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Lowell Francis
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South Bend
Indiana
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In 2012 I plan to wrap up five of the six on-going campaigns. The odd man out is something I run as pick up and so it doesn't count. But I'm hope to finish up these five with a solid and comprehensive endings. One of the campaigns will hit five years of play in February, and two others around three years each. The last two were built for shorter runs (26 and 8 sessions respectively). So this will be a year of massive endings for the groups.

But I'm not going to stop running games- in fact I hope to hit the ground running and have new campaigns thought about and selected by the various groups. It might be a chance to add new members or bring back old players. It will also be an opportunity to talk to some players about what they want from the games- and to perhaps add more buy in to some campaigns. In many cases, I hope to use some collaborative pre-game world building as drawn from Microscope, Blood & Honor and Diaspora.

And, of course, I have more ideas for campaigns than I could ever possibly run. So for reference, here are the twenty-three I've got in my head that I'd like to run someday, maybe this year...who knows? I will probably pare the list down and perhaps do a survey by group to see what they'd be interested in, as I did here Choosing the Next Campaign Survey (and what happened).

For some thoughts on ending campaigns, see this post.
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1. RPG Item: The Watchmen Sourcebook [Average Rating:8.50 Unranked]
Lowell Francis
United States
South Bend
Indiana
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Superhero: Year One
System: Mutants & Masterminds 2e

I have a couple of different superhero campaigns I've been talking about with my players. I've mentioned a couple of them before. This one would require a group with at least a passing familiarity with comics books, especially characters from the big two. To start the campaign, players would each choose an existing superhero from any universe (Marvel, DC, or whatever). Based on those choices, we'd set some of the cosmology of the world (i.e. more realistic or more fantastic, more sci-fi or more mystical). We'd obviously have to play around with the setting and details.

But players would make up a fairly low-powered version of that hero. In some cases, that might mean dialing back what they can do. I'm imagining something like PL6-8 in M&M. The game would begin with the idea that these heroes are just starting out. We might use Microscope to craft a history of superheroes prior to the characters or we might simply assume that the characters are among the first heroes. Either way, it would give the players a chance to play someone they like and perhaps put a new spin on them: different race, gender, origin, etc. Think of it as a big reboot campaign.
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2. RPG Item: MHAC8: Weapons Locker [Average Rating:7.10 Overall Rank:3615]
Lowell Francis
United States
South Bend
Indiana
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Bloodlines: Armor Wars
System: Mutants & Masterminds 2e

Some time back, ugh, almost six years ago, I ran a short supers campaign in which powers had a genetic basis, one rooted in different family lines. You can see some of the material and posts about that campaign here. I'd like to revisit that setting, but with a slight twist. Some of this comes out of how much I enjoyed the first Iron Man movie, and some of it out of a desire to consider some areas of the Bloodlines setting that I didn't get a chance to before.

Essentially, the players would play supers- but not ones who had genetic powers (with some exception). Instead their powers would come from devices, equipment, armor and experiments (some created by super-powered geniuses). They would exist as a attempt to balance the power of superbeings- demonstrating that normal humans could also deal with the threats posed by powered criminals. Some players could take low-level powers, perhaps combined with expert skills or enhancing equipment. The players would be put fighting against meta-villains, those who follow a magneto-like vision of genetic superiority, and those who want to use them as a weapon against all of superkind.
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3. RPG Item: Mage: The Sorcerers Crusade [Average Rating:7.51 Overall Rank:667]
Lowell Francis
United States
South Bend
Indiana
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Truce of Consequences
System: Homebrew

I'm pretty sure this is a campaign which will never see the light of day- I've been thinking about it for eight years, and have a fairly strong idea for the set up and twist. The problem is the historical nature of the setting. I don't really have anyone in any of the groups interested in the period or history games in general.

