Suggestion for best offline role-playing game?
April 22, 2006 10:05 AM   Subscribe

Suggestion for best offline role-playing game?

To give to a geek who is not living up to his true geek potential. Game should obviously be tons of fun, and relatively easy to learn.
posted by It ain't over yet to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (23 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Offline as in "not networked"? Or offline as in "not done on the computer"?
posted by tkolar at 10:10 AM on April 22, 2006


Not done on computer. Sorry.
posted by It ain't over yet at 10:12 AM on April 22, 2006


Dungeons & Dragons, 3.5 edition. Pretty easy to learn, and the basis of the RSRD which lots and lots of other games use. Once he's got these rules down, he'll have lots of choices for games.
posted by Janta at 10:19 AM on April 22, 2006


While the content is kinda cheesy, i think the White Wolf games (Vampire, Werewolf, etc) had, hands down, the best system for gameplay. So much so that, when i still played, several of my friends and i converted Cyberpunk to use a White Wolf styled system.

As for a great universe, with kinda crappy (IMHO) mechanics, Torg is fantastic. Also in this category: Paranoia, which is an oldie but a goody.

A few people i know still play Dungeons & Dragons, but i find it painfully boring.
posted by quin at 10:22 AM on April 22, 2006


Nobilis - fascinating concepts.

Over The Edge - wonderful, fluid mechanics, interesting world.
posted by kyrademon at 10:27 AM on April 22, 2006


AEG publishes 7th Sea and Legend of the Five Rings. Both are good worlds to play in. Have they switched to d20? d20 isn't a complicated system.
posted by bleary at 10:38 AM on April 22, 2006


The Call of Cthulhu. The game system is straightforward and simple, the Lovecraftian horror is scads of fun, and it's probably the ideal game if you don't wanna play f'n D&D. Something like Over the Edge or Sorcerer is more cutting-edge, but CoC is hands down the best game to get somebody into roleplaying that is not hack and slash.
posted by graymouser at 10:49 AM on April 22, 2006


AEG publishes 7th Sea and Legend of the Five Rings. Both are good worlds to play in. Have they switched to d20? d20 isn't a complicated system.

I really hope 7th Sea didn't switch to d20 - it had one of the most fun systems behind it I'd played in a long time. Where else could you get away with an attribute called "Panache"?
posted by wanderingmind at 10:54 AM on April 22, 2006


D&D, but ditch the rulebook. D&D was so much more fun (when we used to play it, which was several years ago) after we realized the rules just got in the way, and that a good DM really doesn't need dice, or maps, or anything like that. When I DMed, basically all I had was a sheet of notes, & the character sheets for items/some basic stats (oh, you're strong in XY, and you're strong in Z...). We found that instead of sitting down at a table, hunched over a bunch of dice/etc, it became much more flexible... we could chill outside, hike, etc, without having to worry about all the little nitpicky stuff. You give more power to the DM, yes, but thats where the whole human interaction piece comes in. Otherwise, you're playing out a rulebook. Not terribly fun, IMO, and you might as well play on a computer.
posted by devilsbrigade at 11:05 AM on April 22, 2006


(Plus, you can make games really, really trippy - a mage decides to put you into shroomland & you have to find your way out? (OH ****, no map for shroomland? shroomland is already changing? my system! its breaking!))
posted by devilsbrigade at 11:11 AM on April 22, 2006


GURPS, the Generic Universal Roleplaying System. The rules are much easier to learn and understand than D&D (no matter what version) and it covers every story genre you've ever heard of and a lot you haven't. AND all the different modules interoperate; care to take high-tech mobile combat armor into a swords-and-sorcery world? Or be a spell caster in a post-holocaust technoworld?

And the best thing of all? No polyhedral dice! Everything is done with cube dice exclusively.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 11:40 AM on April 22, 2006


D&D is an okay place to start, although none of the really geeky players I know would be caught dead playing 3.5. In general, the d20 system is a worthy update to the fairly cumbersome 2nd edition rules, but 3.5 has a bad reputation, because it was sort of a minor "patch"* to the 3rd edition rule set that required everybody to buy entirely new books.

So, if you're starting out with no prior investment in 3.0 materials, go for 3.5, then be sure to slag it when you're chatting with the other geeks at the comic store.

2nd edition is what 90% of us started out with, so you could try to catch up by playing that for a while. The advantage there is that there's plenty of material, and it's all very cheap. Plus, you'll know what a THAC0 is.

I also second Call of Cthulhu. The Chaosium rule set is great, but even the D20 version is pretty okay (though lacking in supplements).

My outside-the-box recommendation is a free system called The Window. It's really easy to learn, and very flexible. I'm not a big fan of diceless rpgs (Though I've played my shared of Amber Diceless, which is a good option if you're a fan of Roger Zelazny) because both my players and I tend to need some fair way to resolve disputes, and random numbers are a good way to do that. The Window is has a very low-profile game mechanic that gets you through sticky situations but still allows for a lot of open-endedness and "acting".

Based on the requirement of an easy-to-learn game, I'll recommend against Deadlands, which is both hard to learn and kind of a scam in that you need to buy a lot different books to really run a campaign. I spent like $80 buying materials to start a campaign, because I thought the western horror setting looked cool, and we played through just one game before deciding the rules were just too cumbersome even to salvage.

