The Seer Vitz

Singularity and Multiplicity: A View on World Spanning Gaming Systems

The Great God James is off fighting a major battle in a war that could highly influence things to come. He has told me to take over for him while he is away. It is not that he couldn't handle both things at the same time, so I figure that he just wants me to get the experience of doing it myself. So, as not to disappoint him, I have written this article by myself.

As I am no where as experienced as the Great God James, I can only talk about the games that I have had lots of experience with. Unfortunately, that only includes Advanced Dungeons and Dragons and Star Wars: the role-playing game. Since in another part of this Forum you can find a whole area devoted to Star Wars, I have decided I will refer to AD&D.

I will concentrate this article on what separates AD&D from many other gaming systems. In most gaming systems, the rules apply to only one world (such as Vampire: the Masquerade's earth or Middle-Earth Role-Playing's [MERP's] Middle-Earth). However, AD&D is a system that can be used on many various types of worlds, as can be seen in its varied gaming line, such as separate planes in Planescape, a Demi-Plane in Ravenloft, or an earth-like Krynn in Dragonlance.

However, some might argue that all worlds in AD&D are actually connected to one another. Therefore, if you look at the large picture, it really is only one "world" which happens to be a universe made up of many smaller planes and planets. Conceivably yes it could be seen that way. However, that is certainly stretching things! For example, if you look at the Planescape, you can see that almost all worlds are accessible. Yet, the Planescape setting, itself, is unique compared to most other settings. Each world is compatible with each other world, you might say, but still each world has its own feel and characteristics.

Does this make AD&D a better role-playing system than any other? Maybe, depends on what you base a good RPG on. If one of you main requirements is variety, then definitely AD&D should be somewhere near the top of your list. That certainly is one of the reasons why I like it so. AD&D has a setting for gothic fans (Ravenloft), for fans of eastern adventures (Al Quadim), for power-gamers or fans of desert settings (Dark Sun), for generic fantasy fans (Greyhawk), for fans of Kingdoms and politics (Birthright), and for fans of adventure and heroes (Forgotten Realms).

Yet, some might claim that it is better for a gaming system to concentrate on one specific type of setting so that it can be more detailed. Yet, most AD&D worlds are detailed and the rules work properly with most of them. The greatest thing about this compatibility is that if you decide you want to try a Gothic setting, instead of your usual high fantasy setting, you can switch easily without the fear of having to learn a whole new set of rules. Instead you will only have to learn a few minor adjustments.

However, probably the greatest thing about AD&D is that a large majority of role-players have played it, and therefore, you will probably be able to find a group of people to play with if you look for one. And since it is such a diverse gaming system, it is very possible that you will even find a group that plays the setting you prefer, or would be willing to play that setting. And finally, the rules are pretty easy to learn. People will be willing to teach you them, since it will not require them to do a lot of work. (Ins. Fr FM) We gamers are a lazy lot. :)

In my own words,

James A. Vitz
RPG Columnist