New Prisms

I have run adventures in my world in a number of different systems.  Like many gamers, I have ‘gamer ADD’ and I’m always looking for the next big thing or the ‘perfect system’.  I ran the original campaign in 2nd Edition Advanced Dungeons and Dragons for over two years solid (continuing to use it several years on and off).  As most did in those days, I patched and tweaked and modified that system trying to make it better fit my vision or tastes.  In the end it was a Franken-system.  But still I was never satisfied.

Whenever adapting a new system, I tried my best to shoehorn the characters that came before into the new system.  This often caused issues.  What was worse was when new characters were created in the new system and then able to do things that no one had been able to do previously.

There was a lot of ret-conning in the old days.

Ultimately, I think I had a lot of trouble fitting my ideas into the usual class/level system.  Ironically, even when I moved onto more freeform or pointbased mechanics, I was always trying to figure out how to transfer the tropes I’d picked up along the way from the previous iterations of the game (like ‘spell levels’, or what being an elf meant).  A raft of characters got created in HERO, so making them work in later system changes really caused some issues!

However, though this has caused me some difficulties, I think this has also added a depth and breadth to the setting that would have not existed had I solely used a single system.  Sure, there are translation pains, but it has helped me to include things that would have never worked in some systems.  The stories that came out of it were better because of it.  It has also forced me to be more creative within any given set of tools I’ve been limited too.  I think that is a good thing!

Interestingly, I am now back to D&D, though a simulacrum called Adventure Conqueror King.  I’ve been viewing retroclones and the OSR (Old School Renaissance) with a bit of dubious nostalgia.  I’ve learned lot of things about ‘the early days’ of the game (even though I wasn’t too far behind it, getting involved a mere 8 or 9 years after D&D came out) and gained an understanding of some of the baroque elements that never made a lot of sense to me (henchemen, 10’ poles, etc!).  But since my initial encounters with grognards was so overwhelmingly unpleasant, I certainly had little interest in what they were doing.

I never thought I’d pick up one of these retroclones.  I thought I’d moved beyond the old school style of playing.  But along comes one that actually hits a huge number of the ‘must have’ buttons I have and suddenly I’m sucked back in.  I think the reasons why are another post though.


3 thoughts on “New Prisms

  1. Shelley says:

    One of the latest buzz-phrases I’ve heard lately in IT is “platform agnostic” (i.e. a technology that’ll run on any platform – Windows, MacOS, Unix, etc). I think your “gamer ADD” has ensured that your world is (essentially) “system agnostic”. Bravo!

  2. Evangelos says:

    In the end, it’s not so much the system, but the setting and character stories that count.

    • I do totally agree with you. Of course mechanics are the ‘physics’ of a game world so system does matter and it will influence both the characters people play and kinds of story you tell. But the important issue for me is can a character survive a translation to another system? If so then I think it’s a strong character.

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