Today’s answer is not Rolemaster related. I was looking at different games for a different blog earlier this year and I came across the FUDGE system.
So strictly speaking FUDGE is not a game but a toolkit from which any game could be created. FUDGE aims to be universal and it achieves this at a level way above many other games that claim to be universal but in truth are just genre neutral.
FUDGE Characters can literally be created just by writing a paragraph of text and all the characters would be balanced and quite possibly as detailed as any RM character.
I really didn’t expect to like the FUDGE system but I have to say it is impressive. I have mainly pkayed modern-day stuff but I have read fantasy rules. None of the fantasy stuff has the brutality of Rolemaster (yet) but creating such a system would be relatively easy. It is also a back burner project on my to do list.
So how has a system surprised me? By being truly universal and elegantly simple. At the same time great fun to play.
3 thoughts on “RPGaDay2018 Day 9: How has a game surprised you?”
I’m surprised that people like DnD 5e. To me, it is so basic and lacking in many of the quality of life improvements we found in earlier editions, that I am constantly amazed at how much praise people lavish on it.
Take flanking. The Players HandBook released without any rules for flanking. Seriously: there is no rule for flanking in the PHB. There is an optional rule for it in the DMG, but it is essentially broken; players have described it as the worst rule in the game:
So I am surprised the Wizards could release a game so lacking in basic rules, and even more surprised that people accept this and even praise it. I am not a big fan of the ‘DM will make a ruling’ and ‘DM may I’ style of play; I expect to have clear, reasonable rules for common, easily anticipated situations.
I know that feeling. There is a whole movement towards OSR and rebranding of the D&D Basic/Expert rules that goes down that route. I read some of the Whitebox rules and I just thought I would probably play this as a one off just for nostalgia’s sake and then realise why we gave up those games 30 years ago and never went back.
I feel I am more of a fan of lighter rules than you are. If you give me a strong game world I am more than happy to improvise to wrap the rules around the world. The opposite situation of no setting and no precedents is where “DM may I?” falls down.
I have been trying for days to come up with a manner in which a game has surprised me. I’ve tried to look at it from gameplay mechanics, setting, cool PC abilities, and originality and I haven’t been able to. I’ve been trying to avoid jumping on the bandwagon of “Why is D&D so popular?” but I simply can’t avoid it. There have been no games that have really moved me to excitement to the same degree that D&D has moved me to disbelief.
The rules change so drastically between editions that players are forced to purchase completely new books for each iteration. There are so many differences in the editions that have not been for the better, that people I know long for the older edition. This edition broke everything. That edition broke everything. 5e is no better, in fact it’s just as flawed as other versions.
Bruce Lee said (I’m paraphrasing) “If a style looks weak, it’s because you haven’t looked for it’s strengths.” OK, I’ve done Martial Arts most of my life and I have lived by that philosophy for as long as I am able to remember. I also try to apply that to D&D, or any other game system I try out and the only reason. and I mean the SOLE reason I play it, is because my friends enjoy it and I enjoy getting together with my friends. Thankfully, that is not the only system they play.
So let’s look for the strengths of D&D:
Originality/setting. It was one of the first, at the very least, it was the genesis of RPG. OK, but it’s no longer the sole system in the genre. MERPS, Warhammer, RM, Awaken, Pathfinder, etc., are all in the genre. We played Pathfinder for a year and I didn’t even know we were playing a different system. I thought Pathfinder was world setting for D&D in the way Shadow World is a world setting for RM. D&D fails for originality… or is it Pathfinder fails?
Simple PC creation. OK, RM fails here. I admit that, but I know the system well and I can churn out a PC in 15 minutes or less. But when you have a party of seven players, and the DM says “I don’t care about the stats, tell me if your 12 is in Charisma or Wisdom” because he knows what the stats are based on the profession you chose, that’s pretty piss-poor. Maybe the simplicity is great for players, but to me, that’s an over simplification.
Simple rules. D&D seems to have pretty straight forward rules, depending on the edition you are playing. I keep hearing how bad 3e was but I never played it. I’ve played 2e, 4e, 5Beta, 5e. Parry/Dodge/Attack? You can only do one of those per turn. Wait, what? So I can only parry forever and ever and hope someone rescues me? I can only attack and take his full attack which will probably kill me? Magic Missile always hits no matter what, with no chance of failure? I can only Dodge if my character class allows me to dodge? Only Rogues know how to get out of the way of something swinging at their head? That seems like basic instinct if you ask me! A mouse knows to duck if a cat takes a swipe at it!
These opinions are my own, obviously. I have great friends who absolutely love the system and acknowledge the flaws but play it anyway. I think that’s simply because it’s the first system they ever played and they’ve invested to much money into books and figurines that they can’t move away from it. I invested so much money into RM2 that I’m hard pressed to move away from it.