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Your "Pleasantly Surprised" Experiences (Anti-Heartbreakers)


So we've had a lengthy thread recently of games with high expectations, so how about a more positive spin?

Tell us about a campaign you didn't expect was going to last that was a great time. Or about a system that ended up surpassing your expectations.

I'll start by telling you about a group of my friend's co-workers who wanted to see what D&D was about. They invited me to run a one shot two years ago. They completely got into the hobby. They are regular, consistent players every week, have learned to DM games on their own for their friends and families, started painting and collecting miniatures. In short, they've become the ideal group.

For systems, I never thought I'd get into Call of Cthulhu, but I ended up running a campaign that lasted half a year and players still ask when can we take a break from D&D to play it again.

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I crit!
FreeRPGDay 2018. I was at the store and just finished a game. The next DM was running late so I grabbed a jenga tower and told everyone I was going to tell a story starting in the store and you’re all characters in it. Wanna play? Wanna have actions that change things? Gotta pull a block. But fair warning if you crash the tower you’re gonna die.

it was super fun and involved zombies and aliens and when it was time for the next game people wanted me to continue.

I need to do that again.


A recent one was when we first played 5e with LMoP box set. We wanted to play with the rules and learn 5e before we changed any of it and ended up playing those PCs until 14th level with several more homebrew adventures after the box set.


Solitary Role Playing
I didn't think my Coriolis the Third Horizon campaign would last very long having D&D players. Turns out they liked the system, the story and we played a complete mini-campaign of ten games. That is far more than I was ever able to play with Star Frontiers, Traveller and Star Wars. Usually players want to go back to D&D after 2-3 games of sci-fi.

I'm currently hoping to run my longest running sci-fi campaign using The Expanse RPG. So far we played 2 sessions. The complete campaign, of 6 adventures, should last 12 to 18 sessions.


I’m surprised we finished Masks of Nyarlathotep. We’ve done other Call of Cthulhu stuff, but this was a full campaign rather than a short story. We had several characters die, but we made it to the end (more or less). However, I’m not sure I’d want to do it again. Campaign play feels at odds with the system, and my group is so risk averse that sessions could be tedious at times.


Limit Break Dancing
FreeRPGDay 2018. I was at the store and just finished a game. The next DM was running late so I grabbed a jenga tower and told everyone I was going to tell a story starting in the store and you’re all characters in it. Wanna play? Wanna have actions that change things? Gotta pull a block. But fair warning if you crash the tower you’re gonna die.

it was super fun and involved zombies and aliens and when it was time for the next game people wanted me to continue.

I need to do that again.
Man, I love playing Dread. The "tower" mechanic is absolutely brilliant--I've found no better way to build tension (literally!) at the table.


I thought a game setting where undead gunslingers, mad scientists, and gambling wizards prowling the American old west sounded interesting. But when I picked up Deadlands way back in 1996 I just didn't expect it to make my list of the top 5 games of the decade.


He / Him
I had a few friends at work (fellow Elementary School teachers) who were interested in learning how to play D&D, so I set up a one-night game. I expected 4 players, max.

The day of, I got a call that three more people wanted to join. I thought, "Seven people is a lot, but okay!"

Then an hour before the game, two more wanted to join in! I was having a mild panic attack, but I said sure thing and let them in.

I pre-made character sheets, set out miniatures, and of course I had the game start in a tavern. One of the players brought wine, and everyone had a full glass. So I decided in the moment to make the tavern famous for its good wine. The game started with the tavern-keeper giving a toast to local adventurers, and as I described him raising his glass, all the players raised their glasses and gave a cheer!

The rest of the game was like that- super fun, everyone was into it, no one cared about the rules too much, and we all had an amazing time. And it's funny how people fell into stereotypical game roles quickly. One player got really into her character's backstory. Another was silent the whole time except for rolling dice. One guy played a Lizardfolk Barbarian named "Big Daddy."

Honestly it wound up being one of the most fun D&D games I've ever run!


I crit!
I.... I love this thread!

I ran a The One Ring game about a lost Palantir and ancient elves who embraced Melkor in ancient times. The culmination was when one of the players had his character grab the palantir irrevocably corrupting his PC and then lept into a endless crevasse to fall for ever, never to die.
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A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
When the 5e players handbook was released, I thought it would be fun to run a few games after not having participated in any TTRPGs for over 20 years.

Now it's almost seven years later, and I'm into running my third campaign.

The only real case of "Wow, that doesn't suck!" was Marvel Heroic RP.

