This post is a part of the #RPGaDAY series for 2017 by David F. Chapman and RPGBrigade. For more information, see this post at AUTOCRATIK. I'm modifying per suggestions from S. John Ross as well as applying my own interpretations. Comment with your answers or links to your own posts!
Day 17 - Which RPG have you owned the longest but not played?
I'm going to give myself permission to meander a bit on this one, if only because it was a nice little trip down memory lane. I won't lie, it does irk me a tiny bit that there must, by definition, be an objectively correct answer to this question, but I lack the resources to be certain about it. For one, I've been buying RPGs for a long time now, so determining what I've owned the longest takes me way back. Two, because I have not kept exacting historical records of my purchases, and because the vast majority of my older library is packed up in storage boxes that would take me forever to go through, I'm having to rely on my admittedly spotty memory about my own youth. Before I start down that path, though, I want to take a quick detour that was highlighted for me by seeing other people's responses.
I saw a mention today of Orkworld by John Wick. This would actually be an excellent candidate for today's answer for me, too, except I know it can't be the one I've owned the longest. I know I've never played it, though! I suppose I probably would if the opportunity arose, but it's not on the ol' bucket list or anything. I just loved reading this game, though. It functions perfectly well as a setting book, and I'm happy enough to treat it as such. As a game it brought some interesting ideas to me, like using the time scale of seasons and having it be significant to the narrative, but mostly I just dug all the detail and love that went into the setting. Let's not mince words; this game is about orks. As such, you are presented with orkish culture, biology, ecology, and whatever else you'd need to really make a good go at roleplaying them. This book made me love orks. It was also instrumental in the development of what became a long love affair for me of thinking about the lives of monsters outside their interactions with PCs. I got to know orks as a people, and I found myself wanted to get to know the rest of the lot, too. This was mostly thought exercises for myself; I never delved too deeply into getting books about it or anything. (Good thing, probably, too, because my shelves are already bursting.) But Orkworld was very significant to me in that way, and I think Wick did a tremendous job. I often feel like this is a bit of a hidden gem, but that's probably just for me personally. Not only have I never played it, but I don't even really remember anything about the system, so...I have to assume that it didn't make much impression on me as a game. But as a book, as a work, I loved it and still do.
In any case, back to my actual answer. And we're going to take the long way around to that, too, because I feel like typing a lot today, I guess. The first thought that occurred to me was In Nomine, the RPG of the hidden war between Heaven and Hell. It's by Derek Percy and published by Steve Jackson Games, but it was an adaptation of a French RPG by the same name, published by In Nomine Satanis/Magna Veritas. They way I came around to this game was twofold.
Firstly, in order to answer this question, I started trying to think back to my early days of buying RPGs, and In Nomine jumped out at me because of the unusual way I came to buying it. It was at some long-ago DEXCON (I think probably 6?), and I had "won" some prize at a game of Toon. I can't remember the circumstances or why I won something. I probably have a certificate around somewhere. Anyway, part of the prize was a gift certificate or something to the Steve Jackson Games table at the con (because Toon was also an SJG title), and later on when I was browsing the table, it was literally just the eye-catching cover that led me to express interest in In Nomine. I had a gift certificate, here was a cool-looking book...sure, why not? So that's why the game came to mind as an early purchase.
