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The Second Annual New Year, New Game Contest: A Challenge to GMs

Welcome to the second annual New Year, New Game [1] challenge!


New Year, New Game [1] (NYNG for short) is a Gnome Stew venture that began in 2012 — an annual challenge to GMs all over the world: Run a new game this year. NYNG runs from January 14 to January 28 this year.

Last year’s NYNG contest resulted in 57 game ideas for 39 RPGs [2] and 15 blog posts about running new games [3]. I’d love to top both of those numbers this year.

We hope NYNG will catch on with gamers all over the world, much like GM’s Day [4] did (it’s celebrated on March 4th every year). NYNG has a simple mission:

To inspire game masters to run at least one new game each year, because trying new games broadens your horizons, challenges your skills as a GM, and can deepen your enjoyment of gaming as a hobby.

“New game” can mean a new RPG, a new campaign, or both. And new RPG needn’t be newly published, just new to you. It doesn’t matter what you play, or what new game or games you decide to try — we just want you to have fun gaming!

The Contest

Entering is simple: Think about what new game you want to run this year, and tell us about it in the comment section of this article!

In order to ensure that NYNG challenge entries are useful and inspiring for as many GMs as possible, there are a few guidelines you’ll need to follow to be eligible to win.

Entry Guidelines

Think of your entry as a pitch for the game you want to run, something akin to an elevator pitch [5]. Why should your players be as excited about this game as you are? What do you need to tell someone who knows nothing about your idea beforehand in order to pique their interest?

To be eligible to win the contest, entries must be 200-400 words long, and should address the following:

That’s all there is to it! This isn’t a formal process, and we hope you’ll find that having these elements to focus on will help you hone your idea into something that may surprise you, and which makes you want to run your game even more.

NYNG 2013 is sponsored by Gnome Stew and Engine Publishing [6], and we’ve teamed up to offer a killer grand prize package and second prize package.



How to Win

The authors of Gnome Stew [10] will judge all entries based solely on quality, without regard for any other factors. We’re looking for NYNG challenge entries that make us want to play your game, that grab us and won’t let go, that inspire and intrigue us, and which follow the guidelines above.

“Quality” is entirely subjective, and may be partially or entirety determined by the gnomes’ blood sugar levels, sleep deprivation, caffeine-induced psychosis, fascination with internet memes, or overindulgence in bad action movies. In other ways, don’t take this too seriously — we’re just a bunch of GMs who want to run a contest for GMs.

The Deadline

This contest will run until 10:00 pm Mountain Daylight Time on January 28, 2013. We’ll announce the winner after we’ve had time to read and judge your entries.

The Small Print

You’ll need to be a member of Gnome Stew to enter this contest (because only members can comment). Becoming one is quick and simple. [11] One entry per person, and you can only win one prize. As always, authors of Gnome Stew are not eligible to enter this contest (although we may post game ideas of our own just to share them).

Additionally, by entering this contest you grant both GnomeStew.com and NewYearNewGame.com the unlimited, non-exclusive right to post your entry there in perpetuity. In other words, your entry can remain online here on the Stew and on NewYearNewGame.com forever, but you own the rights and can do anything else you like with it.

DriveThruRPG’s New Year, New Game Sale

Gnome Stew’s NYNG event isn’t connected with DriveThruRPG’s excellent annual New Year, New Game sale [12]. DTRPG’s sale is a great event, and their sale and our challenge share plenty in terms of inspiration — like DTRPG, we think new games and expanding your gaming horizons are good things. Their sale came first (starting in 2010, I think), and to my embarassment I wasn’t aware of it when I started up the NYNG website and challenge here.

Do You Accept Our Challenge?

Thanks for reading and for checking out NewYearNewGame.com [1]. If you like this contest, want to see more entries, or know a GM who might enjoy trying a new game this year, spread the word!

I hope you’ll take us up on this challenge, and I can’t wait to see what you come up with!

