Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Mulling over future game plans

 Brief post! Just a fun one as I muse on future plans.

Right now I am running D&D 3.5 live every other week, a campaign focused heavily on hexploration (without hexes, I only have grid paper), dungeon crawls, liberal adaptation of old Necromancer Games modules and a setting ripped right from 500 AD (but with, you know, more D&D in it). Then every other week I have an ongoing live Call of Cthulhu game, which I expect to last 2-4 sessions, but who knows, maybe it will go longer. Saturday I am running Pathfinder 2nd Edition on Roll20. I have been warming back up to it, albeit with the caveat that Pathfinder 2E will never quite feel as liberating to design for as D&D 3.5, but we all agree that we have fun playing it (it plays very well), and there is a lot of group investment in the campaign.

Meanwhile, semi weekly I am running Mothership RPG on Roll20, and it is quite fun....but also the kind of game where I can see how it may be best handled in periodic doses. It's extremely focused in its content, so every game feels like a dense dose of B-movie sci fi horror maxed out. This is good....but I could see overdoing it after 10 sessions or so. But hell yeah it is good! Just maybe best to broaden the focus to mix in a periodic palette cleanser.

For my new campaign ideas going in to winter and 2022, I have given some thought to what I most enjoy and wish to focus on. As one gets older, it becomes inevitable that you start to grow familiar with your preferences and find less and less trouble leaning hard into them. As such, I realize that I have some very specific interests, and those interests are remaining tighter and more consistent, which I really appreciate; I feel like maybe at last I am shedding my days as a "chasing the shiny" behind. Slowly.

So the first and biggest thought I have is: More D&D 3.5. It's a very robust system, and essentially complete since no one publishes for it anymore (if you exclude Pathfinder 1st edition stuff, which is technically compatible). I realize now I have enough D&D 3rd to last me to my dying days, easily. The stuff that annoys me about 3.5 is easy enough to ignore or modify, whereas the stuff that bugs me about D&D 5E requires a more fundamental rebuild, so I think its just easier to stick to 3.5 and be done with it. These are words I would never have thought I'd have typed 13 years ago. 

The second big thought is: more Cypher System. Monte Cook Games has the new Planebreaker Kickstarter out, and I decided to back it with the intent of getting the Cypher System version. I learned a lot earlier this year running my Realms of Chirak campaign in Cypher System, and one of those lessons I learned is to fit the setting with the system better....Chirak was born of an ancient and unholy mixture of Runequest and D&D back in the day, and is best if it stays in that wheelhouse, My next Chirak campaign will be in Pathfinder 2E or D&D 3.5, instead. Cypher, instead, deserves all the creativity and newness I can pour in to it, and I really want to explore my post-apocalyptic space opera campaign ideas for the next campaign.

If you follow this blog (and I know blogs are very out of style these days!) then you know I go back and forth on a few issues with Cypher System and Pathfinder 2E. In considering what I will do next with these systems, I think it boils down to this:

Cypher System: I want to look carefully at the way encounters/challenges are framed in Cypher, and how to make that work without defaulting to the more conventional RPG tropes set by D&D. Especially as Cypher character get to around Rank 4, when they become ominously powerful against conventional threats. 

Pathfinder 2E: On this one, the issue I have in mind is: can Pathfinder 2E run in a "loose hexcrawl" structure similar to the open-ended campaign I am running for D&D 3.5? Could I adapt 3rd edition style modules to Pathfinder 2E and not find balance issues that unnecessarily put PCs at risk of death? The Gamemastery Guide talks about hexcrawling as an option, but I am curious as to how it would really work and feel in play. I am not 100% sure my gaming group is good for this style of game, at least with Pathfinder, as I have some rules lawyers who can very quickly do the mental math to ascertain whether an encounter is disproportionately unbalanced either for or against the group, and that sort of balancing issue is core to encounter design in Pathfinder. I haven't reconciled this, but I do feel it is worth investigating....time will tell. D&D 3.5 is much looser and can handle this fluidity a lot better. I, for example, could have a mixed level group in D&D 3.5 without much difficulty at all, but in Pathfinder 2E it is very clear that PCs should never be more than 1 level apart, and ideally all the same level.



  1. I appreciate that you enjoy Cypher & PF2. Neither are for me but I keep looking at Planebreaker for 5E. As for my group's future games I'm running a playtest of Shadow of the Weird Wizard which I might like more than Shadow of the Demon Lord and then I'm sure there will be more 5E in our future.

    1. LOL I wonder about Pathfinder sometimes....Saturday group was a lot of fun but I am realizing it may be despite PF2E instead of because of it. Who knows! Cypher is A+++ when the setting and groove is right, though. I really need to try SotDL sometime, it looks interesting.