I'm really glad to see how nearbygamers has taken off, to the point where the majority of the posts are written up to find games...imagine that, it's like we're actually following the mission statement. However, I kind of miss some of the old more theoretical discussions, like the hard/soft sci fi thread, etc. The only one that's still active is the old "first character ever" thread. So, I have a question...what's the worst RPG ever? I know most people are going to say FATAL, but I'm interested to hear whether any other games make the list.
- RPGs 4054
Gamers posting in this discussion
I have played/read through a lot of different RPG over the years and i have to say that if i was to list off some of the worse rpg's i have seen i would have to say the following make the list. I'm sure there are a few that most will disagree with, but i would like to say that i beleive people only play these because they are classic systems:
hero system- only because it is too math heavy. 3.5/D20 tunnels and trolls Fudge HAL- i think thats what it is called. A/state mutants and masterminds
I'm sure there are others but i cannot for the life of me think of them.
Cyborg Commando has got to be up there among the worst RPGs ever.
I think you're onto something with that "too math heavy" thing. But again, that just leads us back to FATAL, which has you roll (4d100/2)-1 for each one of the 20 sub-attributes.
D6 Star Wars.
D6 StarWars... worst game ever?
We've just started up a game and think it's much better than the d20 version. Then again, different strokes for different folks.
i enjoyed the D6 version.. but we didn't have any Jedi in the group either.. so i couldn't say.
D6 version was ok but jedi's in a group now thats hard if they aint all jedi you have a problem remember jedi's stay out of trouble and all players wanna be in trouble if it was with the empire or not very hard work ..... but still D6 version was fun havent tried the D20 yet we need a new group in the uk god its hard work trying to keep all happy and im not a G.M anymore lol ...
Ouch, D6 Star Wars definitely didn't see that one coming. However, it's not entirely baseless criticism. D6 is kind of the opposite of FATAL...not enough math. The first game I ever played was D6 Star Wars, and only in retrospect do I understand how threadbare the system was.
If you really look at it, the D6 system is only appealing because it comes coupled with the Star Wars game world. And to be honest, I think if the D20 Star Wars game had come out before the prequels or "digital remasteries", you wouldn't hear nearly as many complaints about it.
If you just look at a basic West End D6 book, without the Star Wars game world added in, you really get a feel for how far to the left D6 is on the evolutionary chart of games. I mean, it's basically one step up from reading one of those Lone Wolf choose-your-own-adventure books.
At the risk of flames, D&D.
I daresay it's hardly even an RPG, as designed.
i would have to agree as far as the last 3 editions.. Never seen 1st so couldn't say. You would think that as the concept of role playing became more indepth that they would make the system more role play indepth, but no.. hack and slash, hack and slash
Yeah, fair enough. But when you talk about hack and slash, keep in mind the lineage of the game (and ALL roleplaying games for that matter). For the non-fat-beards out there, all RPGs trace their ancestry to wargaming. Basically, you had a bunch of wargamers who got tired of playing Romans vs Carthaginians, and thought it would be sweet to break up the monotony with the Battle of Helm's Deep, etc. This leads to the argument "well what about Aragorn and Legolas? They're total badasses, and the rules need to reflect that." This led to the Battle For Middle Earth effect...it all became about the heroes stomping everyone, and the units and strategy kind of fell by the wayside. I call it the Battle for Middle Earth effect because it had the same effect as a computer wargame...after a while it just becomes the war of the fully leveled Gandalfs.
Anyway, the hero-focused wargaming eventually gave way to the same type of thinking that brought about Battle For Middle Earth II, i.e., wouldn't it be cool to design your own badass hero? Honestly, it's surprising that the system's as roleplaying friendly as it's become.
Long story short, hack-and-slash is kind of a vestigial tail on Dungeons and Dragons. A holdover from our wargaming past. So, fair criticism, but keep in mind where the game's coming from. If you want a more interaction-friendly game, try the system AEG uses for 7th Sea.
.......i think that could have been left unsaid. As roleplaying became more defined it separated itself further from wargaming. yes, we still use mintures during combat to better use tactics, but it is not wargaming. Character cooperation is just another form of roleplaying, which is what tactics in combat illustrates.
D & D is definitely a game where the player is really responsible for putting the "R" in "RPG." That said, it's my favourite system because most systems people would consider "role-heavy" require you to purchase your personality, which just strikes me as odd.
Worst system ever? Rolemaster. Or, as we called it, Rollmaster. At least with everyone I've ever played it with.
Worst game design ever? 1st edition Shadowrun. Don't get me wrong, fantastic concept but in the hands of advanced gamer, the design's broken right out of the box.
Worst RPG for the roleplaying experience? GURPS of any edition with a really anal-retentive GM. Oddly, it's also one of the best RPGs for roleplaying in the hands of a good GM.
There was this system, which the name eludes me right now. In that system, you designed your sword as the main character and the sword bearer was just the meat shield of sorts. If your carrier died, you simply created someone who would find you. I never did play that game, but it was just too unbelievably violent for taste. I'm thinking something along the lines of "if you are a hammer, everything looks like a nail".
Then again, I think it was meant to be played after reading the comic book, which would of course appeal to the adolescent fantasy of blood and gore. But as an actual system, I dare say that it was full of fail.
For me I'm gonna go with Kult. Hated it.
As far as game design goes, I agree with 1st edition Shadowrun. I'm gonna throw in Lords of Creation too for design, but like GURPS, in the hands of the right GM, fun as heck! (I guess that could be said about any game really)
so i just looked through 4th edition- since it has been leaked. I was never going to buy this, but did want to give it a quick look.
I never in my life expected to see a MMO in book form.
D&D 4th edition, from what I gather, is about lowering the bar to get more gamers into the game. I don't think it will be the worst RPG ever, but I fail to see how it will endear itself to older, more experienced gamers. It will be easy for DMs to setup up; in that aspect, 4th edition DMG is the best so far. For the players, it will be quick, fun and involving in combat and will fall apart when it comes to them doing non combat activities.
