Monday, August 10, 2015

Seven RPGs a Week, or something like that

Okay, so, as some of you know, there's an 'RPG a Day' project every year that goes on during August (hashtag for this year: #RPGaDay2015). A list of topics is presented and each day you're supposed to blog about one in some way. Here's this year's:

I've been trying to keep up with it this year, to varying levels of success. The first couple of days were during Gencon, which made it tricky, but for the most part I haven't been too late with any of the entries thus far. I've been writing them up on Google+, but wanted to also collect them here where I can post easy links. So I decided to do a weekly roundup post for these. I'm just copying and pasting for the most part, so if you've already seen my G+ entries you can move on.

(Also, in case it needs to be said, anything listed as 'most recent whatever' will be referring to recent as of the original post.)

Day 1: Forthcoming game you're most looking forward to

I'm extremely biased because I'm working on one of the books and hopefully more down the line, but I'm really looking forward to the new Trinity Continuum run of books: Aeon, Aberrant, Adventure, and the 'Anima' setting that +Ian Watson  was talking about at the convention.

The original Aeon (when they were putting Trinity stickers on it, thanks Viacom) was not only my first White Wolf game but my first non-D&D game (hell, the first game I played that survived more than one session past character creation) and gave me my first glimpse of an RPG that wasn't about killing monsters and collecting the coins that fell out of them. It opened my eyes to this amazing and diverse sci-fi universe that had a little bit of everything and made it all amazing and interesting.

Aberrant was the first game I ran myself, and led to a lot of really definitive developmental moments in my gaming career. I'm really hoping that once I get my own place I'll be able to do something I haven't done in a while, which is assemble soundtracks for my gaming sessions. (back when I ran Aberrant, I'd sometimes plan out soundtracks for individual sessions with musical cues for specific scenes.)

And as mentioned, thanks to a combination of luck and skill and networking (there was literal wishing on a shooting star at one point), I've managed to get a spot working on the Aeon core and hopefully I'll get to do more as the game lines develop. (Fingers crossed!)

Day 2: Kickstarted game most pleased you backed

This is actually a tough one. Because I've really enjoyed what I've gotten out of some of the Onyx Path Deluxe edition Kickstarters, and the Fate Core Kickstarter has been fantastic in the long run.

But my official answer might have to be Chill, 3rd Edition from +Growling Door Games, Inc.  It's been nice being part of helping to revive a well-loved game, and everything about it looks phenomenal (I picked up my backer copy here at the convention). Also, again, slightly biased because I managed to back at a level where I concocted a monster for the book and also +Matthew McFarland and I have known each other for a while and supporting his efforts has always been worth it.

Day 3: Favorite New Game of the Last 12 Months

This is a tricky one, as there are two that immediately come to mind. One's new, the second's a new edition of an older game. I'm writing about both, confident in the fact that I'm not the only one who's like "screw it, I'll do two."

First is Atomic Robo by Evil Hat. As multiple people have pointed out (even someone at one of the games I ran this weekend), it almost presents Fate better than Fate Core or Accelerated. It has a lot of fun permutations and tweaks of the system that make it really fun for action campaigns (If you do some googling, you can find where Brian Clevinger wrote a blog post about using it for Exalted). The book itself is a great exploration of the Atomic Robo setting an all of the Action Science! contained within.

Second is Werewolf: The Forsaken Second Edition by Onyx Path. I was one of the few people in my area who immediately latched onto the New (now current) World of Darkness when it first released. (A lot of local people didn't really 'click' with it until Changeling: The Lost came out.) And while I'll always love Werewolf: The Apocalypse for various reasons, Werewolf: The Forsaken just grabbed me right away. Something about the attitude, something about the imagery, just gave me the sort of 'werewolf' feel I felt was lacking in parts of Apocalypse. But even my friends who liked Werewolf in general preferred Apocalypse over Forsaken, and I felt for a long time like there were things about Forsaken that only I was seeing.

And all that stuff that I was 'seeing' in the first edition of Forsaken is now part of the text, front and center, in the second edition. It's like +Stew Wilson took a look at first edition of Forsaken and said, in his best imitation of Leo DiCaprio, "We need to go deeper." And what he and his team of writers dug up from that metaphorical deeper place and put on the page is nothing short of glorious.

Day 4: Most Surprising Game

This is a tough one. I've been pleasantly surprised by a lot of stuff this last year. I mean, are we talking about recent releases? Stuff that may have been out a while but I just noticed/read/discovered? I can be a little behind on zeitgeists and whatnot. I mean, even though I'd read Monsterhearts, I only ever got around to actually checking out Apocalypse World proper last fall.

Though as I ruminate on this, looking at recent DriveThruRPG orders for inspiration, one thing does come to mind that actually fulfills both.

