I'd like to take a detour away from GMing here and say a little something about some of the other games I've played. Yes, most of these were in college, but since we're coming to the end of my time in college in this retrospective arc, I thought I'd take a look back and keep the games I've played fresh in my memory. Time is fluid, and so is my order of listing.
So-Ahc. I played in a few LARPs set in the energy world of So-Ahc. Yes, it was directly based on Hell and every character fit into the infernal hierarchy somehow. I played Lord Modeus (AS if you couldn't tell my character's namesake) in the first game. I played with the mechanics - I remember a tournament for control over a suddenly-leaderless city-state. One of my powers was to make a subject grovel for a round. I took the groveling as evidence of submission and won that particular contest in one very-cheap-in-so-many-ways shot.
I remember playing a follow-up So-Ahc game at a con in DC, where I played Modeus's father who had dreams of uniting all the city states, under his rule of course. I took more of a diplomat role and ended up with 80% of the world under my control. Not a bad weekend's work. I remember never using the combat system - if I did, it meant that I failed as a player top advance the story on my own.
The Crystalmas Caper. I made a couple of characters for this game. The first was a cleric of Ralishaz, god of chance. I took a fatalistic view of his worship and managed to limit my roleplaying options - I played him once and didn't have fun. I could have changed the character, but I started a different concept: Corpus Ghoiti, the con man with a combined Int and Wis of 16. "Fish" worked like this: "Follow me!" Disaster ensued. There's nothing better than having the charisma to convince everyone around you that your completely-flawed plans will work flawlessly to design. And he never learned, which makes him endearing as all get-out.
Also by @verdammelt, I played in the Victorian era Call of Cthulhu game. I played Victor Metcalf Collins, an ex-strongman refugee from the circus. He was a bulbuously strong pugilist. We created characters through story, not mechanics. We talked it over in one-on-one sessions and never saw our character sheets. We knew what our characters were capable of, but not how well-trained we were. I remember surprising myself when I rolled an 80 (the equivalent of a 4 on a d20) and still punched through a zombie, dropping it in one hit. "You said you were very strong and a good boxer." "Yeah, but I didn't think I was =that= good." The journey of discovery applied to our characters as well as the world.
The Masks. We played ourselves, transported to Dunk's alternate world with whatever we happened to be wearing and carrying at the first game session. I wore a navy coat and lieutenant's bars, so I inherited the military insignia of the other world: very prominent facial tattoos. That was a tough trait to work with, since I was still a 6'3" string bean with very little martial training, and I had this glowing beacon advertising that I could fight well. Yowza.
The Bird Is Wise. Shawn's dark and twisted alternate-now world actually stole from a dream I had to great effect. Some of our professors played with godhood as part of some sort of cult. Come to find out, our world was one of many "nests" watched over by bird-like gods. I ended up in the throne room of my nightmares, with an army of slaves in the courtyard below, facing down the current iron-fisted "bird" ruling over our world. We managed to beat him, and I ascended into godhood at the climax of the game. A kickass ending in the best possible go big or go home sense.
I will always be grateful to @huzzah70 for making Traveller come alive. It takes a Navy man to navigate the awards and decorations during character creation, and his insight into the real-life process really brought the services into focus for me. Now if I would have settled for someone slightly younger, instead of the forced-into-retirement Admiral I ended up playing. Good times.
Shadowrun. So many different games of Shadowrun (OK, 3), but all of them were tons of fun. The one scene that keeps replaying in my head goes like this: *jack in* "I am the building." "How very Zen of you, Maddog." Runner rules were always another game unto themselves, which made the separation of hacker vs. hitter very jarring. I remember playing a raccoon shaman washing his food the way his totem would at a black tie dinner. I remember Blitz, my elven physical adept fixer. I remember laughing my ass of with friends.
Many other homebrew tabletop games flew by, most of them one-shots. I really appreciated Eric's game with the magic system that required you to make up a rhyme for a bonus/penalty to your magic roll.
And how can I forget the Champions arena one-shot: 8 players enter with 3-man teams of characters, one player emerges victorious. I foolishly went for speedsters across the board, and the first 12d6 area attack in the first phase turned the entire team into a fine red paste. Funny, but ugly.
Car Wars kept surfacing throughout and after college. I added character rules and ran a couple of games, but mostly the wheeled carnage trumped all. Especially that one game when Ken earned the nickname "Crash n' Burn." He did a fairly easy D3 turn and had a 1/6 chance to skid. As he skidded, he had a 1/6 chance of losing control. As he lost control, he had a 1/6 chance of rolling the car. As he watched the road spin by out his windshield, he had a 1/6 chance of catching on fire. As the flames licked his armor, he had a 1/6 chance of dying. At the funeral we all commented what a senseless death it was.
There are many others running around at the periphery of my memory, but these snippets jump out in sharp contrast to the haze to which my memory defaults. My apologies if any omission offends, and I'm sure I'll be shaking the memory tree more in the future.