* Rules changes to 3.5 include making toad familiars slightly weaker. Prior to that crucial change, wizards with toad familiars were totally unbalancing the game, running amok and taking down armies left and right. Best $30 I ever spent.
posted by Hildago at 11:56 AM on April 22, 2006


You basically can't go wrong with D&D 3.5 as far as getting your feet wet. Overall it is a solid game, without entirely cumbersome mechanics and tons of materials (even for the relatively new 3.5 edition).

Whitewolf games are pretty good if you have a strong group. The atmosphere of the game can be easily ruined by bad or immature players.

I've always liked Shadowrun. It's a classic cyberpunk and magic game set in the relatively near future. The game has a lot of action (and really satisfying ways to destroy your enemies), but it also rewards careful and clever planning. As a bonus they recently came out with a fourth edition which involved some fairly signficant rules changes, so the people you end up playing with won't have years more experience with the rules than you will.
posted by oddman at 12:12 PM on April 22, 2006


Shadowrun is totally badass.

I'd also suggest Rifts, from Palladium. The universe has gotten sprawlingly huge, and the combat is a bit clunky, but any semi-decent GM can iron over that pretty easily.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 12:16 PM on April 22, 2006


You want "Easy to learn" and "Tons of fun"? Then you want "Kobolds ate my baby!" (Site is down right now, but try later.)

The art is by John Kovalic, who is also responsible for "Dork Tower". Some examples of the art here and here. ALL HAIL KING TORG!
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 12:33 PM on April 22, 2006


I'll add Mutants & Masterminds for superhero roleplaying. 2nd edition rules came out not too long ago.

I'll suggest Exalted for high fantasy, with the warning that it's a White Wolf product so expect a lot of metaplot. 2nd edition rules just came out recently.

And I'll recommend Dogs in the Vineyard if you're interested in a game that emphasizes roleplaying over combat.
posted by SPrintF at 12:47 PM on April 22, 2006


Over The Edge - wonderful, fluid mechanics, interesting world.

Heavily, heavily seconded (or is that thirded?).

I use the mechanics for any and all settings when I have a say in the matter. The character generation is genius: as GM, you're guaranteed at least 3 free plot hooks from even your least-interested-in-working-up-a-backstory players.
posted by juv3nal at 1:10 PM on April 22, 2006


In an informal poll of my childhood friends, we all unanimously agreed that Call of Cthulhu was the best RPG ever... and we played a ton of different games (at least ten) over the years.

For fantasy, I grew to enjoy Palladium FRP more than D&D.

Other games I loved: In Nomine (great idea but kinda crappy mechanics), Over the Edge (delightfully weird), Vampire: The Dark Ages (the best setting ever for a White Wolf game), old-school Marvel Super Heros (FASERIP!) and Shadowrun.
posted by the_bone at 2:57 PM on April 22, 2006


I realize this is not quite what you may be looking for, but my brother really loves Paranoia, which has the added advantage of telling you to ignore whatever rules you find inconvenient.
posted by posadnitsa at 4:49 PM on April 22, 2006


Champions will thrill you and turn you into a stats geek at the same time. Plus, there's no wizards and orcs and trolls, unless you want them.
posted by frogan at 6:00 PM on April 22, 2006


Since you're giving this as a gift to a, presumably, non-gamer geek to maximize his "true geek potential," I'll second the vote for Paranoia. It's about the geekiest RPG out there AND it would work well as a gag gift. That is, your geek friend would probably enjoy the idea of Paranoia, even if he never plays it. I'm not sure the same is true of any of the other games mentioned (especially D&D 3.5).

Of course if your geek is old school, get him a set of the original Traveller books ...
posted by zanni at 3:59 AM on April 23, 2006


I'll third Paranoia. I got bored with the whole RPG genre due to a lack of good GMs, but Paranoia is one of few RPGs that can be a lot of chaotic fun even with a mediocre/newbie GM.

As always, it depends on who you are playing with. I remember one memorable evening with four first-timers, where the entire action for the party was to arrive at our mission briefing, get briefed, get in a vehicle, and drive approximately 2/3s of the way to where we were supposed to start the mission. Four hours of game play and 17 character deaths, all caused by other members of the party.

Good wholesome fun, that.
posted by tkolar at 6:20 AM on April 23, 2006


As always, it depends on who you are playing with. I remember one memorable evening with four first-timers, where the entire action for the party was to arrive at our mission briefing, get briefed, get in a vehicle, and drive approximately 2/3s of the way to where we were supposed to start the mission. Four hours of game play and 17 character deaths, all caused by other members of the party.

Sidetrack: That's nothing, I've been in a game where 4 of 6 party members were dead dead (6) by the conclusion of the briefing. Even the survivors were down by at least 1 clone each. All caused either directly or indirectly by player action but not necessarily other members of the party (commit indisputably treasonous act in plain view and, well, suicide by any other name...).

That was an anomolous session, but running a paranoia campaign is still basically impossible if you want to be consistent with the setting as described in the book. Even giving everyone 6 fresh clones every session still results in horrendous attrition.
posted by juv3nal at 3:51 PM on April 23, 2006


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