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Cam Banks
Ginger Kiwi Game Designer and Family Guy
Ginger Kiwi Game Designer and Family Guy

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RPGs I have played or run in 2017:

Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition
Mutant Year Zero
Cortex Prime (in Hammerheads and Eidolon Alpha flavors)
Over the Edge 3rd edition
Feng Shui 2
Unknown Armies 3rd edition
Star Wars: Edge of the Empire

Wow. That's a seriously short list. (I totally forgot that I'd played FFG's Star Wars for some reason! Edited to add it in.)

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I love seeing things manifest as real objects after years of hard work!

Also this is finally out. It is just a starter pack. It has 6 pregen PCs (3 male and 3 female superheroes from their Sentinels of the Multiverse games). And 6 issues (6 mini adventures that are supposed to feel like a comic books).

The game play a little like a Cortex game, but at the same time it is different mechanically. In essence roll three dice pooled together from different aspects of your character, take the middle result. Special powers allow for variations on that simple mechanic.

I have not played, but it looks very simple to learn. Honestly it is the first supers game since marvel heroic roleplaying that I figure will be worth giving it a go.

Musing on some more #PillarOfFire thoughts.

This time: gender!

So in the far future setting of Pillar of Fire, when nobody has babies the biological way (everyone is basically vat-created from genetic material), I'm clearly not going to stick to any kind of binary gender situation.

So I was thinking, do I want to just experiment with "pick whatever gender expression you like?" and I figured, well sure, that's good.

But also: what if gender wasn't linked to biological or M/F spectra but instead was linked to your archetype?

What if your gender was "Creator" or "Warbringer" or "Whisperer" or "Scientist"?

Package each archetype with traits traditionally assigned to or believed to belong to gender roles, and then see where that takes us.

Also as every player character has a dominant and recessive archetype, you get nuance that way. And we can explore the good and bad about a society that treats your assigned-at-birth archetype as "normal" and your own path toward or away from that archetype as changing the way the world thinks of it.

(I'm sure this will also make many people look sidelong at this game and say "WTF" as well, but.)

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This is fun, fun stuff. Subversive and messed up, but the door is wide open for GMs to pull this kind of stunt in games like Marvel Heroic.

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Have you heard the good tunes?
What on Earth could bring you to the island of Al Amarja, with its dysfunctional police state, chaotic society, casual violence, and otherworldly menace? You’re here, so it must be important. Look around, and you’ll find things here that you can’t find anywhere else. The trouble is, some of those things are going to find you, too.

It troubles me to say it, but among my RPGs Over the Edge is the one that reveals the most about me personally. Originally, Over the Edge was for only my personal friends. It was too weird to publish—too freeform, too twisted, too open-ended, too different from other RPGs. That's how I wanted it. For years I had been working on Ars Magica for other people to play, and I wanted an RPG campaign that I could play my way, without troubling myself with what an audience would like. That's where the game came from. Now I have the opportunity to rewrite the game. For years I had no interest in revising Over the Edge because I didn’t want to create a derivative version of a game that is anything but derivative. Now I have the vision I need to create a truly new version of the game, and it is well underway.

Coming to Kickstarter, 2018. Sign up here to get on the email list.

Life is Strange: Before the Storm Episode 2

I'm continuing to love this video game more and more. I'm on record for saying that the original game is perhaps my favorite video game, at least up there in terms of my appreciation of it with Fallout 4, Skyrim, and Destiny. And that seems like odd company, so let's add Everybody's Gone to the Rapture and Gone Home to that list, just to clarify my tastes a little.

I don't seek out romantic tragedies by any means but this game sucks me in with its characters and its focus on hard choices. I think the fact that I'm cheering and whooping when some pivotal moment comes along and feel as if I got the story there, rather than it being a fait accompli, is part of it. But Chloe and Rachel Amber and Steph and Mikey and even our old antagonist Victoria Chase are all wonderful.

This prequel has none of the time-turning features of the original, which in some cases makes people wonder what it has to replace that. And I suppose there's Chloe's back-talking mechanic, which is basically a 4th edition D&D Skill Challenge, but I'm not sure the game needs a special supernatural quality to make it work. I think they've captured so much of the pacing and the angst and the mood of the original game here, even with the change of viewpoint character, that it pulls it off.

There's only one more episode to go, and I don't want any of these characters' stories to end. Ironic, really, since we already know where Chloe and Rachel's story goes, but like any good property we just want to live in their world - and in their company - for much, much longer than we're given the opportunity to.

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Not sure if includes rules for waking up to find your dead husband in the shower.

A remarkable find at a local convention here in Saint Paul. Unpunched and basically mint.

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Sustina Saga Kickstarter

You might not know who André La Roche is but he's a really talented creative guy who first came into this business the same way I did - through the d20 Dragonlance project. In fact, I was proud to share a cover byline with him on the Bestiary of Krynn.

André has launched his first Kickstarter for an awesome new world of his own creation, a high fantasy game that runs on Fate and features a lot of wondrous art. If you're all about supporting indie designers, Fate projects, or diverse creators, please send some love and support André's way.

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This looks amazing.

I am already a huge fan of everything Fria Ligan create with their Year Zero system - the production values, the writing, the art, the way everything comes together. And they are really great folks - I met them this year in Sweden when i was there for GothCon. I'm a guaranteed backer. Check out what +Angus Abranson managed to learn from his own conversation with Fria Ligan's Tomas at EN World.
I was lucky enough to talk to Tomas, of The Free League, and get a sneak peek into their forthcoming new fantasy game.... the Forbidden Lands Boxed Set!

Exploring Forbidden Lands – A Preview of The Free League’s New Fantasy RPG


Life is Strange: Before the Storm

I've said before that the original Life is Strange featuring Max was possibly the most transformative experience I've ever had playing a video game, and that holds up. Now with the prequel that headlines Chloe Price as a 16 year old at Blackwell Academy, this feeling continues.

I played Episode One of this story (there's going to be three episodes in all, plus a bonus Max episode at the end) long into the night last night. I did not want to stop playing it. I'm invested in Chloe's story and loved what Deck Nine have done with these characters. It's weird to be playing something that you know has a specific outcome (the original game) but there's enough that we don't know about Chloe and Rachel Amber's past that I think there's plenty of mystery.

Without Max's time-rewind ability, the story feels different in play, but Deck Nine have improved upon the engine and design enough that it feels more like a much-better Telltale Games story with familiar LiS characters in it. There's a new element where you can enter a Backtalk Challenge with certain characters, watching what they say as you trade insults. I think it's fun to do, and not always easy. Each of these is especially good when you've done some legwork to dig around and find out more about the person you're back talking to ahead of time.

Finally, I'm really glad Ashly Burch was brought on to contribute to Chloe's dialogue as a writer. Even though she's not voicing Chloe Price this time around, the actor who's stepping in to the role, Rhianna DeVries, has nailed it. I can't imagine it's not because Ash was given the opportunity to shape the direction of a character she so fully embodied in the original game.
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