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:
___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.
___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 Amazon.com.
___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 Amazon.com.
___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!