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Bruce McGeorge
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*** I was going to do this as a private Geeklist then changed my mind. Maybe someone out there would like to try to talk me into or out of reading something on the list? Maybe not. ***

In late July 2011, I realized that I had an enormous amount of unread games in my collection... and yet I continued to buy new things at an alarming rate.

gulp

This is where I'm going to track what's on my Top 10 (or so) reading list. I'm also going to attempt to slow down my acquisition rate. Outside of trades, I'd like to start implementing a 2:1 ratio of books read/books acquired.

This isn't going to be easy...

Exciting edit 2/2012: I'm too much of a ferret to have a top 10 reading list, so I'll just stick with things that I've actually opened.

Boring Edit 8/2012: It's becoming a hassle to get this list in the order I want, so I'm just going to let the most current item go to the bottom of the list.
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1. RPG Item: Opening Salvo [Average Rating:7.75 Unranked]
Bruce McGeorge
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Status: Complete!

Rated a 7.5 very prematurely, but it has me very interested in the full RPG due later this year.
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2. RPG Item: The One Ring: Adventures over the Edge of the Wild [Average Rating:8.20 Overall Rank:58]
Bruce McGeorge
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Wow... I've currently rated this a 9. I expect it to go down a bit (maybe 8 - 8.5). I like to split hairs. I'm finding some of the text to be a bit confusing in practice, and I really wish that the content was not split into two books.

I have never had any desire to play a Middle-earth RPG. I've already *run* One Ring. While it was rough (Jagged edges need to be smoothed, but it's a promising start), it was also promising.

I'm running again on 10/15. I'm probably not going to read much of anything until after that. I'm old. If I read another game, I'm going to lose One Ring knowledge.
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3. RPG Item: HERO System Sixth Edition Basic Rulebook [Average Rating:7.78 Overall Rank:992]
Bruce McGeorge
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Status: Skimmed (Complete)

I got this from Vaklam in the chain of generosity. My players really want me to run Champions again...

I skimmed this book. I tried to go in with an open mind, but it became pretty clear that my days of GMing Hero have passed.

I'll pass this on in a future Math Trade or back in the chain of generosity along with the two freaking huge Core books.
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4. RPG Item: Savage Worlds Deluxe [Average Rating:8.14 Overall Rank:40]
Bruce McGeorge
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Woo-hoo! I finally read something cover to cover. IMO, this is clearly the best version of Savage Worlds to date. I like some of the tweaks. Maybe most impressive, for a generic system rulebook, it's a pretty easy read. Now I just have to find my pulpy setting of choice and give this a good run.

I've rated this a 8.5 for now.
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5. RPG Item: Beasts & Barbarians Golden Edition [Average Rating:7.62 Overall Rank:1639]
Bruce McGeorge
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Very solid... I'm giving it an 8/10. Still, I can't put my finger on it, it's just not something that is compelling me to put it on the table.
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6. RPG Item: Honor + Intrigue [Average Rating:7.08 Overall Rank:4678]
Bruce McGeorge
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Status: Complete!

I'm currently playtesting this, and it's going well. I will likely run it for the group.

I'm at an 8/10 right now, but I think this could hit a 9 after some more play.
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7. RPG Item: Swashbuckler! (2nd Edition) [Average Rating:6.50 Unranked]
Bruce McGeorge
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I picked this up at Origins 2012 (a day before writing this) and was able to get through the 64 pages pretty quickly.

This is a hard one for me to make a final decision about. The designer is very clear that he's extremely light on setting. Character generation is very fast and loose. Combat is very rigid with a maneuver vs. maneuver resolution system with an interesting flow from one move to the next.

Personally, with only 64 pages, I wish it had focused more on one era. It covers the period from 1400-1700 so it needs to cover a wide variety of arms and armor.

For now, this goes back on the shelf. I might pull it out again if I'm having issues with other games' combat system. Swashbuckler! does feel like it gets 1 on 1 fights right.
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8. RPG Item: 50 Fathoms Explorer's Edition [Average Rating:8.12 Overall Rank:975]
Bruce McGeorge
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Really quite good... The problem is quantity. 50 Fathoms is a campaign best told at a steady pace over a long period of time. That's a luxury that I don't have.

I also kept track of my reading pace... which is just dreadful. It took exactly a month for me to finish 50F. Sigh. Back in the day, I could have zoomed through something like this in days instead of weeks.
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9. RPG Item: Agents of Oblivion [Average Rating:7.50 Overall Rank:2370]
Bruce McGeorge
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Status: Complete!

Refreshing! This was an easy read... something that I needed. I knocked it out in less than a week.

I read AoO with the wrong expectations. I'm still struggling to divorce my expectations from what I feel the book actually is.

