Since the arrival of 3rd Edition, I have primarily focused play and RPG acquisitions on Dungeons and Dragons (3E, 3.5E, and 4th Edition). Last year at GenCon, I purchased Luke Crane's Adventure Burner, The Blossoms are Falling, Burning Sands: Jihad, and Bloodstained Stars. Thus began my foray into the indie games. Since then I've acquired a vast array of different games, in part to learn more about the world of role-playing games; In particular I've looked towards the “hand-crafted” rules from small-press companies (or single person shops). I may very well be an RPG hipster.
- Diaspora: A reworking of the core Fate rules with a heavy influence from the Traveller RPG. I've written quite a bit about this.
- Spirit of the Century: Award winning, two-fisted 1920s pulp adventures by Evil Hat. Spirit of the Century has spawned the burgeoning Fate RPG ecosystem.
- Dresden Files RPG - Your Story: Evil Hat‘s gorgeously designed take on Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden novels. A nominee for the 2011 Diana Jones award for Excellence in Gaming. Winner of the 2011 Origins Award for Best RPG. Expands and refines the Spirit of the Century system.
- Starblazer Adventures: Cubicle 7's interpretation of the 1970s and 1980s British comic Starblazer. Expands on the Spirit of the Century rules.
- Legends of Anglerre: Cubicle 7's reworking of Starblazer Adventures for a fantasy setting.
- Bulldogs!: Another entry in the Sci-Fi Fate system. Is there room for more? Read about my initial response to skimming the Bulldogs! pre-release.
Luke Crane games
- Burning Empires: A game where the GM is explicitly against the players, but with rules to ensure a fair fight. Burning Empires is a gorgeous RPG interpretation of Christopher Moeller‘s Iron Empires comic. I wrote about Burning Empires during my April 2010 A-Z challenge.
- Mouse Guard: Luke Crane and David Petersen‘s award winning streamlining of the Burning Wheel rules system for playing members of the Mouse Guard.
- Freemarket: Created by Luke Crane and Jared Sorenson, Freemarket is a transhumanist game that explores what it means to live without death, poverty, sickness and even law. A nominee for the 2011 Diana Jones award for Excellence in Gaming.
D. Vincent Baker games
- Dogs in the Vineyard: I've already written about this extremely influential RPG about religious gunslingers enforcing Mormon-law.
- Apocalypse World: A fantastic system that explicitly defines the moves that the GM can make. Controversial for the player character defined “sex moves.”
Books about Games
- Hamlet's Hit Points: Robin D. Laws defines the narrative heartbeat, how it applies to RPGs, and then breaks down Hamlet, Casablanca, and Dr. No
- Play Unsafe: Graham Walmsley‘s discusses the lessons RPGs can take from improv training…Say yes, and build from there.
- Things We Think About Games: GamePlayWright‘s collection of koan-like game-related statements; Easily digestible concepts.
- Understanding Comics: Scout McCloud's detail essay, in comic book form, on the Comic Book medium. Highly recommend by Luke Crane and other game designers.
- A Theory of Fun for Game Design: Raph Koster's analogous to Scout McCloud's work, but with games as the focus.
Odds and Ends
- Fiasco: Jason Morningstar's game of “powerful ambition and poor impulse control.” It is a nominee for the 2011 Diana Jones award for Excellence in Gaming. No GM required.
- A Taste for Murder: “In an English country house, someone is about to commit a murder. Even they do not know what they are about to do.” Designed by Graham Walmsley
- Pendragon: A system where everyone plays a knight aspiring to join King Arthur's table. Some of the unique rules detail courtier love, the passing of seasons, the birth of children, retirement of aging knights, and the arrival of the next generation.
- The Great Pendragon Campaign: Follow the tales of King Arthur in this truly epic campaign spanning 82 years of the Arthurian legend.
- The Masks of Nyarlathotep: RPG.net‘s #1 Adventure, Masks is globe trotting adventure of unwrapping an ancient Cthulhu mythos plot.
- Dungeon World: an Apocalypse World hack that works to evoke the 1st Edition Feel within the Apocalypse World resolution system
- OSRIC: an OGL version of 1st Edition Dungeons and Dragons. Now I have the rules for which I can run my plethora of 1st Edition adventures.
- Lady Blackbird: John Harper's amazing free system. Take a look at Ryan Macklin's post about implied setting and Lady Blackbird.
- Cthulhu Dark: A very rules-lite Cthulhu-inspired game by Graham Walmsley that captures the essence of Cthulhu investigator.
- Labyrinth Lord: an OGL version of the original Dungeons and Dragons.
It's been a great year full of lots of gaming goodness. Now, if I could just find some time to play all of these wonderful games.