October is Play A New RPG Month, a little something started on a podcast over at Dice of Doom about a year ago and now it seems to caught fire. Go to playanewrpg.com and catch up on it if you haven't heard. The idea is to play a different rpg for the month of October, preferably with a new GM if your group has a regular one. In my group we elbow each other out for the GM chair and play new systems all the time so this is rarely of issue. Since I began gaming a full three decades ago I have played so many different systems, and so many different games, with different GM's and players, that I feel blessed to have been exposed to so much.
When 4E debuted we played that pretty much exclusively for two years. The Scales of War campaign dominated our role-playing sessions and that was fine. This past year our group has played a variety of different games with very little D&D in the mix. This October my group will be launching our Neverwinter Campaign and as part of Play A New RPG Month we will be playing D&D again. I am excited to play 4E again and that is probably because of playing different games for the last ten months.
If you are in a group in which one player is the GM most of the time, then perhaps it is time to let her play a little and see how the other half lives. When I play I learn a lot of things that I use next time I get back behind the screen. Perhaps the GM while I am playing is particularly descriptive in their battle scenes, as one in my group is. I usually make a couple of notes while I am playing in my notebook to refer back to when prepping my next game. One of the guys in my group is a particularly skilled in creating a tone and setting and excels at running the horror genre. His use of music and setting are always sharp, so I don't feel bad about borrowing when I run a game.
I think that learning and playing new rules and systems and genres can make a group better as a whole. Many of the house rules that I have used over the years were influenced by something that another system that I used did remarkably well. I used something similar to action points when we played 2nd Edition D&D after playing WEG Star Wars and being enamored with the heroic elements that the Force Point allowed in the game. I did a little experimenting with some rules to allow action points to do other things to affect the environment in a game after playing Mutants & Masterminds and seeing what my players did with their Hero Points. We will talk more about this in a future post sometime.
If you are running a long term campaign than taking a break for a month can give all involved a fresh perspective and reignite those creative juices. My group uses Obsidian Portal to keep track of our games so we can move away from a game and still keep all of our information organized and accessible by our whole group. After a month of playing a new rpg and if you are going back to a pre-established campaign and you are worried that the players may need to be caught up don't worry. The GM can send out a short "catching up" e-mail to the group. This will also allow the GM to put in the points that she feels will be important in the next part of the campaign.
Here is a little rundown of what my group has played this year or will play and whether I was a player or a GM.
1. World of Darkness Zombie Survival Horror (Player)
2. Champions (High Powered Supers)-Global Defense League (GM/Player)
3. 4E Dungeons & Dragons-Heroic Tier (GM)
4. Hero System-Low Fantasy-Rise of the Heir (GM)
5. Savage Worlds-Zombie Skilled Horror (Player)
6. Hero System-Dark Mutants-Boxtown (Player)
7. World of Darkness-Detective Horror (Player)
8. Savage World- Buck Rogers Space Pulp (Player)
Like I said previously we will end the year with Neverwinter Campaign (Player) and a side game of high fantasy Hero System in my fantasy world (GM). I would love to see a list of what your group played this year or hear what new game you plan to play during Play A New RPG Month. Until next time, Roll Hard!
UPDATE: Check out these other sites featuring Play A New RPG Month:Between the Rolls: http://betweentherolls.blogspot.com/2011/09/play-new-rpg-month.html#more
The Angry DM: http://angrydm.com/2011/09/play-a-new-rpg-month/