Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Vote is in! Kind of ....

So I gave the club members of the school club I advise a chance to vote on the system we would use this year. Mainly because my own gaming preferences are so confused right now. I gave a short blurb for each version, (probably influenced by my own prejudices and perceptions, but oh well). Each member that signed up was then asked to rank their preferences in order of from 1 to 3, 1 being the game they preferred the most. I was actually expecting only three rankings; but students actually rated several games as 1, several as two and several as three on each sheet. Unranked games were given a score of 4. I took these rankings and added them up, giving me an overall ranking of game preference among members. Lowest would of course be best.

The game blurbs were as follows:

Free Systems

___Labyrinth Lord: A great, simple and straightforward fantasy system with lots of flexibility. Includes both sci-fi and horror gaming if you so desire, and the rules are free for download.

___Adventures Dark & Deep: An innovative mixture of advanced Dungeons & Dragons rules with a wide variety of race and class choices. Also free for download.

___Dark Dungeons: A comprehensive reproduction of Basic, Expert, Companion, Master and Immortal Dungeons & Dragons Rules. Free for download.

___Swords & Wizardry: The original fantasy roleplaying game. Designed for the ultimate in creative freedom. But requires house-rules for many situations. Free for download.

___OSRIC: A reproduction of the core rules of 1st edition Dungeons & Dragons. Basic Races and Classes. Free for download.

Commercial Systems

___Pathfinder: Similar to the last version of Dungeons & Dragons. Oriented to endlessly flexible character creation. Many rules cover just about every gaming situation. Basic Core Book: $32 from

___DnD 4e: the latest version of D&D, very different from previous versions. Geared to superhero-type gaming. Very gameboard-like combat. Basic Player's Handbook $23.00 at

___Castles & Crusades: A fresh approach to a rules lite, story oriented roleplay experience. Simple mechanics. Player's Handbook $15-$25 from Troll Lord Games.

___Hackmaster: A gritty, hard hitting game designed at creating a realistic fantasy world. If you traveled to a fantasy world today would you survive? Hackmaster will let you know. Basic Rulebook $20 from Kenzerco Games.
I tried of course to make the descriptions as innocuous as possible, giving no real assessment of the game in my opinion except with a few select adjectives. The one exception is perhaps D&D 4e where I make it clear that the game is distinctly different from the others.
The voting results were as follows:
1st Place Swords & Wizardry 31

2nd Place Adventures Dark & Deep 34
3rd Place Labyrinth Lord 35

3rd Place Castles & Crusades 35

4th Place Hackmaster 36

5th Place Pathfinder 37

6th Place OSRIC 40

7th Place Dark Dungeons 44

8th Place DnD 4e 47

Which honestly was a pleasant surprise. I fully expected 4e to score higher because of it's local popularity. But maybe my description was a bit too biased. Though, I'm not gonna worry about that too much. I also expected Pathfinder to be at the top of the list; and it is one of the higher scoring games. But that students slightly preferred Hackmaster over PF was refreshing to say the least. That may mean my hopes of eventually running a long term Hackmaster game with the club may some day be realized. What was truly surprising was that Swords & Wizardry won the day. Maybe that phrase "Designed for the ultimate in creative freedom" was a little too enticing? I mean it is designed thusly, but maybe I overemphasized it. Ah well, it is what it is. And we are dealing with about half of the membership having little to no experience with most of the games. I suppose they might get discouraged with their choice after a bit of play, but that will have more to do with me than the game per se.

And all the applications are not yet in. We still have about six out there that may come in today. I'll allow their votes to count today only and then the voting will be closed. There is no school on Monday and the first game begins Tuesday. Good times!


Anonymous said...

How is swords and wizardry "The original fantasy roleplaying game" ?

Chris said...

Yeah, well ... it's not really. It's really a retroclone of the "original". But my students don't know what retro-clone even means. Even those who have played OSRIC see it as a game in itself not a simulacra of 1e. So the blurbs were kind of written towards a specific audience: 8th and 9th grade public school students with little to no gaming experience.

I suppose, on second thought, I could have said a clone or recreation of the original rpg. Might that have made a significant difference in the voting do you think?

I had a conversation with a kid who really wanted D&D 4e, and several PF fanboys as well, who want a second vote or an open discussion regarding the edition we choose. They want a chance to sing the praises of their preferred system to the newbies.

Im perfectly fine with members who want to game their chosen game doing so as long as they have someone willing to GM them. But for the other members that I GM, I sort of feel like we should go with a majority vote. Instead of giving one or a few members say in what everyone else plays. And I'm certainly not going to GM in more than one system simultaneously. I've tried that and it sucks.

Dylan said...

This is interesting for me, as a public school teacher and gamer. I wonder, however, if the language of the blurb affected voting more than the history and/or structure of the game.

For example, the language for Swords & Wizardry is the most positive and appealing.

I look forward to more posts about the gaming club. I'm thinking about starting up a similar club.

Chris said...

That was my same concern Dylan. I have some definite preferences and I know I kind of slanted the dialogue against 4e. But I tried to be relatively positive but not overly so about the others. However the blurb on OSRIC is a little flat to say the least and Dark Dungeons' explanation seems kind of like a brief dictionary definition. I did notice I used "great", "creative" and "innovative" in different spots with games I particularly respect if not downright prefer. In case you really can't tell my faves are C&C and HM. If I had my druthers we'd be playing HM, but I hate to force that on everyone else.

I'm thinking of a brief system debate amongst our members to better inform people. Sure don't want to go there though. Maybe I'll say we play each system through one adventure and then choose. But that would take awhile.

By the way you _should_ start a club!

Thanks for stopping by!

ADD Grognard said...

I have no idea how much time you guys get to devote to the club but you are a lucky man, sir. :)

That much interest in that many warms the heart...I wish you guys could play them all.

I don't even like 4e but I'd run a skill challenge / single encounter just for the hell of it.

I mean you are in the position to teach the history of the hobby. By leaving out the nonsense and the noise (like all the lawsuits) and just focusing purely on the games, arriving at the birth of the clones because people STILL to this day like to play it (just not at hundreds of dollars a box set :)

I envy you. I know your mind has been a little clouded by your own gaming habits but take advantage of this opportunity to share with them what you know and how it felt. You may just have a lot of new fans added to the hobby (the right way).

On a side note-Awesome graphic for The Eternal Keep! Is that something others can use? I would love to add it to The Keep.

Louis Clark said...

I agree with ADD Grognard, your in a lucky position.

But yeah when reading your blurbs I would have voted for "The original" and if I didn't know anything about swords and wizardry. But it looks like your group is handling it differently now, so oh well and good luck.

Joseph said...

Holy crap... Adventures Dark and Deep came in second? I am blown away!

For myself, I've got to say I'm in the "turning people away" category. We always have a waiting list for the group, every other Friday.

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