jewelfox: A portrait of a female anthropomorphic fox, with a pink jewelled pendant and a cute overbite. (Default)
[personal profile] jewelfox
Not just RPGs. >.>; I have a small collection of games that I like now, along with some console games of Yuro's (like the Persona series). None of these were very expensive to get, and I've sort of accumulated them over a couple of years ... not too much longer than that, since I sold off pretty much everything I owned and valued beforehand, some of which I actually regret losing.

I'm trying to figure out how these things should fit in my life and which ones I should spend time on, at any rate, and today seems like a good day to do so since I don't have the energy to work at the moment and I'm trying to settle down and recover. Yes, I know I still over-analyze things. Maybe I should get used to that too, and just let myself get the rambling out of my system. [personal profile] aliaspseudonym is probably used to that by now.

Just as a reminder, [personal profile] rev_yurodivy is starting an online RPG where you play as mad scientists. No prior experience is necessary.

D&D Essentials

I have the complete set of "4E" (not 4e) books and boxed sets, including the dice and the Dungeon Tiles. I bought them a year and a half ago, when I was missing tabletop roleplaying after having sold off basically my whole life's collection of RPG books and miniatures, and was feeling confident enough in my finances to afford them.

I was nonplussed by 4th edition at first, since I'd made a huge investment in 3.5 and Wizards did seemingly everything possible to alienate its existing players. With the minis and power cards and a nonstop flood of new sourcebooks, the whole thing just seemed like a money grab; and with the new, stricter rules, it seemed like there was less room for the kind of antics I loved seeing my players come up with.

Essentials was D&D's love letter to players who'd left. It focused more on the "core" races and classes, used a "Red Box" introductory game which reminded me of the one that I started roleplaying with (which was actually a Star Wars boxed set), and used cardboard tokens and tiles (like the ones in that Star Wars game) instead of expensive miniatures. Plus the entire line was self-contained and matched each other, so I felt like I was buying enough to play the whole game and wasn't going to be subject to money grabs.

As it turns out, I was, since we got into D&D Encounters (the weekly organized play program) and they try to sell you a new sourcebook and new packs of "Fortune Cards" every few months. But, Yuro and I have managed to play so far with only a few dozen of those cards that we picked up during the Neverwinter season. We haven't been back the last few weeks; our favorite DM hasn't been DMing, and this season is really generic.

What I like: I love the feel of the new smaller paperbacks, I love having the boxed sets on my shelves, I love using tokens and maps and power cards and feeling like there's a lot to play with. Whether I'm the player, or the DM. I think 4e has an amazing tactical combat system, that characters feel very powerful, and that it's like playing a tactics-based console RPG as a board game.

I like how easy it is to come up with encounters quickly, and to reflavor monsters just by changing the names and appearances. I also like the straightforward writing style of the books, and how friendly and welcoming it seems to me. Everything's laid out so neatly and explained so well, and you only have to get the books and sets that you want to play your particular role.

What I dislike: I dislike the blatant money grabs of things like Fortune Cards. I dislike that some things are harder to improvise now; I don't know if I'd ever try to build my own class or powers, or figure out hard GP values for new magic items, just because the math for the existing ones seems so tight. And I sometimes dislike that players now think in terms of moving and using powers instead of playing their actual characters. It feels less like roleplaying, and more like a game.



Pathfinder

I'm biased towards Pathfinder because I played the 3.5 edition of D&D for years, and Pathfinder's the unofficial continuation. It uses 3.5's open-source rules, and is done by an indie games company called Paizo that's become tremendously successful because of it. They publish their rules online for free, do tons of open playtesting, and let anyone else who wants to write and sell their own add-ons or even whole games based on it.

Where D&D 4e (and especially the Essentials line) feel like experiments at "modernizing" tabletop roleplaying, Pathfinder's very old-school. They've come up with a lot of "house rules" for streamlining and improving 3.5e, but it's still basically the same game. And it requires you to invest a lot of time into either understanding your options as a player, or creating a game as a GM.

This is both a good and bad thing. I personally loved creating characters, whether PCs or NPCs, for 3.5. I like reading thick books, and fiddling with dice, and the minis and playmats and trappings of fantasy roleplaying games. (Except for GM screens. I have trouble seeing over them.) Even the Pathfinder Beginner Box gives you a ton of options, with more downloadable online, and tries its darndest to cram in as much explanation of things as it can.

