What is your favorite game?

edited May 2016 in Actual Play
Hey guys! I'm a first time designer, I probably haven't consumed as many games as most and was just wondering what everyone's favorite narrative based system is. So far, for what I like, Pbta games have been the closest I've come as to what I look for in a roleplaying experience, how about you?
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  • Hey! :)
    My answer to you is "mu" (meaning: your question is wrong).

    Especially if you are looking into design it is important to understand the medium.
    All rpgs are "narrative based" ... the fundamental activity is to have a bunch of people around a table describing stuff to each other with the mediation of rules.

    So you basically asked people "which is your favorite rpg?".
    Why don't you start instead by better defining which games you liked, and why?

    Saying PbtA is a start but it embraces sooo many and sooo different games, it is almost like saying nothing.
    And different PbtA games often have less glamorous but still very substantial differences.
    So if you love Dungeon World you might still not like Monsterhearts; if you are into Tremulus you might not care for Monster of the Week, or you might have a thing for Sundered Lands and Murderous Ghosts which are still PbtA but are also pretty out there ;)

    Tell us about you.
    About your favorite games, and the why.
    And why are you interested in game design... do you have a project in mind?
    Stuff like that.
    This way people can offer you answers and suggestions that are more useful and to the point for you.
  • For the ordinary, average, everyday walking around version of "narrative", I like the World of Darkness games, specifically the Chronicles of Darkness version currently extant.
  • I'm generally a big FAE (Fate Accelerated Edition) fan, but now that I'm running Uncharted Worlds I'm starting to come around to being more of a PbtA fan, too.
  • My current drug of choice is fantasy flights star wars RPG line. Why you ask? I like the narrative dice system. Die results are: success, failure, advantage, disadvantage, crit success, or crit fail. This means you can roll up results such as succeed with advantage and critical failure OR fail with threat and critical success or any combination thereof. I have fun with that.
  • edited May 2016

    Tell us about you.
    About your favorite games, and the why.
    And why are you interested in game design... do you have a project in mind?
    Stuff like that.
    This way people can offer you answers and suggestions that are more useful and to the point for you.
    That's true, I'm a first time designer and do have a ways to come before understand more of the medium!
    Well, I started out as most people do, I think? With Dungeons and Dragons and Pathfinder but I had a pretty big disconnect with them. I wasn't sure why until I played my brothers game Worlds in Peril - which was my first foray into the Apocalypse. For me, this is how you tell a story. I like that it was a collaborative contribution to the fiction instead of purely just a reaction. But, to be fair, I think I also just didn't have a great GM for D&D now as well as good ones seem to do lots of the MC stuff anyhow.

    So far, I've pretty much only been able to connect with PbTA games for that reason, other games don't really feel like it's my story or world etc. I love Monster Hearts, Worlds in Peril, The Warren is incredible, and I really like "vanilla" AW. I do like Dungeon World, but the problem I've found after playing a lot more games - is that the setting just isn't that interesting compared to what else is up there. I want to play Nightwitches and Undying so bad...you've no idea.

    I actually have a PbTA game on kickstarter up right now, which wouldn't be without the benefit of my brothers experience. He's published The Magicians and Worlds in Peril as mentioned. I wasn't finding what I wanted from cyberpunk in a PbTA game so ended up making it myself and when I was getting there my brother said it was really unique and interesting and I should try and kickstart it. I'm just very fortunate to have his experience and knowledge, or of course it would have never come close to being in the state it is now as well as funded.

    The number one problem I have, I would say, is extremely weak writing skills. I hadn't written anything since high school...13 years ago? It's hard to articulate myself compared to other my learned people. Especially on here, so many amazing creators here.
  • Gun to my head, I think it's got to be Fiasco. It just sings in play, I and I've literally never had a bad game.
  • edited May 2016
    The game that I want to be my favorite is Ghost/Echo, but I don't have anyone to play it with. My old favorite is Pendragon. After that, I guess it would be Runequest 2E.
  • @soysauce thanks for the info.
    I think I know what KS you are talking about but can't remember the name of the game... could you link it here? :D
    (I love me some cyberpunk)

    About the fav game... this one is hard, I love so many of them, for so many different reasons! >_<

