperial Slaving Operation to the Wookies in his own base. Should be fun when the Imperial Shuttle we just noticed lands....
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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by IceBear » Fri Apr 27, 2018 9:08 pm

The Fantasy Flight system?

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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by Blackhawk » Fri Apr 27, 2018 9:13 pm

I just saw that FFG put out a system-neutral ruleset called Genesys that appears to be based on their Star Wars system. I might have to check it out some time.
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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by IceBear » Fri Apr 27, 2018 9:23 pm

And....because it's not Star Wars they can release it in pdf...so I did :)

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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by Blackhawk » Fri Apr 27, 2018 9:41 pm

You released it on PDF?
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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by IceBear » Fri Apr 27, 2018 9:44 pm

Lol...no...but if you know where to look someone else did (as well as the first setting book for it)

If you want to buy it I believe it's on drivethrurpg.com. I wish they'd sell the SW books in pdf format as I'm out of shelf space but Lucasarts won't allow it

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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by Blackhawk » Fri Apr 27, 2018 10:38 pm

IceBear wrote:
Fri Apr 27, 2018 9:44 pm
Lol...no...but if you know where to look someone else did (as well as the first setting book for it)

If you want to buy it I believe it's on drivethrurpg.com. I wish they'd sell the SW books in pdf format as I'm out of shelf space but Lucasarts won't allow it
WOTC is the same way. I still can't believe how far they are behind the curve for being the largest RPG maker. I buy their books, then stick them on the shelf and grab the .pdf file.
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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by IceBear » Sat Apr 28, 2018 2:38 am

Same

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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by Blackhawk » Tue May 22, 2018 8:39 pm

Ugh, I just had to fire a player from my D&D group after the first session, a guy I've known for about six years.

We recently reformed the group after shutting it down last fall due to a couple of players who were consistently unreliable. The core group - three of us - decided it was time to play again, minus the problem players. We invited two promising players, and set up a couple of one-shot adventures to make sure everyone meshed. We made it clear up front why we were doing one-shots to begin with, and what we considered problems. We specifically talked about our previous group, and one player who routinely cancelled at the last minute, plus another who was consistently late and refused to cooperate with very basic efforts (like writing a five-question character background that would be used to write the campaign.)

For this group, I gave out character creation info three weeks in advance. I then asked for their basic character stats (class, race, background, a couple of stats) two weeks in advance. I bumped that session several times, and wrote a new topic reminding them two or three days in advance. I made it very clear that I was available for any questions concerning characters, and that I'd gladly help out with character creation if it was needed.

The day of the game my friend:

~Texts me 20 minutes after the game was supposed to start to ask me if he was supposed to be there (the date and time were set a month in advance.)
~Shows up 40 minutes later commenting that we were lucky he decided to show up.
~When I ask him, one last time, for the character info I'd asked for two weeks before, he admits he still needs to make a character.
~When we finally get started, we've wasted two of our six hours for the first game either waiting on him or getting him ready to play.
~We then spend a good third of the time we have left either listening to him bitch because D&D 5e won't let him do stuff 3.5e will (and telling us how stupid our game was because of it), or arguing with him because we won't let him use the rules the way he wants to (like making his offhand bonus melee attacks with ranged cantrips.)
~In the middle of the game, he pulls out an ecig and starts vaping. In my house. Without asking. And I'm a fucking cancer patient. I might have let him, but he absolutely should have asked.
~His gameplay is consistently trollish and disruptive.

I don't choose my leisure activities as an opportunity to parent adults.
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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by Blackhawk » Tue May 22, 2018 9:00 pm

Oh, and he was stoned.

At 10 AM.
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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by Isgrimnur » Tue May 22, 2018 10:13 pm

Nice. Some people never learned basic courtesy.
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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by Zarathud » Tue May 22, 2018 10:41 pm

This is why I run Paranoia.

If you are UnFun, you Die.
If you argue the Rules, you Die.
If you piss off the rest of the Gaming Group, you Die.
With 6 Clones, they usually wise up by the end. Or Die.
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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by Blackhawk » Wed May 23, 2018 8:12 pm

Today my friend came back by. He has the Democratic nomination for state Senator, and he wants me to organize his campaign.

Really.
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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by $iljanus » Wed May 23, 2018 9:20 pm

Blackhawk wrote:
Wed May 23, 2018 8:12 pm
Today my friend came back by. He has the Democratic nomination for state Senator, and he wants me to organize his campaign.

