I run a couple of games – one online game and one offline game, and my offline game is ending. This isn’t a sad event or anything, this is actually the epilogue of a campaign with the party so horribly broken that I’m not even trying to balance things. They’re all overpowered in different ways, so it generally works out.
I have been asking said players what type of game they’d like me to run next. I view myself as a pretty flexible GM; I can run just about anything save Horror (I’m just not very good at it) or Kick-In-The-Door (I get bored with it and my combats last way too long). In this case, my players wanted me to run a Steampunk setting game. I’ve never run one before, so I’m going to need to do some background research in the setting (so I don’t end up basing it on the couple of steampunk sources I do know), but that’s not the hard part.
The hard part is the system. You see, my offline group is familiar with Dungeons and Dragons 3.5e and Pathfinder. Two of the players are also familiar with Yume En (given that one of said players is the creator of the system and that both players are in my online Yume En game), but the other two players are only familiar with Pathfinder/3.5e.
For some of you reading, undoubtedly you’d have the thought of, “I don’t really see the problem; just use a different system.” Almost certainly, you all are either heavy into RPing, already know more than one system, or aren’t out of college yet. You see, this is a very casual game; we’re playing to blow off steam from long working days and high stress jobs. All of my players have cerebral-oriented jobs that basically require them to think for a living, and I’m certainly not an exception to this. Chances are, my players aren’t going to want to learn a new system, especially if it is too far from what they are comfortable with.
On the other hand, playing in a refitted system brings its own problems. For one, adapting Pathfinder to a Steampunk setting is going to be.. interesting. Either I can go the d20Modern style approach, where I set classes to be more generic and just play fast and loose with equipment, or I can go the “bolt-on” approach where I change as little as possible and you’re really playing Pathfinder, but with Steam and Guns. This causes rules to get a bit wonky; my players are already hitting that with my homebrewed Epic rules for 3.5e/Pathfinder for their Epilogue game, having recently leveled to 23. Inconsistent rules can make for a not-so-fun adventure as well.
At the moment, we’re going to run a demo game of Yume En (revised/updated version that is in playtesting right now) and see if they like it. Not that Yume En is specifically a Steampunk system, but it is more GURPS-like in that it is a rules framework that a lot of different styles of games can be run using. Of course, since it is a lot less strict about rules than Pathfinder/3.5e, this might be a bit challenging for the players as well.
I’ll probably post some comments about the demo game.