Thursday, July 21, 2005

Bad RPG: The Fun

We all love reading about bad rpgs! For some reason it is much more fun than the good ones, and what's even better, you do not have to spend money on buying them. No commitments.

I just stumbled on The Wraeththu Report over at Jeff's Gameblog. This guy has really gone to lengths collecting all available information on the game. I will give you a short preview: You play hermaphroditic goths with flower shaped penises. I'm not kidding.

Tell me if you managed to get through it all, complete with the linked forum posts. Actually , you can tell me anyway. I like getting comments to my posts. And no, it seems like F.A.T.A.L. still have the title of worst rpg of all time.

On another note, I actually got the last two books to review for the next issue of Fenix* after just two days of waiting (link). Looks like I will have a resonable time for reading them (Predators and Ordo Dracul).


Blogger John Kim said...

I'm confused. Why are you citing Wraeththu in particular in a post on bad RPGs? Jeff's review has a lot of sarcasm in the body, but his conclusion is:

I can and would play Wraeththu and probably get some enjoyment out the experience.
Really, if Gabby had behaved himself, the only stand-out things about this game are the unusual gender and sex issues. And seeing as how this is a licensed game of a somewhat popular IP, I just can't take the game to task for remaining true to its strange source. Mechanics-wise Wraeththu is merely a mediocre collection of stuff we've all seen before from White Wolf or TSR or Palladium, sprinkled with a smattering of unrelated house rules. I've seen worse. I've played worse. There are some rules ideas I actually liked.

Now, it seemed to me that from the outset, Jeff really wanted to hate this game. He didn't like the premise, and started his review with trying to nitpick the entire game page by page. But by the end he concluded he could have fun playing it.

Basically, it seems to me that this is picking on RPGs for straying from the dull norm. It reminds me of the enormous hue and cry over Blue Rose for having a homosexually-tolerant society. I'm not saying Wraeththu is good -- but is it worse than similar amateur releases like Adventures in Delving and Altus Adventum?

8:27 PM  
Blogger Jonas Barkå said...

I was citing it in this post because the general "This is a really bad rpg" hype the game has had amuses me, in the same way reading about F.A.T.A.L. does. Last but not least, from the info I got, I think I would dislike it if I ever got the chance to read it.

The section you post may look like Jeff actually finding the game passable. But if you read closer he also says this:

"I'm going to go ahead and say right now that I haven't read the whole book. That's the main reason this article is found here on my blog and not in the review section of RPGnet. I understand this may annoy folks looking for the lowdown on Wraeththu. Let me just say that I read the entirety of the Cyborg Commando novel trilogy, but I lack the testicular fortitude to get all the way through this work. Take from that what you will."

This quote convinces me that Jeff places the game in the "Bad RPG" section.

Attacking it for being different? I have played games much weirder than this...

9:19 PM  
Blogger Jonas Barkå said...

A quote from Jeff on

"Well, the setting material is presented well and totally useable, and the majority of it is segregated from the ruleset. One of the real tragedies of this whole fiasco is that Gabby was so in love with his house rules from '91 that he didn't take the time to look for alternative systems. Had he used the SRD and the OGL, he might have been able to put together a really weird but totally functional d20 setting book."

This strongly indicates that it wasn't the weird sexuality that hindered him from finishing the book.

9:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just stumbled onto your blog. I wanted to add this link to another review of the game:

Its along the same lines as Jeff's and goes into other areas of the game mechanics ect.

Thanks for posting I've found your info very useful in my decision to not buy this game.

8:00 AM  
Blogger Jeff Rients said...

Howdy! I know I'm coming into this conversation 6 months late but I just tried enabling the backlinking feature on my blog and discovered this little exchange. Seeing people quote me back and forth is a new and unsettling experience! I must disagree with Mr. Kim's suggestion that I wanted to hate the Wraeththu rpg. I am not so masochistic as to buy a game that I think I will hate. I investigate games of ill-repute looking for things to like. If I may quote Ron Edwards from his excellent Fantasy Heartbreaker essay:

"It is not fair to dismiss the games as "sucky" - they deserve better than that, and no one is going to give them fair play and critical attention unless we do it. Sure, I expect tons of groan-moments as some permutation of an imitative system, or some overwhelming and unnecessary assumption, interferes with play. But those nuggets of innovation, on the other hand, might penetrate our minds, via play, in a way that prompts further insight.

Let's play them. My personal picks are Dawnfire and Forge: Out of Chaos, but yours might be different. I say, grab a Heartbreaker and play it, and write about it. Find the nuggets, practice some comparative criticism, think historically."

I don't agree with everything that Edwards says or does, but his Heartbreaker essays have profoundly shaped my approach to rpgs for the last 3 or 4 years. We fans easily write off a lot of games in this hobby and some of them are dismissed without a proper examination of what they can contribute to the hobby. I didn't want that to happen to Wraeththu.

8:00 PM  

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