Hey, I think it’s fun a lot of folks on the RPGBN bloggosphere (and elsewhere) are posting these. Might as well join in on the fun too, right?
Here are, listed in less than 15 minutes, 15 games that have the most influence over me. These aren’t just limited to tabletop, I might add.
Still, here’s rockin:
#1 RPG Influence. I technically got into this long before I got into Dungeons & Dragons. Sure, it’s fantasy, but it’s also my introduction to cyberpunk. It also taught me that RPG’s are more than just killing stuff and looting bodies; just reading the background stories for their fictional world introduced me to the importance of world and setting building. It encouraged character background and story in me. I wanted to know more about the world than stats and loot; although the loot in this game was very, very kick ass. Hell, the early SR tech books like Shadowtech actually taught me some real-world science and biology. Speaking of biology, Sally Tsung on the front cover was my first nerd crush. What’s hotter than an sorcerer chick? A sorcerer chick in a trench coat, cut off shorts and a Remington Roomsweeper shotgun. Which, btw, I remember to this day as having a Conceal of 9 and shoots flechette rounds. Even to this day, a lot of concepts and adventure ideas and play styles I take from my years of running and playing Shadowrun.
Dungeons & Dragons (any edition)
But still, the concept of fantasy role playing would eventually dig its claws into me. It was easier to get folks into at times since video games like Final Fantasy would borrow so much from it. But D&D was more than a gaming experience to me, it was a social experience. Both good and bad. I had friends growing up whose parents had no problems with me bringing in the gritty, cyberpunk gun fests that is Shadowrun. But, they had all sorts of problems with me bringing in the “satanic” game that is Dungeons & Dragons. It was the books I had to keep behind the Bus Driver at school, the books my best friend’s dad deemed forbidden in his house (although he was a Tolkien fan.) It’s kinda funny, being told by folks who believe that a system of authority was told by a burning bush and that heavy metal music would possess me with demons, that D&D was a game that made people lose touch with reality. Right.
Legend of Zelda and Dragon Warrior (NES)
I wasn’t even interested in my older brother’s games, which my dad lovingly named Dungeons & Dumbass, until I was exposed to these two titles. Zelda taught me the joys of long quests, progressive game play, item collecting, puzzle solving, map making and dungeon crawling. Dragon Warrior took it a step further — teaching me turn based actions, the concept of experience levels and hit points. I would say Zelda was what perked my interest in the meaty tropes of games like D&D; Dragon Warrior got me familiar with the concepts. When my brother said “Hey, cool, that’s like the games I play” I was doomed from there on out.
Marvel Super Heroes
Going back to the fact that the small rural community I grew up in during my pre-teen years was pretty conservative and against Dungeons & Dragons, it was tough for me to talk friends into role-playing games. Shadowrun, as awesome as it was (and my friends did love the guns and the artwork) the mechanics and some of the more advanced concepts seemed boring or flew over their head. What is a nerd to do? Well, I was actually introduced by one of my friends to another guy who had this boxed game called Marvel Super Heroes. It was put out by the same guys who did D&D, and it allowed us to play as The Hulk, Spider Man or the X-Men. This wound up being a sweet spot for me in many areas: the Percentile rules were fun, the character creation rules were easy and allowed you to be anything, and most importantly: it appealed to my gradeschool friends who grew up out in the boonies. Plus, it came with cards with the heroes stats printed on the back, little fold up cardboard miniatures and a map. It was something hands on and easy to pick up during breaks at school. WIN.
Magic: The Gathering
It was fantasy, it was new, and thanks to how cheap the Fallen Empires booster packs used to be, it was something I could afford with an allowance. My brother picked it up, and gave me extra cards and commons. At the time, I was totally sucked into the “It’s like D&D, but in card form and faster to play!” sales pitch. And I hate to say it, I still dabble in it from time to time, even being wiser knowing it’s a filthily clever marketing scheme.
Kings Quest III
My first Kings Quest game. Played it on my bro’s old 286 PC. Taught me that you can have a full adventure of world exploring without being a fighter or lots of combat.