Really.
A question about D&D 5e needs to find its way into a debate or news conference...
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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by Isgrimnur » Wed May 23, 2018 10:52 pm

Is his opponent hiring?
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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by hentzau » Mon Jun 04, 2018 4:32 pm

So I'm getting ready for a D&D game tonight, waisting valuable work time loading up Syrinscape sound sets for the game tonight, when it hits me: Hue Integration. I launch the Jungle soundset, and all of my mood lights dim to a dark green color. A storm rolls in, dim the lights to set the mood. Lightning strike, it flashes the lights. Fireball cast, blink the lights orange and red.

Someone needs to get the to work. Pronto. My game is in 3 and a half hours.
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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by Blackhawk » Fri Jun 08, 2018 4:52 pm

With the exception of the one player who didn't get invited back, the first two sessions with the new people went very well. The other DM in the group will be running a 2-4 shot adventure, after which I'm going to be starting some sort of campaign. I don't have the brain space (or the watch space) to write a campaign myself right now, so I went through everybody else's experience and made a list of all of the published 5e stuff. The only things that nobody had either read or played were straight up dungeon crawls, which isn't what we want (Yawning Portal and Tomb of Annihilation.) In the end, I decided to run Curse of Strahd, which only one player was familiar with. I just can't get it to click, though. I don't know

Then is struck me - Pathfinder. I have no desire to ever dig into that rule system (or its vast stack of supplemental rules) again, but there is a lot of highly rated content written for it that I could convert/adapt for 5e D&D, and none of my players has ever touched the system. It'd be a little more work, but I've played enough systems that I know to rewrite the encounters rather than try to convert them 1:1. Of course, I don't really know what's been released in the past few years or what's good, but it's a place to start. I'm wanting to stick with traditional Western fantasy right now. Rise of the Runelords? Kingmaker? Reign of Winter? Something else?

My big dilemma, though:

Do I convert the content and try to fit it into our current world (Forgotten Realms), convert Pathfinder's world (Golarion), or do I create a world for it from scratch?

The Realms has the advantage that the 5e rules have essentially been written to fit it. The Monster Manuals are full of beasties that fit the world perfectly. I also know it pretty well, and have been reading about it and running content there off and on for almost 30 years. The disadvantage is that it is a very well-documented world, and my players know it really well. Shoehorning another world's adventure into it might feel out of place and mess with their buy-in. I'd probably end up losing some of the signature feel of some of the content. Also, while it is a world that I love, it is also very, very 'typical' fantasy. It doesn't have any special pizzazz that makes it stand out.

Golarion (the Pathfinder world) has the advantage that the content itself was written for it. I have some books on it (and set in it), and I like the setting. It is well documented, but my players aren't that familiar with it, which loosens the restraints a bit. The disadvantage is that I'd need to convert the world itself. Some 5e races would have to disappear, gods would have to be redefined, etc. It would be a little extra work. I'd also have to re-learn the basics of the setting.

Making my own world is probably the middle ground. I could minimize the workload by only creating the locations that I need, and by offloading it onto the players ("Make up your home town." "Your cleric needs a god? Pick two domains, tell me the god's name, symbol, and write a short paragraph.) That kind of collaborative creation tends to really tie the players to the world The downsides would be a less deep world without that sense of a larger history that comes with an established setting, and the fact that I'm a fiend for detail. I'd end up spending a gazillion hours messing with the world, which is time I don't have right now.

This mostly turned into one of my 'stream of consciousness' idea-bouncing posts. I'd love any input, though.
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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by Cylus Maxii » Mon Jun 11, 2018 12:44 pm

The Critical Role: Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting book was recently released. I don't know if you are familiar with the Critical role web/Twitch series from Geek & Sundry. This is a masterful GM's custom 5e world/setting.
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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by Smoove_B » Mon Jul 09, 2018 12:15 pm

Because I can never have enough (apparently), as part of my solo board gaming experiment, I've also stumbled into the idea of solo pen and paper-based role playing games. I already own the Legacy of Dragonholt and have been given a copy of Journey to the Overland to try and decode by a friend that backed the original KS project. I've been reading through Four Against Darkness, which I think is more of a dungeon crawl (and not a true RPG). As part of my convention outing this last weekend, there was a helpful vendor in the RPG area that was selling all kinds of indie books and systems I'd never heard of or only had limited knowledge of. To that end, I picked up a copy of the Fate Core rules and one I'd never heard of called Apocalypse World. This one contains a system that was then modified for use in another half a dozen or so other books he had. As part of those purchases, he gave me some freebies from the Dungeon Crawl Classics system. While they all don't support solo RPG out of the box (or book), in reading around online, there are plenty of people that have cobbled together ways to play them solo. The biggest resource I've seen mentioned is the Mythic Game Master Emulator, yet another system I'd never heard of.

Anyway, I'm happy to report that I'm at least dipping my toes in the idea of PnP role playing, though mainly as a solo experiment.

