Systems You'd Never Play after Reading Them

DrunkonDuty

Adventurer
Exalted. Just way too complicated.

Numenera. Just didn't like the setting or the system.

DnD 4 & 5. Neither appeal. 5e in particular is just leaves me going "meh."

Cyberpunk 2020. I dunno, liked the setting. Well, I like cyberpunk in general. But the system was just a bit too flavourless.

Shadowrun. Not strictly true, in that I ran a multi year campaign with Shadowrun 1e. And we had fun. But the system is a mess. I don't know how we put up with it for as long as we did. If I ever dig out my old Seattle source books again I'll run it in HERO system.
 

Saelorn

Adventurer
This describes every book I've read in the past few years: Arcanis, Blood Dawn, Robotech (Shadow Chronicles), Traveller (Mongoose), Kromore, Shadowrun 5E, FATE, Savage Worlds, Starfinder... probably a few others that I don't remember.

It seems that every game either goes heavy into unsustainable complexity, or it turns to meta-game narrative control mechanics, or both. Playable games are few and far between.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Moderator
Staff member
I have to say I am one of those people who ran a Space:1889 campaign in a different system...HERO. But the major reason for that is I used the setting as a backdrop for a supers game.

For the most part, D&D 5Ed lost me in the playtest reports stage, coupled with Adventurer League threads here on ENWorld. When I finally got my hands on the books in a store? Well, that was the final nail in the coffin. 4Ed appealed to me as a player, but not as a DM. I thought it had enough good stuff for PCs for me to enjoy playing it. 5Ed didn’t even grab me that way.
 

FaerieGodfather

Born in the Soul of Misery
Still something of an open wound for me, but Gamma World d20.

Shadowrun 5e. I never used 4e for an actual Shadowrun game, but I've never used 5e for anything.
 

TarionzCousin

Second Most Angelic Devil Ever
PF2. Easy answer.
Ouch.

This describes every book I've read in the past few years: Arcanis, Blood Dawn, Robotech (Shadow Chronicles), Traveller (Mongoose), Kromore, Shadowrun 5E, FATE, Savage Worlds, Starfinder... probably a few others that I don't remember.

It seems that every game either goes heavy into unsustainable complexity, or it turns to meta-game narrative control mechanics, or both. Playable games are few and far between.
What game(s) are playable, in your opinion? Because I am interested in games that aren't too complex or that involve narrative control. Retro Clones?
 

Gradine

Archivist
And I'm going to stop there, because there are a ton of games I could add to my list, but I was afraid I would start a firestorm of controversy by writing negative reviews of them.
That's the entire point of this thread!

I'll bring up another one: basically anything related to OSR.

Ya'll realize how much better we've gotten at game design in the past four decades, right?

I'll acknowledge that part of it is, for me at least, guilt by association (though I'm sure there are plenty of fine people who play or even produce OSR), but the much bigger part of it is... we really have gotten way better at game design. I once read through LofFP to see what all the hub-bub was about and was basically left with the impression "this is just OD&D but better organized, which, I mean, talk about a low bar."
 

Celebrim

Legend
That's the entire point of this thread!
Then it will be closed. I mean, I could post my honest opinion of certain game systems right now and get it closed if that's what you wanted.

Ya'll realize how much better we've gotten at game design in the past four decades, right?
Well if you mean we are better, then "No", I don't think we are. We've gotten a little better informed so that we are a little bit better at matching mechanics to their intention, but as far as clearing the hurdle and actually designing something that is elegant and playable, I don't think we are much better. Pendragon, for example? Basic RPG and WEG D6 are still some of the better designed systems of all time, and for all the problems D&D had, many of its choices - hit points, classes, spell slots, etc. - are still defensible and have not been improved on.

Nor do I think we have necessarily excelled some of the classic examples of play (by which I mean modules, adventures, scenarios, campaigns) presented 3-4 decades ago.
 

