What Flavor Is Your Game?

cs2012neap

I like vanilla ice cream.  I have for a very long time.  Before I knew my alphabet, much less how to read, I knew that hearing my older brother spell out “I-C-E-C-R-E-A-M” meant that I should start asking Mom for ice cream too.  Better yet, as I got older and discovered the joys of living in Vermont (home of Ben & Jerry’s before it was bought out by Unilever), I learned that there were far more flavors of ice cream available, and that many of them were exceedingly tasty as well.

When I was little, I played make-believe all the time.  A number of my friends simply couldn’t understand the appeal, and stopped playing with me, but at the tender age of seven my older brothers harnessed my ambitions and introduced me to 2nd Edition AD&D.  My introduction might actually have been earlier, but that year was the first time I can remember staying up until midnight to play RPGs with them.  Over the next few years, I was introduced to Vampire: The Masquerade (along with a bundle of other White Wolf games), D&D’s 3rd Edition, In Nomine, and GURPS.  More other games followed.  Just like with ice cream, I had discovered a whole new world of flavors to choose from.  I was very nearly overwhelmed by my enthusiasm.  These days, some people refer to me as an RPG snob.  I much prefer the term ‘connoisseur’: through dedicated consumption, I have built an appreciation for the inherent flavors of different game systems.

But what the heck do I mean by “flavor”?  And how do you figure out what a game’s flavor is?

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A Glance at Shadowrun’s 5th Edition

I’m busy getting ready to run the seventh iteration of my Call of Cthulhu scenario, Temple in the Sands, and I probably won’t have anything for you this Wednesday due to traveling.  But last weekend I had the chance to play a game of Shadowrun again, something I don’t often have an opportunity to do.  I had a good time, but I think I realized why it was that I play it so infrequently; Shadowrun looks like a chore and a half to run when compared with all the other RPGs that I play.

Shadowrun reminds me a bit of a glamorous ass.  You know what I’m talking about: one of those people with so much style, and with so many good stories told about them, that you forget just how frustrating they can be in person.  If you spend enough time hanging around them the aggravation (mostly) disappears into the background noise, but there’s a lot of settling in and acclimatizing that you have to do first.  And every so often (usually right in the middle of something that is pretty cool) you get a reminder of why you thought the person was an ass in the first place.  But because it’s so glamorous, because it’s practically oozing cool, I keep wanting to come back to it like the sucker I am.  I can explain, I swear. Continue reading