During the month of August, I’m participating in RPG a Day 2017. Each day I’ll answer a question, or my interpretation of a question, about tabletop roleplaying games. For those who have wanted your beloved UncleBear to get back into RPG blogging, this is the closest you’re going to get.
Which RPG Provides the Most Useful Resources?
Before I can answer this, we need to define our terms. What do we mean by “provides”? How are we contextualizing “useful”? Are there limits to what might be considered a resource? I’m being obtuse again because my answer isn’t going to be a typical one, which is par for the course with me at this point.
I see roleplaying games as a medium for telling stories. Therefore, what I want an RPG to provide me with are opportunities. This does not mean that the game itself has to contain all of the information that I need. What I like are settings that allow me to draw upon real-world knowledge to augment the game and create a story.
A fantasy game that calls upon medieval imagery allows me to find useful resources among history books. I can find images of weapons, armor, and clothing and incorporate them. Actual people and events can be used as a basis for characters and plots. A spy game lets me draw upon a wealth of fiction and film, as well as tons of information about real-world intelligence agencies. Horror allows me to tap into what people fear, as well as a huge body of lore about the supernatural, folklore, and urban legend.
The reverse of this are the settings that stray too far from the real world. They rely too heavily upon their own complex mythologies, and essentially require the use of their own sourcebooks as resources. That’s a business model, it’s how large swaths of the industry operate, and I understand that it’s often necessary for financial health and basic economic survival. As a player, as a gamemaster, as a person with a limited budget, that boxes me in. Give me official resources, by all means, but allow me the opportunity to do my own research, develop my own resources, and create my own fun.