This tweet has been going around on my feed:
Name one ttrpg you love because of the system.— ogrethegamedesigner (@ogrethegamedes1) December 24, 2019
Name one you love in spite of the system.
Name one you love for inexplicable reasons.
Name one you love because of the setting.
Name one on you love because it invokes high nostalgia.
Rather than just give names, I want to talk about these things in more detail.
Because of the system: Genesys
I’ve talked and written plenty about this, but for me, Genesys sits right at the center of the gaming experience I often want. It’s got just enough crunch to satisfy my interest in dredging up the optimal equipment/talent/whatever combinations for a character, but its mechanics are generally narrative in nature, and are very easy to adapt for new purposes.
In spite of the system: Fellowship
I want to like everything about this system, I really do. The thing that’s a hard sell for me is the sheer number of moves that we have to keep track of, and some of the Overlord options feel very weird. It’s a system that ought to generally get out of the way of the high adventure, but keeps intruding back in to say “hey are you playing the way you ought to?” That said, I like the principle of it, I like what they did with the Overlord - how they level up, how their plans are gated by player action but still inexorably grind forward, I like the reinterpretation of fantasy staples, and I like what it lets you say about fantasy RPG tropes.
Inexplicable reasons: Mage (Ascension or Awakening)
I won’t say that the reasons I like Mage can’t be explained. I will say that it’s hard to sell other people on the game and that’s a little inexplicable to me (but then again, I know I have weird tastes). For me, Mage has the broadest scope of action of any of the White Wolf lines. Other realms, other planets, dreams, the past or the future, Atlantis, the edge of the void - anywhere you want to go, anything you want to do, is reachable. But not without danger, or opposition, and that’s where the game comes from.
The setting: Exalted
I can’t think of a setting that is more prepared for high adventure in whatever vein you want. People on the run from powerful forces? A band of wandering warriors, doing good in isolated small towns? Monster-hunting? Exploring ruins? Political and economic maneuvering? Sorcerous battles? Sword duels between rivals perched on tree-tops? Charismatic leaders directing armies in a fight for freedom? Gods, ghosts, and generals? There’s so much to do.
Invokes high nostalgia: Mekton II
Way back in the day, I had people who’d play Battletech, MechWarrior, Mekton, and other giant-robot games with me. It was fun, it was weird, and it was a blast to try and construct the perfect mecha, then see whether it would get blown to pieces in the next fight. I miss those days, and I wish there were more people who had that itch.