Games I’m Running, Games I’m Playing 7


Let’s see.

Games I’m Running

  1. D&D 4th edition. This game has run from 4th level to 13th, over 42 sessions so far. If you care to read more, there’s a wiki. This game pretty well exhausts my need to run high-powered games.
  2. Over the Edge. I’ve been posting session logs from this (tabletop) game sort of obsessively, because the first two sessions have been a lot of fun. This game taps into my need to run esoteric mystery/conspiracy games, an itch previously scratched by my currently-on-long-hiatus Mage: The Awakening chronicle.
  3. Dust to Dust has not yet had its first (LARP) event, but it takes up plenty of my time and creative energy. It is, as a setting and rules set, the purest expression of my aesthetic preferences in fantasy that I could create (with a huge amount of help, that is).

Games I’m Playing

  1. D&D 4th edition: three games, and all of them have wikis: Armistice, Book of Serpents, and Custodians. Custodians is, sadly, on a bit of a hiatus because of scheduling challenges. It is the game that showed me how much fun 4e’s skill challenges could be.
  2. Arcana Evolved, which is an… adaptation, I guess you might say, of D&D 3rd edition. I think this campaign has run around 50 sessions at this point over the last six years or so. Safely assume that I have years and years of design commentary on this. Come to think of it, I really wish I had noted every design critique we’ve discussed over the years, because it would be highly educational. (These are the benefits of gaming with people who are smarter than I am, but less interested in blogging about game design.)
  3. King’s Gate. This swashbuckling fantasy LARP is nearing its final event. It has been with me since I was a sophomore in college, and I haven’t really come to grips with the concept of its end.
  4. Eclipse. This space fantasy LARP has, curiously, gotten me to expand my voice as a writer more than most other things I do.
  5. Chaos in the Old World. This boardgame is another impressive product from Fantasy Flight Games. I can’t say enough good things about their ability to communicate flavor through mechanics. FFG is the beginning and the end of the counterargument to the statement that rules don’t matter. I take a more jaundiced view of their organizational abilities, particularly with regard to rulebooks.
  6. Arkham Horror, less often than Chaos but still frequently. This is another FFG boardgame. Between myself and one of the other regular players, I think we now own all of the expansions. This game is one of my favorite places to mine for ideas for Dust to Dust.
  7. League of Legends. I’m enjoying this Multiplayer Online Battle Arena game much more than I really thought I would. I’m still terrible at it, but I’ve found places where my staggering weaknesses as a player can be hidden behind a mask of diminished expectations.
  8. Metroplexity. This is a browser-based adventure game made by people who really, really loved Kingdom of Loathing and wanted to try something in a different genre. This is the best imaginable place to steal ideas from for Over the Edge.
  9. World of Warcraft. This makes the list only because I am currently paying for it. My account got hacked and I got it fixed, but I haven’t yet gotten them to unlock it because I don’t really care very much. I should either play or stop paying.
  10. Dungeon Siege II. My girlfriend had a copy of this lying around, so I installed it and started playing. I… have some stern words for the designers of this game, but that will wait for another post.

Games I’ve Played Recently Enough To Comment On Them

  1. Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 3e, obviously.
  2. Batman: Arkham Asylum. One of the best Batman-based media experiences I’ve ever seen.
  3. Pendragon: The Grand Campaign. My disdain for the rules of this tabletop game is known far and wide, but the campaign itself was one of the most brilliant and satisfying I’ve ever played in, bar none. This campaign is the beginning and the end of the argument that good players and a world-class GM can make a great game out of anything.
  4. Song of Ice and Fire. This tabletop game deserved a much longer run than it got, but it was excellent. Its strong rules design has kept me coming back to it to mine ideas for non-commercial projects.
  5. Psychonauts. This platformer video game was a whole lot of fun, even though it is now a few years old. I would love to see a sequel.
  6. Prototype. This video game is, I guess, Grand Theft Auto 3 meets 28 Days Later. I know there are a lot of other games to which it is frequently compared, but I haven’t played any of them.
  7. Spirit of the Century. This tabletop game, advertised as being easy to pick up and play with a minimum of preparation, was run in exactly the opposite way by its incomparable GM: he burned himself out by putting so much prep work into each session that it was publication-worthy. Still, we had some really good times in the sessions we played.
  8. Earthdawn. I’m not precisely sure which edition of this venerable tabletop game we were playing. It has a lot of interesting ideas, but I don’t prefer some of the ways they were implemented. Balance issues abound, with everything that late-80’s/early-90’s game design believed about class balance.

If this post has given you the impression that I eat, sleep, and breathe games, you are not far off the mark. If this bothers you, you can get in line behind my parents. I’ll remind you that this was vital market research (and I say that in seriousness; I learned a lot from these games that I couldn’t have learned any other way).


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7 thoughts on “Games I’m Running, Games I’m Playing

  • Greg

    I never realized you had such glowing praise for the content of the Pendragon game. I'm jealous. 😀

    Though you are correct, Song of Ice and Fire needed some more air time. That was such a damn fine group of people with a great plot and story to keep us going, and I had such a great time playing Jenado.

  • Shieldhaven

    @Kainenchen:
    Give it time – I'm not inclined to give it priority over some of the other games I could discuss. 😉 And yes, always there should be more Arkham Horror!

    @Greg:
    The character development, emotional gut-punches, and heroic sacrifices that the GM worked into the campaign made up for the fact that a viper is more dangerous than a dragon and the weather can crit on you.

  • Shieldhaven

    SI is in every way worthy of mention, except that its last event was in 2006. Having said that, it is well-nigh unavoidable that it will appear often in my commentary on game design. Look at item 3 on Games I'm Running – I know my place as part of a lineage. =)

  • JC

    A couple Rio Grande board/card games we've really enjoyed that may be worth looking into (as if you don't have enough games competing for your attention):

    – Power Grid (Meagh loves it 'cuz she always manages to beat me by 1 point on the last turn. I wish I was kidding – every game we've played she has literally beat me by 1 point)

    – Dominion. This is easily the the most fun – and deepest – card game we've played together. The depth reminds me of M:TG – which Meagh absolutely abhorred – but with a very shallow initial learning curve. Love it!

    Also, I haven't played it yet, but am looking to going through a couple rounds of Space Hulk over Xmas. Kyle asked for it as his gift and I was lucky to find a NIB version at the local game store (sadly, I couldn't bargain the store owner down to retail price). Kyle's a big 40K dork now (and pretty successful, from what I've heard, in the Mississippi tournament circuit), so I imagine he'll wax me as I've never played 40K. Regardless, still looking forward to it.

    Happy Thanksgiving!