Thursday, September 24, 2009

Zack's Mailbag: Fall Edition

Well, I’ve been procrastinating and procrastinating, but it is finally time for another edition of Zack’s Mailbag. I’ve had some interesting emails courtesy of this site—some ask questions, some compliment, some like to insult. But hey, variety is the spice of life, right? Last names withheld, though I tried to get locations when I could. Let’s hear from some of the best emails from readers!

Dear Zachary,

What is your actual opinion of Palladium’s Megaversal System?

Derek, Columbia, Missouri

Hi Derek,

You actually sent this question back during Palladium week as part of a larger email, and I’m sorry I didn’t get to it until now. Hopefully, you’re still interested in my response.

Basically, I realize the Megaversal System has some issues, and most of the material written for games like Rifts isn’t balanced as it is presented. That said, the Megaversal System was one of my first systems—a native tongue, as it were. Some folks would think that is enough to have me waking up with screaming fits in the middle of the night, but that isn’t the case. I look to the GM as the balancer of any system through play. Plus, I’m to the point where I’ve houseruled (like every game I play) most of the stuff I didn’t care for. That said, I would love to write a Rifts Light some day, and clean up a lot of the excess and confusion that “supplement sprawl has created”. But it probably isn’t to be.

If you look at the Megaversal System as it existed in the 1st Edition of Palladium Fantasy, you see a somewhat simpler, less cluttered game, one that reads not unlike someone’s really interesting AD&D houserules. That’s actually probably my favorite iteration of the system. If you’re looking for something a bit different in terms of classical gaming, in fact, I recommend finding a copy.

I just wanted to tell you your blog is one of the only RPG ones I read—it is usually very entertaining!

Samuel (Location Unknown)

Hi Samuel,

Basically, I’ve lowered my personal expectations to where I hope “usually very entertaining” appears somewhere on my tombstone. Thanks for the compliment, and I hope you find some other RPG blogs that amuse you—no doubt they’re out there.

I’m tired of your sad rants against Wizard of the Coast. The fact is, they have more fans than your crappy website will ever have. Get a life, and find another gamer bogeyman.

(Name & location sadly withheld)

Hi Anonymous,

I never rant against a single Wizard. My rantings take place against the plural form, and are generally quite cheerful.

Really, I thought I’ve been pretty mellow. My basic feeling is that Wizards of the Coast is a company too badly ruled by poor public relations and corporate lawyers to be appealing to me as a consumer, even if I did like their game. No, I make no secret that I don’t play 4e, but some folks are doing some cool things with it, and I appreciate that. I personally feel those folks deserve better corporate overlords.

Tell you what: give me a gaming legacy with 35 years of history behind it and brand name appeal to run, and we’ll see who has more fans then. Probably still WotC, because I’m sorta limited on bandwidth here.

Hey Zack,

What do you think is the best old school system for running a quick demo? I would like to do one this semester.

All the Best,

Christian, Fort Wayne, Indiana

Hi Christian,

At Gen Con, I ran Microlite74, and it was extremely easy to prep and use. There’s also the Swords & Wizardry Quick Start, which I reviewed in the latest issues of Fight On! #6 (summary: Huzzah!). You could ask 12 different people and get 12 different responses (or blank looks, if those 12 happen to be non-gamers). Since you happened to ask me, I’d recommend one of those two. Best of luck, and please email back to tell me how it goes!


I am doing a survey and would like to know your response to this question—if you could keep one edition of D&D which one would it be? Thanks—I wanted to ask you because I am a big fan of the blog.

Tomas, Strasbourg, France

Hi Tomas,

Thanks for reading!

Like if I had to throw away all my other D&D books? Probably the Rules Cyclopedia—that was my start to D&D, and I’m comfortable with it. But I also appreciate a lot of what’s in 3e and 1st Edition AD&D. I could probably do the easiest houseruling with the Rules Cyclopedia, since that’s what I’m most familiar with. By the time I was done houseruling, it’d probably look a lot like a RC/AD&D hybrid, with some d20 conventions thrown in. I know, I’m not a purist.

What game do I get my girlfriend for Christmas? She’s only RPed a couple of times, but really liked it. She enjoys the roleplaying aspects of gaming, and gets frustrated with too many rules (we were playing GURPS at the time, and she was getting annoyed). I want something attractive, with good fantasy art that she can pick up easily. Can you help?

Rich L. (Location Unknown)

Hi Rich,

Well, if you were playing GURPS, I’m sure you already thought of GURPS Lite. If you’re looking further afield, there are many fantasy games that match that description.

The new Song of Ice and Fire RPG from Green Ronin is visually striking, and uses a pretty easy d6-based system. I enjoy Pathfinder, but it may be a bit too heavy for her to digest alone unless she has a d20-based background (the same with D&D 3.5).

The fact is, there are many very good, very simple systems, but art is a very subjective thing. She may dislike one of the options presented. For example, West End Games’ d6 system is not only simple to learn, but is also now open, but I don’t know how she’d feel about the art. Same thing about Castles & Crusades—some people love Peter Bradley’s stuff, some people despise it. You could also try a game like Savage Worlds, which has several alt-fantasy settings available and is very easy to understand. My real advice?—you know her, I don’t. Choose something that’s visually striking, and don’t underestimate her on the learning curve. If it’s interesting to her, I bet she’ll take the time to learn—and of course, playing with you and friends is the best way to do that!

That does it for this edition of my mailbag! Keep those emails and comments coming!


Raymond said...

I would recommend possibly Savage Worlds as well on that last question.

Agreed on WotC. I have had a great time in my friend's 4e game, but I got sick of their online antics some time ago.

Gleichman said...

You have email? I never get email.

Of course, you have an email listed on your home page and I don't. You also have a ton more readers than I.

Zachary The First said...

You also have to think, though, that’s also a collection of emails from a couple of months.

No, you’re just burned in effigy by Forge members. ;)

Gleichman said...

The Forge guys likely do curse me during their cult rituals, although I'm not sure if it's before or after the ritual sacrifice.

But I do a good service for them. If a inductee can read one of my series on GNS and still believe- they have a perfect new mindless slave for the order :)