I'd like to build a campaign that creates some bridges from an Ars Magica set up to the battle between the Council of Traditions and Order of Reason. M: SC posits the rise and growing influence of the Order of Reason, with the Council hindered by paradox and magical backlash. I imagine a game taking place in a kind of stalemate between the two sides: with both "new science" and "magic" causing disruptions and problems. I've got more built of that, but given that I probably won't run this one unless something changes, I don't want to invest in too much more planning.
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4. RPG Item: Fading Suns [Average Rating:7.20 Overall Rank:456]
Lowell Francis
United States
South Bend
Indiana
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Legend of the Fading Suns
System: Homebrew, with elements from Ashen Stars.

This is a campaign concept I talked about in a couple of blog posts here and here. I like some of the core concepts from Fading Suns, and I haven't really done a solid science-fiction campaign, though some might argue this would be more science-fantasy.

The key, for me, would be first to loosely rework the concepts of the Houses to make them more playable from my perspective. Next, to get the players to collaboratively decide on a new family to add to one of those houses. I might even combine that with a Microscope session to have them build recent events and fit themselves into the timeline. Bottom line- what I really want are some of the best structural elements from Legend of the Five Rings (the interplay of houses, strong and interesting social codes) with the star spanning travel and exploration of Fading Suns.
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5. RPG Item: Legend of the Five Rings [Average Rating:7.64 Overall Rank:174]
Lowell Francis
United States
South Bend
Indiana
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The Great Rokugan Campaign
System: Likely homebrew, possibly FATE, possibly HeroQuest, elements of Blood & Honor- will need some crunch to it.

I've been reading The Cardiff Boys session reports with a mixture of glee and jealousy. An that got me to read more about The Great Pendragon Campaign, a monumental framework for the history of that period. I love seasonal approach, the multi-generational characters, and the idea of playing against the backdrop of those stories. That got me to thinking about one of the few game histories I actually care about, that of Rokugan and Legend of the Five Rings. I bought into L5R when it first came out as a CCG. When the rpg came out, I ran two different campaigns (using different systems). I've stuck to the period of the first edition, ignoring the evolving history after that because there's just so much gaming room in those early days.

And those early days encompass so much, so why not run a year-by-year campaign covering that time. Begin perhaps in 1103, with the ascension of the new Emperor, Hantei XXXVIII. Continue on through the next years with the rise of the Bloodspeakers. Then the Scorpion Clan Coup in 1123. Then the Clan War and through to the Second Day of Thunder. More events could follow, depending on the outcome of that. The timeline could change at that point or the GM could press on further. Sourcebooks Time of the Void, The Hidden Emperor and The Four Winds offer rich details of these periods.

And the course of history could be changed by the players- perhaps not the biggest events, but depending on their status they might be able to shift some tides. Ideally I would have the players begin by choosing a Clan and creating a new family for them, ala the system John Wick presents in Blood & Honor. They would then have a shared goal and heritage. It would be a newly founded family, allowing the players to come to it from different schools or backgrounds. I think it could be really cool- and might be an amazing way to get the full epic sweep of the history.

However, when I mentioned this idea to my players- they were skeptical. We've never done anything like a seasonal campaign, and the idea of a multigenerational character I think make them hesitate. That's something I'd have to consider before I tried to do anything like this.
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6. RPG Item: Clockwork & Chivalry 1st Edition [Average Rating:6.86 Overall Rank:4042]
Lowell Francis
United States
South Bend
Indiana
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Regicide and Shadow
System: ???

Some time back I talked about Clockwork and Chivalry, in particular how the authors had managed to make a kind of fantasy post-apocalypse game. That's been done in other ways in other games, as I mentioned in More than Flirting with Disaster: Cataclysmic RPGs. I like the idea that a battle between factions ended in a symbolic act with significant magical and spiritual repercussions. What those repercussions are and what the path forward is remains in doubt. As a result you have many splintered factions with different readings on the situation. Add to that a focus on community. The players come from a settlement. They may have different philosophies, but they have the same goal of preserving and protecting that place.

