Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Mixed Emotions - The ETU Kickstarter for Savage Worlds

I debated posting this but decided I might as well share. Plus it's not about D&D, Pathfinder, or 40K so it might a nice breath of fresh air.

What do you do when a game system you really like runs a kickstarter for a supplement on a topic you care nothing about?

I really like Savage Worlds and almost everything that Pinnacle puts out interests me in some way. They've spent a lot of time publishing games with a fair amount of real history embedded in them (Deadlands, Weird Wars, Pirates) but with a twist to make them more interesting as a game. They've also done some interesting things with fantasy (Evernight) and superheroes (Necessary Evil) to the point that I'l take a look at pretty much anything they do. I own all of the original Hell on Earth books, almost all of the Deadlands books, almost all of the early Savage Worlds books, and quite a few of the later ones. I backed the Weird Wars Rome kickstarter and I am completely happy with the results.

That said I just can't get on board with this one. I'm working through why:

  • It clearly has a vision behind it - the descriptions so far seem cohesive and make a lot of sense.
  • It's set in Texas, modern-day-if-it-was-haunted Texas. That may be where my problem starts. 
  • It's set in a school. I know that's part of the problem.

Going in reverse order:

I've never been a fan of the high school RPG, whether it was the old Teenagers from Outer Space (the first one I can remember), the various superhero high school games, the Buffy RPG, or even a Trek game set at Starfleet Academy. This one is set in a university but that's really not all that different in effect. I've never really felt the need to revisit the teenage years in a game. When I was a junior high/high school kid I wanted to play grown-ups, not teenagers. When I was in college we never wanted to play high school or college kids. As an adult I've never felt the urge to go back there either. Clearly some people do, or  these kinds of games wouldn't exist but it's not my thing.

As a side note, I could see playing (and probably have at some point) the college professor or even a college student in a game that wasn't set in a school. I think I had an "academic" in an old Traveller game and I know I've used "student" as a secret identity/day job on some superhero characters over the years. The key factor there was that none of those games were set in or focused on a school - it was just a piece of their background.

As far as setting it in Texas, well, it's probably a little too close to home to be all that fantastic. I drive to and from parts of East Texas several times a year whether for summer lake visits or springtime car shows. I have friends out there. I'm talking an hour or two's drive from Dallas, and while that may seem exotic to someone from way out of state or in another country it's just not that exciting to me. Drop it back 150 years and then we might have something, but as a "now" setting it's just very plain in my eyes.

The fact that we've been looking at colleges for the Graduated Apprentice for two years and that there are a great number of "Directional Texas Universities" probably adds to the lack of the fantastic in my eyes as well. The thought of getting familiar with another school, even a fictional one, with monsters and cultists, just sounds like more work to me.

My personal lack of interest aside the game looks like it's well done. There are not a ton of games set in modern day Texas, and the "Pinebox" guys do seem to know the area well. I like the art style. Savage Worlds seems like a great system to do this in. They have some nifty "unlockables" - though they are based on number of backers and not amount pledged which seems like an odd way to do it, but if it works for them that's cool. Even the miniatures seem pretty useful for a modern game in general.

Working through this, as much as I like Savage Worlds in general, I just can't get on board with this one. I hope it's successful for Pinnacle and everyone on the team, but I won't be backing it. By talking about it here, maybe someone who otherwise would not have seen it will discover it and jump on board. Regardless, I will keep an eye out for the next one and hopefully it will be something I can support.

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