Thursday, February 28, 2013

What is the Worst RPG Product You Ever Bought?



This may be a tough one, or maybe not if you bought some FFE products during the D20 glut of games. I bought my FFE products as part of an eBay package deal at like 3 bucks on the book - so the stinkers stank less due to the cheap buy in.

No, my all time winner of "Worst RPG Product I Ever Bought" is also the only one I ever returned and demanded a cash refund on - Monster Coliseum for Avalon Hill's RuneQuest 3 game. Oh my fucking God - this turd was expensive back in 85/86, when all my income came from a $8 a day off the books job. What can I say? I was 18 and in college ;)

The great thing is, I got my money back (although it may have been store credit) and I saw that box remain on the store's shelves until it moved locations a few years later.

I don't recall what I was hoping to find when I opened the box, but it obviously wasn't what I expected. There was nothing to use in it for my novice RQ3 campaign.

So, what's your worst RPG purchase?

60 comments:

  1. Worse buy I ever had was a small press game named Maruader 21XX (the XX is because I can't remember the actual year on it). It was an anime inspired RPG, some appleseed, bubblegum crisis and the like kind of stuff. System was just really bland.

    The big kick in the ass was it talked about these twisted creatures that the world was fighting against. Can't remember the name of them. But it was made very clear that they were meant to be the main adversary in the game.

    No stats were given for them... none. Instead all the information needed was going to be in the first sourcebook for the game. Which never materialized that I know of.

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    1. UGH I own that one too. The system was even blander if your consider it was basically vanilla version of R.Talsorian's stuff at the time.

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    2. I own this game. I wrote the original creator a year or two ago, trying to buy the license. Unfortunately, I never heard back. Three books were written, one for the core book, one for the mutant critters, one for the titular Marauders. I still regret never hearing back.

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  2. Worst thing I ever bought? Undermountain boxed set. It was just a box of maps with a very tiny portion of the map actually detailed for use. I was say about 70% was left for the DM to finish. If I wanted to make my own adventure I would not buy it!

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    1. I understand that it didn't work for you, but I think it might have been a disconnect between what the product was and what it might have appeared to be.

      Undermountain was campaign setting material explaining what Undermountain was, what lives there (big picture), and how it continues to function, as well as how it affects Waterdeep above it.

      It wasn't really a traditional mega-dungeon in the sense that it was meant to be tackled and beaten. Whatever was in those detailed rooms might not be there next week, but something would be, because Halaster would repopulate it.

      Knowing that Ed Greenwood wrote it, I guess I already had it in my mind to look at the material as setting background and not a full on adventure. Even something like Halls of the High King read more like a post-Avatar Crisis sourcebook to the Moonshaes than just a straight up adventure.

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  3. Amaranthine from Machine Age Productions- overwritten, nonsensical, and weirdly contradictory in its system which aimed for story but ended up with lots of fiddly mechanical bits. Painfully bad.

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  4. Worst game. The one that's coming to mind is Conspiracy. I bought a lot of gaming books at a game day and it was included plus a few other Conspiracy books. I thought it might prove to be interesting. No it wasn't. I thought I might be able to at least get something to mine from it. No I didn't. Not sure why I dislike it so much, but I do.

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  5. SLA Industries. WTF was I thinking?!

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    1. SLA is a great game... I respectfully disagree :)

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    2. I too find SLA Industries to be a great game! To say the least!
      It's one of my alltime favorite games actually :) Though i admit it's more because of the setting and its flavor, than because of the rules.
      Though i have found the rules fine as well with a small amount of houseruling.

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    3. Different strokes, and all that jazz...

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  6. Vampire: Undeath? For reals though, I'd say a toss up between Aria and Immortal: Invisible War.

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    1. Aria, a really neat concept with some really good ideas. But holy great walls of eye bleeding text batman. Also lets rename every single common term in gaming while we're at it.

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    2. I liked the idea Immortal, but both the game itself.

      And sweet Azathoth I do want to check out Vampire: the Undeath I just don't want to give that guy any money.

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    3. I used Aria as a kind of workbook for creating other things - magic systems, societies, etc. But as a game it was a complete disaster. Immortal was just too entirely full of itself and unplayable. Because the idea that you're just playing yourself, but as some kind of awakened demi-god thing is just an invitation for some players to ramp their "I want to play a stripper lesbian ninja" tendency to 11.

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    4. @Wil - by any chance did you distill Aria, or at least the subsystems, into something usable? I'd love to have an approachable means to apply the ideas, I just have never found the time to grind it into shape.