That would be Katanas and Trenchcoats, by +Ryan Macklin. I bought it mostly for the novelty when it came out, even getting the Premium Edition. I mean, I'm one of those people who got a couple of chuckles out of Dudes of Legend and moved on with his day. But I was more than a little shocked by how solid the basic system is, and just something about the fun, whimsical nature of how the book's written felt like a more natural wink to something that Far Far Too Many Players I've known try to do with their games anyways. There are actual serious attempts at games in the sort of 'modern horror-esque' genre that haven't grabbed me the way K&T did. #yolf  

Day 5: Most Recent RPG Purchase

Okay, that'd probably be something out of my bag of stuff from Gencon. Though my Gencon this year was more about picking up card game (Netrunner, Doomtown Reloaded, Valley of the Kings) and board game (Eldritch Horror) than RPGs this year. Mostly because there was just less on my plate grabbing my attention combined with the fact that PDF and PoD formats have made getting new stuff easier throughout the year. There's also the fact that I've gotten a lot stingier with physical RPG purchases since I'm still planning on moving in the next few months and anything new I acquire is something I'll just have to relocate later. Which is why I bought lots of stuff with cards and boards in big boxes. Fuck.

And then there's stuff like Kickstarter backer rewards and game pickups (like if you subscribe to any of Paizo's Pathfinder stuff and pick it up at the convention). Do those count as purchases? What if you're buying backup copies of something you already own?

Y'know what. Screw it. Depending on your definition of 'purchase,' I can think of three candidates. That's right. Three. Getting your money's worth when I gotta catch up with things and didn't sleep great last night.

First off, I picked up a PoD copy of W20 at the +Onyx Path Publishing booth this year, mostly so I'd have a copy I don't have to be afraid to throw in the game bag when I go to run WtA (like with my Deluxe copy from the Kickstarter). A 'beater' copy, as I think either Neall or Ian put it. I'd count that as the last RPG book I actually went up to someone and handed them money for.

If that doesn't count, as I have a copy of W20 already, there's Occult Adventures from Paizo, which I purchased through their subscription service right before Gencon and picked up at the show. It's a reintroduction of psychic stuff and what we'd consider 'occult' material (spirits, shakras, etc.) to the Pathfinder system without going through the 3.5 psionics system (which is already being explored by Dreamscarred Press). I actually really like its integration of the psychic concepts into the existing magic framework (though this is still magic with spell slots and such).

And then, there's the last game book I actually acquired at Gencon, which was picking up my Kickstarter reward box set of Chill, 3rd Edition again. (See above).

Now here's where Present-Day Chris intrudes: While it wasn't my original intent to do so, my next RPG a Day entry included a detailed write-up of the game in question and the session I played at Gencon. As I plan on doing a general follow-up in the next couple of days of the games I ran/played at the convention for this blog, I don't want to repeat myself too much. So I'm just going to trim that entry down and have the session write-up appear there. If you don't feel like waiting for that, you can find the original post here.

Day 6: Most Recent RPG Played

This is again easy thanks to Gencon. The last game I played was curse the darkness on Saturday, run by Black Hat Matt himself. Curse the darkness is always refreshing to play for me because it's just so out of left field compared to the stuff I usually wind up playing in or running back home. The stories can be fast and loose, character creation is easy, and while I don't have an issue with mechanical optimization it's not the sort of game where you'll have a player spending literally three hours with just the core book making sure his character is absolutely perfect like some people I run for. (Honestly, that's a reason why I really want to set things up to run it back home some time, even as just a one-shot, because it'd be like the gaming equivalent of 'tomato soup and grilled cheese' after you've spent years eating elaborate, complicated meals that took hours to make. Just such a wonderful change of pace.)

Day 7: Favorite Free RPG

Admittedly, I don't have a lot of free RPGs or experience with such (and I'm not sure if pay-what-you-want or Creative Commons-released games strictly count), but my mind immediately goes to No Rest for the Wicked by +Monica Speca. For those unfamiliar with it, NRftW is an Apocalypse World/Dungeon World mash-up for playing Borderlands as a tabletop RPG. Last time my tabletop gaming group tackled the 'what do we play now' question, I actually pitched this as a possibility because I had a story in mind. (Not all of my players have played Borderlands, however, and that wound up making the difference in the final vote)

Of course, I imagine the primary reason it's free is because it's a fan work of an established property and I'm not sure if that throws off the spirit of the exercise, but the quality and production values are very good and it captures the tone of the game beautifully. If there were ever an officially-licensed version, I'd be more than happy to pay for it even if it was just an authorized version of the same PDF.

And that's it, my first week of RPG a Day entries. If folks would like, I can keep doing this for the rest of the month, to collect my daily posts in one place. Let me know what you think or if you have any questions.

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