The Black Campbell‘s post on which 10 game books he would like to be marooned with should he ever take a tour on the Minnow or start working for FedEx came across my screen this weekend and I have been thinking about it off and on since. I am honestly not sure I can list 10 games I think have impressed me to the degree that I would share my island with them, but fortunately he just asked about books. Finding people I want to share this hypothetical island with would be a bigger trick, but then again this peninsula on which I live can be somewhat isolated from gaming so maybe I am living the dream already…?
Ok, let’s see… I think I will do this trying to limit myself to games I can run in a satisfying fashion with just 1 or 2 books total:
- Call of Cthulhu 6th Edition – You know how it is about first loves. They usually aren’ t on your mind, but it’s funny what makes you think of them and how long the affection lasts. I may end up padding my list with other versions of BRP and not explain. The explanation is simple: the system works, it allows for growth in skill as a player and GM, and it totally frees you from the sundry crap that clings to the fur of class/level systems. As a bonus, you get the chance to use some of your funky dice, and can engineer reasons to use more or less without ending the universe. I would choose the 6th Edition because I have it in hard cover and it compiles a broad enough range of the game that I will not need anything else.
- All for One: Regime Diabolique – Ubiquity has become my regular game and has yet to let me down.
- Leagues of Adventure – Using AfO to handle pre-modern, and LoA to handle modern eras, I should be able to generate any sort of game I wish using these two core books with the addition of…
- Richelieu’s Guide to Serious Situations – A great rules extension for Ubiquity
- A Time of War – This game started as a means to an end with me. I wanted to get a Mechwarrior + Battletech game going and this seemed to be the easiest way to accomplish that. Since I began using it, I have been consistently pleased with the way it handles simulating the universe, how smoothly and consistently it runs and scales, and the speed of its resolution mechanics. It brings in a broad range of character actions and conditions often absent in other games and brings them in without undue fuss and bother. That it made so small a splash would seem to be more to do with the wealth of Buy/Read reviewers we have and our dearth of Buy/Read/Play reviewers.
- Techmanual – Rather than wallow in the ‘If I only hads…” I think in a desert island situation the sanest way to run Battletech is by dumping the canon mechs and replacing them with your own. Not for a lack of love of printed mechs, but for reasons of size. You could build your own island out of Battletech books and still not have them all. In this situation, it’s best not to try.
- Aces & Eights - More game lies between the leather covers of this tome than most people suspect.
- Shootist’s Guide – With extended rules for As&8s such as hunting, and a broad range of new silhouettes for the shot clock, this is worth taking to exile island.
- RuneQuest 6th Edition – Just in case I get the urge to create my own Swords and Sorcery universe and want to have as much depth and flexibility as possible I would take the latest edition of RuneQuest. No Glorantha required.
- Mutants and Masterminds 3 – I go through very different moods when I want to run a supers campaign, and while I am not entirely pleased with M&M3, it pays enough attention to the broad range of possibilities that I can get over its shortcomings. I was tempted to choose Superworld or Villains & Vigilantes, but… not for this list.
Well… that’ s ten. It was harder to limit myself to ten books than I thought, mainly because of all the excellent material out there to support Call of Cthulhu and All for One. Shadowrun is something I would have liked to include if it were really possible to run a satisfying game with just the core and maybe one other book – it’s not. The same goes for Ars Magica. I would love to have it with me, but once I got rolling on campaign preparation, I would want more information than any of the various editions’ core books provide.
If I had to guess which of these games I would play most out on that island it would likely come back to the Ubiquity games and whatever homemade settings I developed along with my spear-fishing skills and amazing matted hair.
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