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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by hentzau » Mon Jul 09, 2018 1:25 pm

I love the idea of Fate. But I would need to sit down and play a game to really be comfortable before I would run one. Despite that, I just bought into their Tachyon Squadron kickstarter.

One of the best solo RPGs from back in the day was Tunnels and Trolls. They're still a going concern, you can see all of the solo games they have available here. And I recently found my copy of City of Terrors while working on my game room. No idea why I kept it, that freaking place kept killing me.
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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by Smoove_B » Mon Jul 09, 2018 1:40 pm

Interesting. I hadn't thought about Tunnels and Trolls (I never played as a young PnP dude), but I did pick up a thrift story copy of the 1980s rules after finishing that four book series on the history of gaming (the name escapes me). I'll definitely check that out, thanks.

I forgot to add that I did pick up a printed copy of Alone Against the Flames, a solo Cthulhu adventure (game book style) that uses the new 7th edition rules released a few years ago. I know this adventure is a free PDF (and I was aware of it before), but I'd rather have a printed copy to work with and one of the vendors had a copy. I already own the 7th edition rules and my buddy is really hammering me to run a game, but I don't think it'll ever happen. He said I need to either run an old-school PnP RPG or create a solo game system and run a KS campaign. I'm not sure which would be easier. :D

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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by hentzau » Mon Jul 09, 2018 1:41 pm

Also, have you looked at D100 Dungeon on BGG? It was on the Hotness Lists a few weeks back, apparently some folks discovered this game again and there was a lot of discussion and chatter about the game. I downloaded the PDFs but they are really in need of an overhaul and edit. But a lot of folks seem to like it.
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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by Smoove_B » Mon Jul 09, 2018 1:47 pm

Yeah, I printed it all out. It's more of a dungeon crawl than an RPG (IMHO) and not exactly what I'm looking for. It's an impressive freebie effort, that's for sure. I'm looking for something with a narrative, or a system where a narrative can emerge based on choices made or random events. I think D100 has some of that, but it's so rooted in an actual dungeon crawl that I think it's just too focused for what I'd want. I also have a copy of Barbarian Prince ready to go, but I know I'm crossing lines between board game and just a book that I can read through with a character sheet. More to that idea, I've acquired copies of Fabled Lands and Destiny Quest. I'm looking for something a bit more meaty than a traditional Choose Your Own Adventure / Fighting Fantasy RPG book - something with more choice and open game play. From what I've read, both of those books might fit the bill.

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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by Blackhawk » Mon Jul 09, 2018 1:50 pm

Smoove_B wrote:
Mon Jul 09, 2018 12:15 pm
To that end, I picked up a copy of the Fate Core rules and one I'd never heard of called Apocalypse World. This one contains a system that was then modified for use in another half a dozen or so other books he had.
Both have been used in many, many other systems.

Fate is fantastic, although I've only played it once. I will say that it is something that takes quite a while to wrap your head around. I'd want to play a couple more times before I'd ever consider running a game using it. At the very least, listen to a recorded actual play or two. The game is fast and plays very, very smoothly, but it is counter-intuitive if you have played other RPGs. Over and over I've heard that new players with no RPG experience catch on very quickly, while RPG grognards are left with their heads spinning. FWIW, the secret to learning the rules is that they only start to make sense on the second read-through. As an alternative, start with Fate Accelerated, a pared-down version of the rules designed to be quicker to get on the table.

Apocalypse World I have a lot more experience with. Here is a list of games that use the Apocalypse World system. I have played both Spirit of '77 (70s action films) and both played and run Masks (X-Men/Teen Titans style young superheroes.) I highly recommend those, and there is a lot of positive buzz for Urban Shadows (urban fantasy, Dresden, etc), Monster of the Week (Scooby Doo, Buffy), Monsterhearts (Teen Wolf, teen vampires, etc), Uncharted Worlds (space opera), and, of course, Dungeon World (The Dungeons and The Dragons.)

They're a blast to play, and the best part is that there is almost zero prep. When I ran Masks, I went to the table with nothing but the rules. The players made their characters, I made notes. I walked away with a few index cards, and came back in ten minutes with everything I needed to run a twelve-hour adventure.