Have to say D20 modern.....that setting with guns it just does not want to work at all.. I think that mostly might be from playing shadowrun which really does bring the realism of gun combat to the table. Also i haven't really gotten into any good star wars games at all =/
i always felt that dumbing down anything was a bad idea.
d20 Modern was a broken, horrible system, imo. Nice choice, Red.
I have to agree with lots of what's already been said:
Champions: way too much math, experience system requires you to rebuild your character (to use your new points effeciently), powers make many skills worthless, weird initiative system, combat takes forever, etc.
Rolemaster: yes, we call it Rollmaster for a reason. Does each weapon really need its own chart to roll damage on?! And the magic was completely underwhelming to me.
D&D: I wish people would stop making excuses for this game. Yes, it was the grandpappy of them all, but nowadays it's more of a miniatures skirmish game, which makes me think it's still not very far removed from wargaming. And all those rules! I was just getting a grasp on all the rules in second edition, when the vast rules bloat of 3rd came around... I wouldn't DM the game on a dare, and I try to avoid playing it whenever possible (but sometimes my gaming group outvotes me).
Anyone who says this game supports role-playing is full of it. This does NOT count as role-playing: "Hey, what's the AC on this monster? Quick, give me another healing potion! Move back, or you'll be caught in the area of effect for my spell! What's my Save bonus when I include my cloak?" When plots and storylines are just excuses for the PC's to go kill things, I say it's not an RPG.
By the way, I LIKE Star Wars d6. I think it's far more in the spirit of the films than anything that could be done on the d20 system.
Let's see... FATAL, to be sure. World of Synnabar? I actually like Champions quite a bit, but I admit that the system has a daunting learning curve. There's lots of games in genres that don't appeal to me, but that's not the system's fault. I'm probably going to get some objections for this one, but I've never been able to get into a Palladium game. Seriously, I've given it a shot. I've tried TMNT, Robotech, and Rifts. It just doesn't do it for me.
as far as palladium i always liked Palladium Fantasy. But also check out the Beyond the supernatural 2nd edition..
Well I played lots of games and I would say if I had to pick the worst games I ever played that were serious games, I'll leave out the Cheapass Line since they are for fun anyway.
1. DND post TSR Hobbies: I loved the attention to detail TSR had, excellent playtesting of the 2nd Edition was important making a game that was released ready to go with no major problems and I still love the feel of the Rules Cyclopedia as basic enhanced to be quite fun. Hell I can't think of any TSR game I didn't like Boot Hill, Gangbusters, Gamma World, Conan RPG (has the neatest sword and sorcery feel ever) etc. But the last two sets were bad I had hopes for 3rd edition before they decided to come out with 3.5 that pissed me off. And 4th was also improperly playtested and has three pages of errata and its only been out TWO WEEKS.
2. Rolemaster AKA Rollmaster too many charts and too many skills and arghhhhh, enough said.
3. Star Wars D6 later editions I liked the first printing Jedi's just had to turn on their lightsaber and could add Sense to parry and Control for damage and the powers were rather smartly done. Then they made Jedi's far harder to play with new powers to use a lightsaber making them far harder to use in a fight easily. It did have the benefit of having templates and a fast to get started approach and that wasn't that bad.
Caution! Personal opinion ahead! Anything LARPed!
but apart from that the only problem I've ever had is bad DMing (or maybe just stupid players)
Spawn of Fashan. Without a doubt -the- worst game I've ever encountered.
World of Synnibar has to be the worst RPG I've ever come across, hands down. It's so bad, I keep a copy of it on my shelf just to remind me how bad games can get. It's made that much worse by the fact that the author (the pretentiously so-called "Raven c.s. McCracken" -- I'm quite convinced that isn't his real name...and what's with the lowercase initials?) seemed to think he was God's gift to gaming.
Anyone that thinks 4e DnD is all hack-and-slash simply hasn't looked at the system in its entirety. The tactical nature of combat and the MMO elements used to design and adjudicate it are correct in observation, but I wouldn't call them inherently inferior to any other fantasy game's method of combat. I would instead argue that their modular nature makes it a very smooth execution.
DnD4e's skill challenge system is completely awesome, and very much a Storytelling-style mechanic. The way that it encourages organic interaction of the entire party to push the story along are wonderful concepts - its a method of taking standard "success over time" skill checks and turning them into evolving concepts that can involve all the players in addition to defining a scene and achieving that scene's resolution.
In combination, the system offers a crunchy-but-smooth combat experience and an open-but-inclusive/engaging non-combat conflict resolution system. Perhaps it fails both - I don't believe so - but its aim is high, and I don't think many detractors realize that.
For me, a game should be judged on one basic principle - does it achieve its aim?
DnD3e/4e is a fantasy setting game that provides tactical combat resolution. It achieves that aim very well. For contrast, consider Vampire (or other WW WoD games other than Street Fighter) where the haphazard dice-rolling resolution system favors unpredictable and zany results completely at odds with the setting's serious tone.
Now, for worst game...
Hero System is a terrible one. For a SLAM-BANG-SOCKO superhero game its combat is terribly dull and dice-heavy. Its only advantage was in its open-ended character design system, which has been done cleaner by Mutants and Masterminds and with better execution in play to boot.
Rolemaster is another terrible one, even though it has several elements that I like. For a game so intent on creating a strong atmosphere of simulation, its tactical atmosphere is nearly absent in actual gameplay without using hex-based movements and employing other conversions, or playing combat as a hyper-detailed miniatures wargame with yardstick-measured movement.
Vampire, Wraith, and Werewolf are terrible for the aforementioned mechanics of the game completely undermining the atmosphere these games are going for. Entertainingly enough, those same ridiculous mechanics are the reason why Street Fighter: the Storytelling Game is one of the best White Wolf games ever created.
Aftermath for its stupidly complicated mechanics. It gets a bit of a pass because it was made in the first few generations of gaming, but its offenses are so egregious that even that pass is not enough. It's on the list.
