“The debt we owe to the play of imagination is incalculable.” – Carl Jung
I certainly can’t even fathom how much I owe to the play of imagination, to gaming. If I go back far enough it was playing superheroes outside with other kids in the neighborhood. Someone had to be the bad guy, and that was me. Even then I was GMing and didn’t realize it. That was a game. Soon it was HeroQuest, D&D, and all the enjoyable board, video, and tabletop games since. Don’t forget writing or other arts like drawing; the imagination is at play then. After all the times friends could get together, countless fond memories together, or the security of something (anything) to do while sequestered at home during COVID, I owe a lot to gaming.
And I’ll refer to two conversations here because there’s only so much time for games. Sure, there’s sleep, work, exercise and other needs, but really there’s only so much time. A campaign can take years. How many video games do we purchase hoping to find time to play? I haven’t even finished my first playthrough of Baldur’s Gate 3! I know! Back in 2018, Adam of Order of the Amber Die was chatting with me ‘round the fire one night after a long day of gaming. He called out just how many years, how many games we can get through. It’s why the Order’s marathons are so valuable for getting through content, but also building memories. Then as the new year began, our Ryan said to me that perhaps putting together an article of games I wanted to play would be interesting. Honestly, it’s not only interesting but a great idea for me to help plan! So here’s all the games I’m hoping to play (at least try a one shot of) this year! If you know of a one shot I could get in on, let me know! I’m certainly going to be reaching out and searching.
Eldritch Automata is a game currently being kickstarted right now! From my friends at Gehenna Gaming, Nick and Ian have assembled a number of fine writers (including Rue Dickey, Michelle Y. Kim, and more) to produce this part-action, part-horror TTRPG. There are post-apocalyptic and psychological elements as drama builds around your character, a pilot struggling to survive in this world. I want to see some of these angelic horrors called Seraphs while moving my badass Automata to fight for my piece of freedom in this land! Also, since post-apocalyptic survival tends toward the isolationist or independent character, I’m really interested to see interaction with other PCs. Nick notes that “your relationships will ripple through the world around” and I want to see how. Rivalry can be good after all; it’s not just friendship and romance every time. It’s healthy competition like Legolas and Gimli or Fox and Falco. Count how many abominations you can destroy out there in the torn lands!
Warrenguard is coming to backerkit in February. Like Eldritch Automata, I mentioned this in my PAX Unplugged 2023 recap because it was some sweet, sweet gaming news to come out of the convention. I’m not sure on the ruleset exactly, but I know it’s a low roll and primarily roleplay game mixing up Belonging outside Belonging and Fate Accelerated. I’m just excited to have my dragonrider and dragon! That combo seems perfect for some roleplaying scenes, and getting tokens by leaning into some dramatic elements, then using them to propel the story or combat forward. I loved the Dragonriders of Pern books, so that’s right up my alley, but knowing Natalie of Luck of the Harbor, it’ll be able to be much more and truly whatever we make of it! UPDATE: my playtest one-shot is secured! So excited!
Continuing the trend of awesome games I learned about at PAX, 5th Conspiracy is the game framework we all need and the rules/story of the modern gothic we all want! I frequently have set my World of Darkness games building toward something more cross-venue. I want vampires, werewolves, gods, angel, and the like but there’s also aliens, dragons, bigfoot and more. They mix together with intrigue, drama, mystery and less about PVP though I suspect some might still occur… Stephen and 5th Conspiracy gives you all of that, plus that framework I mentioned to get the group unified under premise, plan, schedule, and more. I pretty much begged to get some game time in beyond the one-shot I played at PAX and my dark prayers to the negaverse have been answered. You can expect a full article on this glorious game!
Masks is a game from Magpie that I’ve dabbled in. Young superhero gaming makes my Marvel X-Men fan heart sing. Dan from Order of the Amber Die introduced me at my first PAX – trend much, clearly – and I wanted more. Back in June I played a one-shot and decided I needed more. It was with a skin/class from an expanded set of options that allowed me to bring a sort of haunted, brooding Scion of a villain hero to life. Antihero maybe but only because others might feel a way. I like that the game is about growing through action, but also by learning and experiencing with others. There’s moves to soothe and support, to jump in and help, but also find yourself and you can be rewarded accordingly with XP. Thankfully one of my friend groups is down with an extended series of the game and of course, sweet Dan is running it for us!