I discussed this with Josh (Bazin) a bit. Josh said that he feels like AoO is a spy toolkit first and a setting second. He's right. It's a success on that level... the mechanics are quite good.

But...

I really thought it was going to be more of a setting book. There's a shotgun approach to setting; I would have preferred a deeper dive into the two main agencies (Oblivion and Pandora).

I've given AoO a knee-jerk rating of 6.5 while I mull it over. I think I'm going to pick up one of the follow up adventure PDFs and see what that looks like.

Let me say this... I've been interested in Night's Black Agents, but I know that my group would dig Savage Worlds more than GUMSHOE. As of this moment, NBA has moved up on my wishlist...

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10. RPG Item: Monster of the Week [Average Rating:8.09 Overall Rank:176]
Bruce McGeorge
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Status: Complete!

Currently I have it rated a solid 8, and I could see it going higher if I get to play it. Well written, great flavor, stays focused the entire time.

My only problem area is combat which I think screams out for some more structure. I'm sure that comes from my traditional background, but I think it would be like herding cats trying to manage 3-5 players wanting to do something at the same time while trying to make sure the monster is bringing the pain.

Read Steven's excellent review here: Hunting vampires, Mongolian death worms, and terrors from the beyond – Powered by the Apocalypse!
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11. RPG Item: Plateau of the Ape Men & The Dragons of London [Average Rating:7.38 Unranked]
Bruce McGeorge
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Status: Completed a half-read, half-skim

The game as presented by this quick-start product doesn't appear to be my cup of tea. I may still look at the full book at Gen Con, but I'm going to have to see something that changes my mind.
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12. RPG Item: Wu Xing: The Ninja Crusade [Average Rating:8.35 Overall Rank:1552]
Bruce McGeorge
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Status: Tried reading... failed...

I started this in early July 2011 but I didn't get very far... I'm not sure why. I still haven't gone back to it more than 6 months later. I'm going to admit defeat for now and see if it surfaces in the future.
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13. RPG Item: The Dresden Files Roleplaying Game, Volume 1: Your Story [Average Rating:8.30 Overall Rank:21]
Bruce McGeorge
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Status: Tried reading... failed...

Okay, I can hear the gasps already.

A few things have put this off my reading list for awhile.

d10-1 I simply don't have a group that will play this game.

d10-2 I was overwhelmed by the size of the books.

d10-3 I'm not sure where I stand with the fiction, but I was getting spoilered quite a bit.

The books are beautiful, well written, and interesting... but I need to shelve them for the moment.
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14. RPG Item: Gamemastering [Average Rating:7.12 Overall Rank:2685]
Bruce McGeorge
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Status: Tried reading... failed...

I was maybe 1/3 of the way through this and just stopped reading. When I do this, I know that I need to move on to something else.

I think my 50/50 agree/disagree split with the advice made it hard to continue.
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15. RPG Item: Leverage: The Roleplaying Game [Average Rating:7.55 Overall Rank:2085]
Bruce McGeorge
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Status: Mostly read... back on the shelf.

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got this in the January 2012 RPG Math Trade. When I cursed him for it, he arranged to have it shipped to me.

This has been sitting unread for about 6 months and my reading stack has grown. I might finish this one day... maybe not.
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16. RPG Item: Never Unprepared: The Complete Game Master's Guide to Session Prep [Average Rating:7.37 Overall Rank:1437]
Bruce McGeorge
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Status: Complete!

I got through the first half of the book at an okay pace. I felt like it was valuable info. I kept saying "well, that's common sense", but then I'd look at myself and say "but you aren't doing it."

For whatever reason - perhaps the desire to read some actual games - I really struggled on the second half. I had a harder time applying the advice to myself. While I finished it, I might go back to it at some point when I'm actually doing prep to see if it clicks with me more.
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17. RPG Item: All for One: Régime Diabolique (Savage Worlds) [Average Rating:6.25 Unranked]
Bruce McGeorge
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Status: Complete.

Post Gen Con, I decided that I needed to focus my energies on getting a backup game selected and prepped for play.

I thought I found my game with Honor + Intrigue - and I still really want to play/run it - but my gut is telling me that it's not the best choice as a backup game. IMO, the combat system has a decent learning curve, and that's a problem for a game which might get run a few times a year.

Trying to stay with the Action / Adventure (Swashbuckling / Pirates) genre, I'm going to check this out. The group seems to like Savage Worlds, so that's a plus. Personally, I still have some system and setting hurdles to get over.

