One of the problems I have as an adult with a job and a family is that there are too many games and not enough time to play them all. I own stacks of RPG sourcebooks and systems that I have never played, and probably never will, unless I live long enough to end up in a retirement home with a bunch of grognards with too much time on their hands. That’s about the only form of retirement that appeals to me, actually. A return to my childhood, where I spent nearly every day with a group of close friends having adventures without ever leaving the couch. I figure that would be a good way to wrap up my life, if I manage to live that long. Someone should start planning the themed retirement home for old gamers right now.
Anyway, I’m very reluctant to suggest new games when I have such an embarrassment of riches, because likely anything that I would like to see published would go unplayed along with the rest of the games that I have. That said, I’ve always wanted to see a game setting, for really any system, based on the New Cobrazon and Bas Lag setting by China Miéville.
Instrumental to me getting back into science fiction literature post-college was reading Perdido Street Station, along with some short stories by Charlie Stross in Asimov’s. One thing about games is that they’re usually somewhat derivative of the cutting edge work going on in literature, which is not something I say as disparagement. I think that trend is changing as more talent is attracted to working in games, given that it’s still a decent way to make a living, where all but a slim few barely earn minimum wage writing prose these days. But for most of my life, where innovation of setting and world-building is concerned, prose fiction has led the way. Miéville’s work for me was like an atom bomb of creative world-building.
That’s not to say it wasn’t inspired by things that came before. Miéville has been open about how much of his work was inspired by reading the monster manuals of various roleplaying games. Relatedly, he also explains that he never really played RPGs, which breaks my heart. It’s long been a dream of mine to some day have China at my game table with a few other people who never got to know the joys of playing in their youth. I imagine he’s received better offers than mine, though.
Anyway, Perdido Street Station describes a wild, bizzare, thriving city that made me want to explore it. I wanted to go off the page as written and poke around in the dark alleys and tunnels. New Crobuzon would be a fertile place for adventure and intrigue. The various characters are already practically archetypes for good character classes and races to build further, interesting player characters. And later books like The Scar only served to deepen and broaden the world as all good RPG source material does.
From what I understand, work has been underway for 6 or 7 years on a game set in this world, but nothing has come out yet. Maybe it’s better that way; it can live in that perfect and ephemeral state of idea, rather than as an imperfect execution. It might just be too good an idea, and I would always be disappointed with any execution. Things that I spend so much time pining for can rarely live up such unfair expectations. But if it ever does hit the store shelves, I’ll happily buy it and add it to my pile of unplayed game reference books. I’ve got a space for it picked out on my shelf.
For the month of August, I will be participating in #RPGaDay. I haven’t posted much on this blog about my love for role-playing games, and for a while, I wasn’t really acknowledging that love myself. But RPGs were my entry point in the the geek lifestyle, and they are very important to me. I’ll be exploring my relationship with RPGs all month with these posts.
Map image by JenJenRobot via DeviantArt.