I am busy setting up my December gaming schedule. It takes some doing as I am in a number of games and I GM three. I am also a horrible organizer. The two games I play in are more regular and more efficient than the ones I run, thanks to the skills of other people.
I play in a Pathfinder Game (where we are rebelling from "the man" in a fantasy setting) and a "The King in Yellow" game (where we are preventing various eldritch horrors from consuming the world) about twice a month. Both would be described as "serious" as far as the level of gaming and commitment. The game is very important and doing it the way we agreed upon is important as well. For Yellow King, this means improv. It is a theater kid's dream of a system and I am a theater kid. Pathfinder. on the other hand, has a rule for everything and those rules enhance the roleplaying in their own way.
I absolutely adore playing in them and I am in awe of the GMs' abilities to keep the game moving and interesting. I spend hours on my Pathfinder character building and re-building it over and over. My Yellow King characters have deep motivations that no one else will ever know. I also believe that I would be absolutely lost running these games. I love to be a player in games like this. However, as a GM...they are not my strength...
This brings us to my point about RISUS and my own GMing tendencies. I do run games...but I have learned to stay in my lane.
In fact, I GM (Gamemaster) three games. Two meet roughly monthly; my Pathfinder game for teens and my RISUS game. The other--a D&D 5e house game--is weekly when the entire family is in the house and then goes on hiatus when someone is at college, for example. I run them all the way I have been running games since I was 12 years old and using the "Basic/Expert" (pre-red box) D&D rules. That is, I (more accurately "we") read the rules, take the ones I (again...we) need, make up a bunch more, and then barely reference the book for the extent of the campaign.
Now, this is not the way the majority of people have played over the last 20 years. However--thanks to a childhood lived in the '70's and '80's--this approach is ingrained in my psyche. In serious games I still depend on others to tell me about what I am rolling for sometimes. Thankfully my fellow players are patient and helpful.
There are historical reasons for my approach. The early RPG's were brilliant in many ways...but they were also poorly written. If you wanted to find information on a specific rule, it may or may not be in the book. As kids, the question for us was how much time we would like to spend figuring that out. Most of the time, we wanted to get to the story and be the hero. Also--frankly--while the game was the reason to gather, it was not the only item on our agenda during those long summer vacations. We wanted to go out and run. We wanted to play Ms. Pac Man We wanted to goof around. So we did. One other boy and I usually steered everyone back to the game, but in a 4-5 hour "session" (sometimes 2 or three times a week, sometimes weeks apart) we probably played for about 2 hours.
Again, here was another reason to keep things moving. There were so many other distractions to...er...distract us if we got bored. Rules made us bored. It was best to keep things moving.
So...RISUS? It is the ukulele of RPG's. You play it because you like to play this sort of game and you also like hanging with your friends. In the same way I play an ukulele because I want to sing with my friends and am not so worried about virtuosity. I mean...I take the game seriously. I put hours of prep into the sessions I run. If the goofballs at my virtual table "visit" for too long I start to get antsy. Still. I am accustomed from my childhood for that "table" being fairly casual.
That casual atmosphere in many ways requires loose rule sets and in-game expectations. The Yellow King game comes in second in this way, but RISUS is boundaryless if you let it be. The current party in the "Clergy Game" for example, illustrates this. We have some intriguing characters based on literary tropes that form a solid structural core. However, we also have 1 guy who hammers really well but is incompetent at everything else (think of "The Shoveler" from Mystery Men), conjoined Elf Twins (loosely based on Zaphod Beeblebrox from the 1980's BBC production of Hitchhiker's Guide) and a horse with opposable thumbs.
THAT is what my childhood games were like. Totally random beings in a world that we then rationalized to fit the randomness. RISUS hearkens back--not to the rules and tropes of those early D&D games but--to the culture of the kids who originally bought those boxes and dice. In fact, I have loosely adapted a couple old modules from my youth for RISUS. It wasn't too serious back then. It was off-the-wall early teen mayhem for people who spent their time riding bikes, crawling through drainage culverts, and swimming in fetid pools of goo behind our houses on a dare. We adventured HARD wherever we were and we wanted our D&D to be laugh-out-loud-root-beer-squirting-though-your-nose funny.
Our characters died all the time. We didn't worry about their motivations or their backstories. Sometimes we would have them wander off because we were tired of them. We had another character ready to go. Then sometimes they didn't die because we liked them and though it would be better if they lived. We let that happen too. RISUS preserves this chaos.
No doubt the people who made the games (and all those first-generation old men and women who came from the wargaming scene) would have been as aghast as some current players and designers by our behavior. In fact I have first hand experience of a time when my friends and I--all playing Halfling Thieves (Rogues to you kids)--tried to kill a dragon by backstabbing (now sneak attack) with our daggers. It was a suicidal move but we thought it would be hilarious. The GM--an adult who designed games for a competitor to D&D--got so mad he walked away from the table, collected himself, and told us we couldn't play the game in his store unless we took it much more seriously.
We were messing up his world. We saw he had a right to be angry. We went back to playing in our bedrooms.
Anyway, I like both kinds of games. Many people do, though they may gravitate to one or the other. In fact I was introduced to RISUS by the GM for that serious Pathfinder game and he plays in my RISUS game. I actually LOVE Pathfinder and some D&D rulesets. However, when it is my turn to run the game? That game will be rules-light and goofy as heck.
If you are thinking of getting back into RPG's, I cannot recommend RISUS more highly.
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A few years ago my intern and I began a D&D game for our church youth group. I wanted to get back into Tabletop Roleplaying games that I had played extensively as a kid and then off and on (eventually with my own kids) over the years. Anyway, fast-forward to now, I am gaming a lot and have become interested in the spiritual dimensions of the game as well as it's ability to spark the imagination about this world and other worlds.