Now I can see a couple of different ways to make this playable at my table. A really severe transformation could make for a Dogs in the Vineyard-style game. That's interesting but perhaps not the best approach. I could go with a more classic fantasy approach- perhaps using Microscope to set things up and see what the players come up with. I could set a few terms (a political event which has had fallout, multiple factions or the like) and let them define them further. That could work. On the other hand, I could also use that as a framework/background to do a couple of pseudo-historical games I've imagined. For example, the Mage: Sorcerer's Crusade game I mentioned above. It would be cool to do a game set in Britain during that period. I've also wondered if it wouldn't be possible to do that History of Hogwarts game during that period. That the kinds of schisms in the Muggle world impact the Wizarding world. That leads to Hogwart's: First Class.
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7. RPG Item: Hero [Average Rating:7.16 Overall Rank:528]
Lowell Francis
United States
South Bend
Indiana
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Last Call
System: Homebrew

I ran Scion a couple of years ago and like the concept, but the system got in the way of the game by the end of it. It was pretty clear that a few more step ups in power and the combats would becoming really difficult to manage. Certain aspects and choice can make a devastating combination at the Demi-God level or above. But I like the idea and I want to run it again, with a different system.

Last time I ran a game set in Las Vegas that borrowed more than a little from Tim Powers' novel Last Call. I have a group of new players, none of whom played in that. It might be fun to rework and rerun that general campaign from them. I'd made some tweaks, strip out some of the unnecessary elements and let them go to town with the fun of playing children of the gods. Another option would be to run a continuation of the previous Scion campaign with the group that played in the first part. I'd shift things to a different city- making each campaign block about exploring that place's history and ethos (Detroit? Atlanta? Boston?). I'm a little hesitant to do that, however, because it would require either running in the original Scion system to doing some serious retooling and conversion of characters.
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8. RPG Item: Ashen Stars [Average Rating:7.72 Overall Rank:398]
Lowell Francis
United States
South Bend
Indiana
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The Stars like Ash...
System: Modified Ashen Stars

I like some of the core concepts of Ashen Stars, and I think a kind of freewheeling campaign in that setting would work. I'd want to establish "Planet Noir" or "Station Gotham" asa location the players could come back to between their adventures- some kind of key industrial, trade or administrative world that they could also have adventures on from time to time. That would give me the chance to build up a stable of interesting NPCs. I think I'd probably make some of the more radical races (like the one with psionics) NPC-only and limit the craziness of the crew. I'm not sure I'd want to do an extended campaign like that, but a number of sessions could be really fun.
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9. RPG Item: The Armitage Files [Average Rating:8.34 Overall Rank:90]
Lowell Francis
United States
South Bend
Indiana
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The Armitage Files
System: Straight or slightly hacked Trail of Cthulhu

This is a dynamite campaign sourcebook and I really want to run it. The trick will be to find the right group for it. Some players enjoy horror and Lovecraft more than others. I'd also want players who relish an investigation type game. Finally, I'd need to have a table of 4-5 to do this right- I think fewer would be too tight and more would feel crowded.
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10. RPG Item: Night's Black Agents (Dragonmeet SE) [Average Rating:8.50 Unranked]
Lowell Francis
United States
South Bend
Indiana
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The First Casualty
System: Night's Black Agents, with some hacks

I really like spy and espionage games, but it has been years since I've run one. NBA offers a toolkit of cool for doing such games. I like the introduction of a supernatural threat into the mix. I'm not sure I would want to run a straight spy game in a modern setting- unless I built a more crazy mad organization substructure (like the Shadowforce Archer set up). Alternately, I could run something set in the 1960's or so and use James Bond 007.

But if I wanted to do something contemporary, combining paranoia and a clear bad guy, I would use NBA. But I might also push it forward a little bit- into the near future to add some more tech and sci-fi elements to the mix. I'd want a solid mix of action and procedural, with perhaps some cyberpunk thrown in.

