There’s this “10 RPGs that had an impact on you in 10 days” activity going around, and I figured I’d do mine.
Gamma World 3e was my first roleplaying game and still has the best cover art of all time – look at that fucking cyborg otter and his power armor bunny sidekick, whom he keeps around only for his thumbs. It stays with me to this day – Glow in the Dark is my love letter to this game and how “my” Gamma World would look.
Marvel Super Heroes FASERIP
My local group STILL plays this.
If you squint, the white/green/yellow results map nicely to PbtA’s 6-/7-9/10+ mechanic.
I had the High Stakes Gamble (for car chases) and Commando (for fancy army guns) supplements and my middle through high school years were filled with poorly done juvenile Die Hard and Schwartzenegger homages. I still have the hit locations memorized.
Notable for having similar but COMPLETELY DIFFERENT hit locations than Top Secret SI, Reign was and still is my favorite One-Roll Engine treatment. The Company rules and one-roll chargen were mind-blowing back then and are still worthy of your time. My group hacked this for Firefly-style space homesteaders as well as China Mieville-inspired steampunk.
Burning Empires is fairly adversarial play restricted to a set campaign length and riddled with interesting minigames. Our single campaign of this was probably my favorite overall gaming experience, and I don’t think I’ll ever play or run this again despite that. This taught me that rpg campaigns don’t need to peter out – you can plan for an ending, like an HBO miniseries. It taught me that playing hard is rewarding when you have a good system supporting play, and finally its use of simultaneous actions is something I’m still chasing in my own designs.
Fate aspects are genius. I would love to be able to describe my character with natural language and have the system respect that at some level in just about every game.
Fate is also very, very hackable. In fact, you kind of need to hack it to get it singing for your table, but since I’m hacking just about everything anyway, having that kind of welcome invitation in the rules is liberating.
Blades in the Dark
Of course Blades is gonna be in this list, considering it’s what I hacked for my first real big boy game. This is the game that got me into Hangouts/Roll20 gaming, which in turn put me back in touch with some old friends. I’m grateful to this game and its community for that.
Mechanically, killing the “planning phase” is worth it alone, but flashbacks, how gear works, the fact that it’s d6 pools with keep highest, all these things make Blades in the Dark my favorite recent system.