Friday, August 5, 2011

Fuzion Reactions: Overview

Fuzion was an RPG system that came out close to the millenium (1998 says Wikipedia) and I was an instant fan.

How could I not be? I loved Cyberpunk 2020 and the entire Hero System ruleset -- at that time in its 4th Edition.

Heck, my old gaming group in the U.S. had already merged portions of the two rulesets very loosely for our Military Science Fiction campaign for the mech-fighter squadron portion of the game (we'd alternate between storylines for the special forces group and the space navy).

Furthermore, I was looking forward to the new ruleset for Champions and, clearly, Champions: The New Millenium was it! Right?

Well, in terms of ruleset Fuzion both exhilarated and disappointed me.

It was exhilarating because it opened my eyes to the concept of designing game rules to reflect the setting or genre being emulated. I mean, I sort of new it already with Hero and other rulesets with the concept of "optional rules" but I always attributed it to the preference of the players and the GM. It was here that I realized that every choice -- even the dice rolled -- impacted not just game balance, but also game play. Especially when the stated goal was to integrate the Hero System ruleset with the Interlock ruleset.

What can I say? I just never really thought about it before -- I was just there to play.

Ever since then, I've paid closer attention to rulesets (light and otherwise) to see what the designers were trying to go for.

However, Fuzion disappointed me in several areas.

One was the super-powers section -- Champions: TNM just lacked the same depth and breadth of 4th Edition Hero (and made many of us aFuzionados suspect that this was NOT in fact the 5th Edition of the Hero System ruleset). I know that many shared my disappointment because there were several power rulesets that came out from the Fuzion community.

Another problem area: combat skills. I preferred OCV / DCV (which is akin to Dex-based Armor Class rules for OSR folks who don't really care that much, but want to get some idea what I'm referring to) over the concept that the difficulty in hitting someone was based on their ATTRIBUTE + SKILL in Evade or Dodge. It also meant that certain skills could logically pull double duty, raising some issues about game balance.

Another problem area was the shoe-horning of portions of the mecha-building rules of Mekton (which is, admittedly, one of the unique elements of the Interlock System) into the Hero System, which has its own rules for building vehicles and powered armor suits.

Two of the saving graces of the Fuzion revolution were: (1) the sheer volume of professional settings and RPGs that came out for it; and (2) the sheer volume of hobbyist rule variants and settings that came out for it.

In many ways, the OSR movement is -- for me -- what that outpouring of material for Fuzion could have been. If only blogs and social media had been as prevalent as they are now. If only PDF publishing and Print On Demand had been a stronger industry at the time.

If only, if only, if only.

Think I'll take a trip down memory lane for the books I picked up and share some of what I find with you in the coming months.

For the guys in the OSR who've produced one or more products, and for those who haven't stopped: keep on, keeping on. I'm blown away by everything I've seen.

Nothing wrong with nostalgia, but guys and gals -- what's come out is beyond that. There's passion, thought, and attention to detail. I can see there's a concern about pushing the envelope for everything that made OD&D, D&D B/X and BECMI, and AD&D work for you (and hopefully for others). There's a passion about fanning the flames of what hads been the dying embers of a ruleset and sending it roaring to the four corners of the gaming world.

And while I won't always game in the D&D realms, it's something I'll keep coming back to.

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