November 20th, 2006

Tea-drinker par excellence

Suggestions please

We've got a new cycle of games coming up in our regular group and I'm particularly interested in something in the fantasy genre. I'm looking for a game that answers my particular interests but before you all shout Burning Wheel or The Shadow of Yesterday have a close look at my requirements.

- Not too wacky or intense. I don't want to have to memorise something like Sky Realms of Jorune to be able to understand the issues. I'm quite happy with fairly vanilla.

- Not too stereotypical. I don't want green to be the colour of evil. Sure orcs can be bad, from a human pov, but there's got to be a good reason. Liking to eat people is a good reason (i.e. diet), being inherently evil is less good (i.e. there is no evil gene).

- Magic is big and hard. I like pyrotechnics but I don't want them to be easy. Unknown Armies and Call of Cthulhu are my examples of good magic. Mortal Coil too. Magic involves sacrifice. CoC, D&D or DE have great spell lists with flavour, rituals are good too.

- Religion is not clear cut. Your god is not obviously better than the other god. In fact, in the metaview, they are possibly different aspects of the same thing.

- Meaning is important. I don't want the system to support the random application of violence to problems.

- Self-defined character goals are important. Within an agreed framework or theme document, I want players to be able to define character goals that are linked into the system, but not so heavily linked that they become monomaniacs.

- No levels. I don't want players to aim for the next level, I want them to aim for something character based. I like Dogs' and Cold City's immediate fallout ideas.

- Combat is tactical. I want combat options to offer real tactical choices from the character pov (so not Dogs or Cold City frex) and I want speed v strength and bravery v health to be issues (and I don't really like the Burning Wheel system - whatever you might say).

- I like systems that allow different levels of focus depending on the importance or tactical nature of a conflict (but APs bids in HQ are too cumbersome and abstract for me).

- I think some of the options within StarDrakkar give the basis of an interesting system for managing character focus.

- Defeat is good. I want a system that encourages players to allow their characters to lose because it is interesting to do so.

- I don't necessarily want a one system fits all. I find HQ rather bland, despite all the pretty names.

- I'm not keen on feats that restrict player options rather than offer new possibilities.

I'm not entirely sure such a thing exists, nor am I sure that I'm not the only one who wants to play such a game.