#RPGaDay2023 – Day 7: smartest RPG you’ve played

My first thought on this was “smartest RPG?  What does that even mean?”  I found it vaguely pretentious.  Like a good number of people that play RPGs.  Boom, roasted anonymous people!

But then I thought “Well wait, if the question was what’s the stupidest RPG, you’d have all kinds of ugly smelly opinions.  If there are games that are dumb there must be games that are smart right jerk?”

So let’s work backwards from there.  What’s a dumb game and why is it dumb?  A dumb premise.  I bought my buddy Snickersnack a fishing RPG once because I thought it funny.  He likes fishing you see.  I find that premise to be dumb.  3-7 times people have bought me wrestling RPGs because I like wrestling.  I enjoy getting them but I think that premise is dumb.  But that’s just a matter of preference, that’s not really dum-dum dumb you know? 

Roleplaying games that are very hard to actually play because the rules are unclear or incomplete or contradictory are dumb because the point of a game is to play it.  But that’s really a matter of editing and organization more than dumbness or smartness.  Or greed, just flop some shit out you know sucks there for a buck and get a few dollars. 

When I was a kid I thought the RPG Toon was dumb because I was a kid and I didn’t get it.  It’s still not something I want to do but now I at least understand that people might want to play a cartoon simulation RPG now.  So not really dumb.

I feel bad about this because I was just reading the other day about how this guy started playing D&D in 4th edition and he doesn’t like it when people shit on without actually knowing anything about it as is the way if the internet but 4th edition D& stands out to me as a dumb game.  But again that’s just preference.  I find it dumb that they took out most of the lore and made it a blizzard of rules, most of which were totally superfluous, but that doesn’t make it dumb.  I just didn’t like it. 

I guess a truly dumb game would be one that you can’t play.  So a smart game would be one that’s easy to play.  Easy to play while still be fun I should say, the DM saying roll a dice and then shouting “you win” no matter what would be very easy. 

Based on that the smartest game I’ve played them would probably be D6 Star Wars, whatever that system is actually called if it has a name, and probably Firefly/the original Cortex system.  Both of them are defunct now though so how smart could they be eh? 

If I wanted to be cynical I would say the point of making a game is making money so the smartest game is the one that makes the most money.  Which I assume is 5th edition D&D by a mile by I used to look at those sales numbers and I was often surprised. 

I think this was pretty positive, I feel there aren’t many dumb games because someone likes them ergo they’re not dumb.


  1. I think even the premise that “TTRPGs are meant to be played” might not be completely true. How many RPG nerds do you know (self included) who have bought or otherwise acquired games with little or no intention to play?

    A non-trivial percentage of the total joy people get out of RPGs comes from reading the books and then lining them up to look pretty on the shelf.

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