This one is an interesting one. By tabletop standards, a year and a half, maybe two years? I don’t remember how long I was playing in Ben’s Witchcraft game at uni, or how long Rob’s Rogue Trader ran for before it bowed before the weight of running a Rogue Trader LARP.
By LARP standards, the Isles of Darkness wins out. I started playing late 2007, and the campaign ended at the beginning of this year. That gives me seven years of play. As a single character, I think I can only claim 6 years as that’s how long James/Henderson/Firestarter was in play (October 2008 – chronicle end).
This post, like some of the others, is out of order and not posted on its original day because I wasn’t in any state to write it on the original day and didn’t pre-plan it.
So, my favourite free RPG. I thought about this for a while, and the choice I came to was CJ Carella’s Witchcraft. This is actually a game I paid for, and I own most of the supplements, including the sequel game Armageddon: the End Times. After the release of Armageddon (I think), Eden Studios released Witchcraft as a free PDF for anyone to download and play. I prefer my hard-copies, but a free game is a free game.
Witchcraft was one of the first tabletop games I ever played, and it’s stuck there as a favourite. The Unisystem rules within it are still some of my favourite mechanics – so much so that I proposed that the Isles of Darkness use the Unisystem resolution mechanics instead of the MET ones, but that didn’t go anywhere.
One of the things I like about it is how it handles magic. Psychic powers are an expression of your will, and as such they don’t go wrong – they either work, or they don’t; the downside is that they’re more limited in what they can do. Invocation draws upon the knowledge of centuries to create magical effects of mythic potential – if you can draw enough power and don’t accidentally blow yourself up. Necromancy works similarly to Invocation, in that you’re drawing in essence to deal with ghosts and there are consequences for getting it wrong, but my memory is a little hazier on Necromancy. There are other disciplines in the supplements, including advanced versions of the basic Invocations, were-creatures, vampires, and more.
It’s a game that handles urban fantasy well, and once you crack open Armageddon, it has a meta-plot as well – one with global consequences. I’d say other people thought it handled urban fantasy well too, as the Unisystem was adapted for the Buffy RPG, the Angel RPG, Conspiracy X (an X-Files style game), All Flesh Must Be Eaten (zombie survival), Terra Primate (Planet of the Apes), and more.