    Surely Montsegur 1244 is out there.
    Then Kagematsu also never disappoints.
    Of the pbta crows I mostly love Apocalypse World and Monsterhearts, but I have yet to try a LOT of the new ones that came out in the past year or two.
    The Quiet Year is also ever present in my top-something lists :)
  • The Quiet Year is probably the one for me. But Kagematsu, Dogs in the Vineyard, Archipelago, a few of the PbtA games, Cheat Your Own Adventure, and Swords Without Master are all on the short list. The best campaign I ever played in was Call of Cthulhu. I couldn't identify a best single session, but gun to my head, maybe Kagematsu (oh, or A Penny for My Thoughts). So many more games I want to play, so many games I'd like to play again. There's an embarassment of riches, really.
  • My imaginary favourite game is Burning Wheel Gold (I've only played like a fraction of an online session).
  • I don't have one favorite game, so much as a constellation of games currently in my rotation to scratch different itches.

    I use Pathfinder to harness that part of my brain that churns out high fantasy games better than any other game. I'm learning to avoid the much vaunted adventure paths, and go back to my old ways of brewing a fantasy yarn. I do willingly strip other fantasy games for part, though, like Dungeon World's Fronts.

    Fantasy Craft is nice when I still want a d20 engine thingy a bit less focused on magic and shedding some of the D&D baggage. My primary setting here is a far-future dark fantasy world I brewed up to the tune of Zothique.

    Fate is my lego toolset for all sorts of gaming. Now that most of my group GETS aspects etc., we use it for all sorts of things. I used it for Space Opera, China-inspired fantasy, and for one shot fantasy, and a friend of mine is about to use it for Achtung Cthulhu (finally! I get to play instead of GMing). Fate accelerated is nice for pickups, and I've run Masters of Umdaar and Dugneons of Fate on such occasions.

    Feng Shui 2 is a nice quick action game for one shots and off days.

    Gumshoe is my go-to of late for investigative gaming. Though I don't love the way it handles non-investigative abilities, I've been able to manage it by chargen and GMing techniques. I primarily run Night's Black Agents, though after sampling a bit of Timewatch by the author, I want to run a few rounds of that.
  • @soysauce thanks for the info.
    I think I know what KS you are talking about but can't remember the name of the game... could you link it here? :D
    (I love me some cyberpunk)

    https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/samjokopublishing/the-veil-cyberpunk-rpg

    The name is the Veil.

    Surely Montsegur 1244 is out there.
    Then Kagematsu also never disappoints.
    Of the pbta crows I mostly love Apocalypse World and Monsterhearts, but I have yet to try a LOT of the new ones that came out in the past year or two.
    The Quiet Year is also ever present in my top-something lists :)
    I NEED to try Kagematsu still. I've tried moooost PbTA so want to try others. Also really want to play the mountain witch, anyone know if that's really good? Only heard great things. The Quiet year as well, gotta try that. So many games to try!


  • Gumshoe is my go-to of late for investigative gaming. Though I don't love the way it handles non-investigative abilities, I've been able to manage it by chargen and GMing techniques. I primarily run Night's Black Agents, though after sampling a bit of Timewatch by the author, I want to run a few rounds of that.
    I've heard Night black has really awkward mechanics though, it's point spending right? My brother was explaining it to me and he pretty much summed it up as a great system except for combat - where things get really awkward and weird. What do you think?

  • The games I've enjoyed most, and wouldn't hesitate to play again:

    * Dogs in the Vineyard
    * The Shadow of Yesterday/Solar System
    * Apocalypse World
    * Land of Nodd (my own game, unpublished)
    * Thus began the Adventures of Eowyn... (also my own)
    * Monsterhearts
    * D&D (old-school, e.g. B/X D&D)
  • My favorite game is D&D 5e. And I say this after reading lots and lots and lots of games. I know it's not a favorite of many (people either dislike it, or they do like it but see it as a "compromise edition"). But it's my favorite game so far.
  • I've heard Night black has really awkward mechanics though, it's point spending right? My brother was explaining it to me and he pretty much summed it up as a great system except for combat - where things get really awkward and weird. What do you think?
    Yes, it is point spend. And I don't want to sell it short, because I have had lots of great thrilling games with it, but I have seen the downside of the point-spend mechanic. I do think there is a certain art/skill to running good games with it.

    To get it out of the way, I think the point spend mechanic works fine for investigative abilities.

    For general abilities, I see two principal problems:
    1) It can create some weird situations that don't make a lot of sense.
    2) It puts a strategic decision making management pressure on the player that I think can lead to hesitation to act.