The upside? It's incredibly shiny, and done very well. The new randomized minis (I only own a handful) are really expensive compared to D&D's, but they're unbelievably detailed, with metallic paint and rigid plastic sculpts. And the Beginner Box has extremely high production quality, and lets you play up to level 5 compared to the Red Box's 2. It's the boxed set I wish I had when I was in D&D for the first time.

What I like: I like messing with stats, for a system where I actually understand how they interact with each other. I like improvising, as a GM or player, and feeling like I'm in charge of things and can make the game go how I want it to. I like the new minis and boxed set. And I like Paizo as a company, and supporting them when they give back so much to the community. They aren't publicly-traded, and they actually care about customers.

What I dislike: The books aren't the most attractive or well-laid out, plus they're extremely thick. At least I already know all the rules. I also dislike how expensive the books and minis are, because I own very few and I wish I had more. ; ; I also wish it was easier to keep track of campaigns sometimes. GMing Pathfinder's a lot of work, and there are a lot of things to keep track of.

Finally, this is all about the game itself, not the campaign setting and adventures. I dislike how all the monsters are Always Chaotic Evil, and the worldbuilding seems extremely generic and uninspired to me. (Somehow D&D 4e seems less offensive, partly because "Points of Light" is an interesting concept and partly because most of its descriptions are so bland that I don't even notice.) Fortunately that's all optional, and the books are separated out really well so you don't have to get any of the Golarion-specific stuff if you don't want to.



Magic: the Gathering

This is where most of my entertainment budget went for a few months last year. I got hooked on the Duels of the Planeswalkers PC game, and decided I wanted to buy some actual cards. After that I went to the Launch Day event for the M12 core set, and played in Friday Night Magic for a few weeks. This stopped with the horrible experiences I had around the Innistrad prerelease, which turned me off to that set and to organized play in general.

At the end of it all, I now have a few small boxes' worth of cards, one of which contains almost nothing but basic land. I have an EDH deck (for a multiplayer format) that I've barely used, and a basic green deck that I occasionally stim with by seeing how fast I can get land and creatures out. I have a few more cards in my collection, but that's the most powerful deck I can build with the cards that I have.

That's one of the more frustrating things about Magic. Any one card can be so shiny that I want to build a deck around it. But then I realize that I don't have the cards, and I spend all day looking them up, and I'm not playing organized Magic anymore so I'm never around people to trade with. And I don't have the money to buy new packs anymore, so my collection and deckbuilding have sort of stagnated.

I'm looking forward to the local furmeets starting back up, because those are my chance to play Magic and trade cards with people in a nonthreatening environment. I want to sell / trade / give away my Innistrad cards, though, because I can't stand them anymore. And I never want to be in their organized play again.

What I like: The fantasy artwork and graphic design; most of the cards don't interest me, but the ones that do are extremely shiny. I also love the gameplay, and how straightforward and elegant it is. Plus the core sets and "Planeswalker" concepts are extremely imaginative, sort of like fantasy Sliders done with superheroes, and yet so simple that you can imagine whatever story you want around them.

Finally, it's fun to collect the cards and see what I get and build decks and "talk shop" with people. Magic's an extremely widespread hobby, and I like that understanding it and owning a deck gives me a way to communicate with other people.

What I dislike: The amount of cardboard and packaging they use up seems really excessive. Basic land, especially, seems like a conspiracy to mow down whole forests (SRSLY YOU GUYZ). I also dislike that the whole game is owned by one company, including the storyline. I feel less "tied down" with the core sets than I do with the expansions, though, since the fantasy tropes they invoke are accessible and generic on purpose (and the gameplay feels much more Magic-y).



World of Darkness

Yuro was really into the old WoD. It had a clunky rules set, but a neat "gothicpunk" storyline that had stuff like werewolves fighting an evil polluting corporation, and the Matrix-y hijinx of "awakened" mages versus the Technocracy.

New World of Darkness has more elegant and unified rules, and the game lines (like Werewolf and Mage) are more balanced against each other. On the down side, instead of being an epic story it's more like a creepypasta that takes itself way too seriously. It's like "Here is something that's STRANGE and UNFAMILIAR. Are you afraid of it yet? How 'bout now? Well that's okay, 'cause we've got plenty more stuff to throw at you." It's not even all that well-written. And the core book and website invoke autistic kids as things you should be afraid of, which really turns me off to the game.

On the up side, building a character or running a WoD "chronicle" feels a lot more like telling a story than just playing a game. The characters feel more personalized than in D&D, and you can imagine who they are much more easily. This is the game that spawned LARPing instead of miniatures combat; it's like improv theater, even if you play it around a tabletop.

