Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Reading, Prepping, and Playing Part II

Time passes, right? So, six months or so ago, I posted a list of what I'd been working on at that point.

Well, it's been six months or so. How about an update?

We Didn't Playtest This At All
This has become my pick-up and play game of choice. Well, this and Win, Lose or Banana. It's not a deep game, but it's some of the best filler I've ever played.

Dungeon Twister
The XBox game has been pushed back to ... January, at last check. That doesn't stop me from playing it.

I've been demoing this at several local game stores, and it always goes over well. It's a great game and is well worth the time to learn (and play).

Hex Hex
I've been playing Hex Hex XL, actually. I liked the original, and this is clearer and more accessible. I do love this game, though.

Dungeons & Dragons
I'm playing 4th Edition, and I'm still enjoying it. All of the complaints I've been seeing about the game are about things that ... aren't in the game. No, it's not 3rd Edition. Or 2nd. No, there aren't any real rules for "getting into character," or even effective guidelines. But that didn't stop us in 2nd or 3rd Edition - why are we holding 4th to a different standard? And yes, I'm serious.

Runequest II
I recently acquired this one because I saw Clockwork and Chivalry, which requires it. You see, several of my friends are hugely into Steampunk (which I need to discuss sometime). Part of the steampunk culture these days includes music, especially Abney Park. And there is an RPG coming that is based on their music. That RPG is being written by Cakebread & Walton - the two individuals who wrote Clockwork & Chivalry (which, by the way, I also ordered). That said, however, I like RuneQuest on its own, even though I can see its BRB roots.

Shadows of the Apt
One of the most dangerous things for me is Amazon's recommendations, because they ... well ... keep getting more accurate. When you combine that with the fact that I can very easily order books for my Kindle from anywhere, well, it's a dangerous thing. But I digress.

A few months ago, it suggested Empire in Black & Gold to me. I devoured it. It's sparking all kinds of game-related ideas. I think this setting could very easily be adapted to work in ... well ... RuneQuest would be easiest, I think. And it'd be a good fit.

Hamlet's Hit Points
I ordered it. Remember how I keep claiming that games and literature are two completely different things? In this book, Robin Laws reminds us that occasionally the twain shall meet. A solid grasp of literary theory can improve your game. While it's more useful for GM's, it's not a bad idea for players to have a glance at this one.

The Laundry RPG
I loved the novels (Start with The Atrocity Archives), and the RPG catches the flavor of the books very well. It's hard to do a book that is this funny without losing sight of the essential horror of the Cthulhu Mythos. It uses the BRP system (with some tweaks), but that makes it compatible with Call of Cthulhu and Delta Green.

Speaking of which, Delta Green: Targets of Opportunity has finally arrived after two and a half years of waiting. And it's good. Good enough that I'm seriously considering running a campaign (or a one-shot). It'd be liberally flavored with the Laundry, however. It'd pretty much have to be.

I love the FATE system. I make no bones about this. Where Starblazer Adventures is space opera, Diaspora has more realism as a goal. A hard SF FATE-based game ... wow. And there are lots of harvestable ideas in here.

Oh - and here's an idea my wife was shown in Portland that you might like: Add Aspects to D&D. One Aspect and one Fate Point per level. That way, your characters will grow personalities along with their increasing power level.

Here's one of the things I like about Diaspora: Characters don't increase their power levels significantly. It'll frustrate some players, it's true, but I like the way character advancement works. A lot.

Blood & Honor
I make no bones about being a fan of John Wick's work. I have a complete set of the first edition of the Legend of the Five Rings RPG. It has a few flaws here and there, but, for the most part, I love it. Orkworld, on the other hand, had a great setting with an almost completely unworkable system. Blood & Honor uses the same system as Houses of the Blooded, but it actually works on my Kindle without a 90-second delay between page turns. And it's a return to the Samurai genre of game that he loves so very much. And, before you ask, yes, he does continue the Adoration of the Katana.

Worth picking up? I'm not sure yet. I'll let you know when I've had a bit more time to read.

Advanced Feats: Secrets of the Alchemist
When the Open Design team offered to send a review copy of this one to me, I warned them that I'm not currently playing any Pathfinder games, so I might not be able to do it justice. I do have a friend who is a master at snooping out loopholes and broken things in games, so I asked him to take a look. After a few minutes on my Kindle, he handed it back to me. "Seems balanced," he said.

The PDF is only twelve pages long, but - even as a non-Pathfinder player - I can see how this one opens up the Alchemist class (and has answers that the base class is vague on). There are ideas in here that I can use in some of my Steampunk (and Clockpunk) gaming, but not as many as with a setting or concept book. There are Feats that can be tweaked into Aspects for FATE or adjusted into skills or specializations in other games, but it will take work.

While reading through it, I decided to estimate how much I'd be willing to pay for this. See, I received a download link without a price. My guess? $8. I'd be willing to pay $8 for it, if I were playing Pathfinder. Actual price? $3.95. Not a bad buy.

Johannes Cabal
There are now two Johannes Cabal books. The first, Johannes Cabal the Necromancer, had me howling with laughter within the first two pages. Book two, Johannes Cabal the Detective is just as funny, and turns the steampunk elements up a bit, too. Two of the funniest books I've read in the last few years.

I have more pre-orders and print copies of various books enroute, too. I'm going to be very busy reading to stay caught up. Don't worry: I'll continue to share the best parts with you.

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