I play a lot of games. Being unemployed for a portion of this year, it was easy to make this happen!
I don’t really make New Years’ Resolutions, but I did decide that this year I would try out more story games. Until now, Amber was basically the limit of my involvement in this type of system. I figured, there have to be a few others out there that grab me, right? I did found a new winners. Here are a few of the highlights.
Star Wars – Edge of the Empire: I got both the hardback, full version and the beginner’s boxed set. The boxed set would make a fantastic introduction to roleplaying, while the hardback book is well-written and fun. Be warned that if your group, like mine, loves Jedi and Force users, this game has minimal support for them. 2015 will see the release of Force and Destiny, which will provide full support for Force users. We played a couple of sessions of this, but I’m just kind of burnt out on Star Wars right now, which is a shame, because I’d like to see how this die mechanic works a little more.
Fate: I didn’t get to run or play any Fate games, but I picked up Fate Core, Fate Accelerated Edition (FAE), and Strands of Fate (and its sourcebook, Strands of Power). Core is … not bad? It looks like it could be fun, but it’s just not screaming “play me!” in tones I can hear. FAE seems like another great game for pickup games and new gamers, but the real winner for me is Strands. I haven’t loved a new game like this in a long long time. All the attention seems to be on Core right now, but Strands is much more to my liking. Maybe it’s because it’s crunchier, maybe because the writing and examples in these two dense tomes are so goddamn inspiring, but Strands has grabbed me like a rabid, starving dog and shook me. And I like that it did that. I am working on converting a couple of my old campaign settings to Strands right now, although I haven’t gotten to run it yet. Go buy Strands of Fate and Strands of Power now (http://www.voidstarstudios.com/).
Thirteenth Age: Remember how I said Fate Core just didn’t do it for me? Same here. I wanted to like it so much. The Escalation Die is worth stealing for other games, the Icons and the setting-sketch is fantastic, but the more I read, the more I realized I’d rather just be playing Swords and Wizardry in this setting. All that said, it is a very fun-looking game, and I can see why people might like it. Maybe the problem is that the Archmage Engine is based so much on D&D 4th Edition, which really didn’t work for me or my group, either. I read it cover to cover and will probably be trading or selling it some time soon. Maybe D&D 5th Edition (Dear God, I hate the term ‘D&D Next’) will be better than 4th, but if Thirteenth Age is D&D 4.5, nope, sorry.
My love for old school games continues. I added the AD&D reprints to my collection, and found another new love.
Swords and Wizardry Complete: So far S&W is tied with Dungeon Crawl Classics for my favorite OSR game. The author is Matt Finch, and his capsule advice “Imagine the hell out of it” seems like it should be the motto of the OSR itself. So many thanks to Erik Tenkar of Tenkar’s Tavern (http://www.tenkarstavern.com/) for bringing this game to my (and many other peoples’) attention. I’m running a Swords & Wizardry game right now for my group (running the Anomalous Subsurface Environment http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/PatW), and it’s been a blast.
OSRIC: This game started out as a vehicle for publishers to release AD&D materials, and it’s true to its lineage. AD&D was a huge mound of loosely-coupled rules, and it was easy to tinker without breaking anything, even on the fly. I’ll admit I love it partly for nostalgia, but for new gamers, I firmly believe they should get a chance to play the old games and learn to judge them for themselves, for each game’s own unique flavor. I’m running an OSRIC game for my wife right now.
As far as Dungeon Crawl Classics goes, it is probably my #1 pick-up game right now, for me and my group. I actually bought DCC in 2013, but in 2014 I got all the issues of the Crawl! fanzine from Straycouches Press (http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/browse.php?manufacturers_id=4955&term=straycouches) in print format. If you play DCC, I cannot recommend them highly enough. And if you don’t, you really, really should learn to let the joy of frenzied underground murderhoboing into your life, as nature, Gygax, and Appendix N intended (maybe that should be the other motto of the OSR!).
In other news, final stages of working with the publisher to get Invulnerable: Vigilante Edition out the door, picking up steam now that the holidays are over.
This will be a great year full of great games, I can feel it. Can’t wait!