#RPGThursday – Top 3 TTRPG?

Was challenged on Twitter to name my Top 3 Tabletop Role Playing Games. Here was my response:

Each of these titles is starkly different from the other. One is old/new, one very old school, and the third a modern narrative system. How did I arrive at this list?

Starting in 2004 and continuing through the mid 20-teens, I focused my hobby hours more heavily into RPGs than wargaming and boardgaming. In part this was because I was in the military and on the move with most of my gaming collection stored away. The electronic revolution in RPGs was just starting so instead of buying physical books I could get a whole library on my computer! I also had younger kids who were not ready to game yet. In those years, I dabbled in a lot of RPG systems, especially newer ones such as CORTEX Classic (Serenity Role Playing Game, Battlestar Galactica Role Playing Game) that evolved into CORTEX Plus (Smallville Roleplaying Game, Marvel Heroic Roleplaying Game, and Firefly Roleplaying Game). I dug deeply into FATE with great games like the encyclopedic Starblazer Adventures or Diaspora. There were many other games too. Looking back, I had become a “mechanics nut” and explored different RPG systems to study their mechanics, or how they modeled the world. I didn’t really play many of these games as much as I studied them.

During this study time, I took another look at the James Bond 007 roleplaying game. I came to realize that this game had a near-perfect marriage of theme and mechanics.

In 2013 my gaming took an unexpected turn. That year, Fantasy Flight Games acquired the Star Wars license and produced their excellent Star Wars: Edge of the Empire Core Rulebook. The RockyMountainNavy Boys were now older and I had done a good job of indoctrinating them into the Cult of Star Wars. So we started playing together. This was a major change for me since I now started playing games instead of mostly studying them.

As I started playing games more, I fell back on a classic of my youth. The three Little Black Books of (now) Classic Traveller had always been a favorite of mine. Now there was something different; a revival of sorts in the form of third-party publishers like Gypsy Knights Games with their incredible The Clement Sector ATU. Since 2013 I have stuck with the newer Traveller as it evolved into Cepheus Engine. It remains my favorite.

So that is how I arrived at my Top 3. The first is a classic of my youth, updated and recreated into the modern day. The second is a design I admire. The third is loved because it connects me to my Boys.

4 comments

  1. I remember the James Bond game, but my favourite spy game was TSR’s “Top Secret”.

    It was a great spy game and I have fond memories of this one module where the players were doing something in Vienna and then due to circumstances had to make a beeline on the road to Yugoslavia to get extracted.

    It was a harrowing adventure and I loved it.

    I also played a lot of TSR’s Star Frontiers and Gamma World. Those were pretty cool too.

    Oh, and FASA’s Star Trek and Dr. Who games! Loved those too.

    I’ve been out of RPGs for so long now that I couldn’t name anything more modern than that. 🙂

    • A lot has changed and a lot hasn’t. I remember seeing Top Secret (I even have the Orient Express module) but it was James Bond 007 that was my spy genre RPG.
      These days there is so much choice as to what system you want it is almost overwhelming. Getting back into the hobby doesn’t have to be expensive. A good core rule book can be found for cheap (sometimes even free). The rise of digital product from DriveThruRPG.com also helps a budget.

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