Simple: To get my daughter into the hobby. She’s already fond of adult-level board games, and she loves sitting in to roll dice for me on game night. She wants to play the Star Wars campaign upcoming, and wants to be a death trooper. So there’s that.


I’m assuming they mean what game released or that I noticed this year has “had an impact” on what I want to play, or has had bits ripped off to cram into the systems we’re using right now.

If the first — Tales From the Loop. I’m an early ’80s kid and the movies it’s evoking were the movies I was watching in high school. I love the art, although its art book quality was why I was initially put off until I thumbed through the dead simple rules one day at the local game store. They’re so good, I bought the Bundle of Holding on Mutant Zero, which is where the mechanics evolved from. I’m liking what I’m seeing in MZ, although the nuclear wasteland mutant theme isn’t really my cup of tea, there’s a lot to like there. So Mutant Zero would be another.

I wanted to like the 2d20 system powering Star Trek and Conan, and John Carter and which we were on the initial playtesting. We found the mechanics were overly complex and the writing to describe them so unbearably bad as to be nearly incomprehensible. When you can’t quite figure out the basic resolution mechanic, there’s a problem.

Funnily, all of these examples are out of the Mödiphiüs stable.

As for RPGs that have influenced actual play, it’s the return of d6 Star Wars, which was rereleased by Fantasy Flight Games (whose new SW game has the same annoying proprietary dice thing a lot of games are doing these days, and whose half dozen “core books” are a blatant rip-job on their customers.) I cribbing Hollow Earth Expedition‘s take the average mechanic for the massive dice pools that come with starship combat, rather than buying a gross of d6s and a wheelbarrow.

If you read this blog regularly, you’ll probably guess my answer on this one.

This question depends on what kind of recognition. I think James Bond: 007 was one of the best examples of innovative game design for the introduction of Hero Points, for a relatively realistic combat damage system, and especially for capturing the flavor of the source material.

If we’re talking about a RPG system that didn’t get enough recognition and was unceremoniously dumped for essentially a better version of Fate, I’d have to say Cortex. It’s one of the few systems that can flex well for almost any setting, yet keep a certain level of crunch that Fate and Apocalypse World don’t have. The math of the system is solid, character creation is excellent.

I’ve got two top pics on this one: Space:1889 and Battlestar Galactica.

The first is a great setting and Clockwerk has been doing yeoman’s work on producing new material for it. Using the Ubiquity engine is also a plus, as the group knows it well. The original game mechanics were crap. The setting, however, was so good it led me into studying history.

Second, the only campaign I’ve ever missed — Battlestar Galactica. It was such a good game, with great players, characters, and one of my best bits of GMing that I’d like to give it another shot. After all, all of this has happened before, and all of it will happen again.

Hands down, I liked the playing card based randomizer of Castle Falkenstein. It was simple and elegant, and allowed the player to plan their actions knowing what they had in their hand. Looks like a fight’s coming, but you’ve got good cards for a social test (like talking your way out of the fight?” Try it.

The combat system was a hot mess, but we did a house mechanic that worked quite well.


I really like Cortex’s use of dice from d2 to d12 to set the level of an attribute, trait, or skill. You wind up rolling two or three dice and adding them. If keeps the bell curve of probability that feels natural to me, while causing it to shift for the quality of what’s being rated.

When used in combat, having the number you succeeded by as a base damage, then add a weapon die replaced the old d100/Quality Result rules of James Bond for me, as well. It does the same thing, but without a table. The less I have to reference these days, the better.

I don’t tend to be inspired to play by a specific game mechanic. The last time something like that happened would have been the use of playing cards for randomizers in Castle Falkenstein.

Are there mechanics I like? Yes — James Bond introduced me to point generation for character creation. I won’t do random again. It also introduced the concept of the Hero Point — a piece of game currency to adjust the outcome of a roll or absorb damage. What we used to call the “get out of death point.” Most games have it now, but JB:007 was the first that I know of.

Also, I love the bidding system for initiative and difficulty during chases in the old James Bond game. I thought it would be interesting to extend that to combat to get some of the “Have you jumped through the air firing two guns while screaming ‘Argh!’?” versus the cool, steady shot of the gunfighter in Unforgiven.

I like “take the average” from Hollow Earth Expedition and plan to use it for other dice pool games, like the old d6 Star Wars I’ll be running soonish. (For every two dice, you can just take a 7.)