Gah, I had this all written and ready to post on Friday, but whilst off on holiday I forgot to hit send. Oops. Anyway, this is days 8 to 14 of my #RPGaDay, apologies it’s not actually posted until the 16th. (And yes, I’m aware I still haven’t posted the aforementioned Nine Worlds roundup – I’m back in the country now, so it shouldn’t be too far off.)
- Favourite appearance of RPGs in the Media. I could give a snarky answer about media hysteria and say Mazes and Monsters or something. But really, it has to be Community: “Advanced Dungeons and Dragons“, surely the metric against which all other appearances of RPGs in fiction are judged. I love the show anyway, at least the three seasons I’ve seen (I’ve been gently warned off the rest, but plan to get round to them at some point). But this is the episode I’ve watched by far the most, if only because it’s such an enduring favourite with my geeky friends. Funny, sweet and personal, it’s an alternately mocking and affectionate parody of the roleplaying hobby, with the extra helping of schmaltz on top you’d expect from an American sitcom. Plus, I think Abed runs a great game.
- Favourite media you wish was an RPG. I can think of a few things that already have an RPG that I wish had a *better* RPG (e.g. Buffy the Vampire Slayer – I really don’t get on with Cinematic Unisystem). But to actually answer the question, I’m constantly surprised that, to my knowledge, there has never been a Terminator RPG. There is a huge gap in the market right now for a really good “running away/car chase” RPG – the Thriller Chase rules from Night’s Black Agents are a good start, but I think we can do better. Terminator would seem the perfect property to fill that niche, not to mention being a beloved nerd franchise in its own right. Other media I’d love to see get an RPG release include the Bartimaeus trilogy (fairly obscure book series about a young magician and his demonic servant – Sorcerer would be an obvious start, but I feel like in this setting, the demons really need to be playable), the Animorphs (less obscure book series and short-lived TV show about teenagers that shapeshift into animals to battle an alien invasion – you could fill 20 expansion just with stats for the whole animal kingdom), the Marvel Cinematic Universe (slightly cheating because there have been loads of Marvel games, but I’d prefer something that stepped away from the tangled bullshit of comics continuity in favour of something vastly better known and more popular), and countless other franchises I’ve forgotten about.
- Favourite RPG Publisher. Hmmm. Tough. If we were to measure this simply by how much money I’ve spent with them, it’s undoubtedly Fantasy Flight Games, if only because their books are so damn expensive. I respect The Onyx Path a lot for the work they’ve done revitalising the World of Darkness, even if it’s not a game I play that much. And I have a lot of affection for Pelgrane Press and Cubicle 7, two pillars of the British roleplaying industry, that have provided me with plenty of excellent gaming memories and helped turn Dragonmeet into the eagerly anticipated annual event that it is. But I think I’ll give this one to Evil Hat Publishing. Obviously I love Fate Core, but I also love that they’re broadening their content with Powered by the Apocalypse and Gumshoe material, that they are making a concerted effort to diversify their staff, that they cultivate such a positive relationship with their fan community, and that they invited me to take part in their War of Ashes playtest. So they get to be my favourite.
- Favourite RPG Writer. Vincent Baker. For creating Apocalypse World, mainly, but also for just appearing every now and again to make casual observations about roleplaying game design with unbelievably penetrating incisiveness. I am not smart enough to understand half of what appears on his blog, but boy does Vincent Baker make me want to be. I thought about following this up with some “honourable mentions”, the RPG writers I love that didn’t quite make to top spot, but I’m worried that if I start I will never stop.
- Favourite RPG Illustration. I don’t really have one. I probably should. Illustrations in RPG material have an extremely important role in setting expectations about the tone and content of a game, and they require as much effort (maybe more effort?) to produce as any other aspect of game design. So in lieu of a definitive answer, here’s an illustration I saw recently that I really really like, from the no-longer-forthcoming Star Wars game Force and Destiny:Mostly I love this illustration because it’s funny. It’s the perfect facial expression that really nails it. But I also love how fitting an image this is for the game it is supposed to promote. Force and Destiny is not about Jedi. The Jedi are extinct. Force and Destiny is about people who are TRYING to be Jedi, really hard, and making do as best they can in far from ideal circumstances. That’s what this picture represents: if I could give it a caption, it’d be “There are no more temples.” It’s also really fitting because Star Wars should be funny.
- Favourite RPG Podcast. They don’t do much roleplaying content, and honestly I find quite a lot of their commentary on RPGs to be a little elementary, but I love the Shut Up and Sit Down podcast. And just the Shut Up and Sit Down guys in general. If they are considered to have too much of a board game focus to really qualify as an RPG Podcast, then I’d have to give it to the also-excellent Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff. But that seems unfair, since those guys spend as long saying really interesting things about history, politics, movies etc as Shut Up and Sit Down spend saying really interesting things about board games. I dunno. Check them both out.
- Favourite RPG Accessory. I’m not really sure what qualifies as an accessory and what doesn’t. I mean, my games have markedly improved since I started using index cards – for Fate aspects, Cortex+ assets, and general indie game stuff – but that seems to be a really boring, mundane pick. I also now regularly record my gaming sessions with an audio-digital recorder, and bring my laptop along to provide game soundtracks, and whilst they’re both great, I don’t think they count. I’ve said before I think the Psi*Run Risk Sheet is one of the best play-aids available for any roleplaying game, but none of these seem to be getting to what I think the questions wants me to say, which is presumably pretty tokens, custom dice or the Noteboard. As a semi-sensible middle ground between playing ball and my own pointless knee-jerk defiance, let’s say the maps of Middle Earth that came with the original box for The One Ring. Because they were beautiful and immersive and pressed my player’s buttons like nothing else.
Phew, not so short after all. Let’s pick this up again next week.