Non-Rifts Palladium, since the game is so obviously a system built with no consideration for how the parts work together. Rifts gets a pass because the setting is explicit in that the parts are not intended to work together, and features Mechs vs Dragons.
wow, You say that all non-rifts palladium games are horrible, but rifts is ok cause its meant to be that way. ....................... Out of all the palladium games rifts is the only unbalanced one, it a night mare to set for any GM. oh, i'm sorry i have to pop your bubble, but$e is not a storyteller styled game. no matter how you look at it. Extended rest (which is one day) is a munchkin mechanic. The idea that you would heal from any and all wounds in a days time without any type of medical or magical attention is bull. The skill challenging system that you speak of so fondly is a set of skill checks that a good GM will mostly make a player make anyway. However, some of the skill checks are stupid and the GM would just tell you, for instance that, that letting the fighter intimate the duke would be a bad idea. you don't need a skill check for that. Another example would be the Example of trying to detect who in the baron's court is the doppleganger, this is only for those people who just can't think or follow the clues that the GM has left behind. Skill challenges are just their way to make any small remote role-play scene seem more like a combat scene or add a handy cap for players who just don't get it.
White wolf's system is not that bad, especially the new version. The problem is that their settings suck. (except changeling) every setting is built off the idea that there are hundreds of evil creatures that could easily kill off humanity and the players are playing character who are on the lower rung of those creatures. The idea that humanity would still be alive is laughable. The only game that i did not see this in ( but i have not read all the books either) is the old changeling the dreaming setting.
I must say, this thread is one of the best examples of "there's no accounting for taste" that I've seen in the gaming world. Personal opinion is not objective truth, folks. Just because you dislike a game system doesn't mean it automagically must be bad. There are some OGL games I absolutely adore, but as a rule I dislike D&D and the d20 System with a passion. I don't think this makes the system lousy period, just not to my tastes. On the other hand, the majority of games which fall into the "fantasy heartbreaker" category are quantifiably bad. I chose Spawn of Fashan because it was pretty much the very first fantasy heartbreaker and nearly incomprehensible. Seriously, read the reviews. It's the mother of all horrid games.
I could never dock a game for having Mechs vs Dragons, no matter the mechanics. Like I said, I'm judging (noted as being subjective as the rest of my blahblahblah) based on how well the mechanics and game underpin the concept.
As for the Skill Challenge, I don't really think its so much a standard "make a skill check" kind of mechanic, though that's sort of how its presented in the DMG. However, the way I see it is as a more player-driven resolution, Storyteller style than a more standard "DM sets the scene and players respond" resolution. It could be that way, but to my reading of it its closer in spirit to the Wushu rules than 3e skill resolution.
One-off skill use falls into that category, but I see skill challenges as a neat way to organically describe a particular struggle, plot point or other episode in game that could otherwise shut out players. The encouragement to find a use for most every skill in a fashion that the player can justify is a good thing and I think its creative empowerment for players takes it past the more stifling mechanics in non-Story systems. That said, I imagine that a lot of GMs aren't going to use it that way, which is unfortunate.
Extended Rest I wouldn't call a munchkin mechanic, but it definitely belongs to DnD and every other system where the threat of death is generally divorced from any degrading of capabilities. Healing in fantasy games is genre-dependent. Rolemaster has a nasty set of recovery mechanics and escalating degrees of (semi)permanent damage, Warhammer is in the middle by simply hacking off limbs, and DnD has a binary HEALTHY/DEAD damage system that makes the subjectively-defined Hit Point system a goofy thing to begin with. In ODnD/1e/2e instead of an "Extended Rest" you had "One Day Where the Cleric Does Nothing But Heal" - in essence, you have an Extended Rest of 1 day followed by a day (maybe 2 or 3) where the Cleric was shut down but everyone else was basically at top capacity. In 3e the Cleric's healing could be infused into wands of Cure Light Wounds, Faith Healing or Lesser Vigor, mechanics used solely to bypass the generally boring part of the game where you sit around regenerating HPs. 4e's Extended Rest system, though on its face silly, is a natural outgrowth of DnD's view of battle damage and HPs. If I wanted gritty battle damage as a feature of the game I probably wouldn't be playing DnD to begin with. In short, the Extended Rest fits in fine with DnD: you battle, you heal, you go on to greater adventures, without the absolute need to have a dedicated healer in the party (a secondary role that was never popular in any group I played with from age 8 to 30). It would be a crappy mechanic in Rolemaster and distracting in Warhammer, but in DnD? Totally at home and functionally a replication of the ease of healing from earlier editions, though without the necessity of requiring a character dedicated to party logistics rather than heroism.
But yes, its definitely a hand-waving function, but at home in any edition of DnD.
I don't think it counts as a story telling mechanic if there is a lot of rolling involved. It would defeat the purpose.
I don't know...there are definitely some games where the roleplaying side is represented by a mechanic (a mechanic more complex than "roll your bluff/diplomacy"). AEG's system for 7th Sea is pretty good. It's nice in the sense that it doesn't let players dump all their points into physical attributes and metagame charisma. In any case, I don't think dice-rolling should necessarily be antithetical to storytelling, or vice versa. Much like everything else we're discussing, it's always going to come down to player and GM skill. A good GM can maintain suspense while witholding die rolls until they're absolutely critical, so they only add to the suspense, since they're the one point at which the hot iron of randomness touches the tinder of your game. However, lousy players and GMs can easily turn a game in almost any system into a monotonous and endless series of die rolls, interspersed only with pauses to laboriously calculate and argue modifiers while flipping through several books.
I loved the criticism of White Wolf's settings, by the way. I argued that exact point with a White Wolf player who wanted me to run a game of Vampire. I said I wouldn't run it unless I got to take some of the suspension of disbelief out of the system. That entailed figuring out a realistic predator-prey relationship to figure out how many vampires of each generation you could expect. It also meant giving up the idea that governments were generally ignorant of vampires, which led to the idea that vampires were slaves to the tides of history as much as people (rather than the secret puppetmasters White Wolf envisioned). The game world we ended up with was one where vampires all attempted to maintain herds, which they lived vicariously through. Vampire hunters were always extremely professional (I modeled them on the crew from Heat) with high success rates. It was pretty much the polar opposite of White Wolf's setting, but the player ultimately liked it a lot more.
