Smile! It’s Friday! The weekend is nearly upon us! We’ve had a busy, busy week here in the darkest jungles of Appalachia. But I’ll get into that later. First, on to the Fun part of Fun Friday! So I was surfing the Interwebz yesterday, and stumbled across this image:
My first reaction was, “What the hell?” But it looked cool, so I investigated further. Turns out, this is part of a collection of miniatures for a Warhammer-type game called Secrets of the Third Reich. Now I’m not into that sort of war gaming, so, aside from the cool miniatures, I was unthrilled. However! While researching SotTR, I found something called Weird War II, which is more my style. Weird War II is a role playing game set, obviously, in World War II.
Now Weird War II is not a game I have personally played, so I can’t say too much about the gameplay or how good the reference materials are (but it’s totally on my wish list, though! Here’s a link to the first book). But here’s what I found. Weird War is a horror game published by Pinnacle Entertainment in 2001, and consists (so far) of six books:
- Blood on the Rhine – Core rulebook
- Afrika Korpse – Sourcebook for Africa and Egypt
- Dead From Above – Sourcebook for aircraft and several flying monsters
- Horrors of Weird War Two – Bestiary
- Land of the Rising Dead – Sourcebook for the Pacific Theatre
- Hell in the Hedgerows – three adventures
- Hell Freezes Over – Sourcebook for the Russian Front
Players play through the settings and battles of World War II, only with the added element of the supernatural: mages, haunted places and vehicles, zombies, ghost, you name it, the Nazis and Allies are dealing with it. According to what I’ve read, the set up tends to be low-magic/high-cost (which means spells are not hugely powerful, and cost a lot to make them happen, and they’re operating on the idea of The Masquerade (that means that magic and the supernatural are hidden from the general public). I approve very much. Low magic means that your magic users can’t overpower game balance. And I’ve always been a fan of the Masquerade concept. If the general public knows about magic and the supernatural, then you have to incorporate them, in some capacity, into the culture, and, in my experience, this is tedious to do, and results in a world that is so removed from the original setting context that it’s essentially useless (I know others feel differently, and that’s great; this is a personal opinion). Besides, having to find ways to do wild stuff and still preserve the Masquerade is a fun challenge to players (and readers).
Weird War is using a D20 system. Yay! I was a gamer when HERO and GURPS came out in the late 1980’s. The idea of a generic RPG system was revolutionary, one that I approved of. However, I found the point pool system wwaaaaaaaay too complicated. When I was playing HERO system, the only person in our group who could set up a functioning character without requiring a day or two of hard labor was our GM, who had a master’s degree in mathematics. So I was pleased when the D20 system came out. Dice based instead of point-pool based is a good thing; any slob with some dice can jump in with both feet. No calculus degree needed.
I wandered off to Soapbox World there for a second. Sorry. Anyway! Weird War II is on my list of games that much be checked out. It looks like pure Dieselpunk fodder to me, and I’m an absolute junkie for anything weird war themed. Follow the links above, see if it’s up your street.
Onward and upward! How’s about another game, a video game instead of an RPG. “Valiant Hearts: The Great War” is a puzzle adventure game released for the X-Box One by Ubisoft just this year. The game starts out at the beginning of World War I (and it’s chock full of little factoids about the war), and the player alternates, playing one of four characters involved in the conflict. Game play seems pretty straightforward. The characters go through the process of being conscripted or volunteering to join their respective armies and going to war (one character is female, and serves as a battlefield nurse). Along the way, they must solve various puzzles, which vary from things as simple as figuring out how to get the military band to play together, to as complicated as running through no man’s land without getting shot (like playing the old Frogger game, only with explosions added).
Unlike Call of Duty or other war video games, the graphics on these are much less realistic. Honestly, when I first saw it, it reminded me of the artwork from the Madeline picture books from my childhood. Check it here:
The animation is very nice, the controls are easy (and there’s an unobtrusive tutorial to help you learn button mapping, etc). Looks good. The only thing is that it’s not very Pulp or very Dieselpunk. It’s a pretty straightforward WWI setting, with no particular changes rung on it, other than the children’s picture book graphics. Still, worth checking out.
Seems we have a game theme going here, so here’s one last tidbit for you in that same theme. I heard about Fortune and Glory a few months before it got featured on Wil Wheaton’s TableTop web series (you can check out that episode here). This one makes no pretense: it is all about the pulpy goodness. Yay!
Fortune and Glory is a board game for four to six players. Each player takes on a pulp era persona (mad scientist, British Lord, race car driver, tomb robber, etc). They are in a race around the map to collect various Indiana Jones style artifacts, all the while collecting a fortune, claiming immortal glory for themselves, and periodically fighting off Evil Nazis (as opposed to what? Morally-neutral-but- we-mean-well Nazis? Umm…. Probably don’t want to think about that one too much). All these give you Hero points; the one who gets their requisite number of Hero points first (the number varies from character to character, and on various random factors in the game) is the winner.
The gameplay is pretty open ended. You can go any direction you like, which I like, there’s no set pattern. You can refuse to go after a specific artifact if, for whatever reason, you decide it’s not a good idea. I like that it’s not simply a matter of picking up the artifact when you arrive in Paris, for example; you have to run a gauntlet, a la Raiders of the Lost Ark, that is determined by card draws and dice rolls. But what I like best are the artifacts. Instead of having a set number of items to be collected, the artifacts are determined by special card draws. There is a card for the actual artifact (gauntlets, chalice, ruby, etc), and then there is a card for a descriptor of the artifact. You draw two cards, and voila! You have The Gauntlets of the Pale Moon, with a new backstory. I like that; it improves replay value in my mind.
If there’s anything that might detract from this game, it’s the lack of backstory and motivation. I like to know why my characters are doing what they’re doing. Then again, that’s probably why I ended up a writer instead of a game designer. That aside, this game is fun. Check it out!
Okay, I think that’s it for me. But before I go, remember I said we’d had a busy, busy week, here in the darkest jungles of Appalachia, and I said I’d explain later. Well, here’s why. My daughter worked a little harder than the rest of us: she gave me another grandson. Give welcome to Jesse Denver Lyons III (also called either Little Jess, Jesse3, or Little Squeaker). He was born in the early hours Thursday morning, and weighed five pounds 7.5 ounces. He was slightly early, which is why he’s a little underweight. But he’s a pleasant, quiet baby, and a voracious eater so far. And he’s beautiful! Take a look!
Anyways, that’s it. Don’t forget to share, tweet, comment, email. I’m always looking for new Fun Friday material, so if you know of any, be sure and let me know. Now, I’m off to go get my fix of Grandbaby Number Three!