Under the Geek Tree: RPGs, Board Games, & Fallout 4

Last year saw an array of family games invade the Geek Tree. This year it’s all about the RPGs.

The first two books to hit the Geek Tree’s space-and-rockets themed tree skirt were Savage Worlds books that I received for my birthday. The Last Parsec core book is a space opera setting inspired by the likes of Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke, and reminds me a lot of the old Star Frontiers RPG by Wizards of the Coast. The book is mostly setting material with the heavy rules lifting being handled by the Savage Worlds Deluxe and Science Fiction Companion books.

Based on the comic book of the same name, The Sixth Gun role-playing game takes place in the aftermath of the American Civil War. Six guns capable of great destruction have been loosed on the world, and our heroes have to deal with the consequences.

Christmas saw several other RPG books join the pile. There were two new Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition books: Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide — a lightweight source book for the Forgotten Realms — and Out of the Abyss — an demon-haunted, Underdark-filled campaign book. The Sword Coast book got so-so reviews on Amazon, but I wanted to read it for myself. Out of the Abyss, on the other hand, received much more enthusiastic praise. While I likely won’t use it in my D&D 5e campaigns, I do intend to pillage it for ideas.

I was also excited to receive Dungeon World, which was the non-mainstream RPG on my list. It’s an Old School RPG that uses the Powered by the Apocalypse ruleset — it’s meant to infuse narrative elements into the classic dungeon crawls of old. I’ve written about several of the Powered by the Apocalypse games for Knights of the Dinner Table and I’m eager to read (and hopefully play) one them.

It’s not all RPGs. I got the Miskatonic Horror expansion for Arkham Horror. It serves as a sort of capstone for the Arkham line, including a bunch of updated cards and additional content for most of the previous Arkham games. With this boxed set, my Arkham collection is now complete … I just need to find some time to actually play it.

The last RPG I received wasn’t a pen-and-paper one. It was Fallout 4, the latest installment in Bethesda Software’s post-apocalyptic series. I will freely admit that I spent far, far too much time playing this game over Christmas break. Since the kids were busy playing Minecraft and Star Wars: Battlefront during the day, most of my Fallout time came late at night (as in, starting to game at around 10:30 p.m. and finishing up around 3 a.m.). Thankfully I was off during Christmas week, and my wife was ok with me sleeping in.

I did get two more family friendly games. The first was Tsuro: The Game of the Path. It’s a tile-based board game in which you try to keep your game piece on a path … and send everyone else’s sliding off the board. I’m thinking it’ll be a good date night game, joining Carcassonne, Morels, and Ticket to Ride. Speaking of Ticket to Ride, I received Ticket to Ride: Europe. My family loves the original game, and while the European version is more challenging, I think everyone’s ready to up their game.

I’m grateful for all the excellent presents I received this Christmas, and for my family continuing to indulge my geeky pursuits. I’m looking forward to spending some time this January reading all my new RPGs.

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