Because of continuing problematic circumstances I haven’t been able to write much but if I could write more I would definitely write about 13th Age. Because it is looking quite killer. 13th Age doesn’t quite need it though, but there’s some projects related to it that I definitely want to talk about, and one of those is Nightfall. Nightfall is a supplement for 13th Age that incorporates gothic horror trappings a la Ravenloft; a much beloved setting for D&D that has sort of fallen by the wayside of official support past its inception in 2nd Edition D&D. Nightfall is its own thing, of course, crafted by different minds for a different game with a different purpose – but I’d be remiss not to mention what it is likely to evoke in the minds of most D&D players.
Nightfall promises new classes and character races, new enemies to fight (or flee from in terror), as well as a setting to play in. It will include a robust section for the GMs out there on how to run Horror campaigns, which may be out of the ordinary for some. At $3500, Nightfall gets funded (and it’s already almost halfway there). Stretch goals include more art, material for systems such as Pathfinder, OSRIC and FATE, and a Tarot deck that brings to mind the old Ravenloft deck. Backer Perks include the PDF copy at the $20 level, a special PDF at the $10 level, hardcover at $35 (signed at $50), and if you want to put down $1000 you get to add a rather large piece of you to the setting itself! Give it a go if you want more 13th Age material and quick!
However, there’s more to it than that. Nightfall also gives me an opportunity to highlight one of the best Traditional Games communities I’ve ever been in, which is the Something Awful Traditional Games forum.
While Something Awful gets a bad rap as a monolithic bloc of hooliganism, it is a grave mistake to dismiss its community entirely, because every board has its own culture. And the gaming culture on SA itself can be divided, with each thread having its own regulars and its own stories, and sometimes not terribly getting along, showing some of the rifts in the community elsewhere – albeit not as viciously as in other places, I’ve found. While seemingly abrasive, the people there are some of the most novel, authentic and unpretentious thinkers relating to roleplaying games that I’ve met online.
They accept only one currency in gaming and that is to have fun, and to never dampen another’s fun.
While the much-talked-of grognards.txt thread is often derided as an “echo chamber” and a place to fling mud from, I’ve learned so much about so many different perspectives on gaming there, much more than outside it. Many of the opinions mocked on the thread are pernicious, divisive and deserving of the call-outs they receive – and through the ridicule there is always discussion as to why these seemingly cyclical problems continue to affect people’s games. Why do gamers keep pushing racist and sexist ideology, sometimes unknowingly? Why do grognards hate the young’uns and their power cards so viciously?
But on the SA TG forums, they also don’t just sit around and talk, but also welcome everyone to do. This is where innovative and unique games like Last Stand, which I’ve talked about before, have come out of. Nightfall is another example. The board also hosts periodical Design Contests which have interesting goals and constructive judging. For example, the current contest asks users to design a board game that incorporates the theme of Restoration. These are actual contests with prizes, but the best prize is in the chance to compete – to refine your ideas and to see other ideas come to the fore, and to get feedback from a broad and captivated audience. Will feedback sometimes be abrasive? Perhaps. But it has always felt valuable to me.
Here’s one of the older, completed contests, from August. In this contest the theme was quite novel – to create an RPG without combat or with few combat rules. Few forums seem to outright encourage the culture of hacking and tweaking RPGs like the TG forum does. And you can see concrete fruits of this culture in books like Last Stand and Nightfall. I’m sure many more projects are on their way. Heck, I hope to add some to the pile myself when able. I always look forward to it when I hear that the stable of creative minds at the TG forums are getting together to do something. It always pleases.
And you can join the fun too, if you’d like. Do you have to pay $10 to join the forums? Yes you do. I think it’s money well spent and it makes you consider what you post with your account (unless you have a lot of money to burn on accounts). Traditional Games is not the only fun board to read either, if you also like cat pictures, forum drama and conspiracies. Do you have to follow forum rules, and if you break them do you get banned, which might make you sad when it happens? You do: read the rules, lurk the forums, don’t instantly field a wobbly defense of random bloggers (or yourself) on grognards.txt. It’ll be a learning experience not just in how you conduct yourself in one forum, but in online communities in general.
Note: if you can’t see the threads, then the Something Awful paywall is up. Wait a month or two, or buy an account. Sorry but that’s just how it is. Grognards.txt should always be visible, however. Read that one!