Alternately, I haven't actually done a Victorian-era game, though I've run some steampunk stuff. It might be fun to do a kind of Sherlock Holmes, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Rippers mash up with the characters on the run from a dark conspiracy.

There's also the idea of trying to do a version of Assassin's Creed II with this (maybe a mash up with Mage: The Sorcerers Crusade?)
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11. RPG Item: Postmodern Magick [Average Rating:8.27 Overall Rank:728]
Lowell Francis
United States
South Bend
Indiana
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HCI: Darkening Lights
System: Homebrew

I've run a version of this previously, you can see discussion of that here. Essentially this is a cross-genre campaign, built around a framing device. In the past this has been based around a VR turned reality breach concept. I have a couple of other frames which twist those concepts. I learned some lessons from that previous campaign- notably to establish a small pool of key frames, rather than an open-ended approach. I've also been thinking about how to maintain the stakes across the settings and to reduce the need for different system mechanics. I don't necessarily want to use a generic system, but rather an engine that can be tuned. This kind of campaign does require more sessions to play out well- and a commitment on the part of the players, so I have to think about this further.
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12. RPG Item: B4: The Lost City [Average Rating:7.67 Overall Rank:192]
Lowell Francis
United States
South Bend
Indiana
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The Forgotten City
System: Unsure. This might be the place to try out Pathfinder.

After a prologue, the PC group find themselves at the entrance to a city. It appears abandoned, and something seems to have kept others away. The city appears intact, but many other parts of it appear locked off. There are vaults, locked doors and whole other quarters are closed. The players can set up shop there. Eventually the players will realize that in order to bring the city to life, they need to bring people here to settle: craftspersons, farmers, scholars, etc. If they can create a working community, then more parts, more places, more resources will unlock. Eventually another quarter will open, and along with it, another city gate. Except this gate exits out into another part of the world. Eventually the players will realize that the city once served as a magical trade crossroads for the continent, before some event in the distant past. The campaign would be a combination of city-building and standard campaign finding and fighting ancient evils.
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13. RPG Item: L-1: City of Lies [Average Rating:8.50 Overall Rank:156]
Lowell Francis
United States
South Bend
Indiana
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The Night Watch
System: Homebrew, with elements of GUMSHOE.

Essentially this would be a fantasy campaign, with the players taking on the role of city guards. The twist would be that the group would collaboratively build the city at the start of the campaign. You can see a full write up of those ideas in this post.

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14. RPG Item: Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game [Average Rating:7.71 Overall Rank:83]
Lowell Francis
United States
South Bend
Indiana
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Episode XIII
System: Homebrew

Last year I ran a short seven session Star Wars campaign, essentially the first film in a trilogy taking place after the end of Return of the Jedi. I'd like to do the second part of that, another six or so sessions. The only problem is that a couple of the players now have scheduling conflicts. The other four shouldn't be a problem. So I can wait for those conflicts to wrap up; kill off those characters in the opening sequence; or have someone else run them. The later might be the best idea- but that would be tough in the case of the character who has served as the Jedi mentor to another one of the PCs. I'll have to figure out about that at some point in the future. If I can't get it done in 2012, I doubt we'll be able to do it.
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15. RPG Item: Cthulhu Invictus (2nd edition) [Average Rating:7.51 Overall Rank:383]
Lowell Francis
United States
South Bend
Indiana
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The Emperor in Yellow
System: ???

I'd really like to do a Rome or at least a Roman-analogue game. I don't think a straight procedural (I love me some Didius Falco) would necessarily work. I think the transition to that period would make the whole mystery solving think more difficult- or that might be my over-thinking it. History games aren't as interesting to people, so I would have to sex it up more than a little. I like the idea of a team of special agents of the Emperor, each with special powers, traveling across the land and taking care of evil cult and dangerous mythics and supernaturals. Perhaps putting down rival stories that outshine the Empire. Killing little gods in the name of greater deification of the Emperor. I imagine that as either a LXG or Hellboy flavored game.

