#RPGaDAY, Last Year: Day 16 – Game You Wish You Owned

Last year on #RPGaDAY, I wrote about the Game You Wish You Owned and this year, I revisited the question in the Day 9: A Licensed RPG post. Here’s what I wrote last year:

What game do I wish I owned? That’s pretty easy. It’s an official Crimson Skies RPG.

Originally created as a miniature war game, set in a post-Great Depression no-longer united United States of America, where air travel is the most common mode of transportation, air piracy abounds!

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Real-life pirates of the 16th century. Crazy Nazi prototype aircraft. Old Errol Flynn movies. Swing music. Black Sheep Squadron. The Flying Tigers. The Hell’s Angels. Indiana Jones. Betty Page. Vargas and Petty pin-ups. The golden age of Hollywood. The 1930s in America was the last truly romantic period in modern history.

I would play the crap out of this game.

It’s got to be something slightly more complex than Fate – I want to tinker with my plane, like you did with Car Wars. Yet it’s got to be faster to play than a game like Shadowrun or Pathfinder, so combat actions have to flow quickly – no multiple charts and steps to determine the outcome of fights. Because this game is full of action. Two-fisted action.

It also has intrigue as it is nation versus nation: which means spies, femme fatales, and all that good stuff.

The Crimson Skies RPG is set up so each player has their guy in the game, but not every scene has to have all the characters present at a time. Cal’s character is in there, so we give Emily control of one of the NPCs in the scene. Maybe she’s got an antagonistic NPC to run for the scene. Then after that, we’re at a thing with Emily’s and Ryan’s characters and Cal isn’t there, so maybe Cal gets to help run one of the important NPCs in that scene.

And the dogfights! Not every player is going to be flying a plane, so the dogfights have be quick affairs – fast, crazy blazing battles in the sky. It’s the problem with vehicle chases in other games: you’ve got the driver, someone shooting back, and maybe two other players whose characters aren’t really built for this so they just hang out at the table for twenty minutes while everyone else is driving and having fun.

Half the fun of Car Wars and BattleTech is the solo play of creating the vehicle or ‘Mech. I want that solo play in Crimson Skies to kit out your plane, if you’re playing a pilot. If you’re playing a non-pilot, you get to tinker with the air base you strike out of or the zeppelin you’re flying around.

Yeah, that’s the game I want. And if I can’t have that, I’ll take a game based on Cherie Priest’s Clockwork Century novels. Alt-history Dieselpunk, hell yeah.

A mirror of Microsoft’s old Crimson Skies website:http://firedrake.org/roger/csarchive/universe/index.htm

#RPGaDAY2015, Day 9: A Licensed RPG

Today’s #RPGaDAY2015 topic has the clunky title Favorite Media You Wish Was an RPG, which really translates to “What thing would you like to have licensed as an RPG?” I sort of answered this last year on day sixteen[1] when I went with Crimson Skies. However, recently I’ve been really wanting something set in Cherie Priest’s Clockwork Century novels.

221253I initially resisted getting into the author’s works, primarily because the geekerati[2] were heavily pushing the first book, Boneshaker, and it seemed like you had to read it. It’s the hip new thing our nerdy alt-culture embraced! I wound up holding off a year before reading it and man, was I wrong. It was good. Strangely good.

See, when I exhibited at San Diego Comic Con back in 2004, it seemed like zombies were over. There were plenty of zombie things out and it seemed passe. Here we are, more than a decade later, and zombies just won’t die out. Boneshaker came around that time, with a fusion of steampunk and zombies in a walled city filled with toxic gas and it just was plain good. Once Priest went outside those walls to explore her world — more dieselpunk than steam — the series went from good to seriously interesting for me.

1137215The American Civil War had been going on for much longer than in our real history: alt-history, specifically around that war, is something that always fascinated me. I loved looking at what spin Priest put on the political situation. Texas, her own independent power, checking the South and North, occupying New Orleans and controlling the Mississippi River. Mercy working in the Confederate hospital, travelling west across a wartorn countryside. The Pinkertons and their role in the Union. Everything outside the walled city of Seattle would make for a great game.[3]

Where I’m at now: I’m trudging through The Inexplicables, the penultimate book in the series. Trudging, I say, because it takes us back within the walls of Seattle — to me, the least interesting place in the world she created (I want to go outside!) — and follows a protagonist that, several hundred pages into the book, I still dislike. I’ve actually been skimming the book instead of reading, because I want to get to Fiddlehead, which is supposed to resolve the ongoing war and take place outside, in fresher air.

All while reading the series, I thought how much I wanted to play a game set in the world. However, the series has ended and the author has gone off to other writing endeavors. The time to pick this up as a licensed RPG was three or four years ago.

But I wish someone had.

  1. Day 16 was “Game you wish you owned.” []
  2. You know, the geek media celebrities with their insulting “Hey nerds!” calls to action. []
  3. As an aside, I always liked the craziness of Deadlands, also set in the same alt-history period, but never enjoyed the actual game. []