Gradine

Archivist
Then it will be closed. I mean, I could post my honest opinion of certain game systems right now and get it closed if that's what you wanted.
I mean, if your honest opinion would run afoul of the board's stated rules on inclusion, for example, then by all means keep that to yourself.

Edit: I will add that a statement such as, for example, "the explicit sexual themes in systems like V:tM, Monsterhearts or Apocalypse World is a huge turnoff for me" is a very different statement than one laced with judgment at the people who make/play said games.


Well if you mean we are better, then "No", I don't think we are. We've gotten a little better informed so that we are a little bit better at matching mechanics to their intention, but as far as clearing the hurdle and actually designing something that is elegant and playable, I don't think we are much better.
Clearly I disagree. We've gotten significantly better at matching mechanics to their intention, which is to say, we're actually doing that at some level. There are a lot of smaller indie games that, while not nearly as ambitious in its goals as Dungeons & Dragons (which has been stated as being "all things to all people" which it... mostly? succeeds at, more in spite of itself really), have very clear intentions and hit their mark beautifully. They're much more niche as a result, but still much better designed.

Pendragon, for example? Basic RPG and WEG D6 are still some of the better designed systems of all time, and for all the problems D&D had, many of its choices - hit points, classes, spell slots, etc. - are still defensible and have not been improved on.
Don't get me wrong, I look back fondly on my experiences with WEG D6, but character creation doesn't need to be that cumbersome. And while HP, classes and... well, HP and classes are certainly still defensible, there have been many alternate interpretations of represent those ideas (character health and archetype/abilities, respectively) that work much better within their own systems. YMMV, of course.

Hell, D&D itself does HP, classes, and spell slots better now than it did in any iteration that OSR cribs off of.

Nor do I think we have necessarily excelled some of the classic examples of play (by which I mean modules, adventures, scenarios, campaigns) presented 3-4 decades ago.
I said we do game design much better. Adventure design has, yeah, sadly become a bit of a lost art, but that's because the broadest swath of examples we have are required to fit into very different molds than classic one-off adventures of old (either really short pick-up and play adventures, a la Adventuer's League, or long, necessarily constrained mini-campaigns, as typified by Adventure Paths). That said, I'd still hold something like Zeitgeist up against any of the old classics (quite a few of which haven't aged nearly as well as some folks would like to believe they have)
 
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GrahamWills

Adventurer
DnD: 2E, 4E, 5E, PF. Yuk
You certainly seem to be a glutton for self-punishment. You've carefully read through 4 versions of D&D, most of them three rulebooks+ each, and disliked each one. That seems a bit odd -- I'm curious about why you even bother? Why did your read the 5E books when you knew you'd dislike them?
 

Celebrim

Legend
I mean, if your honest opinion would run afoul of the board's stated rules on inclusion, for example, then by all means keep that to yourself.
It's not the board rules on what is a defensible political position that would get me in trouble. Heck, I'm playing in a Paizo adventure path right now, so if blatant attempts to be inclusive were a turnoff for me, I'd be a total hypocrite. I will risk that in the last session we all had a good laugh at how despite these often ham-fisted attempts, one of the encounters was probably the most sexist thing we'd ever encountered in gaming go that we all gotten briefly taken out of character and out of the game just to boggle at it, but that's a whole different story.

No, what would get me in trouble is disparaging the talent of a game designer. One of the half-dozen or so times I got a temporary ban here was suggesting that the design a of supplement was so amateur, that the designer probably shouldn't plan a full time career in the industry - without realizing that the designer was in the thread.

That would be gentle compared to some things I could say. You handwaved certain things away from discussion as "obvious" at the beginning of the thread, and I certainly agree with the sort of examples you are thinking of. But for me, they aren't the only ones that fall in the "obvious" end.