Finally, I played the D20 Star Wars Saga Edition. It wasn't bad...I think they recaptured a lot of the original feel of the game world, from before the prequels. There wasn't enough of the Zahn trilogy, which was ultimately the cornerstone of the D6 Star Wars, but they mentioned it briefly at least (by mentioning Thrawn and Pellaeon). Hopefully, it's the start of a rollback in Lucas' destruction of his own franchise.
they can do that, eccept when its a dice-less game like Marvel universe.
the vampire game sounds fun, but i like to see what you would do with werewolf and mage..
Role-playing rests where it always has, on the shoulders of the GM. There are no rules a great GM cannot overcome and none that can make a poor one competent. Rules are supposed to be a safetly net for the less than great GMs and some fail more miserably than others.
Some rules try to achieve realism, a system of diminishing return. But lots of us prefer the complexity of GURPs and the HERO system for the flexibility it offers. Others seem to follow the system of complexity for complexities sake. I dunno, maybe they have something hidden in it that their players want, my theory is that the complexity is there to imply realism even though I do not see it.
Some prefer speed to realism, as if huge body counts are what people want when their GM is not capable of supplying a storyline.
All in all different games for different people. My personal worst are those games that claim to be realistic but are simply needlessly complex. Where club foots and albino's make up most of the group, or where one type of character is superior in all ways to any other.
sounds like hackmaster
There are things I don't like about a lot of games; Palladium: -I don't like that PPE=Potential Psychic Energy is used for magic -That your endurance stat is the battery for magic -That, depending on the book, Speed is simply how fast you run but has nothing to do with how fast you act, much less initiative -The books are slightly laid out better than the Principia Discordia. But the PD does it on purpose Being said, I love the Palladium system in general
WoD: No matter what your skills and talents are, if your difficulty is 5, then you still have only a 50% chance to succeed, despite the number of die. However it is like rerolling over and over etc But I do love the flavor and ideas presented, and the system itself is nice
but neither of these games would even come close to my worst games list
Bad Games: Champions: Way too many numbers and figures. What I DO like is the segmented attack which I have borrowed for my Heroes game
AD&D 1/2 ed: Only because of the spell vs memory system, combat oriented xp, and THAC0. but it's hard to be pissy at your first love
DC Heroes/Blood of Heroes: The expnential stat system is just short sighted and stupid. Example: I have a Str of 4, but you have a Str of 3. I am twice as strong as you, but you still have a decent chance of beating me in feats of strength. Example 2: Doomsday was wreaking havoc on the Justice League and nearly every other hero in the DCU in a game a friend was involved in. Str 27 Doomsday just got done pounding 25 Str Supes into the ground, kryptonian blood dripping from his stony fists. In a moment that was meant to be a touching and heart breaking moment of desperation and futility, the gm had Pa Kent (Str 1) run out onto the battle field after seeing his poor boy killed. He was SUPPOSE to wail on Doomsday in grief and then die when DD flexed his pinky finger. But no. In DC Heroes the system revolves around 2d10. Any doubles are rerolled and added up. Pa Kent and his mighty 1 strength and gimpy heart threw his punch and rerolled the 2d10 11 cosmic times. Pa Kent one punched Doomsday, and sent his atoms scattering through the universe. GREAT story, terrible system
Worst Game: HAS to be Synnabar. I too had it on my shelf for a long time just reminding me how bad it really was. I don't know if there was a number less than 1 million in the game. I believe a normal human would have jus that, 1 million HP, but weapons would easily do that. It's like the designer said Munchkins LOVE 0's let's put a LOT of them in
I'm prematurely jaded, so I stay in my niche of RQ3.
But I have a major issue with (A)D&D, it seems it generates some of the worst gaming session horror stories.
I'll rank in the top 10 the 1st Edition of Immortal Invisible War (bashing the very game I write for now) because the setting rocked, the concept rocked, but here was a game about shapeshifting creatures responsible for the very myths and legends of humanity, and the core rules book had no rules or guidelines of any kind ... regarding the shapeshifting... Then the 2nd Edition when the publisher tried to rape the game to cut a deal with the company that did the Babylon 5 TV Series to try and get a TV series made out of the game... A 300-page book went to under 100 pages and was dumbed down to the point it offended a lot of folks. Granted, changing every game mechanics term into something artsy in 1st Edition went a bit far, but going the entire opposite direction in 2nd Edition chased away a lot of fans. If it wasn't for the original owner of the intellectual property coming and getting away from the publisher as they started to fold, it would have just rotted away.
Anyone interested in checking out the 3rd Edition can head over to the game's website and download the new edition free of charge since the original designer didn't want to go back into the business and just wanted to have someone fix things for the fans and finally get all the aspects of the game out in one solid cohesive version. That's how bad the 1st and 2nd Editions were, that he left the industry and guides myself and the others who work on it in putting it out to correct the publisher's horrible mistakes.
I'm surprised no-one has mentioned Aria yet. Role playing, but not playing a character? Playing a group or civilization instead? A good idea, but way too difficult in execution.
You can tell the game was designed by a sociologist.
I'll also second Champions for being way too number-crunchy.
The worst game I played was the first version of Shadowrun, that was published back in the early 90s. I played several games of it, so it wasn't just a single game. Haven't played since, never will, not even the newest system.
Second worst was Rolemaster. =)
I think my vote would have to be Rifts/Palladium.
I dont like the stat names. Just call them strength, intelligence and what not. Nobody is fooled by you pretending its not modelled after D&D.
I dont like that you have some abilities that are percentiles, some roll under on D20, and some are levels that provide modifiers to other abilities (Martial Arts I'm looking at you!). Be consistant.
I dont like the MDC/SDC/Hitpoints. So I have to whittle down their armour, then their "structure", and only then I might hurt them?
The Kitchen sink aspect I have no problems with. I've seen less plausible worlds...
The only Palladium players I have met have been gun-bunny munchkins of the worst sort.