    A few techniques that I have used and have seen used to get around the main problems:
    1) The "strategy pep talk for new players." Simply put, there are two main strategies to spending general ability pools:
    - Spend two points and roll (for general tasks)
    - Spend enough that you think you will succeed either on a 1+ or (if you think you need to conserve points and/or are willing to accept some risk) 2+.

    Once new players internalize this, things go pretty smoothly.

    2) As a GM, use and make players aware of the main methods of allowing players to refresh their point pools (resting, place of safety, vivid ability use narratives)

    3) As a GM designing and running one-shots, start PCs with *many* more general build points than the starting total in the book for new PCs. To Pelgrane's credit, I have seen them doing this more with pregens in their newest adventure anthology for the Dracula Dossier, the Edom Files.
  • So, Primetime Adventures, 2nd edition endures for me. While there are certainly games that drive to more focused experiences, I still love how PTA cuts to this quick of conflicts, and I've used it to play everything from a game about Chicago in the 20's with Fae, to Deadlands, to Superheroes, to a game about an acting troupe. And I think it's a strength that it frees people to take on conflict outcomes that are as harsh or as light as the player is comfortable with, or is able to deal with that night. Plus, it allows players to reward each other for good play, which is nice.

    Though, honestly, my groups often play without a game system these days, just taking turns making statements in a conflict. Or if we're not sure how things will go down in a conflict, or what would be the most interesting outcome, we'll draw a tarot card and allow that to guide us. Simple, but it works tidily.
  • Can't say I'd heard of Primetime adventures, the shadows of yesterday, or land of Nodd. Will have to check them out!! So much to play..!
  • edited May 2016
    The Shadow of Yesterday (also available in a new/generic edition as "Solar System", which I recommend highly) is a much-beloved game in the indie community. It won an Indie RPG Award in 2004. Hopefully this LINK works as well... (Attention: @Eero_Tuovinen)

    Land of Nodd is my own game, and I've never published it, but I could send you the rules if you're interested in trying it.

    Primetime Adventures is also a well-known and much-beloved indie game! I recommend that, too, although I've seen groups really struggle with it - kind of like Fiasco, it works great if you "get it", but some people don't.
  • @Colin - just curious, do you use PTA 2E out of preference to the more recent version, or just because that's the version your group has and knows?
  • @Soyosauce Good luck! If you try it, I would be interested to read some of your experiences.

    @Felan Out of preference. I've played and like 3rd edition and I love some of the tools in it, such as the card-based show creation tool. And the advice on how to play is, as always, wonderful. The concept of impulses is interesting, and it may just be the case that the game we played in it just didn't pop, because the edition didn't settle with us, or we may have been taking the rules too literally in an attempt to learn the new edition.

    However, the results of conflicts in 3rd edition can allow a character to both not achieve their goal, and "keep it together." Which feels a lot like nothing happening? It came up enough for our table (possibly disproportionately) such that those plots just stalled at the end of those conflicts, with no interesting outcome or thrust to take this story forward.

    By contrast, 2nd edition's analogous outcome let's you lose a conflict, but win narrative control, which gives you some latitude to either find a way around the conflict to get what you want another day, or you can narrate something unexpected and not part of this conflict that is either good or bad happening to your character. So you might not get what you want, but something interesting should always happen.
  • I'm really enjoying Chuubo's Wish Granting Engine these days. I'm still not sure if it's an RPG or just a permission slip to play freeform.
    I'm also big on Apocalypse World, Urban Shadows, and Monsterhearts, and I think I'll love Masks when it comes out -- the playbooks are very intriguing but I'm not sure I understand them.
    Games I don't get to play enough: Unknown Armies, Lacuna, etc. etc.
  • My brother backed Unknown Armies so I'll be playing that soon, I hope! Looks great! Masks seems good but for super hero related stuff I'd probably just play my brother's Worlds in Peril, can't really think of any super game that wouldn't work well on it so didn't see a point in taking a look at Masks. Lacuna I delved into for research on the Veil and it is really neat. I like it a lot - as a published medium trying to convey or teach you a game it gives no fucks about the reader, but I didn't mind that myself. Others I know were put off by it. But I know some people who were put off by Apocalypse World and I found it mind blowing when I first read it..sooo I dunno!
  • The Shadow of Yesterday (also available in a new/generic edition as "Solar System", which I recommend highly) is a much-beloved game in the indie community. It won an Indie RPG Award in 2004. Hopefully this LINK works as well... (Attention: @Eero_Tuovinen)


    Land of Nodd is my own game, and I've never published it, but I could send you the rules if you're interested in trying it.

