Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Best (and Worst) of 2009

Normally I avoid these thing, since they are nothing but subjective opinion at best and ego-wanking at worst. But 2009 was a good year for RPGs and RPG fandom and I wanted to share my thoughts on that. So yeah. Ego-wanking.

Best RPG of 2009: Doctor Who Adventures in Time and Space

An easy call really. The system is simple, the art and layout are the new high watermark for RPGs and it comes in a box with dice! In a year all about Retro- and Old School gaming, this is very cool. Of course Doctor Who and RPGs have had a long history together, even outside of the FASA game. Many of us became Who fans and gamers at the same time. Playing AD&D and watching Doctor Who on PBS was close to a geek universal for the early 80's. The new Who game is very much a product of this time. Newer easy to use mechanics, slick presentation and top notch design and layout. Course with the premise behind Who, time and space travel, then nearly anything can be played. Though I am hesitant to put outright magic in my Who game.
I hope to have more to say about this game in 2010.

Honorable Mention: Best RPG, Witch Girls Adventures
Prior to Doctor Who coming out, this was my favorite new game of 2009. There is a lot to like about WGA. Whatever I can't (or won't) do with Who I can do with this game. It has a great little magic system that you can port over to Savage Worlds or Cortex (both in a dire need of a good magic system), You can play a Harry Potter like game, or it can be played as is. I have blogged a quite bit out it already this year as you can see here.

Best Blogs
2009 was a year I stepped up my own blogging and was reading others. Some of the best were Hero Press for a solid rundown of a little bit of everything in fandom. Grognardia for EVERYTHING related to old school gaming, not just retro-clones mind you, but the genuine articles. Others worthy of note are Geek Othodox for a run down all sorts of geek culture related items such Mexican bootleg action figures. Playing D&D With Porn Stars which has to have the best name of a blog ever. Space: 1970 dedicated to all things Sci-fi from the 70's (and sometimes early 80's). And finally, Lair of the evil DM, which lives up to its claim as "Maxim Magazine for Gamers", which I think has shown more porn stars than PD&DWPS has.
I am sure there are others that are great as well, so if you have a blog and are reading mine, please feel free post a free advertisement here.

Year of the Retro-Clones
Spent a good part of this year playing, reading and working on retro-clones. My favorite was Spellcraft & Swordplay, a nice little take on OD&D with the original combat system in place and not the "alternate" d20 resolution that became the defacto means in later years. Other great ones were Basic Fantasy and Labyrinth Lord, two takes on Basic D&D. I also was able to get myself a Christmas present last year and got a near mint D&D Rules Cyclopedia, so it was a good year for playing like it was 1981. All my posts regarding all the Retro Clone posts can be seen here. It was a good year for Retro Clones, I hope that 2010 proves to be as good.

The Worst: Outlaw Press
2009 also had it's share of "worsts" too. The worse of the worse had to be the massive theft of content by Outlaw Press, summarized here. It now seems that Outlaw Press is offline. It's website is down, there are no products on Amazon or Lulu. While I hate to see a small RPG company go out of business, Outlaw brought this all on themselves. I do hope that the artists that had their material stolen will get some satisfaction, but I am sure this will be pyrrhic victory at best.

Edition Wars
2009 opened with the latest round of Edtion Wars, namely 4th Ed D&D vs. Everything else. I am happy to say that save for some minor skirmishes this war is over. 2009 gave us more ways to play "D&D" than ever before. We had D&D 4th Ed, the new Pathfinder RPG (aka D&D 3.6), and all the Retro-clones, if there was a game you wanted to play chances are very good it was out there somewhere.

Games Not Published

In 2009 we still did not see publications of Ghosts of Albion or Chill. 

Looking forward to 2010
Looks like I am going to get some more Who gaming in and that is good. Going to try converting some of my Ghosts of Albion material to other systems instead of letting it languish on my hard drive.


christian said...

I need to pick up a copy of Witch Girls sometime soon. There's also a comic, right?

Tim Knight said...

Thank you for the kind words about HeroPress. Shame Ghosts still remains unpublished in dead tree format :( Maybe in 2010? Best wishes for the New Year!!!

Timothy S. Brannan said...

Christian, yes there is a comic. I am not sure where to get it though.
I know that various online retailers carry it like

Tim: HeroPress is a fave! You always keep me entertained!

Christopher Mills said...

Thanks for plugging SPACE: 1970. I'm rather shocked at how popular it's turned out to be...