And finally I dislike their customer service/PR section. They go out of their way to alienate potential players.
I can only agree with one aspect of this and that is that most rift players are the gun bunny munchkins. Rifts is the worst example of palladium; mostly because it was designed for all the power gamers out there- and in turn was never made to be balanced.
Never ran into the Alienating of new players part.
And i have to laugh at the first comment about it and D&D.... Palladium came out in the late 70's early 80's.. So since it has come out everyone has said that at one time or another.. Just like they say that about any system (D&Ders being loyal to a dead animal and all). In fact palladium's bio stats that they played 1st edition D&D until they got to the point where they saw that it lacked to much and decided to make their own system, one that had more options.
If you will check out some of the other game settings you will not that they do not split up the armor into sections (a rifts only thing because of the MDCs) And the dice rolling is more simple than you make it sound. Percentiles for skill rolls (roll under the % of the skill you have), D20 rolls for attacks/saving throws, and such. And modifiers- well every game has that- a character Hand to hand skill gives them bonuses and special attacks depending on their level. Now if you go into something like "Ninja and superspies" there is more to it- but thats a separate game setting and can be added to the other settings but it would be more of a hassle than its worth,. this is because of the Ninja movie styled chi powers that the martial artist can receive from their Hand to hand skill. I perfer not to mix the setting material up like that since its not needed.
I'm going to have to dispute some of that Skull.
My problem with the stats isn't that they copied D&D, its that they gave them unhelpful names. Whereas D&D and many games since used more useful terms. Physical Power and Physical Prowess? Just call them Strength and Agility (or Dexterity or whatever). Sorting my MA from my ME is not my idea of a good time.
For the record Palladium's first RPG was launched in 1981, and Rifts was 1990. D&D has seniority by seven years. (And I don't like D&D either)
I'll take your point on the SDC/MDC I've only played Rifts and Beyond the Supernatural (where we didn't have any PCs in armour).
As for the melee rules. I now avoid any games with this much faff. If I have 3 dice in melee I want to roll 3 dice. If I have 75% in martial arts I should be rolling under that. Yes there should be situational modifiers, but anything more than that is too much rules.
If you want to see what Palladium thinks of its fans, try reading their internet policy and go from there: http://www.palladiumbooks.com/policies.html
I know of the internet policy, i do not see it as "Anti-player". Its there to protect there products so that from being placed online in or part. There are sites that have no problem putting up there own stuff that fit into the game without braking the policy. however, they do have a by-monthly magazine called "the rifter" that anyone can send in submission into. It will take a while for it to show up in an issue since they have boxes of submissions to go through all the time and that they have to read every single one. But if they like what they see they print it in one of the issues. If they really like what they see they will make it an official optional rule to the game.
I have only looked through the game itself but never played, but Fantasy Imperium looks like a clunky game system. If anyone could enlighten us on it a bit more?
It's bad GMing that produces most bad RP. I've played both DnD and Cyberpunk as enjoyable talkfests (and they're clearly combat-heavy systems) and I've played Paranoia as a super fun slug-fest (when it's clearly a talk-heavy system). In the hands of a great GM, any "system" can be a hoot.
But that's not to excuse or ignore rules-lawyering and general player selfishness, which are also game-killers regardless of system.
The "worst RPG ever" can be any system where you are in the care of a cack-handed GM, with a rules-geek to your left, and a selfish **** to your right.
That's probably true Shannonr, but some games tend to appeal to the "worst" (however you define it) players/GM. And others actively encourage bad play either through the focus of the rules, or the way the setting is written.
Track down a copy of FATAL if you don't believe me :)
Actually the worst RPG is "Racial Holy Wars", but it disqualifies itself. Apart from being some of the most moronicly bigoted bulls**t I have ever had the displeasure of seeing. It is also appalling written, and the "rules" are so arbitrary, inconsistent and full of glaring omissions, I don't think you could call it a system, let alone a game.
Somebody really needs to do a Spawn of Fashan/FATAL mashup for the sheer weirdness.
There were several D&D fantasy ripoffs/unofficial expansions in the 70s & 80s that lacked all redeeming features, were obviously awful at first glance and have faded from my memory. Tunnels and Trolls comes to mind as one that wasn't quite as awful but was really dumb to play. Arduin was one of the worst that I actually paid for, though I know it has fans that loved it.
Well there are a number of games that have been very successful but which I think stink. Vampire and Werewolf come to mind. Their mechanics don't work and their backgrounds don't make sense. But I can suggest a "worst RPG ever" without being anything like so controversial: Hunter Planet. Unplayable, not that you would want to anyway. Utter drek.
I've got to say, of all the threads I've started that successfully caused discussion, this one is my favorite........just throwing that out there.
im only 17. >.< so i dont have much experience but i would say that the two "real" games i have played: D@D and Shadowrun both are very good games id play a paper and dice game over a videogame anyday....im realy intrested in this starwars paper and dice game...any help on finding rulebooks and such?
One thing I see mentioned quite a bit on this topic, are games that are over-laden with stifling rules that grind play to halt. In my own style of game play I enjoy utilizing thorough game mechanics to add to the over all experience. Granted, this cannot be pulled off by a GM that lacks a strong understanding of the rule system that he is attempting to run. Without mechanics what does the game become? The books could be closed and returned to the shelves and the GM and players could simply sit around the table and replace the dice rolling with a storyline that, I am sure if in the right hands would make a great 'Tale'. But still this remains a story and nothing more...not a recounting of events that were only accomplished by coupling a players quick wit with his charactersappropriate 'skill'. Attempts at tasks that require specific skills, IMHO, should not be bulked into the 'Narrative'part of an adventure.....not entirely. The outcome of said attempts deserve worthy mention by a GM; successes and failures can be woven into the storyline to all the players delight, but the determining factor for skill usage and combat effects deserve die rolls with modifiers for skill level, situational modifiers, etc. These are all tools of good gaming, I believe. The narrative provides fuel for the imaginations of the players involved, and then through the intelligent use of their, hopefully, well designed characters they can attempt to use the environment described to them by their GM to their advantage. Who really wants a GM to just simply state, yes you were successful...just because the GM thinks that it sounds like the right thing to say? Tasks that are assigned different difficulty levels and that have the potential of success or failure based on skill level with realistic modifiers add to the uncertainty of what the outcome will be. Sure, I have had sessions that have totally bombed, but this was not the system tha did it....it was lack of preparation on my part. And rules dont have to be cumbersome....are they not simply guidlines that can be altered to fit 'our' needs or our groups needs? Anyways, the revised edition of avalon hills , powers and perils. was a great platform for molding what met the needs of my group of players. And if I had to choose a poor system that I played, it would have to be D and D. I had many great sessions as a youth playing this system, but as I aged it became apparent that many of the rules were unacceptable for me and my group...more than we were willing to alter to make the system acceptable. I never could figure out the idea behind the jumping rule in the dungeoneers survival guide...it involved strength and character level. I could never get past the idea that an old, physically inferior, high level wizard could jump further or higher than a young, fit low-level fighter....that is absolute hogwash. oh well...my rant is over.
