More Systems

At HelgaCon I got to both run and play several new systems — well, new to me anyway. In addition to Warhammer FRPG I also ran Stay Frosty, and I got to play in a game of Dungeon World. And now apparently my previous post has really turned on the fire hose, as I’m being overwhelmed with all these great recommendations for something to use for a Warhammer vibe with OD&D simplicity. I have lots to say…

First off, Stay Frosty is an excellent system, and this coming from a guy who generally isn’t a sci-fi person. In the past I posted about the Fear of a Black Dragon inspired idea of running Death Frost Doom using Stay Frosty and mixing in elements of Star Wars. My practice run of this prior to HelgaCon revealed this to be one too many ingredients, and as amused as I was to make the players play storm troopers without actually telling them that was what was going on, it turns out my Star Wars geekdom is far too light to pull it off. So I nixed that part.

What was left was a spooky horror game that I warped from fantasy to gritty sci-fi, and it worked great. I converted things like shelves of books to banks of hard drives, and disembodied skeletal hands to pale severed hands floating in glass cylinders connected to mysterious wires. My zombies were actually dead human bodies animated by alien parasites. I can definitely see myself running this system again, and I kind of enjoy the challenge of using a fantasy module and adapting it on the fly.

As for Dungeon World – well, I can say I gave it a fair shake, but it’s definitely not a system for me. The game was fine, down right enjoyable at times, but I find the whole thing oddly dissonant. It’s not that I don’t like new-aged story gaming. I love me some Fiasco, Fall of Magic, heck I’d give a different Apocalypse World powered game a try. Mixing story gaming into standard fantasy dungeon crawling though just feels super weird to me.

I think that’s because I associate dungeon crawling with old school concepts. I expect the environment to be king, and my character to be my avatar in interacting with the world. Focusing instead on play-acting and character relationships feels to me like a wrong fit. Knowing the GM is making the very layout of the dungeon up on the fly feels completely counter to the idea of exploring a well defined underground maze.

One of the reasons I like old school D&D over modern D&D is that combat is light and snappy, so it gets out of the way quickly and we can focus on the exploration part. I felt like Dungeon World was just as slow as say 3rd edition. Instead of slowing down with “wait, I know how this works, <flip> <flip>… ok, count the squares..” it was slowed down with “Um, hm, what would be cool here… let me think…”

Well, at least I can say I gave it a try. While the game I got to play was fun, I just don’t think Dungeon World is a system I really care to dig into. As for WFRPG and D&D mash-ups, I think I’ll save that for another post. I want to do some more reading firs, and I’ve run out of time this afternoon to write. So, stay tuned!

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