Conclusion: This is my second stab at All for One, and it just isn't clicking with me. I dig Savage Worlds, but I find that I like it best in more modern settings (like Deadlands forward).
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18. RPG Item: Deadlands Player's Guide [Average Rating:8.32 Overall Rank:356]
Bruce McGeorge
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Such an easy read... I actually ended up reading 90% of the book (only skipping some of the longer lists).
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19. RPG Item: Deadlands: Reloaded [Average Rating:8.10 Overall Rank:72]
Bruce McGeorge
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Status: Complete

Actually, I'm reviewing the Marshal's Handbook portion of Reloaded. I'm not going to take a deep dive here; I just want to review the parts to get ready to run the game. From previous readings, I know that the setting tends to overwhelm me at some points. I don't need metaplot, I just need enough to get me started.

That was quick!
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Bruce McGeorge
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Lawrenceburg
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Status: Review Complete

As a GM, I'm pretty hopeless until I see the characters. I like to riff off of the things they give me. I think this is one of the reasons why my first sessions often fall flat if we do character generation and the first adventure in the same session.

I could avoid some of this by going into things with a tight idea. You are all Texas Rangers on the search for... Alas, I don't like to do that either. I'd rather everyone found the character they wanted to play with no limitations... probably because that's the way I like to create characters.

I'm hoping to go into things with a general idea and a straightforward but interesting one-sheet. I've already encountered one with Daddy's Boy, but hopefully I can find some more to put into my toolkit.

Update: I've gone through all of the one sheets on Pinnacle's site. It was the mixed bag that I expected, but some of them hit the mark for me.
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21. RPG Item: Blood Drive I: Bad Times on the Goodnight [Average Rating:7.00 Unranked]
 
Bruce McGeorge
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Status: Complete

Weird timing... So I've started to prep for running Deadlands, and this is released. I'm not sure if I'm sold on the "cattle drive" as a campaign framework yet, but there's much to like here so far.

This a pretty solid product for introducing groups to Deadlands and Savage Worlds. It does have a few editing issues which will hopefully be fixed soon.

I have a few potential issues with the "cattle drive" idea. One is getting player and character buy in. It doesn't feel like you are a Big Damn Hero at the start... something my players like. On the surface, some character types don't feel logical; a Mad Scientist on a cattle drive feels off (although one of my players suggested that maybe he's the cook; I thought that was a neat image).

Second is the nature of a cattle drive makes the adventure feel linear. After all, you are going from Point A to Point B...
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22. RPG Item: Coffin Rock [Average Rating:6.96 Overall Rank:2942]
Bruce McGeorge
United States
Lawrenceburg
Indiana
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Status: Complete

I've skimmed Coffin Rock in the past. The knock on it that I've heard is that you can basically go to any building in the small town, knock on the door, and that should lead you to an adventure of some sort. In other words, there's just too much going on.

I'm about halfway through; the problem I'm seeing is that I don't know why any posse would stay in Coffin Rock... If the group had a Blessed, though, that would probably do it.

Update: Everything above holds true for me. In addition, some of the mini-adventures aren't my cup of tea. I'm sure I'll steal some stuff, but I'll look elsewhere for "adventure" material.
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23. RPG Item: The Flood [Average Rating:7.76 Overall Rank:720]
Bruce McGeorge
United States
Lawrenceburg
Indiana
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Status: Admitted defeat.

So epic campaigns like The Flood aren't normally suitable to my backup GM role. We don't play enough to make a dent in the story, etc... I've also heard unkind things about this book.

Still... it's largely set in an area that I dig (The Maze) and has a few other things going for it. I can largely avoid the "unkind things" and Matthew Cutter has given some advice for shortening the campaign.

It's worth a look.


Update: Holy cow, this thing is massive. Even if I cut it down, I just don't run it enough to make a dent in it. The good news is that it serves as a great toolkit for the Region; I'll be able to steal plenty from it.
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24. RPG Item: Murder on the Hellstromme Express [Average Rating:8.00 Unranked]
Bruce McGeorge
United States
Lawrenceburg
Indiana
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Status: Complete.

I'm still looking for something to kickstart Deadlands: Reloaded for my group. This has some fans, so I thought it was worth checking out.

Update: This is a fun adventure. It reminds me in some ways of the WFRP adventure (IIRC) "Rough Night at the Three Feathers." There's a sequence of events that is going to happen, but the PC's involvement is going to send the dominoes falling in different directions.

That said... it's not what I want at this moment. I've tucked it away for future use.
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25. RPG Item: Blood Drive II: High Plains Drovers [Average Rating:7.00 Unranked]
Bruce McGeorge
United States
Lawrenceburg
Indiana
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Status: Complete.

I started reading this last night and decided that I'm going to prep and run the Blood Drive trilogy.

It's railroad-y as heck, so I'll need to figure out how to open that up a bit. Hopefully the players will provide the needed hooks.

On the good side, it's a really good adventure for introducing new players to the system and the setting. The majority of my players are new to both.

With some luck, hopefully I'll have some session reports by the end of 2012.

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