Rules are certainly necessary to help both the GM and the players decide, "Can the character do [BLANK]? What degree of success (or failure) can be expected in attempting it?" Put another way, what is the character able to do, and what are the odds? And overlaying this is the question of whether or not those abilities and effects fit within the genre of the game. In your mind, it is not realistic for an old man to jump higher or farther than a young man of similar strength. While I tend to agree with your assessment, I believe others could make the opposite argument, that experience counts for a lot. Perhaps, being a wizard, the old man is able to innately shift reality a tad to cover the extra distance. (A priest in this situation might perhaps get a little "boost" from his or her diety.) You may pooh pooh the idea as being silly, but there is a level of silliness built into D&D already, it being a fantasy game after all.
Not that I'm advocating for D&D. I had my fun playing all editions from Basic D&D through 3.5 Edition (still waiting to try 4th Edition). And I've never seen a whole heck of a lot of realism in there. Yes, some nods to history, some attempts at reflecting the perils of the real world. But I've never put my foot down to say something along the lines of, "Your wizard could never jump THAT far!" This is a game where characters can fight and move at full ability up to the very point when they drop dead (based on the Hit Point system); I think reality has already been thrown out the window.
Now, I also agree that games need rules to provide structure and create limitations for characters (so they don't all become god-like). Even diceless games (such as Amber) and "free form" games (like Universalis) have rules. Some systems just don't work because things have been left out, or are difficult to understand. Other games are absolutely overburdened with a plethora of rules that makes keeping track of them all and applying them correctly a real pain. And, for me (and many others), when the rules get in the way of having fun, perhaps a different system should be used. However, it's fair to say that some groups enjoy figuring out complex issues, especially those based on physics. Maybe your group really likes trying to determine whether or not 7.62mm rounds can penetrate a sandbag, and how much damage they can do if they get through... Different strokes, and all that.
I second the World of Synnibarr by Raven McCracken as the worst RPG ever.
Wow, just got to Kyrgyzstan on the way to Afghanistan, and I'm glad to see this thread is still chunking away. I'm glad to see the discussion of mechanics, which is sort of turning this into a philosophy of roleplaying thread. Just briefly putting my two cents in, but I've got to agree that mechanics and logistics are very much dependent on the character of the group rather than absolutely good/bad things. Also, for those of you who run those kind of mechanics/logistics oriented games, I can tell you from personal experience that you're in luck with the 7.62 going through sandbags issue...it depends not only on the positioning of the bag, but the type of sand, so happy gaming with that one.
Long post alert. Skip to the last line if you can't be bothered
I've started lumping games into three vague categories ever since reading about games design at places like RPGnet and The Forge. However the following is purely opinion about the kind of games I like to play. None of it is inherently true or false
Games I define as awful often tend to have rules that get in the way of the fun. They often attempt to model a reality in excruciating detail so that play slows down as you cross reference charts, modify the rolls for wind resistance, time of year, temperature, etc. If it consistently takes longer to resolve in game than it does in real life, I'm not interested. And if people defend the game by saying "You can speed things up by ignoring rule x" then why is rule x in the game? Awful games also include those that try to model reality and get it wrong. And games that are incomplete or just unplayable without 2 or more books of extra rules and /or errata. By my definition Rifts, FATAL and In Nomine (SJGames version) fall here.
Most games fall here. They attempt to model a reality, do so reasonably well, and the rules don't get in the way too much. But they don't actively support the type of game they aim for. By my definition D&D3.x, World of Darkness, and Shadowrun fall here
By and large these games DON'T attempt to model reality in detail. They are designed for a purpose, and the rules support this purpose. Depending on the type of game, any action at all can be covered by the existing rules (eg Wushu), or any action not covered is irrelevant to the game (attempting to fire a gun or brew poison in Puppetland). By my definition the best indie games fall here. Capes, Dogs in the Vineyard, 3:16, Wushu, and My Life With Master for example.
None of this is up for debate, because what I like isn't necessarily what you like. Your Favourite Game may be in my awful pile. And the type of game I describe as awesome may be anathema to you. And for your group you're probably right :)
tl:dr - rules should support the game style not hinder it
The worst RPG I ever played was Marvel Super Heroes from TSR, my hero could fly at the speed of someone crawling and could detect magnets within 100'. RMG was his name, Refrigerator Magnet Guy :(
thats the flew with TSR and WOTC. they think that any sitting fits the rules. the rules set that they used for Marvel was the saga system rules which does not work very well with superheroes, where as it worked fine with dragonlance. Even Gurps does not work well with all things under the sun like their mote would lead you to believe. Palladium had realized this when they revised their game "beyond the supernatural" for a second edition. They fixed it up so that it was no longer like all the other game while still having the very base rules at its core.
I quite like the old Marvel Supers game. The universal table was pretty funky, and the way characters are written on the sheet is clear and east to understand (no arbitrary acryonyms, or dense stacks of numbers). But random generation was an awful mess, I agree.
