Every year at GenCon I go on a massive RPG buying spree, easily laying out a few hundred dollars for games, T-shirts, miniatures, and dice ((drool)). Now, as the Mecca of American gamers (and some international gamers as well) draws nigh, I have undertaken my annual quest to assemble my GenCon shopping list.
Call of Cthulhu d20, Wizards of the Coast
It’s out now, but I haven’t had the cash to pick it up (and, I admit, I like actually talking to the guys who created the book when I buy it from them). I’m a long-time CoC fan, having played the original on and off since college. I’m running some Delta Green stuff now, but I’m hungering to run a completely over- the-top, guns blazing pulp adventure, and I think CoC d20 is going to be perfect for this.
And speaking of over-the-top adventures, I’m positively drooling over the prospect of this expansion. I love the idea of characters taking on the horrors of the Cthulhu mythos with guns blazing, all the while dodging gangsters with Tommy guns and trying to avoid the Depression-era ravages. Should be a hell of a lot of fun.
Stronghold Builders Guide, Wizards of the Coast
I had the chance to look at a friend’s copy of this book, and I was impressed. The book does what earlier iterations did not: provides rules for building a magical fortification that are easy to use, easy to implement, and most importantly, are consistent! The later half of the book has too much fluff for my taste — as Monte Cook said, I’d rather have had facts about castles than an overly obvious list of useful magic items for home defense. Still, the first two chapters are an exceptional resource, so it makes my list.
The Hills Rise Wild: Re-Animator Expansion, Pagan Publishing
Pagan’s been promising this expansion for over a year. They had a demo of it at GenCon 2001, and I eagerly hope they make good on their promise this year. For those who don’t know, The Hills Rise Wild is a miniatures game that combines backwoods hillbillies with the Cthulhu Mythos to create a freaking hilarious game.
This d20 espionage game’s got a hell of a buzz on it, and since I’m contemplating converting my Delta Green campaign to d20, this looks like a damn good purchase. It’s got spy-based classes like “Faceman”, “Snoop” and “Soldier”, gadgets, feats and lots of other cool d20 goodness.
Fractal Mapper version 6, NBOS Software
I’ve been looking for an alternative to Campaign Cartographer 2 for creating maps in my campaign. I like CC2 — you can do some amazing stuff with it, and it’s great for professional quality maps. But it’s not so great for drawing those quick-and-dirty, “the guys will be here in 30 minutes and I need to draw a pub” sorts of maps. I’ve heard good things (easy to use, nice looking maps) and bad things (buggy interface) about the program, and I’ve decided to take the plunge and pick-up a copy.
“Wandering Monster” onesy
Since my first GenCon in 1999, there has been a booth for a company that sells gaming-related clothes for kids. If memory serves, one of these things was a onesy (think of baby pajamas with an easy open bottom for diaper removal) with the words “Wandering Monster” on it. They had some toddler t-shirts as well. Now that my wife and I have a baby on the way, I’m going to get one.
A Miniatures Case
My gaming group’s recently made a concerted effort to paint the miniatures we use for D&D, Warhammer 40k, and Battlefleet Gothic. This is a good and noble undertaking, but there’s one problem: I don’t have any place to put my minis, and my efforts to store them on a shelf in my gaming closet have resulted in me losing track of my dwarven warrior and other figurines for weeks at a time. At GenCon there are venders who sell excellent, affordable carrying cases for miniatures, each of which is easily capable of holding a few dozen figures. I’ve vowed to pick at least one this year.
It is psychologically impossible for a gamer to go to GenCon and not by dice. There are always a few surprises — new specialty dice for creating random traps, others for determining scatter effects for grenades, still others that put a new familiar old designs. This year I’m hoping to pick up a complete set of nebula dice. These dice are designed by Chessex and feature small streamers of color embedded in clear plastic dice. Last year they had sample sets, but no complete ones. I’m also looking to pick up some glow-in-the-dark varieties, and perhaps a few frosted dice or Vortex dice. I’ll also be looking to pick up a nice battlemap.
New Board/Card Games
I’m always on the look out for new games that my group can play on when we either don’t have enough players for an RPG session, or we want to play a mid-week game. Our current favorites are Steve Jackson Games’ Illuminati and Avalon Hill’s Risk 2210, with Pagan Press’s The Hills Rise Wild a close third. I’m particularly interested to see if Avalon Hill has any new games out — after a strong re-launch in 2000 (after having been acquired by Hasbro) the brand seems to have faltered in 2001-2002. Even if they don’t have any new games out, I’ll probably pick up their re-issue of Acquire, a capitalist board game.
What else? I’ll be looking for new d20 releases that I haven’t read about online. I’ll also be looking for non-d20 publishers as well — I might pick up the Wild Talents release for Godlike, the WWII RPG featuring superheroes. I’ll be sure to browse Steve Jackson Games’ exhibit for new releases — I hear Munchkin is good — and I might, just might, pick up a copy of the Hackmaster DMG or Living Kingdoms of Kalamar source book by Kenzer & Co.