I only have a few books, and I'm not inclined to buy more. (I may even sell these.) There are some interesting fanmade sourcebooks, though, like Genius: the Transgression, the mad scientist game that Yuro is running. And it'd be really nice to actually play a WoD character sometime.

What I like: The rules, the feeling of telling a story, and the way things are designed so you actually feel like a supernatural creature in the modern world. Some of it reminds me a lot of the settings I've written, and the way that the powers and shapechanging work in them. Plus they have rules for actual fox-possessed characters, which caused me to squee in delight.

What I dislike: The people who wrote the fluff for nWoD aren't nearly as scary or talented as they think they are. And when they threw out oWoD's metaplot, they also seemingly replaced all the epic villains with boring horror movie tropes. Fortunately some games reverse that, and you're free to make up your own stuff anyway.



Console games

Over the last couple years I've bought, scrounged, and been gifted a used Gamecube and a new DS Lite and PSP. I have a small shelf of games for all three consoles. Sometimes I actually play them.

I like collecting the games ... I like finding something I was looking for in a Gamestop's used section, complete with the box and manual. I like looking up games I might be interested in. And I like finding things for cheap, instead of buying all new-release titles and latest-generation consoles. I especially like the DS' classy design and its non-gaming titles, just because they appeal to the collector in me and make the console seem more interesting.

Most of the games themselves I don't end up playing that much, but every now and then I put dozens of hours into one or another. Like Picross 3D, and Crisis Core, and Pokemon SoulSilver. I also like having a lot (relatively speaking) of options to choose from when I get bored with them. Yuro's got the first three Persona games for PSP, and I had the idea earlier that I'd try to play all the Final Fantasy games in order. >.>; I own like half of the first nine already, but I'm stuck on the second one.

I don't buy console games very often, and I do feel like I'm spending more than I need to even then (just because I don't play them often either). I really like stimming with the game consoles, though, or admiring my collection, or taking a console with me so I can play it while I walk around the house and burn off nervous energy. It feels like an inexpensive way of pampering myself. The stories aren't half-bad sometimes either.

What I like: The feel of the objects to stim with, using game boxes as decorations, treating myself to a play session now and then, and that Yuro can play her favorite fighting games and RPGs.

What I dislike: On some level I don't like that I'm tying myself to proprietary software and platform ecosystems, or that I may end up selling these later. On the other hand, with the game discs and things it feels like I'm actually getting my money's worth, plus I can buy most of them used for cheap.



MMORPGs

This, and D&D, used to be all of my gaming a few years ago. Before I knew what my purpose in life was (and/or got fox possessed) I basically did nothing but DM occasionally, and play Final Fantasy XI Online. I was very good at it, and after I broke with my family's dysfunctional linkshell (guild) I led my own to beat Chains of Promathia and Treasures of Aht Urhgan, two very challenging storylines.

I flirt with MMOs every now and then nowadays, but none of them really capture what I had in FFXI. Even FFXI itself doesn't, since they've changed things dramatically lately (and since I sold my PS2 and don't like to boot into Windows to play it). Plus I hate that I have to pay a monthly subscription fee for FFXI and WoW. I haven't played either in awhile because of that.

I sort of like Runescape, even though it's grindy. It's like electronic comfort food to me to just run around its quirky landscape, and do stuff like set rows of fires. Plus it has cutscenes and quests and reminds me of FFXI, and the yearly holiday events are neat. Mabinogi I've tried, since I get an FFXI vibe from it, but I have to boot into Windows for it too.

Second Life I'm starting to get into again, because it runs really well in Fedora and because I can Do Things in it with my pets. Also explore, and dress up, and stuff. I also like that it's made up of individual creatives making their own marks on the world. I feel like Linden's probably going to ruin things, though, so I've got my eye on the open-source alternatives. I'm hoping one of them will become the Dreamwidth to SL's LiveJournal at some point.

What I like: Spending all day exploring another world, feeling like I'm accomplishing things in it, then coming back to this one and feeling rejuvenated and more confident.

What I don't like: Spending money on subscription fees, and knowing I won't be able to play anymore once I stop. Leaving my friends and favorite places behind when I do. The fact that things can change for the worse and I can't stop it, because there's no alternative to each game and there are no laws to protect you as players.



PC and Android games

I used to be into PC games a lot. Not so much anymore. I think consoles give a much better experience, most of the time. There's still a soft spot in my heart for Alpha Centauri and Civilization, though.