@James667: Sounds more like a bad GM* than a bad system. When I played, we either used pre-generated characters, or explained to our GM what we wanted, and he came up with a group of reasonably balanced characters. *= Obeys the letter rather than the spirit of the rules.
@skull: Yep. Pick the right game system for the setting (and group) and you won't go wrong. Pick an unsuitable system (for setting and group), and you will likely have a bad game, no matter how good the rules are.
C'mon folks. D&D? WoD? Sure, they're clunky and attract nightmare players in droves, but you can do worse that that.
How about Jonathan Tw@t's "masterpiece", Everway, where you generated a character by picking five ludicrously tree-hugging fantasy cards from a pack of 90 and working them into a story. There were almost no stats, skills or powers, no character progression, and all conflict resolution was done by the aid of a deck of tarot-like cards. "I'll unlock the door." "Pull a card." "Um, it's The Knight. It says it means Vengeance. Do I do it?"
Or the first edition of Bureau 13: Stalking the Night Fantastic, which had a system and layout to rival Spawn of Fashan, and included tables for _everything_, from leaping out of buildings to drowning face-down in a sink of water.
Or even Nephilim which, whilst not particularly offensive in its system, was all about parasitic alien spirits eating the souls of intelligent, creative, good-tempered mortals (ie role-players) and then using their carcasses to wander around town blowing mystic shit out of each other. Hard to feel empathy for your PC when it's basically just obliterated someone who could have been your cousin.
There's a lot of very bad games out there. Although, to be honest, I agree that the RPG industry's "Eye of Argon" / "Manos: The Hands of Fate" really _is_ "Spawn of Fashan".
Thye only problem i found with the Everway game was the setting, the rules by themselves promoted great role playing with out the need for dice to muck up your day.
Yes, there are systems out there that are stupid, boring, terribly designed, or disgusting, but at least they're creative. The army of d20 clones are like novels written with Mad Libs. They encourage the designer to skip thinking about a huge portion of the game (the gameplay), and the result is that almost all of them feel like the same game with different window dressing.
@Tumbleworld: Everway actually had three different resolution systems, and it was up to the GM to decide which system (or mixture of systems) he wanted to use. To elaborate using your example
Karma - Does the character have an suitable lock picking skills? Or a criminal background? Or even lock picks? He succeeds or fails based on what is most likely in the circumstances.
Drama - What makes for a better story? Opening the door through lockpicking, or having to find another way? He succeeds or fails based on what is more interesting.
Fate - Leave it to chance and draw a card. He draws The Knight? Main meaning is vengeance, but alternate meaning could be honour or strength. Both very different from what is needed. He fails.
Sure its a hippy-indie game, but that's different from being bad game.
"Or the first edition of Bureau 13: Stalking the Night Fantastic, which had a system and layout to rival Spawn of Fashan, and included tables for _everything_, from leaping out of buildings to drowning face-down in a sink of water."
Hahaha. This and Palladium's Mechanoid Invasion were my two favorite "impossible" games when I was a kid. There were such awesome ideas (at least I thought so at the time) and had so many neat components (STNF had the coolest gunshot resolution EVAR!) but were completely broken and impossible to play with the systems "as is."
I ran brief campaigns of both of them but ended up pretty much making up the rules as we went along. I seem to remember having a lot of fun anyway.
I'm relatively new to gaming, only a year or two of practice, and I honestly have yet to encounter a "bad system." This might be because my group is a pretty good gauge of it's own likes and dislikes, or maybe we've just been lucky. I've really only played the main-stream systems, (D&D, GURPS, WoD,) but I've had fun with them all and had some great, engaging, adventures. As a general rule though I avoid most d20 systems, not because mechanics, but because most of them seem to be sub-par recycled garbage story-wise. I also avoid systems that tend to define themselves on a single setting, (Star Wars, and the D&D World books are in this category), I the flexibility of making up my own stuff without feeling "obligated" to follow some mythos.
FGU's SPACE OPERA! The 1st time I've ever played this I had an absolute blast!One of the best sessions I'd ever been in! The 2nd and 3rd time was under a different GM(a boyfriend/girlfriend team in fact...}and I have to say those where just about the most ass achingly dull sessions EVER.All talk,and they literally panicked when I started to try to bring some action scenes up!SOOOOOOO.....I picked up a copy of the rules so I could run a rip-roaring saga of galactic blood and thunder myself,and then I read the rules.The character generation took HOURS,combat consisted of three different charts,the editing was some of the worst ever,and that's when I realized what happened.The 1st gm basically designed a quicker system BASED on the rules,while the poor 2nd Gm's tried to run it by the book.I sill have those rules,but have never used them.Also not my bag:Elfquest,Palladium(even when I played the most powerful character I didn't like it) and Mechwarrior (Heatsinks?HEATSINKS?!?Play MEKTON if you want a REAL battle-mech!!!!!)
This is an easy question with a complicated answer. It depends on what a person is looking for in a game and what the GM, as well as the players, are willing to put into the game. There are some systems I have played that were absolute crap with one GM and a great time with a different GM. With that said, I can't pick any game as the worst, or best. I can just point to people in my past that I don't game with any more, for what I consider a good reason.
The worst I played was Villains and Vigilantes--a superhero game where you randomly generated your powers. You could come up with a fire-powered character who was vulnerable to fire.
Another bad one was the 1st edition of Shadowrun. The concept was pretty cool but the mechanics were horrid. Couldn't make any sense of it. Haven't played any of the subsequent editions but I presume they simplified it a bit.
4th ed D&D. If I wanted to play WoW i'd pay the monthly subscription fee to play it not buy some books to play a pen and paper version of it. On top of that it's completely equipment based and the classes have completely lost their identity. You can play a Barbarian and a spellcaster and there's...little to no difference between them, it's all basically the same character. I played in 2 campaigns and we might as well have thrown away the books b/c they're collecting dust.
I cried myself to sleep when WoTC turned Star Wars into a d20 system. I love that game as d6. But, of course, everything the Wizards touch seems to turn into ash and sadness as it did when they bought up Decipher's Star Wars CCG.