I’ve always loved first person shooters, but Quake became a lifestyle during my Jr. High years. Yeah, Warcraft 2 was as well, but Quake gave me more mileage and damage. It was my first time to get involved with online gaming “clans”, and it was the game that taught me things like networking, computer repair, Client/Server software, skinning and modding. It also made me sit back and think “Wow, this is a virtual 3D world shared with other folks!”
I remember the first night online I got to run around with a group of 3 other strangers, killing hordes of monsters and leveling like crazy. My only thoughts at the time was “Holy shit…..it’s like D&D online….”
My first major MMO experience. My friend called me up and said “Holy crap man! This game is like Quake….except a role playing game!” I was turned off by the subscription idea, until one of my brother’s friends showed it to me on his computer when we were hanging out and watching movies. Everyone watched the flicks; I kept watching the screen. My memories of EQ unfortunately are nothing like what it is today; and it’s been forever since an online MMO gave me that experience. The genre was young; concepts like “End Game” and “Grind” didn’t really set in. We made our own fun in the world, and back then being a Role-Player meant you were hardcore.
I was introduced to it outside of Highschool, and originally I despised the game. Over the years, I’ve grown to have an appreciation for the gonzo mega-mix of the multiverse. Coming back to running it recently has given me a new found appreciation for it. In a sense, I feel like it’s extreme role-playing. And I mean that in a very over the top, can’t believe I typed it sort of a way. RIFTS is the homebrewed mega setting we all dreamt or threatened to run in our most nerdy hours. Reading it is like hearing the Comic Book guy from the Simpsons, or maybe the guys from Fear of Girls explaining their home-made rules. I’ve played this game with military types mostly in my life, and they always have crazy ideas, power gamer character concepts and opposing views with others on how the game should be played. I’ve almost seen fist fights occur over this game. It’s fucking Metal, whether you agree or not.
Fallout Series (PC)
I actually had a print out of the fan-made RPG book of this for a while. An old roomate of mine used to LAN me at Tactics, and whoop my ass. It gave me a mental image of what Post Apocalyptic role-playing should be, both in digital format and at the table. Plus, the original games were some of the finest percentile mechanics I’ve ever seen or played.
The best game I’ve never played much of and can’t really stand. I’ve owned a lot of books for it, but in the end I can’t stomach the system. I say that, I’ve actually enjoyed the piss out of GURPS Lite. But the supplement books for it were great for idea harvesting. I think everyone should own a copy of GURPS Illuminati, and I’m a proud owner of GURPS Voodoo.
World of Darkness (all of them)
It’s amazing I’ve put this down so far on the list; but I was holding out to make sure I covered other games first. If we considered all of the World of Darkness titles one big game, then I have clocked in more hours running this than D&D and Shadowrun combined. It’s the right balance of rules crunch and narrative fluff/abstraction that has made it such a great gaming experience. Plus, my teen and early 20’s saw a lot of poser goth/vampire attraction in me. Now I don’t really consider myself a “Goth” anymore, but I am a black t-shirt and jeans kinda dude. I still love horror games, and I still love WoD. Plus I’ve used the rules systems for non-horror and other game settings before. I’ve known lots of peeps who hated D&D, but once they played WoD under me they became dedicated gamers. I have nothing but love for this brand.
Call of Cthulhu
Some of my best one nighters were for Cthulhu. It’s influenced a lot of my gaming, both horror, modern and other. It reignited my interest in HP Lovecraft.
I could devote an entire blog post to this title alone. All I’m gonna say is I’ve played a lot of online games over the years; Guild Wars is easily hands down the best PC game investment I’ve made in the 21st century. I’ve dabbled in WoW, and can’t really swallow it for long. Guild Wars is story driven, had a diverse play mechanic, is fast paced and has awesome character customization. Plus, I’ve made so many friends over the years through various guilds and alliances. Today a lot of us have all melted together into one really kickass crew over at Hamnation.Net — and I’m eager to see where the sequel takes us.