Tuesday, 5 November 2013

RPGs and Toast Toppers

Occasionally in the blog I've mentioned that my son and I have been playing occasional Role Playing games.  He came across my old copies of AD&D up in the loft and convinced me to run a game and much to my surprise I rediscovered how much fun they can be.

Since then we've tried out the games I had and I've gradually been acquiring second hand copies of games . I've now realised that this is turning into a bit of a collection, especially of a particularly unwieldy genre of games from the 80s...ladies and gentlemen I give you the stat-fest that is Fantasy Games Unlimited!

More on them in a minute...so far other games we've played include....

2nd Edition AD&D:

2nd was a system that I never really played much and I always preferred 1st edition.  I've just acquired a 1st edition Players Handbook and DMG off eBay and suddenly it's 1979 all over again!

Call of Cthulhu:

Fantastic game and the Cthuhu by Gaslight supplement doubles as a really handy rsource for In Her Majesty's Name.  Probably one of my favourite RPGs but a hard one to run 'on the hoof'... you really need to have prepared scenarios well.  With D&D etc I always found it much easier to bluff my way through the plot as a GM.

Star Wars: Edge of the Empire:

Gasp!... a new game that doesn't date back 30 years!!  Actually very good once you get your head round the weird dice system

There are a couple of games that I've found lurking in a box which we haven't got round to as yet:

I played in a Fantasy Hero game back in the late 80s when I first moved down to Surrey and it was one of those really memorable campaigns that sticks in the mind...quite dark and violent as I recall.

Gurps is a system I always liked but for some reason, apart from the basic rulebook, the only supplements I have are really rubbish... Ice Age and Riverworld!   I don't remember actually buying them so I can only guess I picked them up cheap somewhere in a moment of madness.

So... Fantasy Games Unlimited...

FGU games seem to have a certain 'reputation'... often words like 'unplayable', 'overly complex' and if we're being generous...'deep'... seem to get used a lot.  Actually these are the games I remember best from my 80s role playing days.  If you've never played them, they tend to have a points based system for building characters, a shed load of derived stats worked out by quadratic equations and lots of unnecessary rules [the Space Opera rules for trying to catch something which has been thrown to you, which seem to go for pages are a good example].

Despite this they do produce games that enable you to produce an in-depth setting and that can be tailored to the world in your head [...or at least the world in my head...no idea what's in your head!!!].  The individual mechanics vary from game to game but each reflects the setting.  A good example is Bushido's balancing act of violence and swordplay alongside a clever honour system that means characters have to think carefully about how they're behaving.

So far we've picked up Space Opera [mentioned elsewhere in the blog and generally viewed as being unplayable but one I've always had a soft spot for],. We've played a bit of this and despite the complex character creation it works well [if you ignore half the rules].

Bushido [lovely setting... haven't played it in 30 years though so who knows!]...

...and most recently... Aftermath.  This is a particularly grim post-apocalypse RPG which I played a couple of times at Uni and loved.... think very gritty Fallout.  You're characters are likely to spend most of the game on a quest to acquire a few tins of beans only to all die of radiation sickness before they get them, but I seem to remember it as being great fun.

Of course I realise I'm looking at this with 30+ years between me and the last game and there's a real danger in going back to old favourites... I'm still haunted by a return trip to Saltcoats in Ayrshire: to me it was a childhood paradise of beaches and amusement arcades... when we went back a few years ago it a depressing run down seaside town that was effectively shut!  Similarly there's a tin of Toast Toppers in the kitchen cupboard that I'm frightened to try in case it ruins another wonderful childhood memory!!

“No man ever eats Toast Toppers twice, for it's not the same savoury snack and he's not the same man.” Heraclitus [if he'd ever experienced the wonder of toasted ham and cheese...]

It hasn't escaped me that what I'm actually doing is rebuilding the collection of RPGs and games that I had in Glasgow in the 80s... probably for some nostalgic middle-aged reason.  Oh well... I can think of worse things to collect and it's cheaper than going out and buying a sports car!


  1. Aftermath cracking game still have the rules and the campaign I wrote for a post apocalypse London

  2. That's similar to what we've been thinking... a struggle for survival in the blasted wastelands of Sutton...actually that sounds like my life now!!

  3. Space Opera isn't unplayable according to a friend of mine who played it for many years . . . you just need to be a bit selective as to what you use and what you ignore.

    -- Jeff

    1. Definitely Jeff... it's a really good game but you do need to fe selective with the rules. I like the fact that you can use it for "hard" SF games, or for much more fantasy Star Wars style games.