Friday, 8 August 2014

#RPGaDAY - Day 7: Most Intellectual RPG

The curious beast that is #RPGaDAY continues...

DragonQuest TSR edition.
6th - Favourite RPG Never get to play?
Never is a strong word, considering anything is fair game on Monday nights. I've played all manner of RPGs, beginning in the 1980s. Back then it would probably be quicker to name the popular RPGs I didn't play. Fast forward a few decades and I'm still checking out games I've never played before. If something about a game really rocks my socks off, I add it to the house rules.

However, one of my favourite campaigns was one using DragonQuest (SPI). I should say 'is' not 'was'... as the GM takes long breaks between games, sometimes lasting years. The game system itself had it's kinks but don't they all? On an online forum I found a post about what one of the guys who designed Dragon Quest said about the game. Apparently he described it as, "Our cheap knockoff of AD&D that nobody bought, even though it was much better."*

Even if it's not an accurate quote, it sums up my feelings about RPGs in general. It had similarities to Chivalry and Sorcery and The Fantasy Trip (ancestor of GURPS), in the same way you find echoes of eloquent rules in all role playing games. I have a DragonQuest (3rd edition, though we mainly used 2nd edition) rulebook on my shelf but I doubt I'd run it as written. Some of the ideas are worth borrowing. Anyway, it's the people you play the game with that really matter. So, I wait for another opportunity to play Dragon Quest.

*Ironically perhaps, it was bought by TSR.

Art by William O'Conner
7th - Most “intellectual” RPG owned?
Considering I don't own every RPG I've ever played, this actually becomes an easier question to answer. Although the rules themselves are not overly complex, Ars Magica is certainly aimed at the more intellectual gamer - every player has a mage character of some sort! Well, they actually play a collection of characters, with the magus taking the central role. You want comprehensive rules for magic? This RPG has them in spades. 15 Arts: 5 Techniques and 10 Forms named with Latin verbs and nouns respectively, for both formulaic and spontaneous spell casting. Ars Magica is so much more than it's elegant magic system and a few elements of this RPG have made their way into D&D 5e. I own Ars Magica 3rd edition (published by White Wolf and later purchased briefly by Wizards of the Coast) but you can download the 5th edition (Atlas Games). It's well worth checking it out if you never have.

Thanks to writing this post I now realise the stunning artwork of William O'Conner. I love his illustrations in Ars Magica and have only now recognised he's the guy that has created the dragons (and more besides) all over D&D's latest editions. He's certainly had a great career!

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