You’ve all seen this movie.
The main character, usually some kind of Special Forces badass, wakes up after 50 or 100 years (or whatever number is plot-convenient) in hibernation, then tries to adapt to The World Of The Future. In some cases that might just mean wall mounted keyboards and people in silver lame space suits, while in others it might mean shattering geopolitical changes and a foundational struggle in the character’s identity as he or she tries to understand and to fit in to the baffling world into which he or she has been reborn.
This plot has been my experience in the realm of RPGs.
First of all, as I’m sure you can tell by my RPG-blog-writing resume, I’m a complete badass.
Well, okay, maybe not. But I play one on TV.
Well, okay, maybe not. But I’d like to.
All right, so I’m not a badass, unless you count my ability to totally fix your grammar. That counts, right? No?
Okay. Moving on.
Anyway, that whole “baffling new world” thing is sure true.
For one thing, there’s the indie games scene. After my game-free hibernation period, I opened my eyes upon a world much richer and more diverse than that which I left. Sites like DriveThruRPG and its various subsidiaries, gaming blogs with free (and often awesome) content, and even entire indie game systems are all over the Web. Now if I’m tired of GURPS or D&D, I can leaf through tons of practically free, extremely well developed rulesets and find something that I like. And some of them have really innovative, cool ways to handle problems I often found clunky in other games—see the magic system for Barbarians of Lemuria and you’ll see what I mean: simple, solid role-playing mechanics made by gamers, for gamers.
That’s not the only place where the landscape has shifted. I wasn’t a huge D&D buff, but holy crap. There’s so many damn systems now I feel like I’m trying to sort out Italian political parties. There’s the 2.5, 3.0, 3.5, 3.5 Homebrew, 4th Edition, d20, d20 Modern, Pathfinder, something called the SRD, some other acronyms I can’t remember right now but that I think refer to specific sourcebooks, and approximately 517,000 supplemental books, including a crap-ton of 3rd-party stuff. Thankfully, most of it’s available on the D&D Wiki, even if it’s occasionally hard to navigate.
Don’t get me wrong—that’s a good problem to have. It’s a wide, new world out there, and there’s a lot of new exploring for me to do as I venture out into the skyscrapers and flying cars of Future City.
Confusing? Yes. But it’s reminded me of why I spent so many hours wandering through those same streets over a decade ago.