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  8. I wish I could remember the name of the adventure. It was one of the rare times I used a D & D adventure in Dragonquest. It involved The Green Man from Celtic mythology and was basically a who done-it adventure that punish you for being violent or aggressive. The group hated it. If I would have been thinking more clearly I would not have tried using it.

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  9. "Bram Stoker's Dracula RPG" from Leading Edge Games. Pure dreck.

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  10. Oh, I forgot In Nomine is the worst game I've bought. Yep hands down.

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    1. I have In Nomine sitting on one of my shelves. I've never played it, but I always thought the concept was cool. Hmmm, I'm sensing a theme in this comment thread: concept was cool, rules sucked.

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  11. WG7 Castle Greyhawk. A non-funny attempt at a "joke" adventure.
    Completely unusable for me.

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    1. That one did suck. I lost my copy somewhere and I don't care.

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    2. That is the only rpg product I ever returned. Had Spiderman on one level if I remember.

      Thought the the *worst* for me was the Dungeon master's design kit or whatever it was called. I remember it as being basically lined paper for filling out all your world details.

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    3. Dungeon Master's Design Kit thingy from 2e by Allston was pretty bad, yep. It encouraged a storyboarding approach to play AIR that could be worse than useless.

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    4. Mmm... I don't know that I'd classify DM Design Kit as horrible. True, they use it to create a very linear adventure, and that turns me off (planned results to encounters? what?), but I found some useful material in there.

      All in all I appreciate that particular product, and I actually mine it from time to time for template ideas. The templates there, applied in a more non-linear manner, can be used to produce something pretty good, I think.

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  12. Avalon Hill's "Lords of Creation" -- supposedly a genre-hopping, multiverse-spanning epic campaign, but with only the most rudimentary background as to how one is hopping universes, and what one is hoping to accomplish. The system itself was beneath simple -- more like "sparse" -- with single d6 attributes and conflict resolution that amounted to coin-flipping. The boxed set included a sizeable "monster manual" for all manner of mythological, historical, and science-fictional foes -- providing the sketchy and seemingly arbitrary stats, and perhaps a sentence or two of description.

    It was kind of the "Cliff Notes" of a roleplaying game, taking up far more space (and list pricing for vastly more) than it merited. I, fortunately, bought it out of curiosity for 80% off at a "sidewalk sale" at the local mall. It was still only worth it as a sort of enigma.

    "Lords of Creation" was particularly amusing as the mechanical antithesis of Avalon Hill's other role-playing effort: "Powers and Perils" -- more or less D&D-esque in setting, but fantastically detailed and intricate. I found it enjoyable to create characters for and noodle around with, but it seemed practically unplayable for any but the nerdiest, most bean-counting inclined players (and trust me, if _I'm_ saying that...)

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    1. Different strokes for different folks, I guess. To me, Moldvay's Lords of Creation is one of the greatest overlooked games in the history of gaming.

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    2. Same here, loved Lords of Creation....back then.

      Worst buy for me? The AD&D 2E Cardmaster boxed set. Great concept but horrible design and execution, terrible graphics....I still feel suckered by TSR on that one.

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    3. I have to add my two cents to the 'Lord's of Creation was the greatest" crowd. We had a blast.

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  13. Replies
    1. I also liked in Nomine....well, the setting and concept..wasn't a big fan of the rule system

      I hated Rolemaster. Never has my brain so violently rejected a rule system..

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  14. I would have said WG7 Castle Greyhawk, but I eventually sold it for a lot more than I paid on eBay. After that . . . hard to say. I've bought a fair amount of stuff that I'd rather not have, in retrospect. Looking at my game book shelves, I think eBay took care of that, too. ;)

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  15. The gaming purchase I most regret was a single issue of Pyramid magazine in pdf that I thought included extra information on GURPS Reign of Steel but was actually just an excerpt/preview.

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  16. There's nothing that I regret buying, but the most useless product I ever bought would have to be Mayfair's Blood & Steel supplement. Basically, it was an alternative combat system for D&D that was excessively complex and added nothing to the game.

    And I like Monster Colosseum . The chariot rules alone were worth the investment to me.

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    1. All I ever found of the Blood & Steel supplement, if it's the one I'm thinking of, was the bottom of the box... which had the top of the Arch-Magic box. We ended up cracking that one in the store to see just what it was I might be buying.

      Turns out it was the Arch-Magic box set, which was what I wanted. It's like guessing right when playing Go Fish.

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  17. The original Freeport sourcebook from Green Ronin. It was based on a trilogy of modules that were heavily inspired by Lovecraft, and they billed it as a gritty city.

    Instead, it turned out to be more like Pirates of the Caribbean. The theme park ride, more than the movies.

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  18. Project A-Ko: The Roleplaying Game. Though I might appreciate it more in the New Millenium.

