My collection’s name is Nyarlathotep

I honestly have no idea how many games I have added to my collection since I branched away from AD&D in 1989. For my six gaming years prior to that, I had been something of a minimalist, choosing rules over modules, and came to focus on AD&D over D&D initially for reasons of compatibility with the gaming groups I knew, but later because of personal preference. From ’89 through ’91 I remained a minimalist, but with a split focus on Call of Cthulhu, Palladium Fantasy, and Battletech. Later,with the reprints and new releases of a flood of Call of Cthulhu scenarios and the advent of Vampire: The Masquerade, I made the move from minimalist to completist, almost overnight.

Last fall, I decided to stop buying printed RPG books, mainly for reasons of ensuring I have space to move around in my apartment, and reducing the spread of the crawling, invasive chaos of my collection. At that time, I chose to shift to electronic forms except in cases where the print version called to me on that deeper level that some games do. I backed up my pdf files last night and was surprised to note that my collection of e-books has grown from nothing to more than 15Gb since October – less than a year. Surely dwarfed by the collections of others more open to this format, this collection of material is still more than I could ever hope to use in several lifetimes of regular gaming, and yet – I add to it with some regularity. Perhaps Drivethru RPG should be reclassified as a gateway drug…

I know that many others out there do the exact same thing. I do wonder, however, if the reasons are the same as mine. Unlike most of the prolific GMs that I know, I do not tend to house rule to suit my preferences, or convert settings to run with other systems. I prefer to run games as written if possible, unless a mechanic or concept simply does not function at all.

With this in mind, for me, buying new systems then requires shifting games each time I want to try one out. This is not only time-consuming and tiring; it is very impractical and can alienate players. I am not one who likes to mix and match elements from different games into my own homebrewed system. I don’t mind playing in them, and some of my best experiences in gaming have been in one form of Frankenstein rules set or another, but that is not the way I run my own games. If I have a pet peeve about gaming it would have to bet he ever-mutating system. Call me crazy if you like, but I think it takes more than one session to decide if a system works or not.

So then, if I find it impractical to shift often between various new game systems, and I do not intend to search for and then incorporate new elements into the systems I normally run to create a Ubiquity-Fate-Dread+EABA hybrid that morphs through different generations with each story, why do I collect new and different games? Why do you?

For me, it is the inspiration.

I always get caught up in wonderful moments of creation when I check out a new game, and often whole campaign arcs bloom in my mind as a jump from page to page. I enjoy the rush that this mad swirl of imagination brings me, and from a more practical angle it helps me prevent over-writing my existing game lines with impossible complications and layers of detail more befitting bad soap-opera than good rpg story design. The pace of table-top games, and certainly my PBeM games cannot compare with the rate at which new campaign ideas spring to mind, so the distraction of new creative vistas to explore is almost a necessity.

Despite this reason (excuse?) I am trying – fairly successfully – to scale back to my minimalist roots (although sometimes, I slip). I do not intend to stop checking out new games, but I think as I near the end of my third decade of gaming it is time to settle on some favorites and channel my energies in different directions than the rush of new creation and the eternal progression of one introductory campaign after another. I have really begun to miss the vividly real campaign worlds we would explore when we had but a single game and all the time in the world to play in them.

How about you?

4 Responses to “My collection’s name is Nyarlathotep”
  1. Shinobicow says:

    If I had all the time in the world to play games, I wouldn’t have to spend so much time reading books about new systems. It really all just comes down to opportunity for me at this point. After high school, and college, gaming gets harder when everyone I game with has grown up and moved around. That’s kind of why I spend so much time looking around and reading other systems…. I have THAT kind of time in spades.

    • Runeslinger says:

      I am familiar with that kind of time, myself.
      So~ when you do have time and opportunity to run a game, how you do you choose what to run and where to start? 😉

  2. Dyson Logos says:

    I’m still all about multiple games, multiple systems. But then again, I still game 2.5 times a week with a variety of groups. For me it has all been about the awesome.

    But then again, my collection also has it’s moments. When I was packing to move just over a year ago, I came across some oddballs and otherwise startling discoveries.

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