I realized I had to do my RPG Wishlist early this year. Since Gauntlet events open two months out, we're already planning 2019 games. My January sessions include Threadbare and Hearts of Wulin, with Masks: A New Generation coming in the future. But what about the rest of 2019?
I present this Wishlist in no particular order. I left out games I knew I'd definitely be running online or f2f (Urban Shadows, 13th Age). I also left off some Kickstarter games I dig but haven't had the chance to read. Once again I plan on doing Gauntlet Quarterly games (12 or so sessions across three months), but the rest will be two or four-shots. I also keep an eye on the Gauntlet Slack's game-request channel. Where I can, I hope to provide those opportunities.
So here's my list...which will undoubtedly change in the next few weeks. If you have Wishlist games, post those in the comments please.
I ran nine sessions of 7th Sea in 2018, including several using The Crescent Empire. That gives a view of cultures often ignored, marginalized, and exoticized in rpgs. Lands of Gold and Fire is 7th Sea’s sourcebook for Ifri, the setting’s analogue for Africa. It has interesting overlaps with the Crescent Empire, especially the The Kingdoms of Magreb and Khemet. The three other regions, Manden Lurufaba, The Kingdom of Mbey, and The Kingdom of Aksum, echo particular Sub-Saharan African cultures.
As I did with The Crescent Empire, I’d run sessions with just Ifri characters. The book has cool looking new talents, magic, and backgrounds. However, each time I’ve run 7th Sea, and I think that’s a dozen and a half sessions, I wrestle with the system. Something doesn’t quite click for me, despite reading through the mechanics multiple times. It may just not fit with my style; I hope not. Before I run 7th Sea again I want to watch or play with an experienced GM to learn how they handle things.
Legacy: Life Among the Ruins
I dig this generational PbtA game, but it really needs long play. I did a four session game this year, which wasn't nearly enough time to explore that world. We compressed our ages and I think we still only rolled to the next age once. Legacy has a different dynamic and rhythm. I didn’t get a handle on it in our handful of sessions. It might be worth slotting into one of my Quarterly campaigns in 2019.
With that comes the choice of which setting to use. I could go with the open post-apocalyptic one of the base book. I'd still have to decide which playbooks to allow since that shapes the game. On the other hand, I could run on of the expansion. I like Rhapsody of Blood, but it feels a tighter; four sessions might be enough for it. On the other hand Generation Ship and Free from the Yoke both appeal. They seem like they could sustain a full dozen sessions. The question will be how well Legacy handles Open Table and a changing player line up. Perhaps I'd need a mechanic to “background” the factions of absent players?
I’ve written about this before; it’s one of the earliest games I ran for the Gauntlet. There’s so much good and player-actionable setting detail in it. Cryptomancer’s a fantasy game about hacking and it doesn’t go where you think. It’s neither the “reality hacking” of Mage or the VR fantasy of Sword Art Online. Instead it presents a world where encryption and communication magics have changed everything. Combine that with a nasty, Illuminati-like despotic force in the background and you have a compelling game.
Since he first published this, Chad Walker’s released another game, Sigmata. It shares some elements; both games have PCs as a revolutionary faction and include long-term building elements. But while Sigmata’s dynamite, I love fantasy. I’d like to get 4-5 sessions at least for this. It might even be a candidate for a Quarterly game. Walker’s mentioned on Twitter that he has a new announcement about Cryptomancer coming up. I don’t know if it will be a new supplement or a 2nd edition.
Impulse Drive Variants
A few months ago Rich Rogers ran a "Star Wars Saturday" game using Impulse Drive. I went in skeptical. Other sci-fi PbtA games hadn’t grabbed me. Rich talked up ID, but the character keeper looked heavy. Yet as we played, and as the designer tuned the game based on feedback, I came to dig its approach. Impulse Drive is a sci-fi game with some expectation of genre, but with enough room for adaptation. It reminds me of Scum & Villainy. Impulse Drive's adaptability, as demonstrated by Rich's Star Wars re-skin is a major asset for me.
That's because I have two sci-fi settings I’ve want to run, but don't dig their current systems. Those are Fading Suns and Coriolis: The Third Horizon. Both adapt medieval and early modern trappings and aesthetics (European for the former; Islamic/Arab for the latter). Fading Suns has cool ideas but the structure/premise needs tweaking. I covered that in an earlier post. The system’s also heavier than I dig, even more weighty in the latest version. On the other hand, Coriolis’ mechanics don’t sync up well with the play. But that’s a post for the future.
