Why I Like Immersion RPG

27 Apr Why I Like Immersion RPG

Stuart Holbrook - Immersion RPG Playtester and DesignerI’ve been playing role-playing games for over 15 years and have had the good fortune to experience a multitude of settings and systems, each one with a unique (or in some cases, a morbidly generic) set of rules, characters and monsters to vanquish. I have played most of the mainstream role-playing systems but the majority of my time has been spent in the realms of the d20 system, specifically Dungeons and Dragons. And while I love D&D and it will always hold a special place in my heart, there was something inherently wrong with the system. Was it me? Had I become disillusioned? Was I being too fussy? I won’t lie, the Dungeons and Dragons movie did NOTHING to help further the franchise that I had loved since I was a child. But my frustration had nothing to do with that poorly executed Tarrasque dung that gave the less-educated an infinite supply of ammunition with which to bait me. No… So what, then?

Well, at the same time as being an avid role-player I am a HUGE anime fan and have been playing computer games since I could crawl onto my father’s computer chair and get past the initial DOS commands. And these two activities inexplicably drew me towards them more powerfully than the prospect of a good old fashioned dungeon crawl ever could. And in time I realised for myself what the answer was.

No, it wasn’t the fact that I was an introvert. I’m quite a social, approachable person and I have many friends. Was it pure laziness? Doubtful, as I enjoy sports and I regularly train Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. In the end I eventually came to the conclusion that it was my character. Or rather, the limitations of my character.

I had played virtually every combination of class that I could fathom, from a Dwarven Priest of Moridin to an Elven red-headed champion of Sune. I had played characters of noble alignment, evil, vile champions of darkness and even experimented with the clinically insane. Barbarians, wizards, rogues, I had played them all. Throughout my gaming career I had developed a certain fondness for the hero-type, with a large double-handed sword and heart full of gold, protecting the weak and defending justice at every turn. And yet it felt incredibly stale. Repetitive. Commonplace. I knew that there was a pre-ordained selection of feats and abilities that I would get at each specific level, orchestrated by the game developers and that my character customization would be minimal. The excitement at levelling eventually diminished and it would inevitably get to a point where the basics such as Armour Class became virtually obsolete and my attack bonus was so high that I would hit every roll of the dice and one combat lasting moments in the game would last several hours of real time (and require long lists of recorded Hit Points). At this point my character sheet would be placed on a dusty shelf and left, fondly remembered but never played again, the enjoyment having long since been replaced by a monotonous grind only made enjoyable by the actual story behind the adventure.

And so I came to realise that while I enjoyed the storylines and settings provided by the Game Master and was loathe to depart from such a fantastic gaming group, I wanted more. I wanted to be able to create MY character. I didn’t want to start out as a level 1 warrior again, with the same equipment, same generic feats and the same amount of Hit Points. I didn’t want to make another wizard with the same spell slots and the same selection of spells which were ultimately the best choice for my character. And don’t even get me started on priests…

My Game Master (Oliver Shead), an intelligent, like minded individual, was similarly burdened by the constraints of these mainstream role-playing systems we frequented every Sunday. Our house rules had changed RPGs to make them more realistic, more dangerous and as a result, more thrilling. Due to the rules we fashioned ourselves, these games took on a terrifying twist of realism. He would open the Monstrous Manual, look at the statistics listed and scoff. “Only 200 Hit Points? Let’s just make that 500. Attack bonus of +6?! Is it supposed to intimidate them to death? I’ll just change this here…” enormous piles of scrap books weighed down both tables and stools, each notepad filled with scribbled rule changes and statistics he had laboriously tested and worked out to enhance our gaming experience.

Eventually a model began to form and a world began to evolve. I was sceptical at first. How could I not be? My Game Master, with a sparkle of madness in his eye had informed us as we sat down to game on Sunday night that he had developed his own Role Playing system. I was impressed and disappointed at the same time. I knew what this meant. More playtesting. Rule tweaking. Heated arguments with the Game Master over the validity of a specific alteration or rule that he had invented. With a heavy heart I agreed to be his guinea pig and we began to make our characters.

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Instantaneously I was intrigued. It was an easy to navigate the character sheet he had designed. Simple, and yet it covered all of the basics necessary for a delightful, detailed character. We were going to play in a fantasy-steampunk universe, and almost immediately a concept began to form. Cowboy gunslinger with a penchant for the ladies and a terrible gambling habit. As the game was still developing we groped and fumbled our way through the process of putting points on attributes and skills. In the end I had a hilarious yet combat effective warrior, ready to sail the open skies. And yet I still had points left over. I casually mulled over the powers until I came to a stop. My heart quickened. I carefully read through the power, already certain that I wanted it but wanted to be positive that it would work. Hesitantly I looked at the Game Master. “I’ve still got some experience to spend. Can I get a couple of points in Familiar?” He smiled at me. “Of course! What kind of creature do you want? An eagle? A wolf?” I didn’t hesitate. “A rosey-pink winged serpent called Mitz.” He mulled it over for a moment before replying. “Why not?”

The freedom of choice in the character creation process had revitalized my love of Role-Playing. Not only was I now playing a combination of my favourite anime characters, but the other gamers in my group had approached the situation with somewhat similar, childlike enthusiasm. “Can I make a necromancer whose little brother has a demonic spirit trapped inside of him AND can I have a zombie dog for a pet?” “Sure.” “Can I make a wealthy alchemist biomancer with the power of entropy?” “Absolutely.”

And then the game started. Immediately I felt like I was a force to be reckoned with. No longer did I have to kill goblins and kobolds inside the Innkeeper’s cellar until I reached level two. No longer was I bound by the restraints of generic levelling. I was a Somebody. And I was going to let the world know about it. The first combat I got into was a bar fight (naturally, being a gambling womaniser) and yet the fight ended as quickly as it had begun. A quickdrawn weapon, a successful initiative role, the explosion of gunpowder and then it was over. The other men ran away and the dead body of the loutish dockworker was unceremoniously thrown outside. It had been smooth, exhilarating and terrifying at the same time. My character could have died as easily as the dockworker had he rolled a little bit better than I. At that point I knew that I was sold on the concept of Immersion RPG.

Since that fateful game over three years ago I have moved interstate and now play with a completely new group of intrepid heroes. Being the most experienced gamer by far, with a powerful imagination and a strong foundation in the world of RPGs, I immediately became their Game Master (Narrator) and introduced them to the world of Immersion RPG. They too embraced the engaging character creation, the unique rule system and the ease with which their characters can develop. I am now the victim of regular texts demanding more gaming sessions, and I am happy to oblige.

I have several characters resting on dusty shelves, belonging to all manner of RPGs. One character in particular I have been playing for over 12 years and I find myself constantly absorbed by the engaging storyline which he belongs to. And yet, unfortunately the role-playing system which he belongs to cannot compete with the diverse, fine-tuned and effective rule system which is Immersion RPG. As much as I have enjoyed these other systems and will always be willing to try something new, at this point in time I have yet to find anything that can compete with the realism and enjoyment provided by Immersion RPG.

-Stuart Holbrook

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