Friday, August 07, 2015

Sorry Gaming Paper, But The Game I'm Most Pleased I Backed on Kickstarter Is...#RPGaDAY2015 [Day 2]

The first "patron" project I ever backed was Wolfgang Baur's first  Kobold Publishing product. There was a time that I backed every one of Baur's projects, but as he continued to publish primarily for D&D 3.x and Pathfinder at the same time that my bookshelves overflowed with material for those games I moved on to supporting other projects. I missed out on some excellent products, but I'm only going to play those games -x- times and I have more material then I will ever need.

I backed my first Kickstarter project in 2010 and in doing so began a fandom journey of directly supporting projects that I believe in before they are published. I became a non-profitsharing venture capitalist. I decided to be more than a consumer and to support the companies and creators I admire by backing their projects. Note the word I used there, backing. I didn't say "pre-order" their games because that isn't what Kickstarter really is. Yes, that is often what it ends up being for some companies, but that isn't the only thing a backer is. I'd have backed some of the projects I did solely for a T-Shirt or button that proclaimed I was a backer. That first Kickstarter project that I backed was Erik Bauer's Gaming Paper Adventures project. With it Eric left the realm of selling gaming accessories and entered the realm of game designer. Erik is one of the nicest guys in the industry and a natural salesman. I've called him a gaming huckster in the past, and I meant it in the nicest and most William Castle way. In addition to being a great salesman, Erik is a great guy. I'm proud to have supported his project. It's probably the "product" I'm most pleased to have backed, but since it's a supplement it isn't technically a game . So it isn't the game I'm most pleased I backed.

The game that I'm most pleased to have backed is Deluxe Tunnels and Trolls. There are so many reasons that I'm pleased to have backed this game. First and foremost is that Tunnels and Trolls, along with various Fighting Fantasy and Lone Wolf game books, was the vast majority of role playing game play that I participated in as a kid. Without those and Bard's Tale, I likely would have stopped playing games after my first session. My first experience had been with a "killer DM" and it hadn't been much fun, then I encountered a Ken St. Andre solo module and it was salve to my wound.

Don't get me wrong, Ken St. Andre is a "killer DM," his adventures don't suffer fools and they don't suffer the wise either. They are brutal, but they are never cruel and never seem unfair. When Ken kills one of your characters in a horrific fashion, you end up laughing with him at the absurdity of the situation. The worlds of Ken St. Andre, and his fellow Trolls, are imaginative to the point of psychedelia. They are a patchwork of everything wonderful in fantasy. They are Michael Moorcock meets Disney meets Harryhausen. They are creations of pure joy and excitement.

Add to Ken's literary patchwork the wonderful artwork of Liz Danforth and you have a perfect example of why role playing games caught on in the first place.

For a long time, the 5th edition had been my "go to" version of the game. There had been a 7th edition published by Fiery Dragon that updated some rules, and had a nice packaging, but it lacked a little of what made the original so magical. That little bit was the touch of Ken St. Andre's imagination and Danforth's editing and artwork. Liz Danforth edited the classic 5th edition and was brought back for the new Deluxe version of the game. It's taken a few years for this version of the game to be fully developed, but what I have experienced so far captures that early magic.

Tunnels and Trolls was the second role playing game to be published and it laid the foundation for today's OSR movement. Whenever I buy a new OSR product, I'm reminded of Tunnels & Trolls and that's a good thing. 

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