Saturday, August 2, 2008
I decided to buy a copy of S. John Ross's retro-stupid RPG, Encounter Critical, today. I even sprang for the nifty hardcover edition, because I think anyone who puts out stuff like this deserves as much of my money as I can afford to give them.
I'll grant you that Encounter Critical does veer way more into Arduin territory than you'd expect me to appreciate. There's no question that that's true. Any game that includes "Klengons" and "Planetary Apes" as playable races (not to mention doxies as a playable class) definitely crosses some lines I wouldn't otherwise cross on my own. But EC manages to simultaneously recreate some of the gonzo weirdness of the early hobby while creating some surprisingly deft game mechanics, so it's hard not to be impressed on many levels.
Is EC silly? Almost certainly, but that's no crime. Does it poke fun at old school gaming? Absolutely. Yet, as the saying goes, this game kids because it loves. Encounter Critical is a love letter to old school gaming. Every inside joke, every anagram, every brilliant stupidity reveals how much S. John Ross loves those bygone days of the hobby and the wacky fun we all had playing games that no toy conglomerate would ever publish today. If you haven't already done so, please take a look at Encounter Critical and bask in its awesomeness.
Now, if I can only trick my players into giving it a whirl ...