Morale Check

RPG Miscellany

New campaign rules selection woes

I have a few new campaigns on the horizon; one for my girlfriend and a friend of hers who haven’t really played any type of table top RPG before (Group 1) , and the other for my gaming group that has played together off and on since high school (Group 2). I would like to choose a set of rules that I can use to make both groups happy but that is turning out to be more difficult than I had anticipated.

Group 1 is the easier of the two to please. They have no preconceived notions, no bad habits (although no good habits either), but really, as long as the game is simple enough for them to pick up over the course of a few hours things will run just fine and they will both be perfectly happy.

Group 2 is where my problem lies. We started gaming together playing 2e AD&D, from there we moved to 3rd, 3.5, and eventually 4th. We moved through the editions as they were released, always thinking that the new edition would just be a much (un)needed improvement over whatever edition we were currently playing. It wasn’t until we began playing 4th edition that my groups preferences split and trouble began. Of the six of us two now prefer 3.5, 2 have no preference, one prefers 4th, and one (me) prefers to revert back to an older, more “basic”, edition. Over the years and editions we have all developed some bad role playing habits; habits that I now want to break.

To break these habits I think going back to basics, games that use race as class and more GM rulings and interpretation than actual rules, is the way to go however I have to keep in mind that people won’t play if they aren’t having fun. I would like to believe that everyone would enjoy themselves using rules such as Labyrinth Lord, but, because of Labyrinth Lords use of race as class I am not 100% sure that is the case and I would rather not have change rules in the middle of a campaign.

One alternative that I have only recently become aware of is Swords & Wizardry, specifically the Swords & Wizardry Complete Rulebook. This is a 0e reinterpretation that does a lot of things that I like. It has separate races and classes to make my 3.5 and 4th preference players happy. Races are limited in class choices (for example dwarves can only be fighters or fighter-thieves) and the non-core classes have ability requirements, a big plus for me (one of the habits I think we need to break is that of creating characters instead of generating characters). I don’t find the Swords & Wizardry books layout as pleasing as Labyrinth Lords, and I think my newbies would find Labyrinth Lords writing more accessible.

Thankfully Labyrinth Lord and Swords & Wizardry are 99% compatible so my indecision on a game system hasn’t hampered my ability to prepare for the upcoming games. My Group 1 game starts this Saturday so my time to make up my mind is getting shorter.

Am I over thinking this? Does the system choice really matter to my players as much as (I think) it matters to me? Is my desire to return to the ultra simplicity of race as class to much of a knee jerk reaction to the over complication of 3.5 and 4th or is Swords & Wizardry a happy compromise?

What to do what to do, any thoughts are appreciated.


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