While I remain committed to not making any resolutions in a new year, two of the things I’d like to try doing are having a neat bit of synchronicity at the moment with the current fan-funding campaign for The Fifth Season Roleplaying game, based on the novels by N.K. Jemisin.
One of those two things is reading more physical books. I know some people are into trying to read 52 books a year, or even 100. For me, reading in quantity is never a big challenge. I’ve read 80,000 pages of comic books in a single year!
What I’m not so great at doing is giving my eyes a rest from the screen and from digesting artwork to sit down with a book of prose. Plus, sometimes it can be hard to find a full range of diversity in American floppy comics comic authors and stories, but the work of literature is much, much larger.
At the #1 spot on my “books I’d read if I made time to read books” list is The Fifth Season from N.K. Jemisin, a book about a fractured family on a wounded planet. It has occupied that spot even since it won the Hugo Award for best novel back in 2016 – long before I read her absolutely brilliant DC Comics series The Far Sector, which debuted the new Green Lantern Sojourner “Jo” Mullein.
Not only that, but when I asked my beloved college D&D friends for sci-fi/fantasy novel recommendations that weren’t just straight white people writing about straight white worlds, The Fifth Season was their first recommendation!
As quick as I am to acquire a new comic I’m interested in reading, I’m snail-paced at snagging a book I might want to read. Even after having my interest confirmed in a recommendation from friends, it took me a full three months to remember to request the book from the Wellington library system – which had all of one copy – so then I had to wait another two months to receive it.
That weatherbeaten paperback novel has been sitting on my bedside table, waiting to be cracked open and read for all of my incredibly-busy past three weeks – including the day I received an ad for The Fifth Season’s table-top RPG rulebook.
(Somehow I have engineered it that Facebook will only serve me ads for nerdy Kickstarter campaigns. It’s the only website on the internet where I don’t have ads blocked, so it’s like I live in a world where the only things anyone ever advertises are RPGs and board games. It’s a paradise.)
As it happens, that advertisement piqued my interest not only because of the book on my bedside table recommended by D&D friends, but also another thing I’d love to do this year related to my gaming gang: I’d like to learn some RPG systems other than Dungeons and Dragons and 5th Edition! This goal was on my list even before the OGL drama of a few weeks ago, and even though that came to a happy resolution it doesn’t change the fact that I’d love to extend my game-running skills outside of D&D.
While I await my official DIE rulebook in the mail and try to make heads-or-tails of the absurdly bad editing in the Vampire: The Masquerade rulebooks, another game system I’ve had my eye on is the Adventure Game Engine (aka the AGE system).
I first heard about the AGE system because it’s the system that runs the TTRPG setting for Greg Rucka and Michael Lark’s Lazarus, which is possibly my favorite comic of the past decade. After reading a number of previews for elements of their AGE system adaptation in the backs of their single issues for a few years, I finally took the plunge and ordered both the Lazarus sourcebook and the Modern AGE rulebook (not realizing that you can play AGE adaptations like Lazarus and The Fifth Season independently of the main rules).
I’ve read through both books, and I really enjoy the concept of the game system. It’s all D6-based, and while you have a D&D-esque set of ability scores, you also have a number of focuses, talents, and stunts that you can drive with your dice-roles.
Green Ronin, the publisher of this fan-funding campaign, has a quick introductory article on the system. Part of what I dig about it is that all of the extra things you might try that D&D uses ability-checks and saving throws for are baked into the system. The whole point is to do cool stuff other than swinging your sword or casting a spell.
That makes The Fifth Season Roleplaying game the perfect intersection of two things I’d really love to do in 2023 – and, since it’s already completely-written, it’ll actually arrive this year! That gives me another 4-6 months to actually read The Fifth Season and its pair of sequels… though, ideally I’d find the time to read the first book in the next nine days before the campaign ends!
If you want to check out the game system for yourself, publisher Green Ronin has a free-to-download Fifth Season RPG Quickstart PDF on their site.