#RPGaDay, Day 11: Favourite RPG Writer

I completely missed the start of this for this year, so today I’ll be catching up, working back from today’s topic. If you want to see my answers to the previous day’s questions, keep scrolling down.

 Day 11: Favourite RPG Writer

This may be one of the hardest questions for me to answer. And no, no tired “Sophie’s Choice” comparison; no one is going to execute the writers I don’t pick. Are they? No, that would be awful. They wouldn’t…no, I’m sure it’s fine.

I’m going to fudge this a little bit, and give my gaming material and fiction answers. So for gaming material, and limiting myself only to stuff I’ve read this year lest I go mad, I’m going with Kenneth Hite. I picked up a tentacle-load of Trail of Cthulhu books from a friend this past spring, and I love everything about the system and the source books. The GUMSHOE System lends itself particularly well to Cthulhu Mythos gaming, by cleverly removing the possibility of NOT finding necessary clues; you will always find an answer, but you may have to put in a bit of extra effort (and/or stability and sanity) to make that clue really pay off. It is such an elegant and simple mechanic, and made all the more clever because, used properly, it heightens the role-playing experience. If you haven’t looked at the system, do yourself a favour and check it out.

My favourite RPG fiction writer is Dave Gross. I’ve been a fan of Dave’s work for…*looks at calendar, shudders at the math*…a long time. But the work which cemented me as a life-long Dave Gross Fan Club Member was the Radovan and the Count stories found in the Pathfinder Adventure Path Council of Thieves, and the ensuing five novels.  Dave gives us, in the relationship and adventures of these two characters, a story which is at one and the same time immensely personal and intimate, and grandly heroic and sometimes tragic. That isn’t to say these elements weren’t present in earlier works, or aren’t present in his other current works. But in the Radovan and the Count stories they come together so well, the books are a joy to read and re-read. (Nerd Confession: Every time a new book in the series comes out, I go back and re-read the novels before reading the newest one. I’ve never regretted it.) If you want to read an exciting, fun story with characters you’ll love, find yourself a copy of Prince of Wolves and read yourself through the series up to the latest, Lord of Runes. You’re welcome.

Day 10: Favourite RPG Publisher

Overall, Paizo is still my favourite RPG publisher. I’m still continually impressed with how open and inclusive they are with their world-building, and their customer service and customer contact are second to none. There aren’t many companies where you can comment in the forums and get and answer directly from the lead designer on a game, never mind the CEO of the company. I often wonder when (if) they sleep, what with an already busy publishing schedule.

Since the publication of D&D 5th, though, WotC is getting better. The new edition is good, and I’m starting to like interacting with the company’s site, something that was not true for years. So they’re worth keeping an eye on.

Day 9: Favourite Media You Wish was an RPG

I’m watching some new sci-fi shows right now, and my current fav could so easily become an RPG campaign. Killjoys is all about the gritty world of reclamation agents (bounty hunters) navigating their pasts, relationships, and the twisty world of sector politics. Reclamation agents even have levels; depending on what skills and personality you bring with you to the evaluation when you sign-up, you are assigned as Level 1 (small-time courier and transport work only) up to Level 5 (Kill Warrants). It would be fun to pick a system like Fate or even AGE, and then assign each character their level based on what they develop during character creation. Hmmm…

A close second, Dark Matter is a great, slow-burning story about six people who wake up from stasis aboard a busted starship, with no memory of who they are or how they got there. Sounds like the classic start to a space-based RPG campaign to me.

Day 8: Favourite Appearance of RPGs in the Media

There are more and more of these all the time, but the line from the X-Files, “I didn’t play Dungeons and Dragons all these years and not learn a little something about courage.” remains my favourite. And yes, I do like the Community Episodes where they play D&D. Even though the first time they play, Abed is clearly not using the right map; that was obviously the map from Q1: Queen of the Demon Web Pits, so I don’t know what…ahem. Sorry. No, I’m good, it was good. All good.

Day 7: Favourite Free RPG

They’ve supplied it for the last few years of Free RPG Day, but I really like Cosmic Patrol from Catalyst Game Labs. It is a very rules light game, and delivers exactly what it promises. It definitely requires players who will jump in to the spirit of the game with both feet, but if you have those players you are going to go from picking up the book to a rollicking good time in about 10-15 minutes.

Day 6: Most Recent RPG Played

Pathfinder. My regular Thursday night group has started the Jade Regent Adventure Path, and at our last session we got stuck in to some good old goblin killing action and mayhem. Good times!

Day 5: Most Recent RPG Purchase

My most recent purchase was Odyssey: The Complete Game Master’s Guide to Campaign Management from DriveThruRPG. It’s a really good primer on how to organically organize your campaign. Even if you think you’re an old hand at running an RPG campaign, it’s worth a read. I’ve been doing this hobby for over thirty years, and there are some things I found useful.

Day 4: Most Surprising Game

I’m maybe expanding the spirit of this question, but my most surprising game recently was playing D&D 5th edition for the first time. I was surprised at how much it felt like playing the game I had played as a kid, but at the same time was very grown up and with a lot of the sharp edges I remember from back then smoothed off. If you haven’t played it yet, put aside your partisan feeling and give it a try.

Day 3: Favourite New Game of the Last 12 Months

I don’t really have a new game of the last 12 months. This past year I’ve spent a bunch of time delving back in to my gaming roots, so my focus has been backwards, not forwards. But as I said above, the GUMSHOE System, and Trail of Cthulhu in particular are great. I’ve already got a campaign idea in the works.

Day 2: Kickstarted Game Most Pleased I Backed

I’ve backed Ernest Gary Gygax Jr.’s Marmoreal Tomb Campaign Starter, and I’m excited about that. It’s already passed a bunch of stretch goals, so it looks like it’s going to be gorgeous. As I said earlier, I’ve been looking back at my gaming roots a lot lately, and this came along at the perfect time. If you want to get your hands on a campaign setting with old-school feel, check them out.

Day 1: Forthcoming Game I’m Most Looking Forward To

Again, I think I’m interpreting the question broadly, but I’m really looking forward to the first game two of my friends, Scott and Stanley, are setting up. Each of them is GMing a different Pathfinder Adventure Path, and then playing in the other, with four of us playing in both. I think it will be a ton of fun; I really like playing RPGs with these guys, and as long as we can keep the momentum going I think it will be great.

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