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#1 Pingback By » The 2013 NYNG challenge is now live! Enter your game ideas to win, and join our blog carnival New Year, New Game On January 14, 2013 @ 1:00 am

[…] is a go! From now through January 28, 2013, you can enter Gnome Stew’s NYNG contest and join the blog […]

#2 Comment By DMDragon123 On January 14, 2013 @ 4:03 am


A dark god previously defeated by a band of heroic adventurers in another age has risen again, and this time he has slain the other gods and taken control of all magic. The land is dying, and the Age of Night has begun with a new and terrible tyrant reigning supreme. The players find themselves trapped in one of the dark god’s prisons, the Obsidian Citadel, where no one has ever escaped. Now they must find their way to the top of the tower, enlist the aid of powerful immortals who wander the land, and use the limited magic granted to them by the Titan of Knowledge to defeat the dark god once and for all.
This campaign will be run using the Pathfinder roleplaying system because of the unique mechanics that will allow the use of 3.5 supplements that I have modified to fit the setting while making use of class archetypes that remove magic from some of the melee classes like ranger and paladin. This ensures that players will have to use their wits and might alone to overcome the challenges before them.
I’m excited about this campaign because of all the custom mechanics that I have crafted for the future of the game including “trap” based monsters that function more as traps with weaknesses and triggers than typical pathfinder combats, a gathering and crafting system I implemented to let the players scavenge for pieces to craft weapons and armor from virtually anything they find, integration of the 3.5 book of nine swords through magic “vessles” that will grant them blade spells based on their fighting style, and monoliths scattered around a gigantic sandbox wasteland that will grant the players new powers and let them increase their ability scores from a 10 point buy to the stat blocks of an epic hero as they march on the black god’s castle.
While it will be hard to balance the player’s strength against the might of enemies around them due to their underwhelming starting power, and then their overwhelming power near the end of the adventure, I believe that I am up to the task. My players are in for a real treat as they are tossed haphazardly into the dark abyss of the Black Citadel…

#3 Comment By Joe Rooney On January 14, 2013 @ 4:39 am

Fringe Benefits (CthulhuTech)

What the game is about:

It’s about federal agents investigating cults, crimes and conspiracies and ultimately tangling with cosmic forces several orders of magnitude larger than they are.

Why I’m excited about running it:

I really like procedural dramas and thrillers, as well as eldritch horror. Getting to run a game like that in a setting I love is awesome. I want to use lots of new techniques I’ve picked up around designing campaigns, conspiracies and so on, and rework the metaplot into this looser framework, to give players more space to input.

Plus it’s also the first of three campaigns I have planned (the others being a military mecha story and a Shadow War story) so I’m excited to try out this sort of interleaved storytelling.

What system you want to use, and why:

Framewerk, mostly because it’s pretty integral to CthulhuTech, but also because it’s pretty simple and I really like it for that. I’ll also steal a bunch of the GUMSHOE investigation mechanics from Trail of Cthulhu and import them, as they should hopefully really help make investigating stuff cool.

What challenges running this game might involve:

There’s the whole “mature themes” thing, which I think we can handle well with discussion beforehand but it’s worth flagging up. Plus making compelling mysteries for the investigators to solve.

#4 Comment By Ben Scerri On January 14, 2013 @ 7:05 am

“God’s New Gift to Mankind”

A God-level Supers campaign run using the Part-Time Gods rulesset to be played over a series of episodic adventures (ranging from around 8-12, although more are welcome and easily added). The campaign focuses on the full release of the God-making super power “The Source” from its prison due to the discovery of the Higgs-Boson Particle on July 4th 2012. This energy floods the world creating untold amounts of new Gods and monsters centring around fractures in the Earth’s crust which reveal the Source’s cage. One such fracture exists underneath Vancouver around the University of British Columbia.

The players take the roles of co-ed university students living in Totem Park residence who have been granted these powers. They are mentored by various teachers and staff around school who reveal themselves to be reincarnated Gods as well. They must fight off Monster-of-the-Week style adventures to save their school and loved ones, whilst battling against the ever pressing concerns of school and work. Furthermore, an undercurrent main plot line will slowly reveal itself that there is someone killing Gods and stealing their powers, and that the player characters are the next Gods in this mysterious figures line of sight.

This will be a light hearted campaign with a tendency towards silly humour over the top of fundamentally dark and challenging themes dealing with school bullying, overworked students, dysfunctional families, and the innate human wish to be bigger and better than ourselves. For inspirational ideas, think of a combination of the following TV series: Supernatural (earlier seasons), mixed with the X-Files, set in the Buffy-Verse, with Gods instead of Slayers, Witches and Demons. Sessions will be run purely episodically so that each one is self-contained, and that individual players not showing up for individual sessions should have low ramifications. If greater amounts of sessions are required, simply slow the pace of the revelation of the main plot, and intersperse more “filler” episodes. Further, to solidify the TV-Tropes feel, the sessions should begin with a ‘Title Sequence’ PowerPoint presentation, showing all PCs and their names, being played to a suitable music track.

