16 Which RPG besides D&D has the best magic system? Give details.
Probably GURPS. The default system uses ‘power points’ that come from the PC’s Fatigue. This is equal to the Strength stat, so most mages have a limited pool of power points, and casting spells causes the mage to be weaker with clear mechanical implications. Very nice. More skilled mages spend fewer points. It’s pretty elegant; the only downside is some of the spells are too powerful and some are too weak. There are lots of optional magic systems for GURPS, but my favorite is the ritual magic system introduced in the Voodoo supplement. It is perfect for more historical or “realistic” settings as the magic is mostly indirect, affects probabilities rather than making big booms so it can be explained away by skeptics, and mirrors a lot of real world occult ideas about invoking spirits.
17 Which RPG has the best high tech rules? Why?
I am not much of a fan of high-tech stuff but I would, true to form, say GURPS does it the best. During a heavy GURPS phase, my brother and one of our friends got a Guns Digest type book and converted used the information there about muzzle velocities etc. to stat out EVERY FRICKING GUN in production. GURPS could tease out some subtle differences. And yet a gunshot will probably kill you period. Gritty as hell. Plus don’t forget Steve Jackson Games was raided by the government while working on their Cyberpunk book. 🙂
18 What is the crunchiest RPG you have played? Was it enjoyable?
I think “crunchy” means “has rule for everything”? D&D 3rd edition, and no it was not. If “crunchy” means “has calculations that will cause you to learn all the functions on a scientific calculator in order to level up,” probably Rolemaster with “All options” in play from the Companion books. They got a little out of hand. We still enjoyed it once character generation was done though.
19 What is the fluffiest RPG you have played? Was it enjoyable?
I don’t understand this question. I hear “fluff” used a lot of different ways. If “fluffy” just means rules-light, I tried some FATE and it was pretty good; it is just not my choice for fantasy, and fantasy is my preferred RPG style. I think I’ve heard “fluff” used to mean all the stuff that is not in the “mechanics” of the rules, in which case I’m not sure how to approach the question — does it mean which game is most interested in background and setting over rules?
20 Which setting have you enjoyed most? Why?
My last D&D campaign, set in the ruins of a previous campaign setting (Telengard). Because I made it up. The setting I enjoyed most as a player is hard to pin down. Maybe the semi-historical Norman England game I mentioned last time. The setting was interesting and dangerous. We mostly fought humans with complicated motivations rather than simply going after monsters. And our characters often had to make major sacrifices — some dying horribly — to prevent worse things from happening to the NPCs. We were very “immersed” in the story, is what I guess I mean. The fact that my brother, who was running, really understood and communicated the period to everyone helped a lot. No anachronistic characters for one thing.
21 What is the narrowest genre RPG you have ever played? How was it?
“Over the edge” — Atlas Games’ weird mix of film noir, William S. Burroughs, and the X-files-before-there-was-an-X-files. Or maybe Call of Cthulhu set in the 1920s. Both were so specific and so strange that it was probably too much to ask of any player. I don’t know if the GMs enjoyed them but both were very short-lived.
22 What is the most gonzo kitchen sink RPG you ever played? How was it?
Ha! This guy I know, Chip, who is both intentionally and unintentionally strange on every level, ran what he called “Wacky World.” It was GURPS with every sourcebook in play — Space, Supers, Fantasy, Cyberpunk, Ice Age, whatever. The player characters were ridiculously min-maxed. One PC had robotic legs (“crazy legs”) and neural implants and martial arts that basically made him capable of wiping out the entire crew of the Enterprise using two force swords. Which he did. Single-handed. Another carried around a laser cannon that could destroy anything. My character was a sharpshooter who could shoot things — from the ground — that were in orbit. He needed to because the galactic police decided to nuke us from orbit. It was mostly played for laughs. Chip loved imitating various political figures as NPCs. We laughed, but we were probably stoned too.
23 What is the most broken game that you tried and were unable to play?
I honestly object to calling any system “broken,” but the two stand-out stinkers IMO are Gamma World which fails to deliver the game I expected based on the art and the early 80s zeitgeist about nuclear war, and Battlelords of the 23rd Century, an incoherent mess that was basically ‘alien supersoldiers with big laser guns’. I could never run GW now, it just has too many silly things going on. Battlelords I tried back in college. I believe the author was running it, and he had lots of enthusiasm but it was just stupid. Couldn’t get past character generation. (Sorry Larry!)
24 What is the most broken game that you tried and loved to play, warts and all?
Fantasy Wargaming. I still think there is something worth salvaging in that confused mess of a game.
25 Which game has the sleekest, most modern engine?
Maybe Dungeon World, or FATE? Not really to my taste though.
26 What IP (=Intellectual Property, be it book, movie or comic) that doesn’t have an RPG deserves it? Why?
None, dammit! I honestly have never enjoyed an IP-based RPG other than the old d6 Star Wars, and that was really in spite of the IP. We just had a great GM who loved Star Wars but loved it enough to mock and humiliate the setting some too. Star Wars, being a mess of tropes from science fiction and fantasy, works the same way D&D does — it just taps into a million themes you’ve seen elsewhere and assembles them into a gamable state. Sort of the opposite of Tolkien-based games, where the IP/setting so carefully tied to a plot that you feel like a minor character in someone else’s story.
27 What RPG based on an IP did you enjoy most? Give details.
Oops, already answered that. More details: the gaming group was some of the nicest, funniest, smartest people I’d played with; one player was totally new to RPGs and was having a Freaks & Geeks experience (10 years before Carlos the dwarf). I went through at least four or five PCs, all of them dying gloriously, except for the last one, Lothar of the Hill People. My Gomorian killed a damn AT-AT. Bitchin.
28 What free RPG did you enjoy most? Give details.
The “Optional Resolution System” in “Out where the buses don’t run”. (Is that a free module? I got it free for helping with proofreading.) You have a d6. When you try to do something, you need to roll a 4+. If you get hurt once you are kicked don to a d4; hurt again you die. Simple and elegant and you could play blind drunk.
29 What OSR product have you enjoyed most? Explain how.
1. Lamentations of the Flame Princess. The skill and encumbrance systems are still one of my favorites for D&D, and the whole thing is a great re-imagining of what D&D could be. 2. Every other retroclone of OD&D or Basic, for giving more fuel and examples of workable revisions.
30 Which non-D&D supplemental product should everyone know about? Give details.
The whole family of GURPS sourcebooks, especially the historical/cultural ones, like Vikings and Swashbucklers and Old West. They have the perfect amount of research, focused on how to game the settings. My own blog posts on finding D&D-fuel in unlikely books is inspired by their examples. I am in awe of them.
31 What out-of-print RPG would you most like to see back in publication? Why?
I have no answer for that, because almost everything I can think of is back in print or has been “cloned” in some form or another. I could gripe that nothing quite recreates B/X, I guess. Oh wait a minute — maybe Boot Hill. The original was great and there was a second or third edition that fleshed out the role-playing rules that I liked. I have not investigated other Old West options though.