I've been so busy of late that this is far from breaking news, but I wanted to just comment on the outcome of the 2021 Ennies. The full results, nominations and winners can be found here. In a previous post I made a few predictions for categories that particularly interested me this year and thought it only fair that I call out where I got it right('ish) and where I was off the mark.
Best Adventure: I said that this was essentially too. tight to call between ALIEN: Destroyer of Worlds and OSE: Halls of the Blood King, and it looks like the judges agreed with me! These two great products picking up Silver and Gold respectively.
Best Cartography: I said that I thought it would go to Undying Sands, and in my defence I also called out that I thought that the nature of the product might mean that it could fall short in this category and acknowledged that the category was very tight with ALIEN: Destroyer of Worlds and OSE: Halls of the Blood King in the same category, and in the end it was those two that again picked up Silver and Gold respectively (so I was kind of right'ish?)
Best Game: Here I got back on track with my predictions, I only had eyes for one product in this category Alice is Missing. Seems the judges agreed and awarded it Gold in this category. I can't stress how smart I think this little game is and if you want something relatively inexpensive that will be a real departure for your gaming group - especially if you are geographically dispersed this should (IMHO) find it's way into your Christmas stocking.
Best Rules: The judges and I were again on the same page, as with Best Game I only had one pick and that was Alice is Missing which ran off with the Gold.
Best Setting and Best Writing: I pinned my hopes on one work for both of these prestigious categories and I came up short. I genuinely thought that The Stygian Library: Remastered would stroll off with the main awards here and I'm sad to say it didn't. In the end it was Brancalonia – Spaghetti Fantasy Setting Book, and Heart: The City Beneath that picked up Silver and Gold in both categories.
Product of The Year: On this one I had it in the bag and then doubted myself - I predicted that Arium: Create, from Adept Icarus would steal the Product of the Year category from Alice is Missing or The Stygian Library: Remastered. It didn't - and whilst I think that there is much to merit Arium: Create I was far from disappointed when the Gold went to Alice is Missing giving it an amazing trio of awards. Our congratulations go out to author Spenser Starke and Renegade Game Studios on a recognisably brilliant game!
All in all I felt pretty pleased with may right'ish predictions, maybe you did better than me? Just have to wait until next year now too try again.
I was excited to see today an announcement that Free League (Forbidden Lands, Symbaroum, Mutant Year Zero, Tales From the Loop, the One Ring) have entered into a publishing partnership on the new edition of the acclaimed weird-fantasy TTRPG Into The Odd, With the launch of a new Kickstarter campaign to bring the remastered edition of Into The Odd to production. The new version is still written by Chris McDowall, but will have the added flair of art and graphic design by Johan Nohr (MÖRK BORG) and will be printed and distributed by Free League Publishing. For me this is a really exciting proposition, Into The Odd, first published in 2014, was already a great game with a well established following.I am also very much a fan of Electric Bastionland which expanded upon the systems developed in Into the Odd.
The remastered version is true to the original and will revisit the world of Industrial Bastionland, the Kickstarter mockups and sample spreads look to be heading towards a very lavish hardback, in effect a full-colour restoration of the original but with expanded content. Such content is expected to include an expansion of the Iron Coral expedition location from the original game, tripling it in size and details, as well as other expanded and new adventure locales. The Kickstarter details that there will be an additional 26 pages of modules and random tables in the "Oddpedium" to help Game-Masters flesh out the world.
The Kickstarter is a simple proposition. with no complex bundles, simply back the digital or physical versions of the new book. It runs until the 21st of October and has already (at time of writing on day 1) tripled it's modest £10,000 goal with 1150 backers signed up. This means that the first two stretch goals have already fallen and as a result Chris McDowall will release a series of audio commentaries discussing the game and the work that went into its remaster, with special guests for each episode. And, Johan Nohr will be designing a brand new character sheet for the game.
Backing the Kickstarter will cost you £28 (plus shipping) for the hardback - which includes a PDF copy. Or Just £14 for a digital only copy.
Personally I can't wait.
It's Saturday morning and I'm half way through my GenCon Online 2021 experience - I've played two main games, both Pelgrane Press classics Trail of Cthulhu and Night's Black Agents, more of those in bit. But I've also had a blast hanging out on the various Discord servers and channels, chatting with people, making connections with people who I may well get to play with in the future and also picking up lots of hints, tips and just soaking up the experience.
There is no doubt that there are moments when the time differences are a real bummer - I had a pretty full on day at work yesterday, so pulling myself together to start a game at 11pm last night wasn't the easiest thing, but I had a blast (in so many ways).
