The Search for New Games
After 2 to 3 months of GMing Pathfinder, various factors contributed to a burnout. I'm still game for participating as a player, but when it comes to actually running the game I don't think I can continue for the near future. Also, as I'm getting more into writing projects as a self-publisher I wish to expand my horizons beyond just D&D-derived systems and D20 ones. I once played a bit of Shadowrun, and did a Vampire game for a little over a month, and played a single session of Savage Worlds, so I'm happy about that.
As of now I'm thinking of participating as a player in a few unfamiliar RPG games once a week ideally. If it turns out I really like them we can do further sessions.
I recently tried to join a Dungeon Crawl Classics one-shot, but things conspired to prevent myself dedicating to a full game. As of this posting I'm prepping to run a one-shot for 13th Age.
As of now I've been thinking that limiting my choices to a "Top 5 Wanted RPGs" is best for now, partly because there's so many choices and partly because some of them might not be as good for one-shots.
1.) Dungeon World
2.) Eclipse Phase
5.) Shadow of the Demon Lord
Two other games which caught my eye lately are Dragon Age RPG and Shadow of the Demon Lord.
Dragon Age recently got a complete compilation, now that Inquisition is out. Personally it seems fun, but in comparison to already-existing RPGs I don't know what it can give me that others can't aside from some series staples like qunari PCs and joining the Grey Wardens. I sort of feel that character creation is a bit restrictive in that one's background shapes the skills or ability choices you can get. For example, the otherwise-diverse Apostate Mage background doesn't take into account local languages in case you want to play a Rivaini seer, in that you only begin play with the Trade Tongue but not Rivaini which you would get as a Rivaini Merchant. Still, I heard good things about the Stunt system, and I have one player in my regular group who really likes it, so I shouldn't have as much trouble rounding up interested parties.
Shadow of the Demon Lord's premise is that it's set in the last days of a fantasy world which is overrun by an incursion of unholy horrors. I'm still in the process of reading it, but it has some Warhammer Fantasy inspiration in its grittiness (I don't do Warhammer, this is what I hear). The game is level-based from 1 to 10, with Paths serving the role of classes. You start off with one of four typical fantasy Paths (warrior, rogue, priest, mage), but at later levels you can choose Expert and Master Paths which are more specialized versions of the core four, such as artificer, paladin, gunslinger, and the like. I like this idea on the surface so far, in that it allows for a degree of customization.
As for races, you have humans, dwarves, and orcs, but you also have goblins (who are refugees from faerie), changelings, and clockwork (who are akin to intelligent golems). I particularly like the clockwork in that they don't necessarily have to be human-shaped.
Magic School Hexcrawl
So one of the side projects I'm working on currently is a sandbox setting idea for Swords & Wizardry and other compatible OSR games. After writing plenty of blog posts on the subject, I figure it's time I devote my energies to making my ideas into a usable sourcebook. I'm calling it Larius Firetongue's School of Sorcery.
The premise is that the PCs are students at a magic academy in a sparsely populated pseudo-British Europe region which is a nexus for all matter of strange phenomena. Basically LFSoS will be divided into two major sections: a new rules/advice part for all-spellcaster parties, and a hexcrawl setting detailing the school itself and surrounding environs.
The school would serve as a sort of home base, and there are various challenges to do and characters to interact with to increase one's arcane lore and power. Sneaking into the library's forbidden section or taking an Initiation Delve to join an order of the school's elite mages are some proposed possibilities, while fellow staff and students the PCs befriend might be willing to teach them new spells and/or accompany them on adventures as hirelings of sorts.
As for the hexcrawl environs, there might be times when the PCs need to head out into the wilderness or the underground to gather some rare material. Perhaps a dungeon's said to hold a mirror portal from a long-dead empire, or the current month's the season when a rare species of flower used for summoning spells grows in the Moonshade Forest. Expanding on the Arcane Lore idea from an earlier post, hunting for treasure will still be a feature of this adventure, but it will be more specialized towards things of interest to spellcasting PCs.
For setting scope, I got some advice that keeping most things within one to two days' travel is a good idea. Even accounting for a 3 miles per hour, 8 hours of travel can put this at 24 to 48 miles assuming a straight line, 72 miles at the farthest reaches. Even within this radius you can still have enough room to populate the area with villages, dungeons, and other landmarks. This can keep things more localized as well as allowing the PCs to return to school in a reasonable time frame as opposed to traversing the breadth of a small country just to get to a city or dungeon.
Beyond the above I also plan on incorporating some new spells and rules variants for a party composed entirely of spellcasters. I don't want to be limiting and say Magic-Users only, in that Clerics and Druids also practice magic and might be of value to a school environment, but without the more common warrior and thief classes there will be some weakness in such a party composition barring multi-classing.
These are the ideas I have so far which I feel are presentable to readers at this point in time. The book's still in its first draft stages, although If there's enough interest I might devote further posts to my hexcrawl idea once I get more workable stuff.