#5 Comment By Raf Blutaxt On January 14, 2013 @ 7:26 am

The Thirty Years War has ended and left Europe ruined both physically and spiritually and it is only just recovering. But under the slowly growing veneer of prosperity dark forces are moving that were disturbed by a war that nearly brought the world to its knees, while on the horizon the next desaster is looming as the Ottoman empire is reaching out towards the west.
Before this backdrop many dramas are played out. The nobility is still reeling from the last conflagration and already trying to reach new heights of debauchery, while the common people have to pick up the pieces and try to make ends meet again. But there are those who are outside the rules of society, adventurers both from the highest pinnacles and lowest depths of human existence. These unlikely heroes are flung headlong into the maelstrom of history, trying only to survive. But Fate seems to have more in store for them and while most of Europe is busy making the same mistakes all over again, it falls to those few to visit exotic lands, find wealth immeasurable and love eternal, lose all of it and regain it all over again and maybe even save the world from certain doom in the course of just staying ahead of their angry past.

What this game is about: A piccaresque story of unlikely heroes trying to make their way through Europe between the Thirty Years War and the second siege oof Vienna, that will take them to Paris, Venice, Konstantinople, Kairo and many oter places on their way to an epic climax during that siege. On the way they will have to face threats both human and inhuman, natural and unatural, the Affair of the Poisons at the court of Louis XIV. The remains of the knights templar, coults even more sinister and fabled creatures in the far east. Think Eco meets Pynchon meets Lovecraft in a story of swashbuckling adventure, Don Quixote and the three musketeers fighting Cthulhu and the beginning of the age of reason and enlightenment.

I will probably use Savage Worlds or Runequest, depending on how heroic I want it all to feel.

The biggest challenges will be to walk the fine line between humour and comedy, preventing the campaign from devolving into continual slapstick. Also adding just enough of the supernatural to make it still feel historical and not fantasy will beh difficult.

#6 Comment By clight101 On January 14, 2013 @ 8:22 am

Margret Morrison’s Letters

Margret Morrison. The famous treasure hunter and procurer of artifacts has died. A select group of her former companions and side kicks have gathered for the reading of her Will. At the reading they’re given seven letters written by Margret leading to seven locations around the globe. Each of these locations holds valuable artifacts which are clues to something powerful, something the 3rd Reich wishes to acquire, something Margret, from beyond the grave, has asked her protege’s to keep out of the 3rd Reich’s hands.

Margret Morrison’s Letters is powered by FATE Core and is a pulp game filled with mysticism, globe trotting, and all the pulpy goodness we can muster.

#7 Comment By Raf Blutaxt On January 14, 2013 @ 8:46 am

What I would like to see as well would be a recap of last year’s NYNG, where those who took part in the contest talk about what became of their plans.

#8 Comment By Roxysteve On January 14, 2013 @ 9:40 am

Plus one.

#9 Comment By Razjah On January 14, 2013 @ 11:51 am

It doesn’t have everything, but there was a halfway to 2013 article.


#10 Comment By Raf Blutaxt On January 14, 2013 @ 11:57 am

I remember that one, I just thought one for the second half might be nice. But then I am not the one who would have to actually write it.

#11 Comment By Roxysteve On January 14, 2013 @ 9:33 am

Professor Murder Doom’s Lethally Deadly Dungeon of Certain Grisly Death.

Milieu: An humongous dungeon of White-Box sensibilities.

System: D&D 3.5, basic characters only. Player-mapped, gridded for mass combats that either cannot be avoided or inspire the PCs to vast overestimation of their chances.

The idea: Professor M. Doom runs a nice little business in which adventurer’s may pay to enter the Lethally Deadly Dungeon of Certain Grisly Death.

A PC has one and only one of each item in the equipment section of the PH. One halberd, one greatsword, one Heward’s Handy Haversack etc.

The idea is to enter the dungeon via a “dressing room”, kit up with equipment from a personal wardrobe, and enter the dungeon with the intent of bringing more loot out than you took in.

The snag: The dungeon is full of organized intelligent goblins, kobolds etc (think Tucker’s Kobobolds) who get to keep anything they can take off a PC.

Common sense will rule when it comes to monsters. If there’s a dragon, it will have a way in and out of the dungeon sized for it and so may be predicted and avoided. If there is a Goblin Barracks, it will have Goblins but probably no gold or good stuff (unless the good stuff is that rarest of things: something the goblin high-command hasn’t come across before).

Go in for as long as you like. Come out when you want assuming the monsters will let you – once Goblins have stripped a PC down to his/her longjohns they will tend to release them after a round of humiliating banter.

