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Everybody Else is Doing it...


There are a lot of new game companies lately. And new game companies mean new games. Or, should I say, new titles for the same type of game. While it's true that there are some original games and ideas, they're few and far between. Which is odd, considering the realms of gaming that have been left unexploited. It's a case where everyone else is doing it... the exact same way.

One of the newer genres that new companies seem to be latching on to is the multiple universe setting. By multiple universe, I don't mean that the game is omniversal or generic, but that the characters are thrown from reality to reality, as in games like Everway, Multiverser, or Maelstrom. And while the setting idea is good, the systems themselves have some flaws.

A large problem in designing a multiple reality system is the authors have to incorporate everything that could happen in any reality. That, in and of itself, is a daunting problem that can take months, even years, to sort out the rules for. Even worse is when the authors try to cram all that data into a singular book. Which is nice and idealistic to give the players only one book to buy, but not very practical or realistic.

Of course, the tried-and-true genre for role-playing is fantasy, and while I enjoy new systems and new takes on fantasy role-playing I'm getting pretty fed up with every second or third fantasy game simply being a carbon copy of AD&D. I'd like to see some fantasy without Elves & Dwarves that hate each other (and yet they still get along during a game, what's with that?).

I want to see some fresh, new ideas in a system. And by that, I don't mean different dice in the same old system. Legends of the Five Rings is one of the first original fantasy games for a while. The constraints of feudal Japan, however can be a deterrent for any role-player.

One would think that future, with its infinite possibilities, would constantly be a fresh market. However, most space games (those not based on TV shows), seem to be in favor of a dark space age lately, with little difference between them.

Once in a while, however, I see a glimmer of hope for the role-playing industry. As much as I loathe to admit it, the World of Darkness series by White Wolf was a fresh, new idea. Granted, I don't care for the system, but at least that was different as well.

Deadlands was a perfect example of how a little creativity can brighten up the gaming world. Not only was it a western (which there is a distinct lack of in gaming), but it was a creative western, where monsters roamed the land. The game system also had a measure of creativity, not only were there dice to be rolled, but cards and chips to be played. I didn't really care for trying to scrounge up cards and chips for playing, but the point is it was original.

There are still a number of little used or unused settings. The wild west, for example. Sure, there's Deadlands and Werewolf: Wild West, but there really aren't any true spaghetti western-style role-playing games (without meat). There is also a sufficient lack of some of the other types of fantasy, Greek, Roman, or Egyptian; anything would be a welcome change from the pseudo-European hodge-podge that is currently used in gaming.

Most gamers make at least one game in their life. Many of them attempt to publish them, either through conventional means or distributed freely. Also, a lot of fledgling companies are looking to publish their game, some of those companies aren't even made up of gamers. Consider this before toiling away hours and money before sharing your creation with the world: Does the world already have one? And if so, why does it need another?

-Roll saving throw versus Bad Gaming!
Erich S. Arendall
Shadow Sprite

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