    Primetime Adventures is also a well-known and much-beloved indie game! I recommend that, too, although I've seen groups really struggle with it - kind of like Fiasco, it works great if you "get it", but some people don't.

    Solar System looks awesome!! What is Land of Nodd about? Prmetime looks great. Reading about it now.

  • The Land of Nod (one D) also exists as an OSR setting, Paul. FYI
  • I'm really enjoying Chuubo's Wish Granting Engine these days. I'm still not sure if it's an RPG or just a permission slip to play freeform.
    Is it freeformy? Tell me more.
  • Yeah, Land of Nodd came first, but I never published it. I don't want to change the title now, though!

    What is Land of Nodd?

    Land of Nodd is a pen-and-paper roleplaying game in which players take on the roles of characters pursuing independent plotlines. As the game progresses, these plotlines reveal unexpected connections and converge to form a larger overall narrative. Stories told through the Land of Nodd tend to be twisted and mysterious, full of conspiracies and strange coincidences.

    Its design was inspired by novels and films like Cryptonomicon, Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, Pulp Fiction, or the fantasy novels of Steven Erikson. In a game of Land of Nodd, the main characters could never meet, affecting each other only at a distance, or even inhabit different places or different times. Their paths might intersect, cross and part once more, or converge unexpectedly at the climax of the tale, as in the films and novels mentioned above.
  • Man, Paul! That sounds awesome!
  • Thanks! I really should put out a PDF or something; I've been holding off because I wanted to playtest a few changes (from earlier versions), and haven't had an opportunity.
  • Just do it already!

    Primetime Adventures.
    Mouseguard.
    The OSR (B/X, etc.)
    Warhammer RPG 2nd ed.
    Fiasco.
    Paranoia.
    Lady Blackbird.
    Last Train out of Warsaw.


    Pssh, hierarchies.

    Oh, I was really interested in The Clay That Woke. What happened to that?
  • It's probably still Tenra Bansho Zero.
  • edited May 2016

    (About Chuubo's Marvelous Wish-Granting Engine)
    Is it freeformy? Tell me more.
    OK, I'll separate the setting from the system.

    The setting is a sort of a pastoral post-apocalypse: some extra dimensional villains destroyed the world, and all that's left of existence is a piece of countryside with a big town, a small lakeside town, mountains, a boarding school, and a park... and outside the boundaries, reality just kind of fuzzes out. Everything else isn't destroyed, but is sort of lost in a timeless chaos, so sometimes refugees float to the surface of the lake and are brought in to start their new lives. Everything is a little old fashioned and fantastical, with a strong flavor of Hayao Miyazake's animated films, but different parts of the setting support different genres. The guys who ended the world are still around and still scary.

    The system is complicated, and I'll link you to a lengthy detailed blog post about it that I've found very helpful: https://samhaine.wordpress.com/2016/04/04/chuubos-rules-summary/

    In a nutshell, each character has certain things they're good at, which can be defined tightly or loosely: Tea Ceremony 2 or Enthusiasm 1, and bonds to people and places. They can also have miraculous abilities, which range from mildly superhuman to godlike, which usually let them do certain well-defined things. By spending will and invoking these stats, characters can form an Intention: the intention outcomes range on a chart from 0, "make things worse by trying to do the right thing" to 8, "absolutely the right thing." This is probably unhelpful unless you've already played Nobilis, in which case you will notice that this is the exact same diceless way that PCs do things in Nobilis.

    The most interesting, and freeform aspect of the game, are the quests and arcs. Your character starts with a specific quest as part of a character arc that suits their character type. This gets really confusing with a lot of colorful prose, but basically it works like this: you are playing a character who is, roughly, a disgraced knight. (He could be a defrocked priest or rogue cop or whatever, it's purely a narrative thing.) You look in the book to find the disgraced knight arc, then take the first quest from it. Maybe the first quest is to find a new teacher, and it gives you steps to doing that. Each step earns you XP! When you complete all the narrative steps, you unlock that part of your arc and can start the next, maybe where your character starts training with the new teacher. There are usually extra XP to be gotten if you can contrive to make other things happen that are in theme, like entering a martial arts tournament under false pretenses.

    Finally, there are other ways to get XP at the same time, most characters have a second side quest at least: besides finding a new teacher and reclaiming their lost honor, they are also working on making friends with their neighbors, for example.
    And then you get a few XP for doing things which are in your chosen genre, like sitting by the river drinking tea with a friend in a pastoral game, or become obsessed with a mystery in a gothic game.

