Thursday, February 26, 2009

The big stack of books

Well, I told you before I left for the con that I would have a 3-4 foot tall stack of books to take home with me. Here it is.

And I warned you that I would tell you about my new purchases. Don't worry, this is just the highlight reel.

Burning Wheel and Mouse Guard: I picked up the main Burning Wheel rulebooks last year on the recommendation of Ken Hite and I was impressed. So this year I picked up the supplements Monster Burner and Magic Burner. Also this year came the Mouse Guard RPG, based on a comic series in which the heroes are civilized mice fighting for mouse civilization. I picked this one up on the recommendation of the kids-rpg Yahoo! Group that I belong to as well as (you guessed it) Ken Hite. The reason that it's mentioned here is that the RPG uses a kid-accessible version of the Burning Wheel rules as it's engine.

Someone in my shoutbox asked if I was planning on doing an RPG based on Wicked. While my own rules are more suited to a very light-hearted Oz, should the money materialize to make a Wicked RPG possible, I think I would go with the Burning Wheel as the underlying rules. Simply because the method for creating characters requires you to get into the character's past and into their head, which is one of the major ideas of Wicked; letting you into this person's life. Even if you only saw them for their few minutes of screen time, now you know and understand where that character is coming from.

Wicked: This was not bought at the con, but at the Borders at the nearby shopping center. I thought you guys might be interested in my opinion of the book after reading it. The first thing that struck me when I finished the book was "Oh my god, the Easter Eggs!" There were so many Oz references scattered here and there throughout the story. Although Maguire's Oz feels very different from Baum's, he actually does not preclude any of Baum's stories; in some cases going so far as to set them up (Dr. Nikidik, anyone?). My second thought was "He really liked 'Glinda of Oz', didn't he?" Most of the major plot points emerge from that book. Kumbric Witchcraft was what Queen Coo-ee-oh practiced. Madame Morrible setting up her students as the Three Adepts. The Goldfish in the fishwell.

Hunter: The Vigil: Now for something completely unrelated to Oz. Hunter: The Vigil is the latest in the World of Darkness line of games. Whereas most of the World of Darkness games allow you to play as a monster of some sort (Vampire and Werewolf are among their more popular lines), Hunter allows you to play a monster hunter. They tried this in an older game, Hunter: The Reckoning, but that was less impressive, I thought. For one, although Reckoning had their heroes set up to kill all sorts of supernatural creatures, they often wound up becoming quite supernatural themselves. Reckoning also required a bit more buy-in to the World of Darkness at large.

While it is possible to play a monster hunting monsters in Vigil, it is not the only option. They also support a more mundane "mortal heroes against monstrous supernatural evil" style of play. Though you can fight against vampires and werewolves, more support is given to fighting various kinds of monsters, including the supernaturally durable serial killer from many horror movies.

GURPS: Although you probably wouldn't be able to tell by the way I design games, GURPS is one of my favorite systems. Only got a few items this time around, probably because the world is running out of GURPS stuff I don't have. GURPS Myth, the licensed setting book for the Real-Time Strategy game of the same name, and GURPS Shapeshifters. I'm surprised that GURPS Shapeshifters got made, mostly because it came out 1 year before the edition change, which made most of its' rule information obsolete.

The one GURPS book that I really wanted was not sold at the con: GURPS Thaumatology. The latest in their hardcover line of wonderfully crunchy rulebooks.

For those of you who may not be aware, "Munchkin" has a negative connotation among the gaming community. It is generally taken to mean a bad player, or someone who focuses on combat effectiveness or replicating their favorite action hero of the moment instead of making their particular character interesting.

Then Steve Jackson Games had to go and make it fun. They made a card game in which each player tries to twink out their character to be ultimately badass and get the best loot. I had already picked up one of the spinoff games, Munchkin Impossible (a sendup of the spy genre), but this year I picked up a copy of the original fantasy-based Munchkin set. Both games are fun, but I'm waiting to try them both together and make a Russian Elf Tourist with Fruit Combat Training and a Sword of Decapitation (+2!). It could happen.

I finally managed to talk my gaming group into trying out "Adventures in Oz." Our first session is scheduled for Saturday. I'll let you guys know how that goes.

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