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Sunday, November 18, 2012

Which (if any) RPG System Is In Your Gaming DNA?

Weird question, huh? Not really when you think about it. There is usually one (sometimes more) RPG system that you can run / play without opening a book. Alright, almost without opening a rulebook ;)

For me, that system is AD&D 1e. Even if I am removed from it by about 25 years (as we moved on to AD&D 2e when it came out - the shame!) it's still my default baseline when I run OSR / D20 games.
(Given time, I could probably retrain myself to come close with WFRP 1e)

Running a DCC game and want to keep the pace flowing and forgot the rules for initiative? I'll default to AD&D 1e.

Spell charts for NPCs that I'm writing up in my spare time, away from books and PDFs? I'll use the AD&D 1e rules still burned into my head.

Spell effects and I don't want to waste time looking it up in ACKS and slowing down the game? AD&D 1e.

If nothing else, running my next campaign using AD&D 1e should speed play up even more - which is good, as my group is so fucking prone to distractions and tangents that herding 5 cats with my arms handcuffed behind my back and one leg in a cast would probably be more effective. Shame that the cats would be no where near as entertaining as my group is ;)


  1. The d6 System is the one I can run in my sleep. And Top Secret S/I.

    I suspect I could also easily run "Star Frontiers," but it's been at least 20 years since I've even thought about those rules, so I can't be certain.

    But any D&D/AD&D variant, I'd want to have at least the PHB handy... so I salute you, sir! :)

  2. I could probably run B/X in my sleep. The combination of being the shortest D&D rules and twenty years or so of practice makes it easy.

  3. BECMI or 1st Ed D&D for me, mostly.

  4. For me its a toss-up between three systems: AD&D 2E (sorry! It was the edition that got me back to D&D), Call of Cthulhu and Tunnels & Trolls.

  5. BX D&D for me.

    I always wonder, though, when folks say 1E AD&D whether they mean 1E by-the-book, or they use a combat system like Holmes, BX, or OD&D and just use AD&D classes. You'd need to interpret and come to some kind of terms with the AD&D combat section, redacting or making rulings to reconcile the sections. in retrospect, I always used BX combat with AD&D classes; when we tried some AD&D btb last year in euphoria over the reprints, I ended up hurling the DMG (metaphorically) and embracing OSRIC. Just saying. (Editing matters, apparently).

  6. I started with AD&D 1e but I have done the bulk of my gaming in 3e/d20. Beyond having most of the rules memorized, I am so familiar with the system that I can make stuff up as I go (once ran an impromptu fight between a half-dragon octopus and four-armed barbarian PC that included copious underwater grappling).

  7. The games I know best are AD&D 1E, GURPS, Call of Cthulhu, and Traveller (both CT and MT, and to a lesser extent TNE). I think that I could run or play any of those with only minimal reference to the books. All of them, though, have charts that I'd need to reference (Combat in AD&D, Range/Speed in GURPS, Resistance in CoC, and various charts in the several Traveller incarnations, especially the Trade charts), and I'd need the books to do character creation. It would be helpful to reference the spell lists in the games that have them, too.

  8. I finally convinced my EOM, (Every Other Monday) group to go full bore 1st edition. The game was pretty freaking cool, so many aspects provided roleplaying opportunities that would not have been there in the other additions we have been playing.

  9. BECMI D&D, probably, more or less. At least, the version of BECMI (well, BE) that is in my head, obviously, which is probably (probably? no, for sure) all kinds of wrong.

  10. Like DrBargle, The BE sections of BECMI, and some but not all of C and M. I'd definitely need the book to, say, run the War Machine mass combat rules or to adjudicate some of the high level spells (back in the day, though, I had all the spells and monsters pretty much in my head - but always needed to go through the book with War Machine).

  11. In AD&D 1e, we never used weapon speed, weapon vs armor type or worried all that much about helms.

    we did use casting segments, surprise, initiative and spell components (more or less).

    I didn't find B/X until years after AD&D, as it was regarded in our circles as "a child's game"

  12. BRP and T&T. Both are easy, flexible systems with only two mechanics governing everything:
    - BRP: roll under d100 for skill success; use resistance table for opposed rolls.
    - T&T: total & compare D6 results for damage in mêlée combat; roll 2D6, add talent, compare with difficulty level for Talents.

  13. Star Frontiers and Basic would be mine. And I'd love to say Metamorphosis Alpha, but the mutations I constantly forget.