10 September 2015

My September Gaming Musings...

  So, my Thesis is in the can awaiting its chance to bypass the gatekeepers that are the department chair and the mysterious "committee/second reader(s)".  My professor has given me 475/500 on the assignment, and tells me not to sweat the rest of the semester- I'm effectively done.  So... of course I'm worried that one of the entities reviewing the thesis will think it's crap.  Thus, we wait.

  I have a number of things that have passed through my head where gaming is concerned now that my brain has a bit more free time.  I try to fill this free time with thinking about gaming and writing since my brain when idle contributes to the damnable anxiety that has plagued me for the last several months.  It's frustrating, so I try to keep the brain a-rolling.  With this in mind I've taken the opportunity to pull a few favorites off my shelves and do some reading for the pure enjoyment of it.  I have a lot of games that I'd love to run or play that I know are hard sells for my gaming circle, but that doesn't mean I can't read them and enjoy them just the same.

  When talking about games I'd love to run that my group probably wouldn't grok, Gangbusters is always at or near the top of my list.  It's an old TSR release with great Jim Holloway artwork that covers the Roaring 20s, prohibition, feds and gangsters, that sort of thing.  What I like about Gangbusters aside from its early 80s charm is that the game natively gives you the option to work on either side of the law.  Or no side.  A player can be a cop or a fed.  The player can be a gangster or bookie.  In the gray area, the player can be a private dick or newspaper reporter.  Lots of options.  I don't know how well it would work mixing and matching such things within a single game, I'd imagine most groups consisted of either lawmen or gangsters give or take a reporter or detective.

  Now, the game comes with a number of subsystems that are just fun to play with.  How much bootleg booze can I distill given X amount of space and Y amount of raw materials, and how much can I sell it for?  If I'm running a speakeasy with X amount of seating, how much booze do I have to have on hand to keep the crowds happy and how much will I make off a good night?  If I'm running a numbers game in my gang's territory, how much can I expect the take to be if I run a fair game?  What about a rigged game?  Crunchy little subsystems like this tend to amuse me, and I like the idea of a group of PCs running a speakeasy to make money.  It's like Traveller, but the ship is a bar and the cargo is booze.

  Another favorite I've paged through over the last coupla days is Talislanta.  I recall the old Dragon Magazine adverts proclaiming "NO ELVES."  Well, there are a few races that bear a resemblance to elves, but no matter- the world is pretty nifty.  It's like fantasy meets post-apoc, and the races are far from the standard Tolkien-esque offerings of many more popular games.  In example, there are the Thralls of Taz, a race created by wizards to be bodyguards and warriors.   Every male Thrall looks precisely like every other male Thrall.  Every female Thrall is likewise identical.  They differentiate themselves by tattoos which are the tribal equivalent of campaign ribbons.  In effect, each Thrall's skin is a service record and identification document that chronicles that Thrall's accomplishments and gives them a difference in appearance from their brethren.  I found that to be a pretty neat twist on the sort of warrior cultures seen in other games and media.  It bears mention that Talislanta is now free to download and play from http://talislanta.com/ in all its published editions.  I am partial to the 3rd Edition version I started with in 1992.  The author has said that the Big Blue Book from 2001 is the best iteration thus far.  Check out the PDFs and decide for yourself!

  I'll have more musings to come, hopefully with some semblance of regularity now that my studies are theoretically complete.  Toss some dice, have some fun.