Sunday, March 23, 2014

March Madness Non-D&D Blog Challenge: Day Twenty-Three

What is the most broken game that you tried and were unable to play?

Three words: Ray. Winninger's. Underground.

(And how's that for a pretentious 90s-era RPG title, eh?)

I picked up Underground not too long after it came out, lured in by its appearance more than its content. Full-color, full-bleed pages. Color-coded text and tabs to aid in navigation and reference. Art styles reminiscent of Aeon Flux. The "edgy" content helped close the deal. It definitely got my adolescent attention.

Then we actually tried to play a game. Character creation took hours. First combat? TPK. No joke. Wikipedia says: "The game rules for Underground [are] an adaptation of the Mayfair Exponential Game System, originally developed at Mayfair Games for the earlier DC Heroes roleplaying game depicting the DC Universe. However the rules were modified to depict lower-powered characters and a more deadly setting." Yeah, no kidding. I've seen randomly-generated B/X D&D characters with longer lifespans, and at least replacement characters in that system only take 10 minutes to generate, tops.

The game was meant to be a typically 90s "grim & gritty" take on superheroes. It referenced a bunch of comic books I'd never read; when I first bought the system, I thought I was buying a cyberpunk game and was somewhat surprised to realize it was a supers game instead. In the end, though, I just used it as an idea mine for my own cyberpunk games. There was some wonderfully ridiculous dystopian satire in there. Presidential candidates cloned from JFK's brain matter and cannibal cuisine always make an appearance in my cyberpunk worlds thanks to Underground.

So it was by no means a total waste of my time or money. But I wouldn't try running the game itself again if you paid me.
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