I had played a few sessions of Sovereign Stone and Serenity, and found Cortex Classic sucked for my GMing style. WAY too random. I was unconvinced that MHRP was going to be solid; it looks on paper way too random.
Cam Banks and I had mutual contacts on G+, and he dared me to try it, and said he'd refund me if it hadn't solved my issues with Cortex Classic, he'd refund me. He didn't have to refund me. ;) It is my go to for pregen-driven superhero games, replacing the slightly more overall setting-flexible FASRIP Marvel in the playing pregens. FASRIP wasn't replaced for "make your own" heroes until Sentinel Comics

I personally think the branding both Cortex Classic and Cortex Plus under Cortex was a tactical error... classic was a fundamentally different approach to RPGs.

When I backed Sentinel Comics, I'd run the starter kit... which had impressed. When I got the char gen, and started running it in earnest, it was even better than I expected, but I was cautiously optimistic prior to backing, so not really.

Alien was better than I expected, but I expected it to be at least good anyway. So, again, IMO, it doesn't count.


My group plays D&D most of the time and I wanted to play a system that my group didn’t have system mastery to both learn a new game and so the players weren’t too bogged down on trying to achieve maximum mechanical efficiency. So I kinda pushed them into trying Savage Worlds for a bit. I ran Savage Worlds which no one had played (including me) and ran the Evernight campaign which has a cool late stage in game reveal but is a bit rail roady. The dice and the party didn’t cooperate with the rail road, they jumped the tracks split the party into two groups due to a decision as to what to do (neither of which was the railroad path) then each made up a second character so all players could play in both groups and I ran two groups of characters (same players) through a much longer than intended semi sandbox campaign that was great fun. Instead of just being a little break it ended up being a kinda epic campaign.

Nine Hands

I played in a Robotech game that was run using a home-brewed version of Mekton and the GM was known for running campaigns into the ground. I made up a simple techie character and the campaign was awesome. Numerous campaigns and years later that home-brewed game system is still being used.

The game system has morphed considerably, but it is still the same core system we used back in the day. I have a stack of self-published versions of it customized for numerous mecha games over the years (Full Metal Panic, Robotech, and Macross primarily) and just updated my latest copy this week.


No offense intended to Morrus but I think WOIN was better than I expected it to be. I liked a lot of the concepts behind the game. I like how skills get harder and harder to improve in a very natural way. I like the build your character history approach a lot. I like dice pools but never found a game where I liked the game itself until WOIN. Combat may be a bit heavy for my tastes but I need more experience to be sure this is true.

I think to be totally happy I will have to build my own "implied setting" but that intrigues me. Whether it's sci-fi or fantasy.


Relaxed Intensity
Given all the controversy surrounding it I was really pleasantly surprised by Vampire - The Masquerade 5th Edition. It does a very good job actually being a game that is fundamentally about being a Vampire. It does so with substantially less heavy lifting than Requiem Second Edition. I prefer the hack we use internally in our game group, but it's far and away my favorite published rendition of the game.

Infinity in particular has been a bright spot. I was unsure given that the source material comes from a war game and uses a hit location chart, but in practice it has felt like Altered Carbon , Bourne Identity and The Fifth Element had a baby together. The factions feel crisp and well integrated. The action has been pretty fast and fluid. It feels like a thriller/action movie at the table/in Discord.

The other big surprise for me lately has been Dune - Adventures in the Imperium. It just feels like the way watching the miniseries felt like. The way things hang together really brings personal motivations to the forefront. I really love the focus on your shared noble house. This is still formative, but it just feels so different from Infinity that I was kind of shocked.


I crit!
Play testing “My Dad’s Monster Manual” I ran an encounter for 20th level PCs against the Kaiju mountain monster. It started miles and miles away and included lots of teleportation just to get close enough for them to do any damage, two meteor swarms! They flew around it and were knocked out of the air and nearly didn’t make it.
The fighter tripped it into the local bay causing a tsunami and a huge flood!

Worlds Without Number would be the big recent one for me.

I've bought hundreds of RPGs over the years, and plenty of them have been somewhat hyped, and WWN was, and I'd always seen Stars Without Number was popular and never really understood why, as it seemed like OSR D&D randomly jammed into an SF setting (this is actually unfair but I didn't realize at the time). So I got WWN because I like the general kind of setting it's about, the tables seemed good, and well, it was free (I ended up getting the Deluxe version too though). And it's actually an extremely well-put-together system and doesn't have many flaws, and is easily one of my favourite takes on a D&D-type game, at least on paper.

A lot of the things that annoy me about other D&D-based games, even including the lack of ability to KO people from surprise or the like are actually dealt with by WWN, and it's kind of mysterious, looking at it, why more D&D-ish games don't take similar approaches. Using 2d6 for skills works infinitely better than 1d20, as well.

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