Blog for Stephanie Bryant, a writer with too many hobbies and not enough time.

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#RPGaDay 10: Favorite Publisher

Today’s RPGaDay entry is tricky, because like many story-oriented gamers, I don’t really focus on publishers so much as I focus on designers, mechanics, and settings. I took a look through my PDF library and focused on publishers for which I own and like/have played multiple products.

EHP-Logo-SquareI have another multi-way tie that includes Pelgrane Press (with whom I have a professional relationship), Magpie Games (also a professional relationship), John Wick Presents, and Red Box Vancouver. But for today’s highlight, I’m going to sing the praises of Evil Hat Productions. So bear with me while I tell you why.

Fate is an excellent game. From when it was still Fudge to the new Fate Core and Fate Accelerated, it’s always been a good game about figuring out who you are first, and then figuring out how you want to tell your story. Fudge was one of my first real non-D&D games (I ran a variation of Burrows and Bunnies, using rats who served a den of were-rats, including a ratty wizard). It was a good system then, and it’s grown, in Evil Hat’s hands, into an excellent one. The little things that bug people about most games are easy to deal with in Fate. And it’s so customizable! Don’t like rolling dice? OK, don’t roll dice– treat everything as if you had rolled a 0. Want money to be more important than just a "Resources" skill? Great. Add a money stress track to your character sheet– boom, done!

Evil Hat supports Fate well. Fate is an easy game to pick up and customize. But there’s more to the game than "do anything." Evil Hat has a Patreon in which they publish a World of Fate every month or so, for the price of about $4 or pay-what-you-want. The support behind the Worlds of Fate is exceptional.

In addition to setting support, Evil Hat has put out a series of beautiful Fudge/Fate dice, finally getting these back out into the public after a long hiatus when they were out of print. Way to go! One of the issues that hindered Fate for many years was the lack of available dice.

They do more than Fate! Although Fate is their "core" product line, a number of games branch off of it (Dresden Files, War of Ashes, Spirit of the Century), and still more are completely separate games. Don’t Rest Your Head is psychological horror. Happy Birthday, Robot is a kid-friendly story game. Monster of the Week is a great take on urban horror, using the Powered by the Apocalypse engine. Yes– that’s a completely different mechanics set, but they knew something good when they saw it, and wanted to publish it, even though it didn’t bump their Fate sales one bit. And that’s not even talking about their non-RPGs, like Zeppelin Attack and Race to Adventure. Diversification!

They show corporate responsibility. Whether I buy from a company has a lot to do with how they treat people and how they treat their customers. While I know there are people who despise the folks behind Evil Hat, I also know that the company is transparent with its sales figures (something few game publishers do), and that their participation in "Bits and Mortar" is genuine and really helpful. And that’s if you even feel the need to ask for a PDF– so many of their products are Pay What You Want, you hardly need to ask for a free copy.

They have a commitment to diversity. Again, I know there are people who disagree with this statement, and that’s fine. I am soooo not going to get into a pissing match with you guys over who is more feminist in gaming, ok?

But I’ve been very impressed by how Fred Hicks talks about diversity in his company. Here are some relevant quotes from his Google+ (public posts): "To an extent this was a failure of our Fate Writer Search, as I see it…. We were certainly open to getting diverse voices, women’s voices, in the submissions. But I don’t know that we made the kind of broad, loud, concerted effort to ensure we got them."

This was followed in January with adding a more diverse group of writers to the Fate Patreon pool, and pairing them with mentors to help them get the kind of experience that I blogged about last year: "So with that in mind, we have hand-selected some diverse talent to write some additional Patreon worlds for us, adding to our already stellar stable of talent. Several of these are from people with an established writing track record who are interested in learning how to write settings and/or develop game systems; we’re pairing them with experienced Fate developers so they can do exactly that."

In Summary: Evil Hat is my pick for favorite publisher this year because not only are they putting out good stuff, but they’re doing so in ways that I think bring up the industry and make it a better place to be.

#RPGaDay 9: Media I want to game

The media I want to see in an RPG right now is Minecraft. Not because it is especially beloved to me. But because I’m taking on the ambitious goal of running a Minecraft campaign, using the Just a Game playtest, for a 9 year old (you may remember her from last year’s Epyllion campaign), and her dad.

minecraft-logo-backgroundTo that end, I bought the Minecraft Pocket Edition this weekend and woke up Monday morning, groggy and with a pervading sense of dread that the night had brought hissing spiders and creeping things that explode on impact.

I am playing mostly on Survival mode, which means anything but survival. I have finally carved out a tiny cave in which I store things so they won’t disappear when I die. Which is often. I have a furnace, work table, and a stonecutter table. I was finally able to make a couple of torches. I’m in a bad location, but don’t particularly care at the moment. Everything is hilly and there’s an inconvenient river which exists solely to block my passage from one mountain to the next, and drown me at inopportune times.

I found the Minecraft wiki and now have an idea for the campaign’s trajectory. That said, I haven’t even decided if we’re going to play Fate, *World, or Gumshoe for the campaign– all three mechanics are testable in the playtest packet.

The premise of the game is that the players are stuck in Survival mode and can’t get out. They are on a multiplayer server, and some of the other players are, to put it plainly (and with the wisdom of a child), "jerks."

If we play Gumshoe, then I map out a path from the point where they are stuck until the escape point (kind of like making a puzzle for the players to solve). If they’re in *World, I create a couple of dangerous fronts that push them until they come up with an ingenious way to get themselves out. If Fate, they should be telling me what the solution is.

I’m leaning towards Fate, largely because the kid player really likes the sandbox part of Minecraft.

I will probably also blend in a little bit of the Worlds of Fate setting Save Game, but since the goal of the Just a Game playtest is to playtest that game, I’ll try to stick to that setting as faithfully as I can. The main goal, as always, is player fun, so whatever doesn’t work will get booted out of my campaign, even if it would otherwise be delightful in any other campaign.

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