I’d like to adapt one or the other to Impulse Drive. We should have the final version of ID out next year. So I’m excited and hopeful for this.
When I mentioned Legacy: Life Among the Ruins above, I didn’t mention one of the coolest alt settings, Katherine Cross's Worldfall. It has a generational story, beginning with the initial landing and jumping forward in time to trace the development of the planet. Worldfall comes close to appearing on this list. But I want something a little bit different. Like many, I love Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri. I reviewed GURPS SMAC several years ago; Worldfall does that play better.
But I want a survival and exploration game with that front and center. I want a home base with the players trekking out to map the land, look for salvage, and uncover the planet’s secrets. The other phase of play would be back at the base, with the interpersonal dynamics and tough choices about what to work on. And I think Mutant: Year Zero might work for this.
MYZ has the same split of Exploration and Ark Development. It offers an interesting hex crawl. In my version, PCs would have a settlement made up of moderates from several factions. Characters would have a role and a philosophy. They’d have to work out how their agenda shapes the colony’s development. Maybe we’d have abstract measures for power and influence. The group could choose projects to work on, just like in MYZ. Those projects, cribbed from Alpha Centauri, might have associated costs like pollution or furthering a faction’s agenda. I’ve thought about this one for a while.
I’m really happy with my Changeling the Lost PbtA hack. It doesn’t cover everything in CtL, but it has tools to play out the stories I like from the setting. I’d love to play a hack which brings that focus to Mage: The Ascension or Ars Magica. Both have complex magics system that are simultaneously alluring and off-putting. I dig the idea of magic with crunch and granularity, but once I actually start running that, I go cold.
But I don't want everything from either game's play. What I’m in I love with is the idea of Covenant/Chantry building. I want a game about different, potent personalities trying to work together to build something. Perhaps the PCs would struggle with older, more powerful figures in the institution. We’d have stories outside the bounds of the sanctum, but the main focus would be on building. I don’t know how to do that yet-- how to fully define that genre and what you do in it. It means a lot of looking at play, talking with others who dig those games, and merciless cutting.
I want to do a horror game with the split structure of a Stephen King novel. In the first half we’d have a “Kids on Bikes”-style adventure game. In the second half we’d have those kids return as adults back to their hometown, where the mystery or mysteries they faced have resurfaced in a more sinister form. Free League’s forthcoming Things from the Flood has something of this, with the ability to run your kid characters from Tales from the Loop as full-on teens in a post-apocalyptic world created by the Loop.
I don’t know if my concept could just be a frame or if it would require a more mechanical bolt-on. I’d like to have past events impact the present in a way supported by the system. My original idea was a complete split between the past and present games. It might be more complicated and interesting to actually swap back and forth between them. That would require a lot more work and planning.
This remains one of my favorite settings. I love the weird combination of cyberpunk and J-horror. I’ve run it twice with weirdly affecting tales. Kuro lets me combine my love of mysteries with the challenge of a presenting a disconcerting setting. I have a couple of new ideas for stories that may push this up to the top of the list. Earlier this year, Le 7ème Cercle got the English-language rights back from Cubicle 7. I’ve been hoping they’d release a PoD version via DTRPG. Back in April they said they would, but nothing’s come of that. I had to print a copy of the pdf.
I have a handful of settings I’ve created that I’d love to run again. Of those I’ve only presented one, Neo-Shinobi Vendetta, to the Gauntlet. I ran it as a compressed two-shot with Fate. I’d like to try more sessions to give the players more chance to explore their characters. I might also run it with Action Cards, since I’ve figured out how to do that via Roll20. It isn’t a great set up, but it is workable.
Then there's Magic Inc, my game of modern magical absurdist corporate life. I’ve run it at conventions. I have versions ready for Action Cards and with Fate. I’ve also thought about a PbtA hack, but it may work well enough with those systems. On the other hand, the PbtA framework I have for my Crowsmantle setting is super rickety. I wrote that before I had a good sense of how PbtA played. I’d like to tune that and run it again. Finally, there’s Danger: Unexploded Spell. I still haven’t worked that one out. Running BLACKOUT has helped, but there’s some other parts of the play I understand and sketch out.
Anyway, there’s few things more boring than someone twiddling about their own settings. It’s the equivalent of “let me tell you about my character” for GMs.
Ha-ha. Just kidding. Probably more Mutant: Year Zero or more Fate.
So what are your wishlist RPGs for 2019?
For the full backlog of Age of Ravens posts on Blogger see here.