Sadly, I can't speak to either one as a solo game.
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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by Smoove_B » Mon Jul 09, 2018 2:02 pm

Even if they don't work out as I'm hoping for a solo system, I still enjoy reading the rules and learning about new things. For that Apocalypse link you provided, I recognize most of those covers from what he had on display. It was overwhelming, but once he gave me the information about the base/core set, I definitely wanted to read up on it. I'm quite curious about Fate as well, and thanks for that additional link. My official summer vacation started this morning and I have about 7 weeks of dedicated gaming/learning/reading/painting time before everything goes sideways again in September. :)

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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by Zarathud » Mon Jul 09, 2018 4:42 pm

Tunnels and Trolls has an iPad app for solo adventures.
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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by Smoove_B » Mon Jul 09, 2018 10:52 pm

Yeah, I grabbed it for my iPhone but I'm trying to get away from electronics for a bit - trying to get back to my paper-based roots. :D

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Smoove_B
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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by Smoove_B » Thu Jul 12, 2018 1:11 pm

My daughter is going to play an introductory game of Pathfinder at our local library this weekend. It's her first time doing anything like it and (I think) she's mostly curious as she can't quite get her mind around how things she's typically doing in video games can be done in person and without electronics. I was a little younger than she is now when I first discovered the D&D red box, so I'm actually a bit excited for her. I picked up the pocket Pathfinder guide for her to thumb through ahead of time and she's been reading it now for the last few days. Is this how normal parents feel when their kids play sportsball?

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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by IceBear » Sun Jul 15, 2018 8:43 am

Blackhawk wrote:
Mon Jul 09, 2018 1:50 pm
Smoove_B wrote:
Mon Jul 09, 2018 12:15 pm
To that end, I picked up a copy of the Fate Core rules and one I'd never heard of called Apocalypse World. This one contains a system that was then modified for use in another half a dozen or so other books he had.
Both have been used in many, many other systems.

Fate is fantastic, although I've only played it once. I will say that it is something that takes quite a while to wrap your head around. I'd want to play a couple more times before I'd ever consider running a game using it. At the very least, listen to a recorded actual play or two. The game is fast and plays very, very smoothly, but it is counter-intuitive if you have played other RPGs. Over and over I've heard that new players with no RPG experience catch on very quickly, while RPG grognards are left with their heads spinning. FWIW, the secret to learning the rules is that they only start to make sense on the second read-through. As an alternative, start with Fate Accelerated, a pared-down version of the rules designed to be quicker to get on the table.

Apocalypse World I have a lot more experience with. Here is a list of games that use the Apocalypse World system. I have played both Spirit of '77 (70s action films) and both played and run Masks (X-Men/Teen Titans style young superheroes.) I highly recommend those, and there is a lot of positive buzz for Urban Shadows (urban fantasy, Dresden, etc), Monster of the Week (Scooby Doo, Buffy), Monsterhearts (Teen Wolf, teen vampires, etc), Uncharted Worlds (space opera), and, of course, Dungeon World (The Dungeons and The Dragons.)

They're a blast to play, and the best part is that there is almost zero prep. When I ran Masks, I went to the table with nothing but the rules. The players made their characters, I made notes. I walked away with a few index cards, and came back in ten minutes with everything I needed to run a twelve-hour adventure.

Sadly, I can't speak to either one as a solo game.
BTW, you might be interested in Vagabonds of Dyfed. It's based on the PbtA engine, but has a lot of FATE in there and is meant to be more directly compatible with OSR games that Dungeon World is.

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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by Blackhawk » Sun Jul 15, 2018 9:22 am

Thanks, I will take a look at that. By coincidence, my group (which gets here in about 40 minutes) has decided that after today's session, we're going to be switching from D&D 5e to Masks. I'll be running it.

I'm looking forward to it. After two or three months of solid, endless D&D prep, I can't wait to sit down with a game that I prep at the table. I have free time again!

I'm also look at Cypher System for sometime in the future. It isn't set in stone yet, as I have a lot more research to do, but its sounding really appealing. Having seen the book across the table a couple of times, I always assumed it was a pretty heavy system, but I had a couple of people compare it to Savage Worlds, even saying that the rules my be a bit lighter. I'm also told that it supports miniatures. With my collection and painting hobby, games with miniatures that don't bog down have always been a grail to me.
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IceBear
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Re: The Randomness of the Pen and the Paper

Post by IceBear » Sun Jul 15, 2018 11:25 am

My group dislikes the Cypher System which makes me sad as it I've kickstarted all the products. It's sort of in between light weight and heavy but my group hates the core Effort system ("So I have to hurt myself to succeed?") and they disliked the Numenera setting ("Ok, there's a ton of weird stuff but how do we know what's "normal weird" and stuff we should be investigating"). I thought they'd be all over the Strange as one of my main players loved Sliders but turns out he hates playing games with dimension hoping; he doesn't mind when stuff from other dimensions is mashed together like Rifts, but doesn't like when his character is doing the travel.

So I never even bothered mentioning Predation, Masks (different from the PbtA one) or the generic Cypher System. :(

To me it's a lot like the FFG Star Wars system...crunch on the character side but uses range bands and some other generalizations. Uses standard d20 action economy and basically all you need to know for stats for everything is its level

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