Sean Patrick Fannon
  • Sean Patrick Fannon

    Welcome to Guiding the Players Week for the Picks this week, dedicated to books designed specifically (or at least primarily) for players to craft their character and enhance their overall play experience with a game or setting. These may or may not have "all-in-one" characteristics that allow for full game play (though if you have at least the rules for combat in the book, you can generally craft or fake the rest). In each case, they are meant to either be the foundation of character creation and advancement, or they greatly enhance that aspect of the game.

    This week we went exploring at the SPOD - exploring the world of maps for RPGs. Maps have been a treasured part of the hobby since the very beginning, when Dave Arneson took some basic graph paper, crafted a dungeon, and had his friends explore it in search of the daughter of the Elven King. That, my friends, was the true birth of the classic RPG experience as we now know it. To that end, here's a bunch of map-oriented products for the physical and virtual tables.

    I kind of got the jump on DriveThruRPG with my New Year, New Game Week, but I was rushing out the door for our visit with friends and family back east for the holidays, and it just made sense for the very first week of 2018. I hope you all had a grand time with your holidays, and I hope you have a great year of gaming ahead of you. Here's some solid suggestions for you to explore...

    As we all enjoy this last week of 2017, here's my presentation of some of the best and brightest of the year. Some are chosen for popularity and sales, while others are selected for the awards and accolades they've received. All are, in my opinion, more than worthy of a look at what 2017 brought to the gaming table. Cheers and have some more eggnog!

    This week, both DriveThruRPG and I are celebrating Teach Your Kids to Game Week. After all, I helped come up with this idea back when I worked for them, and I remain a huge proponent of bringing newer and younger gamers into our beloved hobby. What follows is a collection of great games and settings designed to appeal to a younger crowd of roleplayers, engaging their imaginations while not overwhelming them with overly-complex game mechanics. Here's hoping you get some great gaming in at home with the family this holiday season!

    This week I decided to go with the theme of Rules Don't Matter Week. Not because I actually believe that, but because there are a lot of good products out there designed to help your game with material outside of actual game mechanics. I think this is a growing space for writers, designers, and artists, and I think a lot of GMs and players can get some serious use out of materials that inspire and assist them with their gaming efforts. Let's dive in, shall we!

    We definitely took a crime-and-punishment approach to the Picks this week, inspired by the release of the preview version of Capers. These are products that focus on either the commission of crimes or playing the folks who take up the cause and the badge to deal with criminal intent. Whether you're looking to play gangsters and cutthroats trying to make a dishonest living, or the lawbringers who put it all on the line to protect the public.

    While a great many tabletop RPG products are created and published in the United States, more and more fantastic and top-quality products are coming from amazingly talented folks from all over the world. With the release of Awaken from Croatia's The Games Collective, I decided to take a look at other non-US companies and point out some top-notch stuff. Let's take a tour!

    As you read this, it's likely the shopping extravaganza that marks the days after the American holiday, Thanksgiving, has begun. From Black Friday through the following Cyber Monday, those who create, make, and sell things are doing anything they can to get everyone else to buy things, so it's a good time to look for special deals and offers. It's also the time of year folks save up to get those extra-special things (like big-ticket gaming products) they've wanted all year long...

    Those in the know spent this week checking the temperature in the Nether Realms and wondering if Beelzebub might not be trying on ice skates. Why? Because that which never seemed possible came to pass - Steve Jackson Games is now on DriveThruRPG, currently selling 4th Edition GURPS products. They are also challenging the notion that PDFs must inherently be devalued (which, for those of us who strive to make a living at this, is a pretty big deal). Onward!

    This week, I am off to the incredibly fun and entertaining convention called Con on the Cob. I've been a Guest every year except for two, and I am proud and thrilled to be a part of that weird, wonderful family that award-winning artist and beloved weirdo Andy Hopp brings together (along with the fantastic Heather Hopp). In celebration of returning to the wilds of Northern Ohio once again, I've called this Oddly Wonderful Week and brought you some of the stranger RPG products I know about.

    This was Finders Keepers Week, a celebration of product lines and categories dedicated to supporting Pathfinder and Starfinder players and Game Masters. As the first entry below explains, the focus here is a series of things a GM or player might delve into for a consistent set of enhancements for their gaming. With so much 3rd-party support, most folks appreciate having product lines to rely upon, rather than one-offs that might otherwise throw off the balance of the game.

    With Halloween falling on a Tuesday next week, most folks are going all-in with their celebrations and related activities (at least here in the States) this weekend. That's why I decided to call this All Hallows' Eve Week and featured horror-and-spooky gaming products for the theme. I might have gone a bit overboard with the Friday Picks...

    This week, I chose another great writer and creator to spotlight, this time the incomparable Monica Valentinelli. Writer, designer, editor, line developer, and advocate for inclusivity and the creation of art across multiple media, Monica is a friend and an inspiration to me. She's also a lot of fun to hang out with, and enhances the entire hobby with all she does.

    The sudden snow of Monday inspired this week's theme (even though we got back up to the 70s here in Denver). Throughout the Northern Hemisphere, various signs of the cold and wintery can be found, and the last Pick of the week speaks especially to the imminent arrival of Samhain. Naturally, the cold weather also means a lot more impetus to stay inside... and play games, right?

    Every day of the year on this planet has its share of death and tragedy, but I think most can agree there's been a rather intense and poignant spate of reminders lately of just how dark and painful things can be. To that end, I wanted to shine the spotlight on gaming things that celebrate healers, diplomats, and adventuring that celebrates other means of conflict resolution. I am pretty thrilled at how many beautiful and uplifting things I found. (PS - I rearranged the order from the actual week's chronology due to the small image Evil Hat used for Do.)

    The release of the long-awaited Powerchords inspired me to put the spotlight on my dear friend and valued colleague, Satyros AKA Phil Brucato. Most well-known for his craftsmanship on Storyteller-driven games, you can find his urban fantasy sensibilities flowing magically out into other spaces as well. I am greatly looking forward to what he does next...

    Swords-and-Sorcery seems to have made a serious surge in the gaming zeitgeist as of late, and not just for OSR fans. Mighty-thewed barbarians, frightening sorcerers with dangerous arcane power, and a complete lack of plumbing and lattes - what's not to love! This is the genre that breaks it all down into savage, survival-of-the-fittest adventure, with quests for glory and gold the driving force of any journey that starts in a tavern, but which so often leads to deciding the fate of the world. Welcome to the Week that was Positively Barbaric!

    There's been a lot of pain and difficulty front-and-center in recent days. In the midst of the challenges and the tragedy, there've been plenty of tales of real-life heroes to inspire us. When the darkness falls and hope falters, that's when heroes step up. That's the inspiration for this week's theme. I've been clinging to the need for heroes in a world so troubled, and I feel that gaming will always give us that chance to embrace the heroic ideal and indulge in the dream that we, too, can step up and do what needs to be done.

    It's been a helluva week all over the world, with some notable events over here in the northern part of the Western Hemisphere. As I type this, the southern part of Mexico got hit with an 8.1 magnitude earthquake. Texas and Louisiana are still cleaning up and rebuilding from Harvey while the most terrifying storm to ever come out of the Atlantic bears down on Florida and the South (having already chewed up and spit out some Caribbean islands). I keep expecting to see John Cusack go screaming past in a beat-up RV. Look for what I've done so far to try and help folks in the epilogue section below. Meanwhile, it was Stuff & Things Week for the Picks, with some books dedicated to tools and gear for your characters to handle anything.
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