The long delay on fulfillment aside, I want to play some Urban Shadows 2E, also by Magpie. The quickstart came out and allegedly we’ll hear this month on when the full PDF will be sent out. For many playing – and I know a group of friends who started such over a year ago – that PDF is enough. It too is a modern gothic game of vampires, werewolves, hunters, and more utilizing the Powered by the Apocalypse ruleset. I played the first edition way back in 2020 as part of Gen Con Online, the first year of the pandemic and it was a welcome escape. There seemed a real element of power corrupting, influencing one another (which Masks has too), and the bargains side of intrigue. I’m eager to see more of that, and it also inspires me to find how to weave that into playing 5th Conspiracy. Honestly I really just want to see some of the other skins they’re making and see what a season of this game can really evoke from a group.
In the same conversation where Ryan gave me the idea of this article, I was asking about an Essence20 game! Honestly, it’s way past due and I’ve been meaning to try and find a way to play some of these Renegade Games. Really I’m a fan of the classic 80’s shows they’re based upon like the licensed Hasbro titles like GI Joe and Transformers. You could be a grizzled commando or an autobot with badass style. I mentioned wanting a Thundercats Essence20 game; please help me manifest it! I feel like if Critical Role played some Essence20 they could make a Thundercats game happen. Matt Merce did Lion-O’s voice in the show back like a decade ago. I’m interested to see how the dice allocation and use of even d2’s works for skill assignment. Everyone loves collecting dice so it’s nice to have more reason to use them.
That brings me to the Critical Role owned Darrington Press. Candela Obscura is out, their short form horror game in an alt Victorian, slight steampunk, Cthulhu-esque campaign world. I’ve enjoyed the short series they’ve had, and a short campaign of 3 or 4 episodes seems perfect for a trial. I won’t be surprised if we start to see more games running over time as this year proceeds into 2025. That’s especially true as their “long form” game Daggerheart premieres. I’ve signed up to help run trials / playtests and was accepted in! As soon as I can I’ll be gathering folks to try it out. Considering Critical Role is made up of these actors, the games always have a story focus with vibrant, character-driven touchpoints. I’ve seen screenshots (see below) with 6 ability scores like Agility, Strength, Precision, Intuition, Presence, and Knowledge. There’s hit points, ancestries (not races), stress and hope. The quick character sheets they showed off at Gen Con had info for leveling for the first few levels like increasing traits and stresses, adding more armor slots, and more.
Finally, I love Pathfinder2E and I want to try Starfinder2E! It shouldn’t be too hard considering the playtest rules are available to download and play with. It’d probably be difficult to take away from our current Kingmaker game for a bit of playtesting, so hopefully I can find a one or two shot with some folks. Maybe No Quest for the Wicked might want to do something alt-group and I’ll at least see such! I want to get that crew into some games; they were even asking about other games to try. But back to Starfinder, the thing that interests me greatly is with it and Pathfinder on the same base system for 2E you can bring rules in from the other. That includes classes! So getting more experience with Starfinder2E will be fun, and also inform my usage for Pathfinder. Heaven knows if I have a PC die and not want to return, the player will be asking so best to get ahead of that!
If you’re investing in any of these games already, let me know, especially if you don’t mind a drop in or are going to do a one shot or small series. I’m really excited to try more games this year all while running Kingmaker 2E. I think I’m an optimistic person, but I’ve high hopes for 2024 and hope you do too. Happy New Year and much love to all!
I wasn’t quite sure what to name my article series when I first started but the idea of showcasing or discussing things that make me excited, that I find new and interesting, or maybe I’m otherwise passionate about seemed to fit with the idea of Investing In something like the Pathfinder 2E mechanic. To use some magic items you have to give that little bit of yourself, which helps make these things even better. I like the metaphor of the community growing and being strengthened in the same way!
I also want to hear what you’re Investing In! Leave me a comment below about what games, modules, systems, products, people, live streams, etc you enjoy! You can also hit me up on social media as silentinfinity. I want to hear what excites you and what you’re passionate about. There’s so much wonderful content, people, groups (I could go on) in this community of ours that the more we invest in and share, the better it becomes!
Banner – a collage of book covers, owners as noted below
- IMAGINATION, archanN, Creative Commons Attribution
- Eldritch Automata book, Gehenna Gaming
- Warrenguard book, Luck of the Harbor
- 5th Conspiracy book, AED Publishing, Stephen Koontz
- Masks book, Magpie Games
- Urban Shadows 2E, Magpie Games
- Transformers Essence20 book, Renegade Games
- Candela Obscura book promo image, Darrington Press
- Daggerheart promo character sheet from Gen Con, Gwenhwyfar
- Starfinder2E playtest banner, Paizo