My gaming life is in transition right now. For work reasons it looks as if I’ll be changing gaming mediums from down at SQUIGS, back to online over skype. I’m also hoping to change the game I want to run. For the past 4 years it’s been Exalted Second Edition. And believe me, it’s been a great run, but now White Wolf has dialed back on its production of Exalted books and I’m simultaneously getting a bit bored of the setting. There are so many other great games out there and I want to sample a few more of them.
One of the options I’ve seriously considered is doing a contemporary game with one of the homebrew systems I’ve had a hand in. This is appealing but requires a lot of work out the gate before a single die can be rolled. I’m also rather bad at running the games I devise, I really prefer to take what other people have done and see how I can spin it. So I’ve been searching for a new game to try. In the past year I’ve sampled Alpha Omega and Cthulhutech, both of which have stunning books but Alpha Omega’s appealing setting got stomped-on by it’s huge, cumbersome system mechanics. Cthulhutech’s setting seemed a little sparse on hooks and while the initial impressions of it’s game mechanics looked promising, once I got to combat I found that the clean modern lines that it presented were just a facade over an ancient and outdated form of combat resolution that sort-of made me feel betrayed. I expected better from Cthulhutech than 4 rolls-per-action combat.
These are the trials of being experienced at gaming and knowing what one wants. I tend to get a bit picky. My wishes aren’t unreasonable, but they are quite specific; I want a game with a full and rich setting that functions with enough consistency to be plausible. I also want that setting to be paired with a system that is simple in execution but functions with all the bells and whistles that a refined rpg created in this millenium should have(Unified mechanics, 1 or 2 rolls per action combat…).
Setting is also important for me. A lot of game masters I know only want the skeleton of a setting. The world, the meta-plot, the cultures, that’s it. Me, I want a bit more, the names (and sometimes even stats) of the major players, what they’re up to, lots of maps and plot hooks too. I like to see the individual gears that run a setting, it’s when I have those gears that I can really get down and tinker.
Which leads me to a new gem I’ve found which satisfies all these desires. Qin – Warring States adapted by Cubical 7 from a property written by a french company called 7eme Cercle. For the life of me, I cannot figure out why people are not freaking out about this game… it’s brilliant in ways I’d not conceived. The setting is historical, plausible, mythical, and has tons of interesting pop culture to borrow from in the form of Kung Fu movies. What’s more, the game is easy, not easy as-in simple, but EASY to read, learn and from my earliest estimates, to play as well. The setting (Warring States Period China) would seem daunting at first glance, but the writers do something wonderful in that they keep on going over the same events from different angles. This helps me (kuz I’m slow) really get a clear understanding of what’s going on so that I can present it to the players in whatever way I desire.
The system is similarly elegant while encorporating the flavor of the setting by using alternate color d10’s (black and white) as Yin/Yang dice with emphasis on “Yin-Yang Balance” which has the benefit of translating into a very clever incentive to build balanced characters rather than min-maxing with the point-buy. The only game system that has done integrated flavor like this is Deadlands (and perhaps Aces and Eights) with incorporating playing cards into the game.
I’m still digging through things but honestly I can’t find much not to like here. There are a lot of books already out in french and it looks like Cubicle 7 is committed to getting them translated, so I’m going to have a lot of material to play with.
Honestly I don’t understand why there aren’t more rave reviews about this game? I know RPGpundit had great things to say about it, but it doesn’t seem like there’s a lot else on the web about this little gem. People should seriously take a look. I don’t say that lightly.