I will add that a statement such as, for example, "the explicit sexual themes in systems like V:tM, Monsterhearts or Apocalypse World is a huge turnoff for me" is a very different statement than one laced with judgment at the people who make/play said games.
While some of the presentation of violence or sex or violent sexuality and sexualized violence in those games do turn me off, none of those games rise to the example of things where I think the presentation is such that I'd condemn the entire game as immoral beyond redemption. In fact, the real morality problem I have with V:tM is the rules system in practice allows violence without real consequence (compare how humanity in theory is lost in the game to the acquisition of 'Dark Side' points in D6 Star Wars) combined with the fact that the games reward system works contrary to its stated purpose of play.

There are said games however where for me it does go beyond the pale into "obvious".

Clearly I disagree. We've gotten significantly better at matching mechanics to their intention, which is to say, we're actually doing that at some level.
I think I half-agree with you. We have gotten better, but unlike you don't believe we've gotten so much better that we are actually consistently doing it. And in the case of something like D&D, I'd argue that we've got there by the same sort of evolutionary processes (trial and error) that so well informed the early design of the game. We are getting better incrementally, but in a system that already had strong core ideas.

That said, I'd still hold something like Zeitgeist up against any of the old classics (quite a few of which haven't aged nearly as well as some folks would like to believe they have)
I have heard good things about 'Zeitgeist' and 'War of the Burning Sky'. I keep meaning to pick up a pdf to read them.
 
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GrahamWills

Adventurer
I'm not sure there is any system I absolutely would never play. But may of them are just not as good for what I like as other systems -- it's rare a system is offensive or bad enough to make it unplayable. It's just I prefer other systems.

I have nothing against two pieces of bread with a piece of american cheese between them. I'm not saying I'd never eat it, or that I wouldn't enjoy it sometimes. It's just that there are a lot of better sandwiches I can make. I still play PF occasionally, despite the fact there are probably a dozen other fantasy systems I'd prefer to play, but I can still have fun with it.
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest
No, what would get me in trouble is disparaging the talent of a game designer. One of the half-dozen or so times I got a temporary ban here was suggesting that the design a of supplement was so amateur, that the designer probably shouldn't plan a full time career in the industry - without realizing that the designer was in the thread.
Well, yeah, you veer into making evaluations of the person involved, you go past critiquing the game and into the personal sphere that's against the rules around here. Keep it away from that and things should be fine.
 

Saelorn

Adventurer
What game(s) are playable, in your opinion? Because I am interested in games that aren't too complex or that involve narrative control. Retro Clones?
Retro clones are generally inoffensive. Pathfinder is surprisingly playable, as long as you keep it to the first book. The AGE system isn't too bad on either count. White Wolf can get pretty narrative-y in places, but I think you can play Street Fighter without too many problems.

I'm sure that there are plenty more, but they're increasingly difficult to find amongst all of the others.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Games I've read and-or own but would decline to play based solely on that reading: 4e D&D. Pathfinder. Various d20 knockoffs. Late-era 2e D&D with all the splat.

3e and 3.5e D&D are games I've played so thus don't qualify for this list, though I'm not sure I'd ever want to play either again.
 

lowkey13

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
Dangerous Journeys
Living Steel
Nobilis
Rifts
Sorcerer
O.

M.

G.

So I was going to come on to this thread and post about this senior moment I was having ... there was this game I bought, and it looked so cool, so very very cool, and I loved the fluff, but the rules ...

Oh the rules. It was insanely complex, and the characters were also short-lived, with really slow advancement...

I couldn't remember the title, just the cover art. And then I saw your post, and it all came flooding back.

LIVING STEEL.

I'd love to hear from someone who actually did run it. Because I was a glutton for punishment back then, and even I was like, "Eh, no thank you."
 

Fenris-77

Explorer
HoL is surprisingly playable. Satire it might be, but the system itself is pretty flexible and robust. I use(d) the mechanics to do a bunch of other stuff.

Things I read and immediately decided not to play. Rolemaster, Wraith, GURPS (dunno why, just felt icky about it), Ars Magica (as much as I actually love it conceptually), Talislanta, 4E D&D, Conan ... it's a long list.
 

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