There was a time, long in the past, when I thought GURPS would be my be-all end-all game for the rest of time. Based on how much I’m playing GURPS now (i.e. I’m not), I was wrong. I’ve not only seen how much variety there is out there, but also how much more keeps on being created. Now that I’ve become a fiend for Kickstarter, it becomes even easier to keep tabs on what new things gamers are talking about. Here’s a few I’ve come across.
Games I’ve backed
Red Markets has the tagline “A game of economic horror”. I was in immediately. The game takes place in a zombie apocalypse, but the conceit of the plot is that those remaining over in the safe zones are financing adventurers (called”makers”) in the quarantine area (called “The Recession”) to help them reclaim abandoned property by collecting evidence of the original owners’ deaths. Between that and the economic subsystems (mission pay based on a supply/demand model, simplified yet brutal upkeep system), I was feeling pretty good about how this was going to be executed. Then, I heard some actual play done on the One Shot podcast. Ugh, this game sounds amazing. I can’t wait to have it in my hands.
Zweihander started as the author’s house rules for Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (WFRP), and evolved from there. The product being delivered is a gritty fantasy RPG which has, instead of the Warhammer setting, toolkit elements for using it however you may please. Between my interest in dark fantasy and the enthusiasm coming from RPGnet posters familiar with the alpha version, I had to back. The final product will be an old-school hardcover tome, 600+ pages of dark and gritty goodness.
Kickstarted games that have successfully delivered
Godbound is a mythic fantasy game, where the characters are demigods. I looked at the Kickstarter with a curious glance at first, then passed over. Then, I read about it on RPGnet. Someone (actually, multiple someones) had converted Exalted to Godbound, and not only did it run well, it ran better than Exalted did. So, I backed the game as a way to ensure that my online group would never try to play Exalted again (well, and because it looked pretty cool). Now that I have the book in my hands, I can say not only does it do the power level very well, it also has a setting that stands up there with Exalted (a game where the setting and lore is definitely the best part). Beyond that, it’s probably the best Old-School Revival (OSR) game I have read, because a) it’s not just a D&D heartbreaker and b) the author isn’t full of himself.
I played Rifts once in high school. I fell in love with the setting and out of love with virtually everything else about the game. Now, Pinnacle has somehow managed to get the remarkably protective Palladium to license their baby, and allow a new edition to be written in Savage Worlds. I have the two core books in PDF form already, and it looks really solid.
Games I’ve merely heard of
As one who has read this blog or otherwise knows me will realize, I’m quite fond of Interface Zero. I honestly believe that it is the traditional game that is closest to taking the torch from Cyberpunk 2020 in terms of flavor and setting. I’ve played both the Savage Worlds and Fate editions, and run a game using the Savage Worlds rules. While I’m not a huge d20 fan, the one product to come out of the d20 era that always intrigued me was d20 Modern, which hews to a similar technothriller style of gameplay as most Cyberpunk games. If David Jarvis has worked his magic in Pathfinder like he did in Savage Worlds and Fate, this could not only be a great addition to the Interface Zero stable but a definitive execution of modern/near-future gaming in Pathfinder. The Kickstarter for this game should be (*ahem*) kicking off soon.
Cryptomancer is a game about hacking and network security. It’s also a fantasy game. I’ll give you a minute to adjust your shocked expression. What excites me about this isn’t the promised hacking based on actual security principles (which could make the game either incredibly fun or dreadfully boring depending on how good the designer is), but the fact that it seems to be one of the first settings in a long time that actually takes Clarke’s Third Law to a logical conclusion/inversion, where magic eventually creates systems that are indistinguishable from technology. Combine the more modern inclination of the game design with a twist on fantasy tropes, and this looks like it could be the Dungeonpunk game I didn’t know I was eagerly waiting for.
This game apparently got some attention because the large D&D forum ENWorld is helping to publish it. Not being a member of ENWorld, I of course hadn’t heard of it until now. The system is generic, with a few settings announced, but the core I’m interested in are the three toolkits: O.L.D. (old-school fantasy), N.O.W. (modern-day technothriller stuff), and N.E.W. (sci-fi, with what seems to be an emphasis on space opera). These three toolkits cover 90% of the stuff I typically want to play, and the system is described as being crunchy. If done well, this could be comprehensive enough that I’d use it in favor of GURPS. The jury is still out on that; only one of the three toolkits (N.E.W.) is currently out. The only thing I’ve seen in the way of reviews have been from purchasers and Kickstarter backers (who like it a lot), and the /r/rpg subreddit (who really don’t like it at all). But, between backers’ bias and redditors hating things, those don’t tell me anything. The RPG.net threads indicate it borrows a lot from the old d6 system, but there still isn’t a lot to go by for how the game actually plays. Regardless, the game is now on my radar, so I’ll be watching for the other two toolkits to come out. The system sounds like it’s right up my alley, it’s all down to how it’s executed.