    So it's fun and complicated and twee all at the same time. And as I said, I wonder sometimes if the whole system is just a way of incentivizing freeform play within a specific genre. On the other hand, you really do get XP and you really do get more powerful over time, so I don't know. I

  • Thanks! I really should put out a PDF or something; I've been holding off because I wanted to playtest a few changes (from earlier versions), and haven't had an opportunity.
    Seems kinda cloud atlas like. Which is amazing. I only have mornings and Sunday's off for the mext couple months but afterward or during those times as long as work doesn't interfere could playlist, if needed!
  • DannyK that also sounds pretty neat
  • Thanks! I`ll send you a message.

  • So it's fun and complicated and twee all at the same time. And as I said, I wonder sometimes if the whole system is just a way of incentivizing freeform play within a specific genre. On the other hand, you really do get XP and you really do get more powerful over time, so I don't know.
    Huh, yeah. That quest system sound pretty rad, but

  • So it's fun and complicated and twee all at the same time. And as I said, I wonder sometimes if the whole system is just a way of incentivizing freeform play within a specific genre. On the other hand, you really do get XP and you really do get more powerful over time, so I don't know.
    Huh, yeah. That quest system sound pretty rad, and the idea of formalizing character beats into quests is an interesting way of creating guideposts to a story. And probably also to get players to think about their own stories.

    Does the rest of the system help, or get in the way?
  • Also really want to play the mountain witch, anyone know if that's really good? Only heard great things.
    It is good. Not, like, the most cutting edge technology anymore (I imagine experience with some later games, including Apocalypse World, can actually improve your TMW experience), but always a good game. I really enjoyed running it, and would gladly do it again. IMO, The Mountain Witch is a classic everybody has to try at least once - not unlike Sorcerer.
    Oh, I was really interested in The Clay That Woke. What happened to that?
    It was successfully kickstarted and printed books shipped to backers maybe, like, a year ago? Mine has been traveling for a long time, as I made a joint order with a friend in the UK I haven't had a chance to meet since then, but I've had it on my bookshelf for a couple months now. Though I'm afraid it will sit there unused for a while, as my most likely prospective co-players aren't sold on playing minotaurs, or reading a setting book.

  • I really enjoyed Teo Kuusela's ‘Lords of Aswick’

    I loved the ability to grow old on a pile of gold, or get sent to fight the crusades after failed backing for a pretender to the throne.

    I don't spose anyone else is a fan of Kuusela or 'Choice of' generally?
  • Oh, video games. Some of my favorites are Spider & Web, Hunter in Darkness, Lock and Key, Narcolepsy, Photopia and Depression Quest.
  • A lot of the games on this forum are games in books or pdfs or boxes that you can play with friends around a table. You all take part in creating the story. That's a little different from CoG and other video games but there are similarities, too.
  • Yeah, I mean to play the Mountain Witch. I'm catching up on most indie games. Late bloomer, I guess!
  • edited May 2016
    Zombie Cinema
    Montsegur 1244
    While the World Ends
    The Daughters of Verona
    Witch Quest (It is definitely the most trad game of the bunch, but it is very good when you have large groups and/or little time.)
  • Aren't some of those... your own games?
  • Aren't some of those... your own games?
    Working as intended, right? Make the games you want to see?
  • I wouldn't want to be known as the guy who writes games he doesn't like.

    Though, ZC and M1244 are very fine games. There's a reason I ripped off M1244 to write TDoV.
  • I think the post should have included something like "Both of these are by me, but I really love playing them" or "and" instead of "but".
  • I can't not picture Wilhelm doing the Wilhelm scream haha
  • edited May 2016
    My favorite game right now is (my own game) Nerver av Stål. It has delivered professional-quality plots and amazing atmosphere very reliably.

    If we're not counting games I've written myself, it's got to be Prosopopée. That game changed the way I understand roleplaying games, which is hard to do after having played traditional games for a decade and then "indie" games for another decade.

    If we're also not counting games not availible in English, I'd probably go with ... Dream Askew? PbtA games aren't really my cup of tea, usually. AW is alright, and I've warmed up to it lately as I've played a longer run in it (it gets better after three or so sessions), but Dream Askew is like Apocalypse World done right. It keeps most of the good stuff about AW and gets rid of most of the bad stuff. PTA is also really amazing, though the conflict mechanic and fanmail system takes away from the brilliant setup and structure.
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