Secondly, the reason it came to mind as a game I'd never played was because I became famous in my circle of friends for not running the game. A particular group of friends and I were all ridiculously obsessed with the movie The Prophecy. If your'e not familiar, it stars Christopher Walken as the angel Gabriel who has parted ways with God and started a second rebellion, similar to Lucifer's original one. (Special bonus parenthetical: Lucifer in that movie is played by one Viggo Mortensen, capturing the hearts of that little cadre of teenage goths back in the 90s, years before he would later set loins aflame as Aragorn.) In The Prophecy, it's clear that Gabriel has his own agenda, completely separate from both God and Lucifer, so naturally the question arose: how would this affect the setting as written in In Nomine, which leans on the polarized opposite sides of God and Lucifer? Given the arrival of a third option, which archangels would jump where? Which demon princes? We formed an RPG group and set about to find out. I spent months hacking the setting to fit this new model of spiritual politics. We spent late night after late night talking about characters, examining world concepts...preparing the campaign, basically. Suffice it to say, it never materialized. This was on the cusp of college for some of us, adult life for others; people became busy, moved away...eventually I moved away...the campaign never started. It became an in-joke for our group: "Hey, when are we going to play this new game?" "Right after Rob runs In Nomine." I call it the greatest campaign that was never played. I'm sure if I dug down far enough, I could find all my old notes and junk. Anyway...that's why I thought it would make a good answer to this question; even if I was wrong about it being the game I've owned longest, it still made for a couple good stories.
Except that it doesn't even fit the second criteria! In being so lost in my own nostalgic memories of the good old days, I completely forgot that I did play in an In Nomine campaign, with a totally different group after I had moved away and failed to start up the Prophecy campaign. It was relatively short-lived, as I recall, and after that arc, I don't think I ever picked up with that group again, but it was multiple sessions, at least, so there's no way In Nomine qualified as a game I never played. Back to the drawing board.
As I started tracking backward again, I thought of another big one that I never got around to playing: SLA Industries. I remember picking up the game, it having come recommended by a friend of mine, a gamer whose opinion I hold in high regard. It's kind of a...cyberpunk horror game? I think? I have to admit that I remember starting reading the book, but I'm pretty sure I never even finished it. The friend who recommended it to me at the time lived somewhere far away, and where I lived at the time, I remember having enough trouble even finding people to play "regular" RPGs, let alone some weird European cyberpunk. I think the game remains a classic in some circles even today, but I just never managed to get into it. So I thought that it was likely to be my answer today.
But then...I realized I was going about things the wrong way. What I had been trying to do was work my way backwards to think about my longest-owned game, but what I should have been doing was working forward. So. At my start in the 80s, all I ever got was AD&D stuff. That's how I was taught, that's what was played, and that's what I bought. It probably wasn't until the early 90s that I even got interested in other RPGs. Like...I had been vaguely aware that GURPS existed...I kinda knew Call of Cthulhu was a thing, but there was never a need for any of that stuff with the group I was in, and I didn't have a lot of disposable income anyway. It wasn't until I moved to a new town and started playing with a new group that I started sampling different games, so I remember coming to Champions and the Hero System; I sunk some money into that. Taking this little memory trip also served to remind me that I bought those games because I was playing them, though. I learned about new games through my gaming groups; this was long before I would buy games just because I was interested in games. Feng Shui, TMNT, that eventual and inevitable point where Vampire: The Masquerade would enter my world. Definitely I threw a few bucks at White Wolf in my young life...
Something's tugging at the back of my mind. Not White Wolf proper; I played a lot of that World of Darkness stuff. But surely that involvement would have put new things on my radar, things that I might never have...
Oh. Oh no.
I think the actual answer to this question might be a little game I bought called HoL. I don't even know what to link to when I mention its name; here's the Wikipedia page. HoL was...well, it was a game. It was a game about...I'm not sure. Ultraviolent criminals living on a planet made of garbage? I think there are really only two things you need to know about HoL. One, the actual, published text consisted entirely of handwritten pages. (Handwritten largely, if the author is to be believed, at an IHOP.) Two, the game was so out there that White Wolf didn't even really publish it; they created a separate imprint (charmingly called Black Dog) to handle HoL and other games of its ilk. I initially checked it out because of the enthusiasm one of my friends had for it, but reaing it just made me feel a little bad inside. I didn't know it at the time, but I think that was the start of my relationship with edgelords. I won't go on about it. If you want to hear more, the fine gentlemen at System Mastery did an entire episode about HoL. If you like, you can listen to them complain about it instead of me. So, yes...until I can factually countermand this by going through my library, I'll stick with HoL as my answer and...well, just look forward to tomorrow, I suppose.