Mr. Geek Girl What Rules and I have a HUGE bookshelf full of gaming books, including most of several editions of GURPS, a couple different editions of D&D, both editions of several of the World of Darkness books, In Nomine, Warhammer, Warmachine, Champions, etc… We do go through them fairly frequently, although we rarely use any systems more complex than the Bridge (Two-die) system or PDQ.
So, why do we keep buying trad games?
For starters, we have always been very fond of taking story seeds from other media and scrubbing off the serial numbers. For example, the Company of Aces game, which began as a thinly veiled Black Company game and evolved into something completely its own. Also, The Wall game was initially based on G.R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones books, again, mutated beyond all recognition. The Mister has also run a Malazan inspired game. I’ve run straight up Hogwarts games, as well as some that were just subtly different. We’ve bastardized movies, books, television and the internet, and traditional RPGs are not exempt from this pillaging.
One of the things that attracted the Mister to GURPS in the first place was this idea that you merely needed ONE system to play any type of game you wanted. That there would be no need to learn a superhero system, a fantasy system, a strategic combat system, a high tech system, etc… It was all the same system with different window dressing depending on what you were looking for. And I can get behind that. I hate having to learn new systems, it feels like homework. I feel we’ve gone one step beyond that, instead of waiting for Steve Jackson to do the homework for us, we’re doing it ourselves. And the best part is, with the incredibly “small” systems we typically use, the actual translation work is minimal.
There are a lot of wonderful gaming worlds being invented every day, whether they get published or not. And hey, as long as I’m supporting the author by buying their product, I don’t feel the least little bit bad about stealing their settings to use with other systems. At first I felt a little weird about it, because some of these games cost upwards of $30 or $40 bucks, and for some reason I had this idea that what you’re really paying for is system. I don’t think I’m alone in that, either. But the truth is, you’re paying for the authors’ time, effort and creativity, as well as the system. So, even if you never touch the system, I still say you’re getting your money’s worth (or in some cases, getting more of your money’s worth than if you WERE using their system).
So, tonight I’ll be sitting down with my copy of Grimm and soaking up the story world, and not feeling the least little bit guilty about skipping the system section.
On to today’s sadness. Forrest J. Ackerman has passed away. He was a fixture at west coast conventions, and I had the pleasure of speaking with him on multiple occasions. Once, when my friend Kayo was buying Mr. Ackerman’s book, he realized he’d forgotten his wallet and Mr. Ackerman had already personalized it to him, so he left me (in full cat make up and frilly, psuedo-gypsy costume) as a security deposit, while he went to get his wallet. At one point, I do believe Mr. Ackerman offered to take me in trade for the book. He was funny, well-spoken and always behaved like a gentleman in front of me. I enjoyed his panels, and had a standing invitation to visit his home if I ever made it down to California, as did many other fans. He will be sorely missed in the SF/F convention landscape.