When I think of a “top 5 list“, I feel like the main character from High Fidelity, who needs sub-sets of the category to be able to make any head space. There are just too many good options when the net is cast so wide. That said, here goes – my Top 5 Role-playing Games (that is pen and paper RPGs not computer games).
- Ars Magica. By far the best magic system I’ve seen implemented. far more flexible than D&D, far more detail than open systems like Mage. The latest edition left me cold, but the 3rd and 4th editions were flourishes of flavour in a rpg landscape that was lacking at the time. I still struggle to understand the way the mundane world (or should I say muggle – oops!) is supposed to exist side by side with the Magi, but won’t have to cover that unless I run another game. Hmm. Now there is a thought.
- DeathWatch. A recent arrival to me, and altogether fantastic. Its like riding a speeder-bike through a forest of enemy laser towers, with a limited health, a BFG on your hip, and a deadline measured in seconds. It is a very tightly focused gameplay, high action, and high powered game. If you like space combat, mecha-ish, or really large guns, then you’ll love DeathWatch.
- D&D 1st and 2nd Ed. Regardless of incarnation the D&D game has given me years of playing, and I can’t ignore that. 1st and 2nd edition were the ones I enjoyed the most, with 3rd and 4th editions being ill suited to what I was after in terms of a game. If 4th edition had not been such a complete dog in terms of game lore then it would have rated much higher. The computer game-play mechanics also did not help either. Still – it is a cornerstone of my roleplaying history.
- GURPS. Such flexibility should be celebrated, and GURPS still has bite. So many settings, and so many variations. I’ve not run a lot of games, but I’ve played a stack of how brew games, and always really enjoyed them. I’m not up on what the GURPS system is doing these days but I’d be surprised if the quality had dropped – it was always high, and I hope it stays that way.
- Paranoia. They are out to get you, but the computer is your friend – heh. The original concept has some pretty nasty implications in our modern world, but no less entertaining – monitoring, privacy, govt conspiracy, wikileaks, and an over-mind that must crush and also nurture it’s inhabitants. Even reading the recent rulebook is fun, despite not playing it.
- Vampire, the Masquerade. Creepy, lush, and just in time to catch me in a phase of life where being a stylish and evil undead mongrel was ideal. Never has a game implied such sex appeal or created such a ground swell of strange LARP players. For that and the many nights of candle lit fun, I have to thank Vampire.
- My Life With Master. A game totally dependent on the team’s ability to play out a scenario, be creeped out, and also resolve an always depressing and gory storyline. Simple and brilliant stuff. If I’d have played more of this game, it would be far higher on the list.
Yes, I know there are 7 items on a top 5 list. It is my list and I could not leave the last two out without feeling the list was junked. You could do a top 5 D&D settings list (Ebberon hehe), and still need more than 5 entries, so this was a tad of a hard task to complete within the rules. Screw the rules.
On reflection the first 5 are really solid games, with a stack of hours spent in them, the last two are games where the setting was so tactile that I needed to mention them just to feel like the list reflects how important a great setting is to me.
Happy gaming folks.