Describe a game experience that changed how you play?
What comes to mind is the first time I played the Call of Cthulhu RPG. Up to that point I had been playing Dungeons & Dragons, and other TSR games and their ilk. Games where we were very much the heroes, and as long as we didn’t get stupid we were going to win through to glory and treasure.
While we were heroes in Call of Cthulhu, almost none of the rest of what I knew up to that point applied. First, this was a realistic modernish setting, so the usual “murder-hobo” instincts were useless. Second, investigation trumped brute force. Sure, sometimes you needed to rough somebody up or engage in gun play. But just as often your characters were in libraries and museums, or searching weird locations for clues. And last, success was not only not guaranteed, but it was entirely possible you had failed well before the final encounter, you just didn’t know it yet. And none of that includes the possibility of debilitating madness.
So it was quite the mind shift for a young gamer. But once I understood how it worked, I loved it! When I eventually went back to playing D&D I brought some aspects of CoC with me, and that became my first experience with blending game systems as well.
Which RPG do you prefer for open-ended campaign play?
Currently I’m enjoying D&D 5th Ed as my open-ended RPG of choice. The system is comfortable to me, combining enough aspects of the various editions of the game that I have no problem taking my games in whatever direction I need to with little fuss. And as long as a player is familiar with some version of D&D it’s easy to get that person in to the game. We’ll be touching on it in a later post, but the game also allows me to stretch my creative wings again; I’ve done more world building this year than I have in the previous 3-5.
That said, if I need a more modern setting, then I turn to FATE. Very intuitive and player friendly, and a great way to build a modern campaign.