Philosophy

I have a definite philosophy in reviewing: my job is to give you enough info to judge with reasonable accuracy whether or not you'll like the game, without having to read the game yourself, and despite any differences between us in what we like in an RPG. Now, i'm not pretending that i'll always live up to that standard, but that's what i'm striving for, and i'll take any criticism, especially that which will lead me closer to that goal.

Criteria

Examples

The following are the scores i would give to several games that i hope are well-known. These should help to serve as a baseline, and out my prejudices for the most part.

SUBSTANCE STYLE
Title System Chargen Setting Presentation
gameline company simplicity completeness statistics speed flexibility "realism" detail scope consistency originality style clarity organization materials indexing
Ars Magica, 4th ed 7 9 10 5 8 9 7 8 8 7 7 9 10 8 9
Ars Magica Atlas 4 4
Over the Edge, 2nd ed 10 9 9 9 9 9 10 8 10 10 6 9 10 8 10
Over the Edge Atlas 5 4
Everway 9 9 10 9 8 8 5 10 8 8 9 9 9 10 10
Everway Rubican/WotC 4 5
Werewolf: the Apocalypse 4 7 3 7 5 3 6 7 7 7 5 7 5 5 5
Werewolf WWGS 3 3
Mage: the Ascension 4 7 3 7 5 3 6 7 7 7 5 6 5 7 7
Mage WWGS 3 3
Mage: the Ascension, 2nd ed 4 7 3 7 5 3 6 7 5 7 5 6 5 7 8
Mage WWGS 3 3
AD&D Players' Handbook, 2nd ed 3 2 5 8 2 1 3 3 1 1 2 7 5 7 8
AD&D TSR 1 3
FUDGE 8 10 9 10 10 10 0 10 5 5 2 8 8 8 5
FUDGE Grey Ghost Games 4 3
Castle Falkenstein 8 8 9 7 8 7 8 8 8 8 10 8 7 8 3
Castle Falkenstein RTG 4 4
CORPS, 2nd ed 6 9 10 7 8 9 0 10 5 5 7 10 9 7 10
CORPS BTRC 3 4
Star Wars RPG, 2nd ed., revised 8 9 8 8 8 7 7 8 7 4 9 9 9 10 10
Star Wars WEG 4 5

All of those values are computed with simple averaging. In actuality, i'd ignore the formula and not include setting stuff at all for settingless systems (i.e., GURPS, CORPS, etc.)--what i put up there in those areas is sorta meaningless. That alters the final values for FUDGE to Style 3/Substance 5, and CORPS to Style 4/Substance 4. In general, i prefer simpler systems, but definitely appreciate a complex system that produces a lot of extra (interesting) detail for that complexity. I prefer a system to be melded with and integral to a world, rather than "universal". If i'm ever drawing a line between "rules-light" and other games, i put such things as Maelstrom Storytelling, Everway, Over the Edge, Star Wars, Continuum, and Heaven & Earth in the rules-light category. Ars Magica, Theatrix, Zero, Castle Falkenstein, Lost Souls, Feng Shui, and the like make up the cusp, and may be close enough for government work (depending on context). Storyteller, AD&D, Alternity, Rolemaster, Deadlands, Aria, GURPS, CORPS, and so on, are all definitely not rules-light under any circumstances where i'm doing the designating.

Oh, and one of my idiosyncracies as that i'll almost always downgrade a book in the materials area for being a hardcover: IME, they don't last any better than the softcovers, they're harder to do preventive structural improvements on, they're harder to fix when they fall apart, and for all this they cost more. Of course, that's only about a fifth of the weight for the Style score, so i'd have to knock over 5 points (out of 10) off for it to have any real likelihood of affecting the final (RGPnet) score, and it's only worth about a point to me.

Finally, a few lists of games, to give you an idea of where i'm coming from. My favorite games are Ars Magica, Over the Edge, Everway, Underground, Kult, and Werewolf. I suspect that Maelstrom Storytelling, Theatrix, and Nobilis would be on that list if i'd had a chance to play them much. Castle Falkenstein, Continuum, Aria, Providence, SkyRealms of Jorune, Ghostbusters, Bunnies & Burrows (the original), FUDGE, Lost Souls, and Zero all just miss the cut--they're my second string. I've actually played, in some cases extensively:

In addition, i've read, and in some cases watched games of:

My To Read list currently includes:

Games that i don't seem to own copies of yet, but would love to (donations welcome):

I'll gladly trade a review for a copy of any RPG stuff, but be forewarned that speedy turnaround isn't my forte. I'm a slow, thoughtful reader and have a lot of reading (RPG and otherwise) already on my docket. If you want a thorough, honest, informative review, probably with an actual playtest (i like to try playing new games whenever we have the time), you'll get it. If you need a review this quarter, i'm probably the wrong person. If you want a review this month, forget it.


woodelfwritings
created by woodelf@rpg.net