On the other hand, if I really wanted to spend the time on it I could run a Lunar Empire campaign in my hack of Glorantha. The players could be members of a noble house vying for power, influence and authority. There'd be more than a little touch of Houses of the Blooded to it. I'd stress the Lunar Empire as very Roman and have a slightly deranged version of my history game.
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16. RPG Item: The Dragon-Blooded [Average Rating:7.35 Overall Rank:1083]
Lowell Francis
United States
South Bend
Indiana
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Crux Redux
System: Exalted (1st Edition) or homebrew version of that

I ran a Dragon-Blooded campaign a few years ago that I really enjoyed. They remain my favorite Exalts in the setting; I don't like the Solars and loathe the Abyssals and Infernals. The idea that these exalts are more powerful than normal people, but still need to work in a team to achieve really great things appeals to me. The campaign I ran had the players all coming from one DB house- young, they ended up sent into exile together in order to make a name for themselves. They were sent to the city of Crux, where the fortunes of their family had fallen.

It was a building game, with a fairly evocative setting and the tension of these high and mighty characters have to figure out a means to restore their place, while at the same time living day to day. Unfortunately we lost one of the lynchpin players from the campaign. The group agreed to wait to play again until she could return, but that window of opportunity passed.

But I worked really hard on the setting and set up and I don't want to waste that work, so I'd like to do a reboot- starting over from scratch, with returning players being allowed to use their same character concepts. I'd have to spin the dials on the plots and the alignments of various NPCs, but it might work.
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17. RPG Item: The One Ring: Adventures over the Edge of the Wild [Average Rating:8.20 Overall Rank:58]
Lowell Francis
United States
South Bend
Indiana
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Touring Middle Earth
System: Uncertain, possibly The One Ring, possibly homebrew

I've had an idea for a couple of years that I'd like to do a short campaign which would be a journey across most of Middle Earth, to give the players a taste of different locations and peoples. I'd probably use the MERP campaign frame, set well before the events of Lord of the Rings. The Rangers of the North still stand, defending their lands. I would have players come from there and have to travel all the way to the far south to either deliver, find or destroy something.

This might be a chance to try out one of those OSR systems- finding one that would simulate the setting best.
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18. RPG Item: Summerland (Revised and Expanded Edition) [Average Rating:7.60 Overall Rank:3420]
Lowell Francis
United States
South Bend
Indiana
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Challengers of the Unknown
System: ???

I did a whole post on disasters and apocalypses, but I realized afterwards that I haven't really done a post-Apocalypse campaign. I mentioned a fantasy approach to that earlier- but here I'm thinking something less high fantasy, but more modern or sci-fi. I don't necessarily want to do straight post-Apoc with either of the "go to" approaches. On the one hand I like to save zombies for one-shots and horror effects. On the other hand, my friend Dave's Fallout-based campaign pretty much set the bar for that kind of thing. So how to handle this? I have a couple of ideas.

One of them includes a Summerland-like approach, where the world has been overtaken by a strange or fantastical event. I like modern fantasy and I think you could do a great campaign with one of two approaches. First, trying to figure out the world in the immediate aftermath of the event. Uncovering the new rules and logic of the setting could be great fun- mystery and survival. Second, a surviving group perhaps a year after the event decides to send people out in an attempt to discover what has happened elsewhere. I know Pelgrane has a post-apocalypse procedural in the works- I really want to see what kinds of new tools and ideas that offers. I hadn't put together the link between mysteries and this genre until I started to think about the framework.

