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Spirit of the Century, first impressions
dresser, Montano, 2006
Last week drivingblind offered to comp me a copy of his company's new pulp game, Spirit of the Century. Now I've read it. I will be doing up a full review soon, but in the meantime, I say this:

Spirit of the Century is by a wide margin the best pulp game I've yet read, and yes, I do include the one I co-developed in that. Spirit builds with flair and intelligence on its predecessors, including Adventure, transmuting good intentions into brilliantly smooth execution. It is a beautiful little volume, well-written, entertainingly illustrated, and full of the fun. If you like to play pulp adventure roleplaying, then you want to check this out. Trust me on this: I repeatedly had the thought, "I wish I'd done it that way", "I wish I'd had that idea", and so on. It's great stuff. Go support Fred, Rob, and the gang.

(They generously threw in Don't Rest Your Head. My thoughts on that when I read it.)

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well, damn.

I've been holding out so far, despite all the other rave reviews - do I really need another game? even a pulp game? - but if it gets your recommendation, I suppose I'll have to.


I haven't read through Spirit of the Century yet, but I really really enjoyed reading Dont' Rest Your Head. I haven't been able to play it yet, but I think it is a really interesting idea with a fantastic mechanic system. Very unique.

Innnteresting. I'm aware that you recently did some writing for another pulp game as well, but perhaps making that comparison would be unpolitic for you.

BTW, I just read DRYH on a train trip and have submitted a review to RPGnet. It's nicely done and there's some clever system monkey stuff - basically seat of the pants resource (and risk) management.

Unpolitic? Not at all. Hollow Earth Expeditions does its thing really well. I'm happy to have contributed to it. Nonethless, I think Spirit is more emphatically pulp-y as well as wider-ranging.

Aso, this is friendly competition. Use one as a resource for another, for setting, a good chargen technique, whatever.

A recommendation from you does attract my interest—but it's not necessarily reliable as a predictor of my tastes; I remember we have rather different reactions to Nobilis, for one. I find myself wondering about two different things:

What's the engine like? Do you roll dice, spend drama points, compare ranks, or what? Does it have things that are distinctive in the purely mechanical sense?

What is playing a session of SotC supposed to be like? Is it meant to feel like a typical tabletop game session, either classic adventure (player characters as a team with a mission, game master as providing the threats and adjudicating the fights) or dramaturgical (player characters as clashing personalities with conflicting agenda, game master as the director and script editor who makes it into a satisfying story)? Or is it some other sort of animal?

I realize you may not have time to answer either question. But since my attention has been attracted, I'll be watching for mentions of SotC to see if one of them tells me about these points. Perhaps your review will cover them; do please provide a link, if it appears elsewhere than here.

I'll be covering this in my review, but the mechanics are based on the FATE implementation of Fudge, so it's dice rolling with a fate point pool for modifying results. It's a classic adventure scenario setup, with the PCs belonging to a loose club of heroic types of all sorts, taking on presumptively vile fiends and their loathsome schemes. The GM and player roles are traditional; the innovations are in the implementation of these concepts.

And I'll post my review here. :)

If it's a proper substantial review, do consider posting it on RPGnet instead/as well. That would be a good sales generator for them.

And they're big dummies if they don't use what you say above as a pull quote for web pages etc.

Dude, it's already there on the site, and already in my rpg.net .sig :)

Hmm. I see why it's been hard to get good buzz recently - YOU'VE GOT IT ALL!

It's a version of FUDGE? That's very promising. I've used FUDGE to run a campaign set in the 1920s, inspired by Planetary, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and the Wold Newton corpus; it was a very good fit to the play style I wanted. The spending of fudge points played a big role in the game as I ran it.

I must rush to suggest that Spirit of the Century is exactly what you want, then. Check out some of the preview materials on our site: http://www.evilhat.com/?spirit

The downloads seem admirably suited to inform the reader about the game. From what I've looked at so far, plus the quoted comments, the one thing that causes me caution of SotC is the emphasis on pickup games. I don't do that sort of gaming; I announce possible campaigns half a year ahead, get possible players to vote on which ones they want, spend several months preplanning, and hold a character generation session—all before the first session—and I usually commit to two years of play for a new campaign. Now, it's perfectly possible that the same engine that works for pickup could work for massively preplanned (to give you an idea, one of my players once joked that there were national governments that collected fewer statistics than I generated for my campaigns!), but it's not a sure thing. Perhaps looking through the FATE download will give me a clearer sense of this.

I'd encourage you to look at it as "a system presentation that supports pick-up gaming" rather than "a system presentation that *mandates* pick-up gaming".

You can DEFINITELY do long-term campaign stuff with it.

Thats high praise coming from you.

I am so squarely in the target market for this it's not even funny.

Tell me about it, Dave. I was planning on running Everway to introduce my buddy's 8 year old to gaming, and it's all I can do not to freak out and immediately begin porting Radium Ranch over into SotC.


Rob Barrett

The only thing holding me back from purchase is that I want to determine if I will actually have players.

Ok, so by "holding me back" I really meant "delaying until the afternoon".

I know, this comes as a shock to those who know me.

Now I just need to wait for my PDF copy...

I would like to reward your impatience. Forward your purchase receipt from IPR to iago AT iago DOT net and I'll set you up with PDF access pronto.

(Deleted comment)
I don't normally worry about that. I buy games partly for the pleasure of reading them, and of thinking about the campaigns I might someday run in them. I have fairly good odds of finding players for a campaign if I decide I like it; I've used 14 different engines since I went back to running in published systems. What I want a new system to do is inspire me to think of neat campaign ideas that will then attract players.

Or sometimes I tempt other people into running a game I've bought; that's how I got into the Mutants and Masterminds campaign I'm currently playing in.

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