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Blow It Wide Open (#RPGaDay, Day 14)

August is RPGaDay month. Yep, a month solid of RPG-related posts, answering these questions:

Today’s question is this:

Which RPG do you prefer for open-ended campaign play?

That’s an interesting question… 

I don’t know if I really necessarily have a strong preference? Open-ended campaign play suggests I’d want to use a system that also allows for various kinds of play. I can think of systems I’d avoid—anything very one-shot oriented, anything too focused on planned narrative arcs, and so on. I’d want something that works well with an episodic or picaresque approach, but allows character continuity to build up into something. 

I think there’s a variety of games that allow for that, and I’m actually interested in exploring the playing field to see how I enjoy different options. That’s not because the system I’ve mostly run since coming back to RPGing isn’t working for me—Lamentations of the Flame Princess is a good, versatile variant of D&D that doesn’t creak or break or fall apart when I bolt or weld weird things onto it—but I also just feel curious to see how running other systems might change the way I run games, or think about them. 

You can see in the sidebar (if you’re viewing this on my blog) the covers of games I’m planning to run, prepping to run, or tempted to get/run, as well as those I’ve backed on Kickstarter (and thus implicitly expect to run someday). Many of those (yes, even Paranoia, though that’s less likely) are possible candidates for an open-ended campaign game. 

To speak more generally, I’ll say that one thing about RPG design that interests me these days is the dilemma of how to telescope things: action, time, travel—anything can either be zoomed out (resolved simply, seen through a not-very-magnifying lens) or can, conversely, explored deeply. I’m interested in how systems allow one to do this smoothly but systematically in-game. So the more a game allows me to have a framework for doing that (as opposed to just ad hoc doing it), the more interested I am in open-ended, longer-term play. Note that this means not just zooming out, but also zooming in, as need be.  


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