I also really like Greg Christopher's framework in Cascade Failure. I could do something like that. Or perhaps a slight variation on that. The players planet/settlement suffers an event and the stellar background shows that some time, years, have passed in an instant. Now they have to leave to figure out why they've lost contact with the rest of the Empire. Ashen Stars has some ideas that might work with something like that. I've also been thinking about the various galaxy-spanning/destroying stuff in videogames like Mass Effect and HALO. Could I play with those concepts for a post-apocalypse game?
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19. RPG Item: Nameless Streets (HeroQuest) [Average Rating:7.50 Unranked]
Lowell Francis
United States
South Bend
Indiana
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The Agency
System: Homebrew, perhaps The Dresden Files Roleplaying Game

I really like modern fantasy, and I've enjoyed running it in our Changeling the Lost campaign. But I'd also like to do a more noir take on this- perhaps with some light horror elements. I like the idea of the players being low-level mages- either in a world where magic's open or else where it lies behind a curtain. There's a lot of material out there for this, including some of the great stuff from Mage: The Ascension. There's also the strange noir set up of Edge of Midnight, although in that cases I'd want to change up the magic which seems more psychic than occult. But most importantly, I'd want the players to have a business, an agency, perhaps not even a detective one, but one that puts them in the path of high strangeness. I'd borrow some concepts from Bookhounds of London to work out the details.
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20. RPG Item: Covenants [Average Rating:7.33 Overall Rank:1644]
Lowell Francis
United States
South Bend
Indiana
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The Open Chantry
System: ???

In reading through Novarium recently, it occurred to me that Greg Christopher had really hit on some of the elements of the setting that I enjoy: multiple characters, a building game, seasonal growth, interesting non-adventure activities, and flexible magic. I think it would be interesting to do a campaign, historical or otherwise, where the magical covenants and chantries exist out in the open. The group could take up control of a new chantry- figuring out how to deal with the location and their neighbors. There might be some resentment or prejudice, but they wouldn't have to hide themselves. Then you could have the group more active locally, deal with power struggles, and include a more dynamic organization of the orders a s a whole. The Mages would exist as a strong and independent power group, paralleling the nobility and the church(es). If you went straight historical, you could have a lot of interesting alt history material. On the other hand, if you went full fantasy, then you could do some collaborative world-building to set things up.
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21. RPG Item: Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook [Average Rating:8.04 Overall Rank:30]
Lowell Francis
United States
South Bend
Indiana
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On the Expansion of Horizons
System: Pathfinder, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (3rd Edition) or one of the new OSR systems with support.

I write all my adventures and sessions, rarely do I use published adventures or modules. On the other hand, I do borrow mercilessly from other source material for elements. I've also not tried some of the new, more mechanics oriented systems. Given that I always want to hone my skills and try something new, I might break both those habits in one stroke.

I could pick one of these systems and select an adventure path. I know most of them have a series or linked set of adventures. I'd try to run these by the book- sticking to the core rules, rather than buying anything extra. I might even try one of those fancy beginner boxes. If I decided to go Pathfinder, I'd go to this excellent resource: The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: System Guide for New Players.
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22. RPG Item: Players Handbook (AD&D 1e) [Average Rating:7.81 Overall Rank:57]
Lowell Francis
United States
South Bend
Indiana
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Players' Choice

So I have a number of ideas on the list, but I also have to talk to the grou and see if there's anything out there that some players really want to play. Perhaps someone saw Deadlands and always wanted to game in that system. I don't picture anyone in the group having a penchant for the Wild West, but who knows? I don't have anything swashbuckling or pirates on my list, but maybe there's a strong desire for that? Or mecha?

One thing I do want to try to get off the ground this year is a "Run Club," where we get together perhaps once a month to try out one-shots of various odd-ball games like Fiasco, Time & Temp and Dragon Age.
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Lowell Francis
United States
South Bend
Indiana
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Auzumel's Choice

I'd also like to get my wife's input on what she really wants to play. Generally she's good about liking whatever comes to the table- though she has some things she isn't as interested in playing. I'd like to find some things that hook her. She's mentioned a game based on relationship ties- as a secondary feature, not the foreground. But the PCs would all be recovering from personal tragedies, like betrayal or lost loves. It would be romantic in the sense of being humanist. On the other hand, she's also expressed an interest in a more classic police procedural if that could be done well. So I have to see if she has some strong ideas I haven't listed here.
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