Sunday, 24 August 2014

Rpg a Day - Day 24 – Most complicated RPG owned: Spacemaster


Because while I know that Phoenix command is actually more complicated than Rolemaster, I don’t consider Phoenix command to be an actual roleplaying game, merely a set of instructions on how to kill things whilst pretending to be a soldier.

Nerf guns are better suited for this purpose I find…


But back to Spacemaster…

This too is very nearly a set of instructions on how to do things, and but for the other supplements that came out following the original, would very likely be in the same category as Phoenix command.  However, given that there have been a number of supplements released for the game, it is possible to run a game in the universe given, although not so easy as other games with well-established universes such as Traveller.  What makes Spacemaster so complicated is it’s over reliance on tables, charts, modifiers, and other things as part of daily play.  If you want to travel across the stars, it’s not point and click, it’s point, calculate, buy fuel, calculate again based on different weight for fuel added, confirm points and gravity issues, calculate, consider the possibility of other things, calculate, by which point you’ve spent so long calculating that you need to recalculate for all the fuel you’ve used while you were doing the numbers.  Likewise, combat is a most colourful affair, with the possibility of getting on to the thing that made both Rolemaster and Spacemaster famous.

The Critical charts…
 
Yes, Those...
In combat, with everything from “Scrapes foes nail, must see a manicurist,” to “Blast annihilates foes entire skeletal structure, try a spatula…” it’s got something for everyone.


In tech, everything from “Mild electric shock, comb your hair,” to “Chain reaction wipes out all electronic systems on ship, Pray…”, it runs the whole gamut of different things that can be done.


Unfortunately, this was one of the only things that was interesting about the game, generating characters took a very long time and unlike some (Hello Traveller), there was no chance you would die in character creation, but the amount of time taken was such that sometimes you wished you’d died in character creation.


And that’s you, the player, not the character you’re creating…

I’ve managed to play a single game of Spacemaster in my gaming career, it took us four hours to go from one side of the space port to the other because we were playing the game as written in the rules rather than handwaving over everything that we didn’t see a need to roll for.  The game itself makes for perfect gaming material if you’re looking for something that represents the sheer complexity of space and space travel and the need for accurate skills and professionals, but most people who want to get out into the stars in games want to do so because they want to be Flash Gordon, not Doctor Zarkov, and it’s here that the problem occurs for me.


I love the amount of tech that Spacemaster has, I love the amount of things that they thought about, how you can find the right gadget for practically everything, how every skill use is covered if you need it.  However, on the other side of the coin, I hate that you have  to have the right gadget for everything.  It’s good to have things available, but only when you need them, they should not be required in everything, and that’s the biggest problem I have with Spacemaster, the level of rigidity you need to have to play the game properly.


That said, for source material and background details for other games, it’s an excellent resource, but as a game in and of itself, I play games to relax…



I don’t find maths relaxing…

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