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Poll: Are you system-monogamous or a bit of a flirt?

August 4, 2013

In my responses to the Random Wizard’s questionnaire, I said (in answer to the “best edition” question): “I will use different rules for different campaigns, partly because particular rules might seem more or less appropriate depending on the campaign environment and the flavour I’m going for, and partly just because it’s fun to try new things.”

I wonder how common this is. Back in the day, I started playing Dungeons & Dragons with B/X, then (after nine months or so) we “graduated” to AD&D 1e. Those are the versions of the game we had access to, but I think if we’d seen OD&D or Holmes Basic, we would have been interested to try them out. Nowadays, I find myself fascinated by all the retro-clones and quasi-clones and post-retro-neo-clones and whatnot. To say nothing of all the house rules posted on blogs or available as PDFs, etc. There is a veritable multiverse of D&D out there.

Whilst I am avowedly a fan of B/X, and that’s what I run most often, I’m using the Swords & Wizardry WhiteBox Rules as the base of my Alien Orifice campaign. Alien Orifice was originally conceived as a megadungeon campaign for Stars Without Number but it has mutated and evolved as, for a number of reasons, I’ve become increasingly attracted to the OD&D vibe. The stripped-down rules and lower-powered characters and monsters seem to me to offer a more conducive canvas for some gritty, 2000AD-flavoured science fantasy. Regarding my comment that “it’s fun to try new things”, the old rule about player characters earning 100 XP per HD for monsters defeated is an example; I’d never realised that’s how it was done pre-Greyhawk. I’d like to try it out and see how it affects the game. Likewise, PCs in Alien Orifice will have LBB-style hit dice and re-roll their hit points every level. Just because. And I really like the single saving throw category in Swords & Wizardry, to the point where I might just shoehorn it into B/X one day, so that’s in. Ultimately, Alien Orifice is probably halfway between OD&D and S&W WhiteBox, with all the “standard” races and monsters thrown out and a bunch of crazy robots and reskinned Fiend Folio “aliens” added.

Meanwhile, I also harbour dangerous thoughts about wanting to run certain classic AD&D modules using Blood & Treasure.

So, anyway, here (top right) is Lost in Time’s first poll. Given that my daily readership rarely rises to the giddy heights of double figures, I don’t expect it’ll be a massively representative sample, but who knows?

The question is as follows:

Do you have one preferred system that you tend to stick with? It doesn’t matter whether it’s B/X, AD&D, 3e, 4e, Labyrinth Lord + AEC, the LBBs + the LotFP Specialist class, or your own home-brewed and house-ruled version. If you’re loyal and true to it, that’s what counts. (If you want to say what the system is, you can comment below.)

Or are you a brazen strumpet, flitting from one system to another, either because you think “AD&D 2e is just right for my psionic-dwarves-at-war-with-the-mind-flayers campaign but LotFP would really suit this Hammer horror adventure I’m writing” or just because you and your players get bored of the same old thing and fancy a change every so often?

Edit: OK, poll’s over. After a month, eleven voters have registered their preferences and I declare the results to be as follows:


4 Comments leave one →
  1. kelvingreen permalink
    August 4, 2013 2:11 pm

    Chaosium’s house system is probably my favourite ruleset — with Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay a close second — but in general I like to play all sorts of systems because I enjoy discovering new mechanics. That said, my group as a whole prefers D&D and will stick to whatever’s best for that; at the moment it’s Pathfinder but we may switch to 13th Age if we all like it enough, and I suspect we’ll be playing D&D5 for a while when/if it is released.

    So you could say that I’m faithful to one system, but not out of choice.

    • August 4, 2013 2:27 pm

      I’m aware that my poll (at least the way I explained it) is D&D-centric. As I’m sure you know, I’m a fan of the BRP system too. It’s fair to say I like BRP and D&D equally, although in both cases I get impatient and crotchety with overmuch detail and complexity (I’m looking at you, RuneQuest and AD&D). And I will cheerfully cross-pollinate, using D&D’s 2d6 reaction roll in BRP games, for example.

      • kelvingreen permalink
        August 4, 2013 10:17 pm

        Oh, you know I didn’t even realise you were asking about D&D! I read it as a wider question. Oops.

        So we’re talking about D&D then; if I had a choice I’d probably play LotFP but that doesn’t go down well with my group so we play Pathfinder instead for reasons as complex as the ruleset. I’m hoping that 13th Age will prove to be a good compromise.

  2. August 5, 2013 4:19 pm

    I framed the question in D&D terms because that’s what I was thinking about, but there’s no reason it can’t apply to game systems generally, because the question remains the same: one or many?

    So far there have been 7 votes, which isn’t exactly an overwhelming response (though it’s about what I expected, and a big thank you to everyone who’s voted) but nevertheless the tally currently stands at 6 to 1 in favour of flirtation with several systems. That’s interesting. There are certainly a few bloggers out there who seem to be OD&D diehards, and the same goes for AD&D 1e (and Pathfinder, about which I know little), but it looks like several readers of this blog are in the strumpet category. As indeed am I, the great love I bear for B/X notwithstanding.

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