What I bought at Origins 2009

One of my favorite parts of hitting the big gaming conventions is spending a few hours (or rather, a few days) browsing and shopping in the exhibit hall. Origins 2009 was no different, and while I’m happy to say I didn’t break the bank, I did come back with a goodly pile of product purchased at the show.

I didn’t go into the show expecting to pick up any Savage Worlds books, as our Weird Pulp campaign never really got off the ground, and we haven’t played the game in months. But then I went to the Studio 2 booth, and found the brand new Fantasy Companion supplement for Savage Worlds. Published in the same folio format as the Savage Worlds: Explorers Edition, this book repackages the fantasy species information from the previous hardcover release of the game and folds in a bunch of edges, magic items, and monsters from the various fantasy toolkit PDFs.

I like PDFs, but I’d been hoping that Pinnacle would release the toolkits in a dead tree edition. when I saw the Fantasy Companion on the shelf, I instantly picked it up.

At the same time I overheard a sales pitch for The Day After Ragnarok, which is a Savage Setting by Kenneth Hite published by Atomic Overmind Press. In it, the Nazis awoke the Midgard Serpent, which threatened to bring about the end of the world. As the titantic wyrm began to uncoil and attack the surface world, the Americans killed it by flying an atomic bomb into its eye.

Now the corpse of the serpent stretches across Europe and Africa, and the tidal waves caused by its death have drowned the eastern United States. The resulting setting is a mashup of Robert E. Howard’s Conan with a 1970s-style post-apocalyptic setting. Throw in intelligent man apes, jet-pack wearing British secret agents, and an independent Texas Republic and you’ve got a game that’s just too damn cool. And of course I had to buy it.

I’d planned on picking up the Cortex Role-Playing Game core book at the Margaret Weiss Productions booth — it’s the system that powers Serenity and Battlestar Galactica and I thought it would be handy to have a generic version of those rules on hand. When I got there though, I saw that they’d released Six-Shooters & Spaceships, which is a gear and spaceship supplement for Serenity. While it’s unlikely I’ll be running much Serenity in the next year, what made this book a worthwhile purchase were its 20-odd spaceships. Each one comes with background information and a deckplan, and I can easily port both to my Star Wars: Saga Edition campaign.

Next up was the Kenzer & Co. booth, where I picked up HackMaster Basic, the new iteration the role-playing game that began as a joke, and ended up as the real thing. This has a definite old-school vibe (such as how it requires everyone to roll their stats) but mitigates that somewhat by introducing limited point buy mechanics. Half the guys in my gaming group bought a copy of this book, and there’s been some speculation that we could move our Greyhawhk campaign to HackMaster. After playing a sample game at Origins, I’m skeptical that we’d do that, but I am eager for a full-blown playtest with my group.

Asie from RPGs, I bought Steve Jackson Games’ Munchkin Cthulhu, which is the most entertaining version of Munchkin I’ve played since the original Star Munchkin came out. I like the fact that they give you an alternative mechanic for ending the game (if everyone becomes a cultist of Cthulhu, the game ends), which helps reduce the chances of getting caught up in a three hour marathon session.

I bought Looney Labs’ Fluxx, which is a card game in which the rules change as you play more cards. It’s a silly game, and one that’s quickly become one of my daughter’s favorites. It didn’t go over nearly as well with the group of non-gamers I played it with while on vacation (including my wife and some family friends) and I’m curious to see what my gaming group thinks of it.

I also picked up a bunch of supplemental game aides for my Star Wars campaign. The first was Fractal Terrains Pro, which is a random world generator created by ProFantasy. I’m still experimenting with it, but I love that it can create an infinite number of worlds … and then export said worlds as maps that can be edited in Campaign Cartographer 2 or 3.

My friend Cory and I decided that our starship battles in Star Wars needed an upgrade, particularly with the Mandalorian Wars looming large. To that end, we bought a number of starship minis to represent our group’s own ships and the enemies and allies they’ll be flying with. The best of these are crafted by Todd Boyce of Ninja Magic; his sculpts were simply amazing, and we bought 5 or 6 ships from him. You can check out his work at www.ninjamagic.com. Of course the challenge now is getting the minis painted, but I think we’re both motivated enough by the thought of some pretty damn cool starship battles to knock out some minis in August.

Continuing the nautical theme, I purchased a bunch of cheap booster packs for Pirates of the Spanish Main. Yeah, this is another game I rarely play, but at $2 a booster it was hard to pass up.

The one thing I didn’t get was new dice. I’ve been happy with my current line-up of dice, including a set of Cthulhu dice from Q-Workshop whose numbers confound my players, and which have been rolling particularly hot throughout our Star Wars campaign. Plus, none of the dice at Origins really spoke to me, and I wasn’t about to buy dice just to buy dice (especially when I could spend that money on another flight of starfighters…)

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