Which “dead” RPG would you like to see reborn?
There are a lot of RPGs that I miss, but I would have to say first and foremost –
Don’t say Aftermath.
But the game really…
Stop it. You are only saying it to be funny. You don’t really honest-to-god want to run Aftermath again.
There are a lot of “dead” RPGs out there that I would love to run. Since I like a lot of small, indie press sorts of games which feature short production runs and not a lot of splat books or reprints, one could say that the vast majority of roleplaying games that I like are, in fact, dead. So I am going to list a few here.
This is a game I have wanted to run for a decade or more now, but could never get past the complex mechanics, immersive but convoluted metaphysics, narrative writing style of the rules, and the 6-point font (oh for the days when we were young and could read 6-point font!) to convince myself that I could sell it to players (my optometrist has been very supportive, however). This is a setting that really needs a genius game designer to fall in love with it and rewrite the rules to capture the flavor of the setting without the old and outdated Dream Pod 9 rules. Just the illustrations alone, in that rough pen-and-ink sketch style are enough to make me long to lay maps on the table and roll some dice.
Hot War/Cold City
The mechanics of these two little games gave me the opportunity to think a lot about mechanics and their place in a roleplaying game. At heart, both games very much take the attitude that you shouldn’t be rolling at all if the roll isn’t something that will have a potentially important effect on your character. Roll to pick the lock? No. Roll to pick the lock when the price of failure is the death of your beloved daughter? Yes. In both these games, success or failure on each individual roll change your character, with success bringing rewards such as improved confidence and skill, and failure bringing consequences such as psychological trauma or lasting injury. The revised mechanics in Hot War are, I think, an improvement over Cold City, and if I were to see them revived I would encourage both to use a cleaned up version of the latter.
I love the gonzo writing of this weird RPG, which spends as much time on fiction at the beginning of each chapter as it does on actual mechanics. It’s a post-apocalyptic setting really like no other. Yes, the world is totally wrecked by wars, pollution, alien invasion, and plain-old-everyday asshattishness by rich people towards poor people, but there is a high science-fantasy tecb base that survives among the wastes, with numerous technocracies, each with a different “feel” holding power over the remains of the world. Characters are agents of one or more of these technocracies, doing agenty things and trying to survive in the standard “world gone mad”.
The rules mechanics look pretty simple overall, based on a d20 role. Character creation is somewhat convoluted, and made more so by the fact that the main rule-book contains only pretty basic character creation rules, with the more advanced and complete rules for each of the technocracies contained in an appropriate splat book. Unfortunately only a few of the city-state splat books were ever published, leaving GMs with the task of either banning characters from that particular city-state, or doing a lot of work to fill in the blanks.
Running this as a one-shot zany romp through the wastes has been a dream of mine for some time. I’d just give everyone their pick of the pre-generated characters (I think there are ten totao) and go from there.
Though I assume that lack of market viability doomed the original product, I would love to see it revived at least to the extent of getting all the source-books published. I doubt it will ever happen, but a guy can dream.
Special Mention: Earthdawn
Love the world, hate the system, in which the most dangerous and deadly thing that player characters seem able to do is fall off a wall. I know that a new version is out there, but I haven’t seen it yet so at least in my personal mind space the game doesn’t quite count as “revived” yet. The one time I played a playtest version of the new game it didn’t seem “right” to me, but in fairness it was a playtest version and I played it at a convention, so a lot could be different from what I remember.