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Supplemental WISHes

Whoops, I missed a WISH. Well, last week was pretty busy. This week, it’s all about supplements.

What do you think about supplements to game systems? Do you like the additional material, or are you just annoyed about spending the money for the additional rules? Name up to three supplements you?ve really enjoyed, and describe why you liked them.

I like supplements. I have the gamer fondness for more crunchy stuff, although I’m just as happy without it, but what I really like is cool world material. This bias is about to become utterly apparent when I talk about my three favorite supplements.

First, perhaps the best supplement ever, GURPS Fantasy II by Robin Laws. I’m cheating, here, because the reasons I love the Madlands have nothing to do with the fact that they were presented as a supplement. There’s nothing terribly GURPSy about the Madlands; they’re an insane Cthuloid Laplanderesque setting permeated with the horror of Christopher Robin. Layered over the bleak chill of the Madlands, you’ve got half a dozen ornately conceptualized cultures ranging from a really original take on magocracy to a society of immortals that does magic by shooting up powdered gems. You’d do just as well running the whole thing in FUDGE or D20. Really, it’s a game world that hijacked GURPS for a quick trip to your local gaming store.

So OK, let’s have another first. First, perhaps the best real supplement ever, Spherewalker Sourcebook by Greg Stolze. It’s a volumnious sourcebook presented as an encyclopedia, which is a terribly clever conceit. I think it works so well because the short format of each entry forced Stolze to really focus on getting a game hook or two into a couple of short paragraphs. Further, the interlocking format, in which the entire picture becomes clear only after reading all the entries, is an excellent model for a revelatory campaign — a mode that Everway is well suited for. Doesn’t hurt that it’s very well written.

Second, I’m gonna say Charnel Gods by Scott Knipe. I talked about it a lot in the entry linked to above, so maybe just go back and take a look. This almost falls into the category of “more a game world than a supplement,” but the skill with which Knipe adapts the Sorcerer memes to support his unique concept saves it. You could run Charnel Gods in another system but it’s better in Sorcerer.

Third, I will cheat a little more and claim that the psi order/region supplements for Trinity are a single choice. I could pick one of them but I’m lazy, and they’re really all very good. Andrew Bates, the line editor for Trinity, solved the White Wolf splatbook dilemma: how do you make a clan/guild/breed/whatever book interesting and useful for most of the player base? Answer: you link the psi orders to a specific region and make the order books cover the region as well. Since each order was really designed side by side with the region in which they reside, it doesn’t feel forced. Bates did more within the parameters of the White Wolf system than any other line developer. (Sorry, Rich, Justin, et al. But Bates is the man.)

It’s probably obvious, given the examples I’ve chosen, that I’d rather have world than rules. I like it when rules are presented to support new aspects of the rules; for example, I’ve been pretty impressed with the Forgotten Realms line lately. (For a high magic over the top what if John Woo directed a fantasy movie feel, the Realms aren’t bad.) I am not so hugely fond of just new widgets. The classbooks for D&D excited me insofar as some of the classes provided new plot ideas.

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