East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Supernatural, Space, Gothic and more

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You know that story about the guy that manages to kick a nasty (and expensive!) habit, only to relapse and fall even deeper into his old ways?
There have been books written on this story, and films made. Some very good, some pretty sucky.

For me, it all started with the Numenera 2 Bundle of Holding I mentioned a few weeks back. You know me – a great game, a ton of handbooks, and I help a charity… I can’t resist this sort of offer.

And Numenera is an excellent game, and with a system I liked a lot – even though I should not, because it’s very modern and freeform, and I am old and grew up with Call of Cthulhu, RuneQuest and the Basic Roleplaying System.
But really, the Cypher System that is at the core of the Numenera RPG ticked all the right boxes with me. So much so that I thought… hey, there’s a generic, universal implementation of this game. Why don’t I give it a look?

Short sad story: the hardback Cypher System handbook, second edition, goes for about 100 bucks, if you can still find a copy. That’s brutal.

But then, Black Friday came…

Before that, though, I stumbled on two other bundles – one I already mentioned, the Worldbuilding handbooks collection, and the other was a Bundle of Holding that hit me with the complete run of Liminal, an indie game (but distributed by gaming juggernaut Modiphius), that once again ticked all of my gaming boxes.

Inspired by the works of Neil Gaiman and Charles DeLint, Liminal is a supernatural adventure game based around the idea that our reality co-exists with another, in which all the things from legend and folklore are real.
Beautiful to behold, Liminal runs like the old World of Darkness but done right, without the angst and the posturing (and the 127892 sourcebooks).
I do not know if and when I will play this, but I really really want to inflict it on my players.
It’s absolutely beautiful, and I hope one day to be able to get a hardback edition of the core rules.

And then Black Friday came, and with Black Friday the massive DriveThruRPG discount on Eclipse Phase, second edition.

Eclipse Phase is probably one of the best – if not the best – hard science fiction game out there. Set in a post-singularity, post-apocalyptic, post-human solar system, it features a good, solid premise (the players are members of a loose extra-governmental initiative to keep existential threats under control), a ton of world-related information, and the handbooks are a wonder to behold, being illustrated by some of the best SF artists out there.
In this sense, Eclipse Phase is almost the perfect hard-SF counterpart to Numenera’s science-fantasy: it looks great, it plays great, and features a universe that basically generates adventures out of nothing.

Need a game in which an uplifted octopus, a disembodied consciousness and a space-adapted post-human fight crime?
Eclipse Phase is the game for you.

And of course, while I was on DriveThruRPG browsing the Black Friday discounts, I spotted a reduced price pdf version of the Cypher System.
And I had a nice big gift card to spend – a gift card that I could only spend in DriveThruRPG.

So I threw the Cyper book in the basket, and then, to round-up the figure and consume all my credit, I set my sights on a thing called When the Moon Hangs Low – a Gothic action roleplaying game, with a very simple but solid system and a premise that’s rather reminiscent of the classic Ravenloft setting for AD&D, with a dash of Solomon Kane.
Gothic atmospheres, sword-wielding monster-hunters, a fast character creation and test resolution engine.
Yeah, you know how it goes…

And so here I am now, sitting on a big (virtual) stack of games, and I will have to see what the team feels like playing first.
It’s going to be a very rewarding winter.

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

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