4e D&D reeks of...well it's hard to say. Parts of it are far too oversimplified, other parts are too complex. Some elements of the game are far too overpowered and it made my mind whirl with frustration far more often than not. I think Ahriman also makes a good point about it being item-dependent. It's worse than 3.5 in that regard.
For me, there are two categories: worst-playing game, and worst game in terms of quality of the product. For the former, I'd say Serenity. I love the setting, but the game was a clunky nightmare that seemed to have a phobia for a D20. Worst quality game I'd say was Bushido from FGU. Actually, anything FGU put out was terribly edited, laid out, playtested, etc. I'm really surprised that with all the people who were involved in that game's creation, there wasn't a single English major who could have edited it for clarity, spelling and punctuation.
Anything by palladium... 4e D&D while very MMO like wasnt completely unplayable... your really just left up to a good GM. I just have never seen anyone DMing palladium game that was enjoyable...
I love how this thread is still gently rolling along after three years. I came here hunting for "Cyborg Commando" references and stayed for the debate.
I have to agree, a lot of these choices are "in the eye of the beholder" jobs. I was astonished, for example, that anybody could dislike "Star Wars D6" when the system, at least the first edition of it, did such a clean uncomplicated job of presenting the SW universe. Then again, it may be that very lack of crunch that irritates some folk, but endears the system to me.
I was most surprised, however, at the reasons for Killwatch's dislike of "DC Heroes/Blood of Heroes." Admittedly, the latter is horribly set out and unpleasant to read, but it's the system itself that was the bone of contention. I've dug out my 3rd Ed, copyrighted 1989, to have a look at it.
My memories of DCH are all good. It's a grainy system, but this is a shortcoming it cheerfully admits to as an exponential system was the only sensible way to reflect the abilities of cosmically powerful entities. It isn't trying to reflect our mundane reality, but rather comic book reality, which is hardly the same thing. Indeed, the system's most appealing bit of hand waving is to unify its units in a sort heroic systÃ¨me international d'unitÃ©s, so it's easy and fast to work out, for example, how much weight a character can lift and how far and fast he can throw it. That's where the first example given falls down; in a straight weightlifting competition between a strength 3 and a strength 4 character, the latter can lift twice as much. It's as simple as that, no dice need be rolled. In a fight and all else being equal, the weaker character will still probably lose, but might get lucky. That's fair enough, though. That's why we use dice -- to reflect the hand of fate.
The second example, the Doomsday one, was what made my jaw drop, though. Yes, it is theoretically possible for Pa Kent to mosey up to Doomsday and punch him into the orbit of Saturn, but that is a possibility in all systems that use open-ended re-rolling for a bit of spice. And let's just think about the numbers given. The GM rolled consecutive doubles on 2d10 eleven times. In case you don't see the huge, cybernetically-enhanced mastodon in the room there, let me reiterate.
Now, if the rules were as stated, any double will do, so what was rolled there was a 10% chance on the first roll, diminishing by a full magnitude on each subsequent roll. So, Pa Kent's lucky haymaker had a probability of 1 in 100000000000. For comparison, your chances of being struck by lightning in your lifetime are, depending on source, between 1 in 5000 and 1 in 6250. For a more interesting comparison, 1 in 100000000000 is akin to winning the UK National Lottery jackpot twice in less than eighteen months.
And it gets better. The odds of those eleven doubles are actually even longer, because the rules state that a double 1 is an automatic fail. That's why whoever is rolling has the option of stopping before their luck runs out.
So, if a criticism of the system is hung on an event that was of approaching cosmic rarity, that's not much of a criticism. It's like saying, "Oh, I went off AD&D because we were playing one day and an event on the quantum level turned the DM's Guide into a deinonychus and it chased us around the room. Poor Joe." You can't really blame the game for not anticipating a breathtakingly unlikely occurrence.
Okay. Spleen vented. I'll climb off my high horse now.
Returning to the topic in hand. My low opinion of Gary Gygax as a game designer is hung on "Cyborg Commando" and "Mythus: Dangerous Journeys," both horrible to the point of draining you of the will to live just by reading the rulebooks.
"Masterbook" is another one that I never liked, although not so much because it was horrible as just perplexing. I might have got more into MB if I'd ever played in a game run by somebody else, but the rulebook -- especially once the Masterdeck was added in -- just left me bewildered. As mentioned earlier, I prefer crunch-light systems, but rules don't frighten me (I loved "Bushido," by the way, pace Silverbeetle). There was just something about MB that didn't gel in my head. Anybody here actually play it and get on with it?
4e D&D is a special case. It's a well-designed system and does pretty much everything it aims to. It's just soulless. That may actually make it a candidate as the "worst RPG ever." D&D is the poster boy for roleplaying, and yet it plays more like a skirmish-level tabletop combat game than an RPG. At the risk of being over dramatic, it smacks faintly of some sort of betrayal of the whole hobby.
Carreaux- I agree with you on all your points, especially the soulessness of current D&D.
wraeththu. I've gotten into discussions with people over the game, and their opinions are based on the RPG.net review.
I can assure you, as someone who has a copy of the game, nothing can compare to the sanity blasting horror of the actual product.
I would have to say that anything D20 is a mess. Aside from lazy fantasy, and I do run 3.x D&D games, it is unsuitable for creating any find of experienced character or any characetr that doesn't fit the mold of what the writers thing is a character, overall it is a poor system. But then all level based sysyems are poor representations of anything meant to be realistic in any way.
As for particula games, most are early RPGs that were really nothing more than table top wargames with some RPGesque stuff tacked on the outside. OD&D and 1E AD&D are good examples. Then you have the super math heavy games like Other Suns and Adventures in Fantasy.
One problem with many modern games is that they are directly tied to specific settings. Anything DC Comics or Marvel Superheroes fit in this category.
The mark of a good game is that it provides you with mechanics that let you create your own games.
I own some games because of the world they are set in, but dislike the system, D20 Thieve's World is an example, the world is awesome, but the two systems I have it in are not really suitable for the unique character types you find in the books.