Saturday, March 21, 2020

What Obscure Game Are You Running? And Why Obscure Games?

I've had my series of reviews of Obscure Games going for quite a while now, but I wonder: how many of you out there are running an obscure game? I guess I'll just poll and ask what you're running or playing in—not what you wish you were running or playing, not what you hope to run or play in, but games that you have currently going. I'm sure that most will be types of Dungeons & Dragons, including retroclones, conjectural versions, and so on, and most of the rest will be World of Darkness games, licensed media properties like Firefly, Dresden Files, Star Wars, and Marvel Universe, GURPS, Traveller editions, Call of Cthulhu or RuneQuest, various Palladium games, and similar high-profile game systems that can break $20-50K on Kickstarter without breaking a sweat, and that's great! Gaming is awesome! But I hold out hope that there are groups out there playing Aftermath!, Majus, Lords of Creation, Excursions into the Bizarre, Beasts Men and Gods, Timeship, Albedo Anthropomorphics, WarpWorld, Dark Conspiracy, Witch Hunt, or other games that most people aren't even aware exist. Like, is anyone in the entire world playing Amazing Engine?

I started reviewing obscure games for a couple of reasons. The main ones are that no one cares what my (or anyone else's!) opinion on Dungeons & Dragons is. Pretty much anyone who plays RPGs already knows how they feel about games like that. Second, I feel a close kinship with people who put in all the same amount of sweat and hard work that people who write for major games do, but do it strictly out of passion. There's no money in it. I live in a region where I know people who have careers in gaming, mostly because of D&D and Call of Cthulhu. There are also a ton of people here who write for games because they love it. I know what the paychecks in the hobbyist portion of gaming are like, and I have a good idea of what they're like in the industry portion. So, I really want to help boost the hobbyists, and really the only way for me to do that is to use my little voice here on the internet to help give them some tiny bit more visibility than they might otherwise have.

REVIEW POLICY

So, here's my review policy: If you send me a free print copy of your game, I will review it, good or bad, in a timely manner (and will mention that it was sent to me for review; every game that I've reviewed to date on this blog has been one that I bought using my own money), unless it requires me to have some other product to understand it*. At the very least, you will get your game mentioned in another place for search engine purposes. If you send me a PDF copy, I will only review it if I really, really love it; to date, there is only one game sent to me in PDF for review that I have considered reviewing here (and have ultimately declined to do so, despite it being fairly good and a subject that interests me), only one PDF that I paid for out of my own pocket that I may yet review, and one PDF that I went out and found for free that I may yet review. Sorry, but if you don't believe in your game enough to pay a few bucks per review, then why should I, or anyone, care about your game?

*If it does require some other product to understand it, such as a supplement or adventure with game information for a particular game, ask me if I already own that product. If I do not, then I will require that other product as well in order to review it, though it can be in PDF format.

4 comments:

  1. It warms my heart that you mentioned Aftermath, Albedo and Lords of Creation. Great games that I could not get anyone to play. Growing up in the 80s when we all thought the Russians were going to nuke us, Aftermath felt especially poignant. Perhaps these days, too, the post-apocalyptic genre feels relevant. For me, it's almost therapeutic in a way to let my mind wander wander through the rubble, constructing meaning from senseless destruction.

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    1. Yeah, that construction of meaning in an apocalyptic milieu is a lot to do with what is good about that genre for sure. I loved that Aftermath!, particularly, included discussion of different apocalypses, from the nuclear ones you mention and that were so pervasive in our minds—still is, at least in the back of mine—to plagues, alien invasions, and even the coming of magical powers! Among many others. I like that GURPS has done much the same with its After the End line, too.

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  2. I miss Aftermath. I played it a fair bit early in my college years, picking a copy up from somebody getting rid of a stack of different games. Not sure if Twilight 2000 counts as obscure, but I'm pretty confident the Morrow Project does. I picked up a copy of the latest edition a few years ago. If I had a gaming group these days, that would be inflicted on them every few cycles. Space 1889 would be another that every few cycles would crop up as the game for a few sessions.

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    1. Oh, T2K surely counts as obscure. My general rule of thumb is: if they haven't made a TV show about it or (in the last 20 years) a video game, then it's probably obscure. That means pretty much anything other than D&D, Shadowrun, Cyberpunk, or World of Darkness is obscure. Arguably, Traveller has a TV show in Firefly, but it's never really named as such.

      But that's just a rule of thumb and I don't plan to be held to it.

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