I like to write.
I’m not amazing at it. But it’s fun.
So when my friend Sarah said to me, “You should host a blog,” I kind of shrugged. Hey, why not! Could be interesting! Fun, even! There are plenty of things I’d love to just push out there for people to see, to read, to think on, to laugh about. I’ve been playing video games on my PC for years, and I keep telling myself that I’ll write some reviews on Steam one day. I play board games all the time, and I keep telling myself that I’ll write some reviews on BoardgameGeek one day. At the moment I’m engaged in only one RPG, playing in a Mass Effect campaign run by a friend on Roll20, but I’m in the planning stages to GM the Kingmaker RPG from Paizo come Fall. There are plenty of thoughts to come from that. And this makes for a nice medium for me to chronicle my player’s antics and future plans (as long as Sarah doesn’t read too much).
So what is this post about, then? Yesterday, I began reading the core rulebook for Planet Mercenary, the RPG made by the creator of the Schlock Mercenary webcomic. Howard Tayler has spent years developing this comic, which has run non-stop since June 2000, and he put just as much work into the world building of his RPG system. In my admittedly limited experience with reading core rulebooks (SWRPG, Pathfinder, and the single page of rules present in Lasers and Feelings), I have not found one before Planet Mercenary whose reading was quite so enjoyable. Tayler has peppered his writing with his typical comic humor, and more than that, designed the entire book as an in-universe artifact. Throughout the pages, sidebars are full of little comments and quips from the people producing the in-world book, the arms company Planet Mercenary.
I have absolutely loved reading these small, in-character and in-world comments and notes. It kept me going as I read through the early book’s typical rules explanations, telling me what dice are, how skills work, and just what exactly a Role-Playing Game is. While I have not come even close to finishing this book or even making decent headway, the to me unique approach mixing in-character and player knowledge, just to teach the rules, has grabbed my attention in a pretty good way.
So when will I get a chance to utilize these rules? Anyone’s guess, really. My current planning capacities are taken up by the slow buildup to running Kingmaker, and I will definitely not have a chance to run a Planet Mercenary campaign in the meantime. But who knows, once I finish the book I might attempt to run a one-shot to try out the system!