The makers of the ENnie-winning RPG Shadows of Esteren had a few new things to show off this year, including some character minis and their latest supplemental book, Tauth. They seemed to be catching more people’s attention this year than last, but only time will tell if Shadows of Esteren will continue to be a critically lauded RPG that few have heard of, or if it’ll finally break out into some more widespread attention.
Alderac Entertainment Group
As if AEG wasn’t doing enough, these folks also had on hand Sword & Fan, the latest supplement to the Legend of the Five Rings tabletop series. It delves deep into what it means to be a Samurai in the land of Rokugan.
The gents behind the Burning Wheel series of games had their latest iteration, Torchbearer on display. It’s billed as a game that’s like classic D&D and exists in complexity between two of their other games – more complicated than Mouse Guard but less so than Burning Wheel itself.
Catalyst Game Labs
The 5th Edition of Shadowrun has been out for some time, although getting your hands on one of those massive tomes hasn’t always been easy. They appeared to have enough of them to go around this time. Still, they know that such a thick tabletop book can scare people off and wisely brought some extra products to help with that.
Catalyst had on hand an Intro Set, which consists of all the things you need to start a campaign out of the box, including a highly condensed rulebook. If that’s too simplistic, you can move up to the Runner’s Toolkit, a slightly less abridged version that comes with its own module.
In non-Shadowrun RPG news, they also unveiled expansions for their narrative-driven sci-fi Cosmic Patrol and the superhero Valiant Universe series.
We thought that last year’s inaugural of the the 7th Edition of Call of Cthulhu would have followed up with a widespread publication shortly thereafter, but, well, setbacks happen. They did have a final copy of the book available to look at this time around, with many more to come soon.
The wait may be worth it, as the book on display was nothing shy of gorgeous. They pulled out all the stops on its production, and for fans of the CoC series it should be an amazing book to own, let alone play.
Tabletop games continue to evolve and change, and that means more RPGs for people besides college-age guys. Last year’s hit for this group was the intro-level The Little Wizards for children. That continued again this year with it actually even being nominated for an award, and although they did also put out a couple new supplements for their Mistborn tabletop, Little Wizards was still their signature item.
With yet another RPG designed to cater to the younger tabletop players amongst us, these folks showed off Adventure Maximus, their latest RPG. This one is a card-driven tabletop that can get players into the game within minutes. Maximus looked pretty cohesive, as it’s both appealing on a visual and substantive basis. I don’t know a lot of 10 year olds looking to learn RPGs, but if I did, this is certainly one I’d consider. They also plan on doing a sci-fi based version of the system called Star Maximus.
Green Ronin Publishing
The makers of the Dragon Age and Mutants and Masterminds RPGs happened to be showing off their latest notable contribution to the tabletop genre, and that is the 2nd edition of A Song of Fire and Ice, the Game of Thrones RPG. It’s a big book with nice artwork, and the game offers an interesting approach to character creation, since you are building a new noble house from the ground up as part of the beginning of the game. It’s finally back in print with some updates, and if you’re ready for winter to come, now’s your chance.
Margaret Weis Productions
You can’t take the sky from me, but you may be able to take our money. Last year this company made some waves after announcing the Firefly RPG. Alas, it wasn’t ready then. The full book game out earlier this year, along with four mini campaigns, all of which utilize their “Cortex Plus” gaming system. The big surprise this time around was that they had all four of these adventures bound into one supplement called Echoes of War: Thrillin’ Heroics, and it was shown off for the first time at Gen Con.
Monte Cook Games
The makers of the well-received Numenera have followed up this year with a new tabletop called The Strange. It uses the same narrative-driven Cypher system as Numenera and feels like a much more structured and friendly version of FATE Core, making it one of the more interesting RPGs we saw there this year.
Onyx Path Publishing
The successor company to the old White Wolf World of Darkness line of games is quite busy these days, with several big titles in the works. As a result they’ve having a tough time nailing down specific release dates. At the very least we should expect to see Exalted 3rd Edition and Mage 20th Anniversary edition out by next GenCon. Moreover, God Machine Chronicle, Blood and Smoke, and the Idigam Chronicle are all now officially being referred to as New World of Darkness 2nd Edition. Aeon Trinity is also in the process, and the early proofs definitely look promising.
As one of the biggest sponsors of Gen Con, it’s almost impossible for Paizo to not have something to show off every year, and this year they once again didn’t disappoint.
Interestingly enough, most of the product and announcements didn’t actually pertain to the Pathfinder RPG directly, although they did have their share of new content to offer. They released the Advanced Class Guide supplement just prior to Gen Con and unveiled another supplement coming out in October called the Monster Codex that’ll let players take on 20 of the game’s most iconic creatures. They also announced that next year’s project is called Occult Adventures, and that’ll introduce psychic magic to the game.
Beyond those, Pathfinder is being kept at a status quo. The design team isn’t yet out of ideas, but they more or less have said that players are happy with the current system so they aren’t looking to add too much to alter things for the time being.
Their two larger announcements instead pertained to other iterations of Pathfinder. The bigger of the two easily was that Paizo has licensed Pathfinder to video game designer Obsidian Entertainment. They’ll be looking to adapt Pathfinder into some kind of video game and help port the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game onto tablets.
Speaking of the card game, the second announcement was that due to a printing error, they were not able to sell copies of the class decks at the convention as planned. Instead players will have to wait a month or so to get them. (The horror!) They did, however, have copies on hand of the new Skull & Shackles expansion that were selling very quickly.
The transhumanist writers of Eclipse Phase are back again showing off the array of books for their much lauded futuristic sci-fi RPG, and while they didn’t have any major new release for Gen Con, their next book due out is all about Firewall and its day to day operations. It will include an entire chapter devoted to the tradecraft of, well, basically being a terrorist organization out to save transhumanity at any cost.
Wizards of the Coast
Once again, Wizards opted not to try for booth space in the expo hall this year and relegated themselves to their designated tournament area for Magic: the Gathering. Of course, Magic already made its big announcements at SDCC with word of the enemy-wedge fall set Khans of Tarkir and mono-color fall Commander sets, so there wasn’t much excitement on that front.
But we all know that WotC’s Tarrasque-sized contribution this year to gaming is the released of Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition, evidenced by substantial amounts of demos and events that they were running to show it off. 5th Edition is looking powerful and already popular – particularly those who found 4th Ed somewhat lacking. Their premiere event drew a big crowd, and there’s definitely a sense that WotC is pouring some heavy money into making sure this edition succeeds on all of its promises.Next: Miscellany