I have told you about my favourite Blogs and so now I thought I would discuss my favourite games with you all. I have been known by some of the people I used to play with as a fringe game lover, but that is before I found G+ and realised just what, and how much, was going on in the indie scene. I guarantee you, especially for those of you that have followed and read my blog for a while that there will be surprises in this post.
I have been playing Earthdawn on and off since the very first edition. I was a major Shadowrun player before it and then one of my Shadowrun players said “FASA are doing a fantasy game” so I got in at ground zero. Earthdawn is a beautiful game about tales and legends with a robust crunchy system that matches the content very well. It is fantasy horror, set in a post apocalyptic fantasy world that has been ravaged by a bunch of malign spirits from deep in the astral plane known collectively as Horrors. The game can become very Lovecraftian and is beautifully crafted.
Earthdawn has had a troubling history though as it was dropped as a line by FASA before they sold off all of their assets. Fans of the game made a second edition that was met by a splintering of the gamers with a third “Classic” edition the result that ran alongside the second edition further splintering the core of the game. Much of the argument here was based on an overarching campaign that had begun with FASA that destroyed one of the major cities in the game named Vivane. The third edition was strongly against that development and backtracked the timeline whilst the people who had created the second edition continued on with the timeline as FASA had left it.
Earthdawn has now been revitalised by a new FASA. It is not exactly the old FASA and much of it has people from the third edition line. But on top of that they have brought in some new blood such as Morgan Weeks and R. Scott Tilton, who have a deep love of the game and a true understanding of what lies at the heart of this game. You can see Morgan’s blog named the Panda Gaming Grove here with its Earthdawn focussed articles. 4th Edition has just been released in the past month. I have a PDF copy of the rules (as I backed this Kickstarter to the hilt) on my computer and have been meaning to read it but have yet to find the time to do so. I trust Morgan and Mr. Tilton so I believe that this will be a beautiful edition of the game.
If I ever get trapped on a desert island and can only have one game with me, it would be Earthdawn.
Dungeon Crawl Classics
I am a fairly fickle guy and I fall in love with games quickly. I also fall out of love with games over time and they sit by the side so I do not know if that will happen with Dungeon Crawl Classics or not yet. I got it on PDF I think about 18 months ago and did not get terribly far into it before losing interest. But then, late last year I was doing a lot of playing around with Old School Renaissance (OSR) style games and the urge to look again grabbed a hold of me. I dearly wanted to try a funnel adventure and see what the fuss was about. I wanted a nice big hardback for my birthday and this filled the requirements so my wife got me to order it.
I had the book read by the time the book arrived and on my birthday I had a group of friends around and we played the funnel adventure in the back of it. I was in love, but not necessarily by the funnel, but by the material that comes after it. I am so enamoured of the possibilities of a long term game with this that I am now in the process of rereading the book. I had skipped a lot of the spell material, wanting to learn by playing, but now I am looking at it all. Reading every word of this awesome book created by Goodman Games.
I have not yet played it again but I have plans to. I am writing modules for the game at the moment and just playing with it. This game is so well designed and just hits my OSR perfectly that I really want to continue on and pursue this into a longer term game. I seriously think everyone should give this game a try, it is brilliant what they do with all of the classes (warrior, wizard, thief, cleric) and demi-humans (elves, dwarves and halflings). Each class is distinct and offers up such variety.
I love sci-fi just as much as my fantasy and no game does sci-fi better than the original Classic Traveller. The only problem with Classic Traveller is that you have to do a bit of work in bringing the game to the fore front of sci-fi from today rather than the sci-fi from the late 70’s early eighties where this game came together.
I always buy new sci-fi games in the hopes that it gives me a complete, up to date, package that I can use. for example, I bought Eclipse Phase after my birthday and on starting to read it I thought that this might be the one but now I have a 100 pages to go I realise it is just not the complete package. It is a niche portion of sci-fi that has the system heavily tied up with the background making it tricky to hack.
Classic Traveller in essence says “Here is a bunch of stuff for you to simulate the galaxy, do what you will.” I love that attitude and the rules are as complex as you want them to be. The most laughs I have had with players comes directly from this modular little game which I picked up every book from the classic line and some board games for $35 USD on CD as PDF’s. Can’t get a complete system at that price anywhere else!
This game just scrapes in for me. I am not sure why but this game has gotten under my skin. I want to play more of it, but I find when I do that there are things that trouble me about it. But still I hear the call of the little blue hardback from beside my bed;
Play me… I am still here and you must play with meeeeeee…….
It is a bit of a bizarre one but I love the difference of the game. The different dice, the different concepts and the fun that I have had as a player with this is phenomenal. I think that I run it OK too.
I know that there are loads of people out there that swear by this system and when I asked “If you were on a desert island what game would you want with you?” that this got the most votes. Good idea, but I just don’t know. I love the book and it reads really well and I want to play it, so it just sneaks in to this list.
Lords of Gossamer and Shadow
This game is firmly in the list. It is a really sad choice for me because I have had major difficulties in starting a game of it. My in-person players are much too dice roll game focussed to want to play this and my online friends that want to play live in awkward time zones that make it impossible for me to run it. I have a beautiful vision of games for this dice-less successor to the Amber RPG (that I never played) it makes me very sad not to be able to run it.
The game is made by Rite Publishing and authored by Jason Durall. You play the part of a Lord or Lady of Light that traverses the “Grand Stair”. The Grand Stair is like the spinal column to an infinite number of realities known as “Gossamer Worlds” that are connected to the Grand Stair by doors. Between the Gossamer Worlds there is only shadow, and great threats live there, threats that once owned the Grand Stair itself and want it back.
It offers you the ability to play any genre at any time and the players get to play extremely powerful beings that influence worlds and the Grand Stair with their actions. Plus it is a dice-less system that is elegant and intuitive, making most of the time for prep involve the stories you will weave and only a little time to be placed on statistics and such.
That is all of the games I am in love with. For many of you the omission of Pathfinder here may be a little much for you to take! Well, let me explain that Pathfinder is, and has always been, the go to game for the past three years of which I know I can get a game of. It is the bread and butter of the RPG world that guarantees me a game. Many of the games above have inherent problems in finding players wanting to dedicate themselves to such games but most have played Pathfinder.
D&D not being in this list may not be too much of a surprise but I will say that the games of D&D I have had in the past 6 months have been a lot of fun. The only trouble with me is that I feel D&D is still way too much of a beer and pretzels game that I just can’t take seriously. It feels a little cartoony to me rather than a serious RPG contender.
So there you have it, my list. What are your favourites? Let me know in the comments, or tell me how wrong I am! Keep rolling…