What do you look for in an RPG?
I look for something to inspire me, which sounds extremely woolly as an answer. I like to get or see ideas about how a game runs from the initial pitch or conversation about it, so once I have that spark I’ll be unable to resist.
It could be a mechanic, like hearing about how Final Girl has players gleefully run through a collective stack of characters with a shared murderer who we all take turns controlling, or how Zombie World can generate characters with hidden pasts and trauma from a deck of cards which load people up with explosive stories ready to go off at the worst time. Or Star Crossed’s reversal of Dread as a love story where you need to play with the tower but not have it fall until the last right moment where your characters can act on their feelings.
It’s not always that, mechanics aren’t always clear. It could be an obsession with the source material, which is why I’m a lot more likely to investigate a superhero, horror or teen drama game.
The other way I look to see if an RPG is for me is with interviews, as the creator might give me that spark with their enthusiasm for the subject. The Brilliant Brie Sheldon’s Thoughty blog has a series of ‘five or so questions’ with game designers which has turned me around on several games. Brie’s questioning and the depth the creators go into are always great. My favourite RPG podcast, The Gauntlet, has possibly cost my wallet the most when it comes to new RPGs. Their enthusiasm and the breadth of games they cover has regularly inspired me to pick up yet another game.