I keep thinking about doing some more substantive posts, about serious things in the geekosphere. You know, like WotC deciding that the two least inclusive people in the entirety of gamer culture should be involved in their “more inclusive” D&D 5e. Or how Randy Queen, the creator of Darkchylde lost his tiny mind over being criticized on Escher Girls (he’s since apologized and backed off, which is awesome! I get having a few bad days, and it sounds like he’s had more than his share lately).
But then I look at a moderation queue blissfully free of the words, bitch, cunt, and rape, and back off and decide to do shit like lists of my favorite stuff. Partially because, yeah, I really am enjoying a break from being Bitch Queen of the Internet, Destroyer of Male Fun and Castrator of Mysoginist Nerd Boys. And partially because I’m in a pretty good place right now, and I’m kind of reveling in it. So I’m trying to share some of my joy with you all.
My top favorite RPGs, the ones I like to play a lot are, in no particular order:
Don’t Rest Your Head by Fred Hicks, Evil Hat. So, for someone who hates horror movies, hates horror novels and stories, and hates playing in horror games, the Geek Husband What Rules is a brilliant horror GM. Particularly when it comes to Don’t Rest Your Head. In Don’t Rest Your Head, you play insomniacs who have suffered some sort of break from reality, and you find yourselves in the Mad City, pursued by nightmares. The trade off is that you get super powers to fight and evade them. It’s a relatively simple system, with a fantastic concept, and being as the GHWR and I both suffer from insomnia, it clicks really hard for both of us. He doesn’t really like to play in it, just run it.
Monsterhearts by Avery McDaldno, Buried Without Ceremony. Here’s another horror game that the GHWR excels at, and will even play. This game is less horror, and more what if Buffy the Vampire Slayer were told from the Monsters’ point of view… on the Spice Channel? It’s a game about cool sexy outsiders, who make bad decisions and letting things get out of hand. I really enjoy this game, although I do have to know the other players somewhat well to really get into the debauchery aspects of it. This game is a hack of Apocalypse World with a character design system even more simplified than AW. You choose a Skin, which is the type of monster you want to be and these are customizable to an extent. It’s really easy to get up and playing under 20 minutes.
Prime Time Adventures by Matt Wilson, Dog-Eared Designs. Having successfully funded a Kickstarter for a revised version, we are eagerly awaiting the release of the new one. Prime Time Adventures is your chance to play the greatest TV show that never was. Versions we’ve played have consisted of a show starring a vampire-hunting funk band (vampires cannot groove, which is our explanation for what happened to the Red Hot Chili Peppers after Blood Sugar Sex Magic, they were turned into vampires), Hogwarts 90210, and the worst kids’ show ever, starring a nymphomaniac puppeteer with crippling anxiety who only spoke through her squid puppet, an ex-con on the lam who was terrified of kids, and a German minimalist cameraman. PTA is glorious when it comes together, and it’s one of those games that almost always does.
GURPS, Steve Jackson Games. So, yeah, after the indie-hippie-interpretive-dance-love-fest the above games are, I’m sure more than a few of you are scratching your heads at this one. I Love GURPS. It is my go-to for old school crunchy, want to spend an hour skill-shopping and seeing how many disadvantages I can get away with to buff up my character games. I can, if I know exactly what I want, build a character in under half an hour. I fucking love all their source books, and even though I haven’t played it in over a year, I still read them. It’s my one true simulationist game.
Amber Diceless Roleplay by Eric Wujcik and Roger Zelazny. It’s out of print, so you get the Wikipedia page. I’ll be honest, we throw a lot of the rules, such as they are, out when we play it. As you know I go to a roleplaying convention every year that ostensibly focuses on Amber, AmberconNW. A lot of indie games have snuck, or in some cases marched boldly in through the front door. A lot of people try to at least keep the games Amber themed, but that doesn’t always happen either. Essentially it is this Amber fanfic community with a huge shared fanon that they keep building on. I love playing Amber with these people, and hope I get to keep doing it for a long damn time. For this one, as the next, it’s the game universe that I love more than the mechanics, far more.
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay by Games Workshop, the first edition. You get the Wikipedia link again, because I don’t like the later editions and they don’t sell the current one. I love the Warhammer Fantasy World. I could do without the unthinking sexism, and the mechanics while functional, make starting out as a level one character one of the most frustrating experiences this side of trying to masturbate with two broken hands. “I’m a first level Acolyte of Shallya, you have a wound? Here let me… Oops, I appear to have dropped the bandage in the dirt, and someone with the Plague threw up on it. I’m sure you’ll be fine.” I have a house rule where we start with a few advances under your belt, so we can handle our swords without hacking off our own heads. Unless you’re an Elf. Warhammer Elves are slender, gorgeous avatars of grace, fury and battle, and are the only race that can cross a room without fatally stubbing a toe when they first start out.
Shadowrun, Catalyst Game Labs. Ok, so this is another, “I love the world, hate the mechanics” game. I read a ton of Nigel Findley Shadowrun books back in the day, and loved them. The GHWR and I just joined a Shadowrun game using the new system and something that helps is the Hero Lab character creation software, which cuts down character creation to an almost manageable timeframe, and also if the DM has the full version, will let him update your characters karma and money really quickly for you. It’s also awesome because when you’re building it only gives you the options to choose from things you CAN choose from because of your race and character class and background. It’s kind of brilliant, and has sort of hijacked this entry on Shadowrun. Ooops. I really enjoy the idea of “15 minutes into the future” Sci Fi, like much of William Gibson’s work, then add Elves and magic, and I am so there. I like the updated world as much as the original iteration, too. Enjoying it pretty well so far.
This list leaves off a bunch of other games I adore, but I do need to hit the sack so I can go play grown up at the dayjob tomorrow. Everyone have a good night!
If you like the blog or the podcast, please, please, please donate to keep us going, and fund the acquisition of more RPGs, seriously, or maybe an intervention for my RPG habit. Donations go to pay for the podcast hosting and website domain, primarily.
Oh, and Honey Badger’s first two songs are available for download here, for free or pay what you want. We’re also part of a larger compilation to benefit a local venue, with a song written by yours truly. Check it out (we’re track 16). We’re going in to the studio to finish the new EP in late July, I caught the plague, so haven’t been up to vocals. We’ll also be in Portland, OR on August 15th for a show, and Longview, WA on August 16th.