Monday, August 20, 2012


The last few days have been a whirlwind of activity. Long story short, it looks like I'm coming back to game design and writing. I had a ton of productive meetings, wherein plans were planned. In fact, it was such a whirlwind that I'm not sure where to start. It's been a long time since I blogged about game design, and I'm actually finding it difficult. Not the writing part, but I can't seem to find the tongue-in-cheek tone I try to achieve for this blog. I'm just going to muddle through and get back into the swing of things.

I've been out of the business for a long time, so it was important to me, once I made the final decision to return to my roots, to do market research. The changes to the industry are such that I could write an entire blog on the subject (and that'll be coming later). Today, I thought I'd run down the list of my acquisitions, with some notes about what made me pick them up and why I'm excited about them.

Now, I don't want anyone's feelings to be hurt if I don't mention their game. There was a lot to see, and my funds were limited. (One big change in the industry: We used to trade games with each other at the end of the show. Nowadays, that's not the case. I got some stuff as swag, but most companies seem done with the swagging. Not sure why). Also, I'm not putting these entries in any particular order of priority; so don't read anything into it. Just because a game is listed at number five doesn't mean it's necessarily lower on my list.

Don't Rest Your Head: I suffer from insomnia pretty badly, so a game about it is right up my alley. This was more a guilty pleasure read than anything else. The idea that the longer you're awake increases the chances of the monsters getting you is really neat. I find some of the most interesting ideas coming out of the small-press indie movement.

Hell On Earth Reloaded: Man, I love the Deadlands setting, and can't wait for the newest iteration Deadlands Noir. This was the game we were playing at Last Unicorn Games the night we were robbed; Charles Ryan was running it for us, and I really liked the campaign we were playing. It's not an alternate history, but rather an alternate future, which I find deeply cool. I also tend towards religious-themed games, so having a Templar on the cover twangs a nerve.

Hollowpoint: Another indie game that I've heard nothing about previously. But it was nominated for two ENnie Awards, so it must have merit. The Sin City style cover conveys the kind of originality I'm looking for in games. The tagline, bad people killing bad people for bad reasons, doesn't hurt. I see Pulp Fiction in my head...

Technoir: Wow, indie games were clearly a focus of mine at GenCon this year. I liked this one because of the mechanic inside, about plot maps and mission seeds. As I flip through the game, I see it's got mechanics for the way I naturally design my adventures. That is, a web of inter-relationships between scenes, almost like a dungeon crawl without walls. Can't wait to see how the authors formalized what is, to me, an intuitive process.

The Chronicles of Future Earth: This one is a setting for the Basic Role Play system. The description reminds me of Moorcock's Corum saga, or something Gene Wolfe might come up with. In other words, it pings on one of my favorite sub-genres of science fiction. (I can't wait for Monte Cook's Numinera RPG for the same reason -- the far, far, far future, when everyone's forgotten all about Earth).

Castles & Crusades: I have been a fan of the Old School Revival movement for a long time. Troll Lords seems to be doing it best. They had a huge, two-booth endcap at the convention, which bodes well (either their game is popular, or they like blowing money). I only had the Player's Handbook, and they were kind enough to provide me with the Castle Keeper's Guide, monster book, and more. They also threw in Amazing Adventures, which I know nothing about, but look forward to reading.

Savage Worlds Deluxe: Whenever I visit my favorite game store (Zombie Planet, in Albany. Make a pilgrimage), I always find myself drifting over to the Savage Worlds section. I've read good things about the system, and it's written by one of my favorite designers (and human beings), Shane Hensley. It's high on my "to read" list.

Necropolis 2350: Heck, may as well mention the setting that really grabbed me for Savage Worlds (aside from the aforementioned Hell On Earth Reloaded). It's a dark, futuristic setting with a religious theme. A lone planet, the last bastion of humanity; evil, necromantic aliens; the Church.... It combines a lot of my favorite elements.

Mythic Iceland: I knew nothing about this game until Charlie Krank put it in my hands. It's a Basic Role Play setting set in mythic Iceland. Which means Vikings. One of my favorite D&D campaigns was Peter Adkinson's Viking setting, so this game conjures up all kinds of nostalgia. Also, let's not forget The 13 Warrior, the best D&D movie that wasn't a D&D movie ever! And it's from Chaosium, which means it's high quality. I didn't know I wanted to read this game, and yet I picture myself frost giants.

Mortal Coil: I saved this one for last intentionally, because I've already read it. It was the one and only .pdf game I've ever bought. I liked it so much I had to have a printed, bound hardcopy. There's a supplement out for it, which I also picked up. I must admit, I still like having something tactile in my hands to read.

So that's it. That's what I picked up at GenCon 2012, and why. Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got some reading to do.

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