Re-approaching tabletop RPGs after some time away, I feel like I have missed a lot. The “new wave” of RPGs as exemplified by the current dominance of talk FATE and systems like The One Ring. Games with strong simulation aspects have always been my forté, anyway, as evidenced by extended periods involved in things like Rolemaster and Ars Magica. In a sense, my games have very often stuck fairly close to the D&D paradigm as it relates to campaign approach — but not in story or adventure design, where I have typically tended toward a much greater reliance on roleplaying and politics than is probably typical in D&D games.
These days, for a number of reasons that I may eventually get into (I’ve a long post brewing that will touch on some of these subjects in greater detail,) I have decided to focus, more or less, on D&D. The broader roleplaying hobby is an outgrowth of D&D anyway, and even games which vary wildly from it are almost always designed as responses to D&D, whether the authors intended them that way or not. Exceptions exist but they’re rarer than those who are deeply immersed in hobby crosstalk think.
So, D&D then. But which D&D? There are now a huge number of flavors available, segregated into three primary sub-communities with some overlap between them. There’s the Old School Renaissance bunch, which gravitates toward pre-AD&D2 systems or clones thereof, the 3.x community that includes fans of Pathfinder and the 4th edition people with their newfangled system that seems, on its face, to depart very radically from previous iterations of the game.
Many versions, all of which have things I like and things I dislike, is a terrible place to be. It’s the same thing I suffered with Traveller until Mongoose came in and made the choice easy. WotC may do the same with D&D Next, but that’s ages away and uncertain as well — I’m getting mixed signals out of the talk from the demos held at DDXP a week or two ago.
Of what I have available at the moment, the three selections I’m inclined towards are Castles & Crusades, Pathfinder and D&D 4th edition. Which is rather a wide variety, really. Since what I am currently envisioning is a lengthy one-shot rather than a full-blown campaign, I’m inclined to select 4th edition and see how it actually shakes out with me running the table. It may be that I will find it very confining, and it may not. I did manage to play in a D&D Encounters session some time back and liked it, but that’s been my only actual tabletop D&D4 experience.
Of the other two choices, the leanness of C&C appeals to me, but it may be a bit too lean. Pathfinder, on the other hand, may be too bulky, but it does offer top-notch support in the form of rules expansions, a dynamite selection of adventures and a ready-to-go campaign world. But I think I’d rather devise my own setting and adventures, at that, and I’ll be chronicling that here as I go.