System Hopping

First of all, sorry for the long stretch between posts. November ended up being very busy for me in a number of different ways that made writing blog entries, even during my lunch breaks at work, a lower priority. December is also looking busy but in different ways, so I’m hoping it’ll leave more time for writing. Anyway on to the content!

So in my main gaming group we’ve been trying a number of different systems for the Sci-Fi game we’ve been playing for the past few months. It’s been an interesting way to compare systems and an even better way to to figure out what kind of games work best for our group.

We started this whole crazy affair by playing Mongoose’s most recent version of Traveller. We created our own version of the setting, generated out characters (which is super fun) and then we were off. Or so we thought. Something about the Traveller system just didn’t quite work for us. We tended to get bogged down in the economic and business aspects of the game, and for whatever reason we all had a lot of trouble remembering exactly how the different systems worked. (“First you need to roll on this skill, then roll on this chart, then roll this other skill, now add this and that up and you get the cost of the goods you have to sell”). I have no doubt that if you really have those systems down and your group has the right mindset this is a lot of fun. But for us it just didn’t quite work. Things moved very slowly and I don’t think any of us were having as much fun as we had anticipated.

So we moved on and our GM put together a really neat hack of Apocalypse World and gave us all versions of our Traveller characters in the new system. It was fun to try to boil down the essence of the previous incarnation in to a very different system. We had a lot of fun playing our AW hack for a few months or so, but eventually realize it wasn’t quite working for us either. Apocalypse World really thrives on interpersonal relationships between the characters but that’s just not really the focus for our group most of the time. We’re more interested in exploring and dealing with external threats and situations. Additionally, the people that are available to play any given week is pretty variable for our group, so building up those relationships becomes difficult even if we had wanted to.

Again, I have no doubt at all that this would have worked marvelously for some groups, and honestly we had a lot of fun with it, but it still just wasn’t quite all the right notes for us. So we’ve switched it up again.

We’ve gone back to an old favorite and I really think it’s probably going to finally be the right system for us for this game.

We’re playing Savage Worlds now. As a group we tend to like tactical combat, but we also want it to be pretty fast; Savage Worlds delivers on that really well. We want to be able to create unique and varied characters and it delivers on that too. We also want a system that gives us just enough structure to do complicated exploration or social interactions with some tension from the dice but gets out of the way when we want it to. Again, Savage Worlds delivers on this pretty well.

Our last game with Savage Worlds was set in Ancient Greece (and was a blast) so this’ll be quite a change in genre, but I think the system is definitely up it. I’m really looking forward to seeing what the space combat looks like. Our GM is really excited about it. (It’s too bad the player who was playing the “brash pilot” in the last incarnation of the game isn’t available nearly as often anymore. I think his character would have a lot of cool stuff to do in this incarnation. Hopefully he can make it to the occasional session going forward.)

I could certainly see us using other kinds of games (I’d still like to play some Adventurer Conqueror King some time soonish, and I’ve been trying to schedule some sessions of Dungeon Crawl Classics with a few people for a while now), and we might even go back to the systems above (or variants of them, like Dungeon World which I’m pretty excited about) for short games, but I think we have a clearer vision of what our group enjoys most and what works for us best long-term now. Hopefully that’ll mean we’ll look at future games and systems with a little clearer vision of what our particular group needs and wants.

Have you ever had a campaign change systems? How did it go? Why did you make the switch?

Thanks for reading!

-The Duke of Brandonshire


Stephen B @DrOct