I thought I was off to a false start on Thursday when the GM for the Trail of Cthulhu game had car troubles and had to pull out at the last minute. I think its fair to say that everyone who had signed up was fairly disappointed, but in the end it worked out pretty well for us. Cat Tobin from Pelgrane Press stepped up to save the day; stepping in at the absolute last minute to run the game. We got off to a fairly slow start, it was a group with really mixed experiences of Gumshoe as a system and in the main was people who had not played Trail of Cthulhu much at all, although all extremely experienced role-players - I include myself in that camp, I think I've probably played Trail once or twice, but I am familiar with the system. We spent about an hour pulling together characters, but that was in truth a really fun way to actually get into the game and for me was much more satisfying than just picking up a random pre-gen. There is no way to get more invested in an RPG than to spend time getting to know your character and actually investing in their generation. If I review any new game the first thing I do once I've read it is to spend time generating a character, and given the experience levels in the group it was the perfect start.
We were playing The Dying of St Margaret's, which is a very dark scenario. It falls very much into the "purist" mode of play for Trail of Cthulhu - and Cat did a great job of communicating to the group what that meant. We understood that we weren't in for a bug hunt gunning down deep ones, this wasn't going to be Indiana Jones and the Temple of Shoggoths. It was going to be dark, gritty, hopeless, the best we could hope for was to survive and the likelihood of doing that was slim at best. It was likely we would go insane trying to discover what was going on. I love this style of play, it really evokes the feel of Lovecraftian literature, bringing out mans frailty and insignificance in the cosmic scheme.
I think its fair to say that I had a great time playing, the group did a pretty good job of keeping each other on the rails - moving (albeit slowly at times) towards the game s deadly denouement. Whilst my character, Ramsey Collins, was doomed from the moment he left London for remote Scottish island I thoroughly enjoyed taking him intact final journey. It was an excellent session.
I have to say huge thanks to Cat Tobin, not just for stepping up and running the game at the drop of a hat, and for walking us so expertly trough the game and the system, but also for going the extra mile and allowing us to run over by a little over an hour to get to the games ultimate conclusion.
Friday evening's game was Night's Black Agents - now I've fairly recently been running NBA for two groups that I play with, I'm relatively new to the game and I'm loving it. I"d only actually taken part as a player once before and last night I was really tired - it had been one of those days at work where it just doesn't matter how quickly you shovel the s**t the pile never seems to shrink. Again, I thought we were off to rocky start, a couple of players had clearly dropped out at the last minute leaving only three of us. Now I generally love playing in small groups, but there was a bit of me last night that wanted to go along for the ride and just gently enjoy the scenery. You can't however really do that in a game with three players, you owe it to the group to really pull your weight...
What did happen last night was that I had a great time, even if it was probably (at times at least) a little bit torturous for our GM Patrick Joynt who did a masterful job in herding the cats that we players were being. I think Patrick delivered an absolute masterclass in running a time boxed convention game for a group of mixed experience players. I was not at my best, I really appreciated the pushing, leading and cajoling that Patrick had to employ to get us over the line. And get over the line we did. The scenario that we played was entitled "Kill The Dead", I don't know if this was an official published work but it had absolutely everything you could ask for. A contract to kill a Vampire from a shady religious organisation. I came to appreciate just what a difference there is between running a game of NBA and playing it - just how engaged you really need to be as a player in helping narrate and steer the story.
Anyway like I said at the top, it's Saturday now, I'm half way through and I've got a real late night game today - but hopefully one of my best buddies is going to be playing as well, so I'm really looking forward to that. I'll be back to let you know how the rest of the weekend pans out. I don't think I'm doing too bad so far, I might have been killed by the Cthulhu Mythos but I survived the Vampire conspiracy... So I say bring on the Zombies!
I've just come back from a short holiday - on the Isle of Skye. Lots of photography, plenty of ruins and wild landscapes which I hope will act as inspiration for some future fantasy games, probably Mörk Borg or OSE.
One small bit of inspiration that I stumbled across recently was the story of Jacobite Piper James Reid. Piper Reid played on the field at the battle of Culloden. After the defeat he was arrested, tried and executed for treason against the crown. To my knowledge he was the only piper to suffer this fate, many others were deported for their part in the uprising. What made piper Reid's case exceptional was his defence, which was that he was a non-combatant, carrying no sword or rifle, just his bagpipes. The judges ruled that; “a Highland regiment never marched without a piper; and therefore his bagpipe, in the eye of the law, was an instrument of war.” It may seem crazy but this ruling that bagpipes were "weapons" was still in force until 1996 when another court finally ruled that they were "first and foremost musical instruments".
You can read a little bit more about James Reid, as well as the musical artefact that he inspired for my Mörk Borg game in "Weapon of Mass Destruction", which is free to download on my itch.io feed, which is also linked to from the downloads page of this site.
I hope you have fun with my Weapon of Mass Destruction.