Thanks to the recent generosity of a number of individuals the archive has grown considerably. I thought I’d use a single post to let everybody know the choicest books, as well as the complete list of books.
13th Age and 13 True Ways
Created by the lead designers of 3rd and 4th edition D&D, this game (and its expansion) aims to fuse the best bits of both – the tactics and mechanical rigor of 4th edition and the more freeform roleplaying focus of 3rd. The included setting is pretty standard fantasy, although it makes it gameable in a way few other settings do by defining a list of 13 ‘Icons’ that between them represent the various forces acting on the Dragon Empire. Whether they’re the order and civilization-loving Dragon Emperor, the cunning and icy Lich King, or the Crusader pushing back the forces of hell so his dark gods can devour the world instead, each has interesting quirks you can mine for plot seeds. Your character starts with relationships to this icons right off the bat that you can use to get aid from their organisation (if friendly) or enemies (if hostile), and the GM is encourages to use these rolls to work out what factions are involved in the plot of the week rather than deciding beforehand.
Character creation is reasonably simple; you pick a class (one of 15 from the simple Barbarian or Sorceror to the complex Wizard or Battle Captain), choose a race (the game comes with the fantasy staples, as well as simple rules to build your own), pick a few talents from the class to customise your particular character, and pick backgrounds (like skills but more flexible – instead of getting +3 herbalism and +2 healing you can instead put down ‘student of elven healers +3’ and use that for everything it’s appropriate for). The final step is to decide on your character’s One Unique Thing – something about them that no-one else in the world has, and that marks them out as someone worth paying attention to. This can be as simple and mundane as being the only elf in the world with human ears, or as weird as being a paladin so holy you came back from the dead as a skeleton. Either way they help the GM frame their campaign, and give you interesting things to do.
On the other side of the GM screen, the game comes with a bevy of different monsters to use, all with nasty tricks you can give them if you want to make encounters a little tougher. Monsters are a lot simpler than PCs to run, and have their average roll result listed for most actions so that the GM doesn’t need to bother rolling themselves.
13th Age is a lot of fun, and for me resolved many of the issues I had with recent D&D editions. If it sounds good, take a look!
Cthulhu, Cthulhu, Cthulhu
As is appropriate for an old library full of strange tomes, we’ve gathered quite a few books that focus on that most abhorrent and tentacled of entities. Of particular interest were three books: The Laundry Files, Delta Green, and Dreamhounds of Paris.
The Laundry Files is an adaptation of Charles Stross’ Lovecraftian spy thrillers, in which magic is nothing more than a complex series of equations that melt your brain if you try to perform them mentally and that reach out into the dark space between dimensions to summon power. It follows that after the invention of the computer, magic got a lot easier and the various cults that worship the outer entities got a lot more troubling. Our only defense against these threats is the poorly-funded, barely-remembered, so-classified-it-doesn’t-have-a-name security department that lives above Capital Laundry Services in London. Armed with a little knowledge, a few occult cantrips, smartphones loaded with reality-twisting apps and the occasional firearm, it’s your job to slow the world’s descent into madness a few more days. Just try not to die – the paperwork for converting you into a residual human resource is hell…
Taking the idea of security forces against Cthulhu across the pond, Delta Green is a game of government conspiracy and dark horror. You play members of the eponymous paramilitary organisation, born in the aftermath of the U.S. government’s 1928 raid on the coastal town of Innsmouth, Massachusetts. For four decades Delta Green investigated and fought back the various horrors of the mythos – deep ones, cultists, things which lurk in angles – until a botched operation in Cambodia lead the government to close them down. Although stripped of official sanction, the remaining members swore an oath to continue fighting even as they started new careers as scientists, spies and security guards. Now the organisation communicates through dead drops and secure servers, using the federal bureaucracy to fight against the dark forces that have infiltrated every branch of society – from UFO hunters stumbling upon something they cannot understand to the secretive dark conspiracy of Majestic-12. Delta Green has a lot more of a government conspiracy vibe to it – think the X-Files, or Fringe – deception is a right, truth is a privilege, innocence is a luxury. The book comes with adaptations to the Call of Cthulhu system, background details on every US government agency as inspiration for character’s day jobs, enemy organisations like a criminal syndicate of occultists, immortal nazis serving a risen Hitler, and the extraterrestrial Mi-Go, and two scenarios and a short campaign to run players through.
Finally, Dreamhounds of Paris returns to the classic Cthulhu time period of the 20s and 30s. Written for the investigation-focused Trail of Cthulhu, Dreamhounds charts the rise and fall of the surrealist movement and extrapolates their real-life fervour to create a global psychic revolution into a war of conquest waged across the landscape of mankind’s dreams. Play as two-fisted filmmaker Luis Bunuel, American expat photographer Man Ray, or impish young painter Salvador Dali in a intricately-detailed Paris taking you from the 1920s to the occupation, and from the mundane world to the nightmare-stalked, cat-filled landscapes of distant Ulthar. This book includes a timeline of the real-life surrealist movement, descriptions and discussions of their art and what they were hoping to achieve with it, 19 different pregenerated characters to play as, and a guide to the surreal landscape of the dreamlands and its strange inhabitants.
I’m not planning on standing again as archivist after this term, but while I still have the books let me know if you want to give any of them a look!
Here’s a full list of the new additions:
Vampire: the Requiem (1e): core book, The Invictus, Ordo Dracula, Lancea Sanctum, VII, Bloodlines: The Hidden.
Vampire: The Masquerade (Revised)
Vampire: The Masquerade (2e)
Wraith: The Oblivion (Revised)
Mage: The Ascension (Revised)
Werewolf: The Apocalypse (Revised)
Exalted (1e): Core Book, The Dragon-Blooded, The Lunars, The Abyssals, plus a lot more supplements.
Burning Wheel and Character Burner (2E)
Gary Gygax’s Necropolis
Midnight: Fury of Shadow