Currently sitting in the Indianapolis airport, waiting to catch my flight home from GenCon. Since I've got two hours before my flight, I figure now is a good time to finish this off...
Day 12: Which RPG has the most inspiring interior art?
Unsuprisingly, I'm going to go with the Star Wars RPG from Fantasy Flight Games. Their art design is par none, with each book in their line containing not only beautiful two-page chapter-headers and gorgeous career portraits, but also include a wide array of original art pieces that evoke stories. The young twi'lek girl who finds a holocron in an antique shop, the rebel soldier in a trench looking at the holo of her dead loved one, the aspiring Jedi fighting an Inquisitor on the exterior of a Star Destroyer in an asteroid field; these pieces capture the mystery, the conflict, and the excitement of gaming in the Star Wars galaxy.
This is a tough one. Most of my current gaming style comes from decades of evolution in my Gamemastering style. It's rather difficult for me to look back over that time to try and remember one event that changed how I run games, but I can call back and find something that affected my gaming; conventions.
My first foray into convention games was at Origins back in 2005 (I think). My brothers and I were into Mechwarrior: Dark Age at from time to time we'd go to Origins to compete in the National Championships. Wizards of the Coast was in the final year of their Living Force campaign, and I wanted to finally get a chance to play in a Star Wars game instead of running them all the time. I remember my Kel Dor Jedi fondly, and I also remember the aggravation of having to deal with "convention gamers"; guys who's RP style was to dick around and act in manners that no actual person would (at least, not without being arrested). I was there to try and get a positive gaming experience from the other side of the GM screen, meanwhile Dicky the Wonder Smuggler from Central Who-gives-a-damn just wanted to be a wise ass for the sake of being a wise ass. Thankfully, the sessions weren't a total wash, and I did have fun in the end, but it definitely made me appreciate the players that I get to play with from my meticulously cultivated player-group at home. Additionally, it reminded me that not everyone in the world games like I do, and when I run convention modules I try and have the patience and composure to let the players enjoy the game in their own way, and to only interject when someone is monopolizing the game for their own enjoyment at the expense of someone else at the table.
Day 14: Which RPG do you prefer for an open ended campaign?
Any RPG that lacks a finite progression path.
There's something about a game with a set number of levels to character progression that puts a timer or a cap on a game. D20 system's traditional "20 Character Levels" is a great example. Especially in the sense of Star Wars Saga Edition, D20 characters tended to have their progression mapped out; most of my players would build their entire character paths out from the start of game.
"Okay, I know I want to take Jedi Knight at 7th level, and I want to have these powers by Level 9, so I need to take Feat X and Y at 6th Level, Talent Q at 5th and R at 8th, and Knowledge: How to be a Bad Ass Jedi when I increase my Intelligence at 8th level..."
That sort of character road-mapping really put a dampener on letting your character naturally grow and evolve. Life is full of events and crossroads where your intended career and lifepath deviates greatly from where you expected to go. I've come to really enjoy games where the system encourages that sort of freedom.
Additionally, the D20 system also starts to get bloated and a real challenge to run once characters get over level 11 or 12. The threats have to scale up, which usually meant more time spent on npc development as well as management of an excessive number of abilities in each character. More often than not, I'd forget to utilize those abilities simply because my mental bandwidth couldn't handle trying to remember and control six NPCs able to challenge a group of six Level 12 PCs. That encouraged me to end campaigns as they reached that level, before I really got bogged down, which tends to remove the Open-Ended option to those campaigns.
Three down, six more days to catch up on...