When I was younger I was really a system guy. I played tons of systems, read tons more, and really enjoyed working up ways to cross from system to system. I found an old notebook a while back where I’d done a complete conversion guide for Star Wars D6, 2nd Edition AD&D, and GURPS. Looking back – I was much cooler 15 years ago than I am now.
I used to really pay attention to system and I wanted to understand what made systems tick, to get under the hood and futz with them. I was a tinkerer and I loved to mess around with adding a widget here, converting a whosit there. I made dozens of new classes for 2nd and 3rd Edition D&D, wrote up GURPS guides for two of my favorite novel universes (The Song of the Lioness stories by Tamora Pierce and the Crystal Singer books by Anne McCaffrey). I completely converted a version of Mechwarrior (the Battletech RPG) using the D6 System. I could continue the catalog of my conversion shame… The point is, I loved tinkering. It was my second favorite part of gaming back then (my favorite part was, and still is, making characters).
For the most part, I stopped doing this sometime around 3rd Ed D&D. Not that I didn’t tinker with 3rd Ed – I just lost the tinkering vibe. I think it was primarily my desires in system started to wane. I had reached this point where I was realizing that system was never going to solve problems for me. It was the dawning of the age of realizing that no matter what system I was playing – I could have fun – and just as equally that no matter what system I was playing – the game could suck. I also began my slide into the place I am today, where the less “system” I have the better. I still enjoy a few heavy mechanics games… I play Pathfinder and Shadowrun 4e. And I enjoy them. But in my heart I’m far better suited to Amber DRPG, Arcanum RPG, Barbarians of Lemuria, and other systems that just get the system out of the way and let me just do what I want. The thought of playing GURPS these days fills me with dread at a level I can’t even explain and I used to love GURPS… It’s why I can’t play Exalted – as much as I love reading the books (and they are amazing!) I start to read the mechanics and I’d rather watch a season of Jersey Shore or a New York Jets press conference than try to play that game.
I’m reminiscing about this for two reasons… One, I realized that this change has been so gradual over the last decade or so that I don’t even know when/why/how it really happened. Two, I’ve decided that it’s time to tinker with something again. Over the next few days I’m going to work on making a passable version of Shadowrun using Simon Washbourne’s Barbarians of Lemuria/Dogs of War system. This may seem like strange pairing but I think it’s going to work really well. By way of warning, expect that this is what my next few posts will be all about – be prepared – and I hope you’ll comment, it will be nice to know if I’m still a decent tinkerer…
As always, thanks for reading.