Saturday, February 25, 2012

Picking a System For Online Play

I've been playing online table top gaming for a few years now.  I started with Warhammer 40k: Dark Heresy, moved on to Castles & Crusades, did a single Savage Worlds session (all via Fantasy Grounds 2) and I'm currently playing in a slightly stripped down D20 game using Google+ Hangout.  All the previous, I was a player.

The was my only gaming for years until recently, as I've been going to the Games That Can Not Be Named sessions on Wednesday nites as time permits, and time has permitted.  I've played numerous different systems over the last few weeks.  It's all gotten me thinking.  Dangerous, I know.

Level based systems are easy to get a session up and running.  As are very simple, relatively abstract systems.  Skill based, such as Dark Heresy, Savage Worlds, BRP and the like can take a full session to get characters up and running.  They also can require the GM to do some heavy lifting do to the sometimes overly comprehensive rules during game sessions, and generating NPCs can be a major PITA.

The thing is, skill based doesn't have the same inherent breakdown at higher levels as level based games (your mileage may vary).  Maybe skill based is too specific a term.  Non-level based RPGs - that works.

For a pick up game, whether in person or via a VTT or hangout, you want easy character generation.  Even D20 based games can chew up time, and in your 40s, time is a precious commodity.  Additionally, game play itself eats up time.  What I mean by that is that combat, or any kind of rolled resolution, can take up much of the gameplay time at the table depending on the amount of charts and tables that need to be referenced.  4e may be an extreme example of this, but it is a feature / fault of many systems.

Which is why I'm looking for something that's easy yet with some depth.  Something that a group can pick up easily, run with fairly instinctively, with no fear of the leveling tree moving the game to more tedious realms of play while still allowing for character advancement.  The closest thing I've found so far is QUERP.  That wouldn't have been my choice going into this search, and it may not be the final answer I find, but at the moment it seems like a good option.

Online play in general slows things down, and you generally want to keep a faster pace to keep your players engages.  That is what I'm looking for.  The search continues, but I have definitely found a possible answer already.


  1. We just started a "play by blog" campaign over at a site called "The West Kingdom" by Bard.

    I understand you are more focused on a rule system here but you still might be interested to see how it goes and how Bard has set it up. He is doing a wonderful job.

    Of course the nature of this type of play will be slow. It does interest me greatly however. If this sort of thing takes off it could almost be a Words With Friends deal where you might be involved in multiple games. This would allow for the player to have a "move" or two to make every day.

  2. I've done the "play by post" type of stuff before, and I tend to forget to post. It gets pushed aside amidst everything else going on.

    Gaming via a VTT or Hangout I can set 4 hours aside and game. That I won't forget ;)


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