Tuesday, August 11, 2015

RPGaDay - Day 11 - Favorite RPG Writer

In contrast to yesterday's post, I didn't think I would have a lot to say here but after writing it up I ... kind of did. I don't really get  wrapped up in the writer for most RPG products because A) A lot of modern RPG books are group efforts and it's difficult to identify who wrote a particular section and even then how it was edited has a big impact and B) I don't see a ton of consistency even when a single author is clearly identified. Different projects focus on different things - adventure/rules supplement/monster book - and someone may be strong for one project and weak for another.

Griping aside, here are a few names that have made a difference for me at one point or another:

From the old days: David Cook. He wrote Dwellers of the Forbidden City and  Isle of Dread for AD&D (among other works), Pool of Radiance, the Planescape setting, and was the lead for AD&D 2E which I thought at the time was a nicely done clean-up and revamp of 1E. Later in his non-tabletop career he worked on City of Villains.

After picking up his first few adventures with TSR I knew that when I saw his name on a cover I could be pretty sure it would be interesting but not completely alien to D&D as a game, and that's a sweet spot a lot of people fail to achieve with a lot of different systems.

From a few years back there is Monte Cook. His name is on multiple books from the Champions 4th Edition days and 3E D&D of course but I really liked a few things he put out after that, namely Ptolus and Arcana Evolved (Unearthed). Ptolus is an impressive city setting even today and I liked damn near everything about it. I also thought Arcana Evolved (the updated version of Unearthed) was a really cool take on a different version of the D&D 3E engine. It took something familiar and made it interesting in new ways. I don't think it ever got the attention it deserved, but it still has a special place for me. Clearly I am at least partially on a similar wavelength as Monte when it comes to my RPG tastes.

His latest stuff is not as interesting to me. Numenera is interesting but just doesn't "do it" for me. The system is just not there enough to really pull me in and the setting is specific and abstract in places that feel just slightly off from what I want. It's not bad, it's just not top tier for me. The Strange might be a better fit for me and my players but it's unlikely to displace any of the games we already play so it's not really pulling me in either.

Longer term than some, shorter than others: Shane Hensley gets a place on this list for Deadlands, Hell on Earth, and Savage Worlds, and for generally coming across as a guy who's trying to make games people actually play instead of just read. I suspect we have a lot of similar tastes here as well since he wrote the Army of Darkness game too. Also: he too worked on City of Villains! Anything Shane does I know is at least worth a look.

Finally: Steve Kenson - he's worked on Shadowrun and  Silver Age Sentinels in the past, then became big time with Mutants and Masterminds, Freedom City, and ICONS, all of which I have written about extensively on this blog.  When it comes to superheros in particular, and RPG's in general, I'll take a look at anything Steve does.

1 comment:

Justin Isaac said...

I don't care for some of Hensley's original Deadlands and Hell on Earth stuff, but the Army of Darkness book is just inspired. It's rare that an rpg book makes me laugh out loud, but it managed to do it multiple times.