Let me be the first to formally introduce you to Alma Mater, and since I feel that I can’t possibly do the authors justice in trying to describe this, here’s a handy description of the game from it’s back cover:
Alma Mater is a role-playing game in which players may choose to be either a Jock, Cheerleader, Tough, Brain, Criminal, Average, or Loser. Their challenge is to successfully live as a teenager through four years of modern day American high school. However, play is not restricted to school. The game rules cover nearly every aspect of teenage life, including sports, social situations, fights, and hot rods. In Alma Mater, you can act out your wildest fantasies and do anything that you would normally consider exceptionally foolish, suicidal, or down-right crazy.
This 48-page rule booklet, illustrated by Erol Otus and Owen Oulton, contains a description of the high school, “Central High” including NPC teacher and student descriptions; and a sample scenario, “Starr’s Party”. Maps for the school and Starr’s home are provided along with a 17×22″ color poster of the cover painted by Erol Otus.
Six-sided and twenty-sided dice are required for play, and must be bought separately.
This game deals with mature subject matter and is not suitable for children under 14 years of age.
So, Alma Mater, chaos and Violence aside, I’m having trouble finding anything to like about this game’s setting and premise beyond what random scenarios we came up with, and that was only within the confines of play using the d20 system. We did have fun, don’t get me wrong, but I mean movies like Animal House (and supposedly games that take their inspiration from said movie) and such are fun to watch, but in my opinion, kinda less fun to play, at least in any sustained manner. Had we really just sat down and meant to play the game as written, we would’ve had a bad time in my honest opinion…
We tried creating characters using Alma Mater’s rules originally, but in short order we ended up converting them to d20 characters and played loosely using that system. During our play sessions a few of the participants hadn’t ever played an RPG, so we decided it’d be easier to use a less complex (read as playable) system for their first games.
I would like to have delved into the system of the game a bit more, if only to find some glimmer of hope, but having first time gamers makes it rather difficult, especially if all of us were totally new to a game.
In the end the game’s setting failed to give the players (and myself) any reason to want to get involved as we progressed further in the campaign, and henceforth we began to lose interest. I mean, how many parties or football games can a person go to in a week?
But alas, we soldiered through for our beloved readers and played three and a half sessions of this game over the past few weeks (god it sorta hurt) before we finally threw in the towel Thursday night and watched The Boondock Saints instead.
I’m just happy to be moving on to another game, even if we did become kinda attached to our characters. I guess we could always pick up d20 Modern and have more of a motivation to play with them.
So, long story short, we’ll be posting all of our Actual Play Sessions for anyone that’s interested, and while we did have a good time, it was weird… as weird as I’d hoped it would be.
Here’s a link to our Podomatic Account with the audio from our Character Creation Session, with more sessions to follow soon.
For our next game we’ll be playing my all-time favorite, Anima: Beyond Fantasy from Spain’s Edge Entertainment, published in English by Fantasy Flight Games. Anima is not only a Tabletop RPG, but the line also sports a Card Game, A Miniatures War-game, an IOS game, as well as a PC game in the works. That being said, I am really excited to finally be able to play this game with the DD&D team. I’ll also be writing a Critical Failure: Your Character has Died when I have the time to do so about this top notch game setting and system.