The best thing about GenCon for me—aside form being GenCon—is that I can walk away with a pile of new books to read. In this respect, GenCon 2012 did not disappoint me. With three role-playing games and a non-fiction book in hand, I made my 18 hour trek back to the West Coast well-armed with literature. I also did that 18 hours mostly running between gates, so I haven’t been able to finish my reading list.
Yet. There’s transit time to PAX, which is when I hope to devour some of these books whole. Because words are delicious.
The Double Fist Of Sampat
The booth didn’t actually call it that, but I can. Elizabeth Shoemaker Sampat’s name might ring a bell if you remember her game It’s Complicated, but recent games like They Became Flesh and Blowback may have caught your eye. If you’ve missed out on the works of this GenCon Industry Insider Guest of Honor, never fear: the best thing about missing out on a title is finding out it still exists, and you can track it down and read its sweet, sweet words.
They Became Flesh
After the fall, I mean pretty damn right after the fall, fallen angels had a lot of serious issues to work through. Players play the Fallen, while two GMs play G-d and Humanity, and pretty soon everybody gets to be between humans and a Divine Place. Have not played it. Am hoping like Hell I can sneak into a game of it at PAX. If you read my personal blog or follow me on Twitter, you’re already in-the-know that religion and religious studies are a huge part of my life. I’m certain this game is going to make me uncomfortable, and think a lot about it long after the last words are said. Which is absolutely fine with me.
Did you ever watch Burn Notice? Bourne Identity? Have a bad ass awesome spy movie that holds a fond fire in your heart? Keep walking with me. I picked up Blowback for a few reasons.
1. You play burned spies and the people who care about them. That appeals to one of the drives for me to play games; the stories that get made out of relationships with other people.
2. It’s good for one shots but a good fit with longer play. I love one-shots (used to hate them, entirely different column), but I rarely get the opportunity to convince people to do longer-play games. And I love games that last more than a session.
3. I get to play a freaking spy.
Dog Eat Dog
Liam Burke’s Dog Eat Dog covers issues of colonialism, identity, culture, and the consequences thereof. Players become the force of Occupation, and individual Natives. This is a small island out in the Pacific, one with customs and a society that’s defined by the players. The story starts after the war ends, and the game circles around what life is like, negotiating your way through this new complex/fraught/pressure keg. My Dad grew up on a reservation, and discussions of colonialism and what it does were part of our dinner table. Again, a game I’m hoping I can find people to dive in soon with.
Hamlet’s Hit Points
Robin D. Law’s book was the only book I didn’t own from Gameplaywright. In the name of a periodic obsessive need to collect things, and a desire to improve my own grasp on beats (both as a GM and a writer), I bought the book. I also tried to read it after being awake for more than 24 hours, which I recommend against. There is a degree of surreal dissonance from reading anything more complicated than a picture book while sleep deprived, so I’m looking forward to reading this book while awake and (comparatively) well rested. I have never heard a single bad review of Hamlet’s Hit Points. While I’m absolutely sure here are people out there who disagree with it for whatever reason, I felt a need to buy a book that was so highly, and repeatedly, recommended to me as a must-have on my shelf.
In theory, I’ll have some time on the way to PAX (or after PAX) to start plumbing the depths of my reading list from GenCon. I’m sure I’ll have more to say once I’ve read/played/applied the knowledge within each.
Have a book you think I’d enjoy reading? Leave me game and book recommendations, and I’ll add them to the scroll-like file of doom that is my future reading list!