I've actually found that I like watching people play games more than playing them, half the time, so I've started doing things like giving Alias my Steam keys to the Humble Indie Bundle games and watching him Livestream them. (I have the games from most of the previous bundles, I've just played barely any of them.) I also used to enjoy Helloween4545's Let's Plays on YouTube.

I probably won't buy many more of these games. They're all DRMed and Windows-only, or require a much more powerful computer. The Humble Indie Bundle supports Linux, though, and the indie games are quirky and interesting. I've been meaning to play Aquaria since I got it a couple of years ago. >.>;;

I have a few games on my smartphone, which I mostly got in Google's "10 billion apps" sale for $0.10 each and through similar promotions. I haven't played them very much, though. They just don't appeal to me a whole lot. Maybe there's one out there that I'd like, but most of the ones that I see reviews of look generic. I also don't like that Android games don't give me stuff to stim with and decorate my living space with, like game boxes and minis.

What I like: Good games when I actually play them.

What I dislike: I'm just apathetic towards PC and Android games most of the time. Nowadays if I want to mess with my computers I have more fun with open-source software experiments than with games. I wouldn't mind writing one at some point though.



Miniatures games

Believe it or not, I used to play a few of these. I had a handful of Star Wars minis, a pile of D&D minis (both for RPGing and the "skirmish" game), and an army of MechWarrior: Dark Age stuff. All of them were of the randomized and prepainted variety.

I think I liked MechWarrior most. My brothers and I used to play it together, and we'd come up with quirky characters for each army. Like the parody of the "American tank commander," who chewed on an unlit cigar and talked about "Commies" and things.

I liked collecting and trading the minis, and coming up with armies that I liked. It was easier in MechWarrior, since we had friends who played the game and bought a ton of minis on sales. In D&D I felt like I never had enough. I felt really powerful when I bought the Gargantuan Black Dragon mini, though, which I've since sold. ; ;

I kind of like minis and gaming with them, and I guess I've been getting my fix of that from Pathfinder these days. I've looked into games like 40k and suchlike, but I don't really like Games Workshop as a company, and I think Privateer Press' ad campaigns are offensive. I also find it a little disconcerting that the games are always about combat, although that's partly because I feel bad when I lose. I like how RPGs are cooperative instead.

What I like: How detailed the terrain and the minis are. It seems like a lot of work goes into these things, especially the kind that you have to paint yourself, but it looks like a really fun hobby.

What I dislike: The atmosphere of pretty much all the minis games out there. I don't want to play LotR, or WWII, or just about any faction in 40k, although I like the Tau's "anime mecha" feel. It'd be way too expensive for me to get into right now, though, and if I did suddenly get money to buy minis with I'd probably go for more Pathfinder ones instead.

There, I've now spent hours writing about games instead of actually playing them. Yay me. >.>

Date: 2012-02-08 11:59 pm (UTC)
redsixwing: Red-winged angel staring at a distant star. (Default)
From: [personal profile] redsixwing
oooooooooooo games. :3
Pathfinder sounds -awesome.-

Thanks for writing this - it's something I love to talk about and hear others' opinions on. <3

Will attempt to return with more substantive commentary later.

Date: 2012-02-09 12:03 am (UTC)
redsixwing: Red-winged angel staring at a distant star. (Default)
From: [personal profile] redsixwing
fwaaaah~

I shall have to go see! Thanks.

Date: 2012-02-09 01:51 am (UTC)
avia: A dark haired girl sitting without concern in a winter scene, with a large heart next to her feet, surrounded by crows. (eat my heart out)
From: [personal profile] avia
About World of Darkness books, do you have Skinchangers or Changing Breeds books? I have wanted to get those...

Date: 2012-02-09 03:22 am (UTC)
avia: A smiling girl lifting up a skull mask to show her face. (happy skull girl)
From: [personal profile] avia
Mostly, I just like reading the source books for shapeshifter things... I don't think I would be very good at keeping up with roleplaying right now, sorry. ;w;

But the PDFs would be lovely, thank you! ^v^

Date: 2012-02-09 03:51 am (UTC)
avia: A mute swan in snow with a graceful curled neck. Black and white. (swan snowfall)
From: [personal profile] avia
Yay, thank you~!

Date: 2012-02-09 11:09 pm (UTC)
citrakayah: (Default)
From: [personal profile] citrakayah
How were they snide?

Mind, I will probably like the old Fera books no matter what, as they go into more depth and have the Swara.

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We tell stories, paint minis, collect identity words, and share them all with our readers. If something we write helps you, let us know.

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