What TTRPG read badly but played great for you?


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Celebrim

Legend
D&D 4E

The books were like reading the driest textbook imaginable, but were actually useful in play. It was hard to get a sense of how the game was meant to be played until we sat down to play it. I don't blame the game manuals for that just our expectations.

I agree. I thought the rules of 4e were pretty good, or at least I could see what they were going for. But no edition of D&D has ever had drier and less inspiring manuals. I had intended to try 4e because I thought it would do some things really well and might be fun for a short campaign, but when I set down to learn the rules and apply them in my usual fashion my eyes just glassed over. The books were dull to read and the preparation for the game was dull, so I never finished my exercise in game building.
 

jdrakeh

Front Range Warlock
Yeah, I can imagine enjoying playing RM, but I can't imagine enjoying running RM. shudder

It's really a shame that RMX (Rolemaster Express) is out of print and that the current iteration of ICE didn't get the rights to it. It's pretty much the exact opposite of all other editions of Rolemaster in terms of presentation. Rather than starting with a metric ton of options and expecting the GM to pare down that list to get to a version of Rolemaster they'd feel comfortable running, RMX starts with a very streamlined ruleset and then, by way of a zine, presents new options (e.g. races, classes, etc) that you can add to the core rules.
 
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aramis erak

Legend
The only one that's ever really gotten a, "Hey, that's actually good" was Marvel Heroic. I was not processing the statistics, and once I got it to table, my Stats class training finally kicked in...
Most of the time, it goes the other direction.

There are a few that were, "Seems so-so," that I later came to love: Albedo (game lead me to the comic), Justifiers, 2300...

And one that reads like a dog, plays like an angry rabid dog, but man, it's fun anyway: Tales from the Floating Vagabond. Actually, it's not "fun anyway" but "fun because it's so bloody bad."
 

MintRabbit

Explorer
What kinds of things make a rule-book difficult to read for you? Is it bad organization? Dry lore? Unclear instructions? Something else?
 


And one that reads like a dog, plays like an angry rabid dog, but man, it's fun anyway: Tales from the Floating Vagabond. Actually, it's not "fun anyway" but "fun because it's so bloody bad."
The greatest tragedy of that game is the amount of Jim Holloway's time wasted on the covers for the range. They're fully up to his usual high standard of work, but it's still putting lipstick on a pig.
 

aramis erak

Legend
The greatest tragedy of that game is the amount of Jim Holloway's time wasted on the covers for the range. They're fully up to his usual high standard of work, but it's still putting lipstick on a pig.
The adventures are great fun... leaning heavily in on the horrible system to ensure silliness.
If you're playing it, well, either you're
  • ignorant of how bad it is,
  • playing it because it's sattire
  • you want to brag that you actually played it
  • are willing to tolerate the bad game for the good adventures.
  • are hoping the bad rules bring about humorous situations.
One bloke once bragged about running the adventures in GURPS. Somone asked, "so, how was the humor?"
"What humor?" was the response.

One could almost feel the list collectively facepalm. Yoda Mode: Filled with the Dark Side, he is. Much with the Dark Side.

For those not familiar - the whole game is a parody of gaming. It's intentionally playable but bad rules are part of the humor. Most of us who own a copy seem to have tried it, found it mechanically lacking, and moved on, but bought the adventures for the reading value alone.
 

aramis erak

Legend
What kinds of things make a rule-book difficult to read for you? Is it bad organization? Dry lore? Unclear instructions? Something else?
Not clear who you're asking..

but for me...
  • Written in cursive. Or cursive font.
  • Written in phonetic dialectic/accented English.
  • Not in English.
  • Poor organization.
  • Inadequate or excessive whitespace.
  • Too low or too high contrast. Black on white isn't great; I don't buy bright white paper for my printer. Due to scotopic sensitiivity.
Dry lore is seldom a readability issue; it's more of a motivational one. If the tropes aren't clear, I'm outta there.
 

For those not familiar - the whole game is a parody of gaming. It's intentionally playable but bad rules are part of the humor. Most of us who own a copy seem to have tried it, found it mechanically lacking, and moved on, but bought the adventures for the reading value alone.
I bought Tales because it was marked down 90% at the local indie toy store - and even then I'd have passed without the Holloway covers. Never got played, but it was worth a deep-discount read just to see if it lived down to what I'd heard about it. It did. I used to keep it in a Box of Shame with Realm of Yolmi and World of Synnibarr.

The fact that there's a second edition borders on unfathomable to me, but at least the new cover art is a more honest reflection of the overall quality.

I still feel like this ad blurb would draw objections if the people named ever saw it. If two-thirds of them weren't deceased I might hold out hopes that being accused of such a thing would lead to them doing a collab to write their own RPG just to prove it wrong, but sadly that wil remain a pipe dream. :)
It's the RPG Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett, and Weird Al Yankovic would have created if they designed games.
 

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