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  19. I can't think of anything I haven't at least mined some ideas out of. I think my most disappointing buy was GURPS High Tech, which I found bland and uninspiring. Not bad really, but compared to the high expectations other GURPS books had given me it was just dull.

    I have games with terribly clunky systems, like Justifiers, but the setting was worth the (on sale) price I paid for it.

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  20. I would have to say "Lords of Creation" was the worst game I ever bought. The concept was interesting, but the execution by way of it's odd mechanics didn't survive past one play session.

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  21. As a long term rq3 gm ive heard a few complaints about colloseum. I thought it was a dud for a few years then it was among most used books when i realized the pregen monsters were very useful.Several other gms i know agree - stating up monsters with hit locations and skill bonuses is hard work. Ive gone back to DnD mechanics because it has the least work in documenting stats for bad guys (excluding high level wizards). RQ i was always recycling monsters from supplements because of labour. Colloseum also has some of first examples of spell casters and sorcerers in RQ3 - many never used sorcery early on - wasnt till 90s really interesting sorcerer appeared in print. A secondary use is meant to be as solo game or as a straight tactical combat sourcebook - more like war game. A bit more on using in game might have helped. Everway worst game i ever got - so new age it hurt. Set my dislike of wizards of the coast since 95.

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    1. Yeah I got a lot of mileage out of Monster Coliseum back in my RQ3 days, it was a decent book (for me).

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  22. Dwimmermount: An Old School Fantasy RPG Megadungeon by Autarch. It was like the author only finished part of it.

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    1. No shit. I feel like I contributed to a charity. "Buy a blanket for OWS"

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    2. No shit. I feel like I contributed to a charity. "Buy a blanket for OWS"

      Delete
  23. I hate to say it, but Dangerous Journeys "Mythus"

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    1. Oh yeah, Mythus was a mess. I even had a playtest set from GDW that was loose sheets in a giant D-Ring Binder. Sold back before the days of eBay for some 40k stuff I think.

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  24. My worst product would have to be the Indiana Jones RPG box from TSR. It had tons of cool cardboard minis and 3d vehicles and even solo adventures as Indy. Playing with two or more, was always an argument about who could play Indy or Jock Lindsey. No one wanted Willie or Marion, and Short Round and Marcus were distant choices.

    Sorta fun game system but it failed me when I had very little game money available.

    Now Top Secret SI - we played the crap out of that one, especially the Web Wars trilogy. Still love that one.

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  25. Pathfinder. The only word I can add to that is 'Awful'.

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    1. You are a lucky man then if that is the worst rpg you've bought... ;-)

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    2. Well, not really. I just can't see the fascination with it.

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  26. I bought very little that was truly crap pre 1990, didn't buy much in the '90s, and bought so much crap in the d20 era that it's very hard to say!
    One of the worst books I ever bought was the 4e adventure 'Revenge of the Giants'. The Stormbringer adventure 'Rogue Mistress' is a truly appalling railroad full of pet NPCs, the worst nadir of '90s RPG writing. And lots of d20 stuff too dull to remember their names.

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    1. Oh, d20 Mars by Gareth Michael Skarka et al is a good example of d20 drek; basically just the d20 Modern SRD copy/pasted with absolute minimal ER Burroughs Martian flavouring.

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  27. Hrm. Worst RPG buy? Like faoladh I'm hard-pressed to come up with a worst buy, in my case if only because there's nothing that really stands out as horrible that didn't have something I could salvage.

    Even stuff from FFE. The mechanics were hinky and the editing... absent, I think. But the ideas and research I could see done in some of the books inspired me in various directions I would not have gone otherwise, so I can overlook that -- I often end up reimplementing things anyway.

    Useless... well, useless simply pass from my mind unless they are offensively useless, and I can't remember any offhand.

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    1. Actually, I misspeak. Thinking about it a bit more, Aria: Canticle of the Monomyth is pretty useless to me, it's about as approachable and easy to read as a block of wood. Aria: Worlds saw a lot of use for a while, but the main rule book? Nuh uh. Tracked down a copy on the strength of Worlds, but when I tried reading it my eyes ran away and hid inside my skull for a while. Totally unusable to me.

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  28. Exalted 2nd Edition core rulebook....A real mess of design, nearly unplayable and I don't know what I was thinking! Fortunately I traded it away!

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  29. GURPS: Werewolf: The Apocalypse, back in my White Wolf fanboy period. I was hoping it would help me understand the assortment of tribes and forms and aspects, but it's such a poorly bound piece of whippet doody that I'm afraid to actually read it lest it fall apart in my hands. And it's GURPS 3rd Edition, which somehow for me sucks all enjoyment of gaming right out of my head.

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