Of course, if the Kobolds get you in nothing but underwear you may end up in chains digging out a new gallery until you’ve worked off the tithe.

You can keep anything that you can prevent the monsters taking. And since that includes stuff removed from other PCs and NPCs, there is some boffo stuff in there.

Professor Doom will also sell characters Resurrection Insurance before they go into the dungeon, but that doesn’t include the necessary recovery of cadaver or parts thereof, so a wise adventurer will also sign a rider for payment of recovery fees to the Goblin or Kobold “Burken Hares”, who gather up bits and return them for the deposit.

Why I like it: episodic, it can be played anytime. Sandboxed in that the balance of newer D&D is completely absent; players must assess the risk of an encounter and then bear the results of that assessment. Over time they will learn the logic of the dungeon and become adept in using teamwork and intellect to win the day. Or not. I’m not running a “win for the players at any cost” scenario here. The Lethally Deadly Dungeon of Certain Grisly Death does what it says on the box.

Caveat Adventuror.

#12 Comment By OberonViking On January 14, 2013 @ 2:59 pm

New Amsterdam NAPD, 1928, Radiance RPG.

The players begin as junior officers in the NAPD at a time when organised crime is visible on every street corner. A variety of dirigibles dock at the Empire State Building, steam powered motorbikes cruise the streets and cat burglars use electrotech to stun security guards and steal sources of Radiance. Elves and halflings live with humans, and warmechs, kobolds and grippli are accepted as citizens. Wizards battle with psions, as fey and devils corrupt the populace.

Will the players be able to stop the increase of violent crime, corruption, alcohol and narcotics? Will they live long enough to learn who is behind it all?

I will be using the Radiance RPG (available free from radiancerpg.com or drivethrurpg). Admittedly my excitement began with the availability of a free and new RPG. In reading the PDF I conjured this fantasy mix of Steampunk, electrotech and alternate history.

I am excited by the streamlined and comprehensive rules. The standalone book provides 24 races, 30 classes, 16 themes and a simple mechanical incentive to use the 22 deities (or to choose to defy them all). The mechanics utilise the d20 OGL so everything is familiar, yet it does away with feats, spells, armour class and skill points, and it modifies hit points to vitality and wounds. Characters are well balanced against each other and vitality powers their abilities. All the rules that a player needs are on the page that references them, so the player only needs the pages for their characters race, class, theme and deity; no more digging through the rulebook to find when a feat can be activated or if a spell is dismissible. The rules are modular so you can restrict the use of firearms or eletrotech or magic or certain races or classes without hassle. It comes with stats for 100 Townies (NPCs).

My biggest challenge will be capturing the spirit of prohibition-era New York, a city I’ve never been to (time to watch some DVDs…), whilst providing fun investigative challenges.

Another significant challenge is trusting the players a lot more than ever with this campaign. I am not restricting anything from the Rulebook, instead asking that the player to justify their place in the game world. The only requirement is that they are members of the NAPD and as such their alignment is to be either lawful or good. And whilst I feel I know the combat rules (it is only 8 pages! and being d20 OGL it is familiar) I will be trusting the players with their abilities and I am not yet familiar with all the gear and magic items. The players will be given the opportunity to create new character at level 3 when they are promoted to Detective as a way of giving them a chance to explore a new system before settling into a permanent character.

#13 Comment By Cloudyone On January 14, 2013 @ 8:27 pm

冷落罗汉 (The Abandoned Heroes)

It’s been quiet for three days now, but your food is running out. From what you can see from your hiding place the streets are deserted–well, except for the occasional flicker of movement off in the distance. Plumes of smoke still rise from burning industrial facilities. Most of the tall buildings looming over the city are burned out shells, pockmarked from weapons fire and the claws of huge nightmare creatures. The last you heard before the communications went down was that everyone in your part of the city was to head to the main rail station for evacuation. The military had held off the cultist horde for a couple days but it wasn’t enough. Besides, all kinds of weirdness started breaking out in places all over the city even before the main force broke through. There’s not much chance of evacuation at the station now, but it’s the best place to link up with other survivors so you’ll have someone to watch your back.

For this game the players are those few survivors of the Rapine Storm cultist horde in Chongqing in China who cautiously emerged from their hiding places and met up at the ruined train station. The city will still have roaming bands of cultists, weird Cthulhoid zombies, and other horrors wandering the city. All communications are out and they have no idea where any “safe zones” might be.

Ever since I got CthulhuTech I’ve been mulling over what sort of game I want to run in the setting. I love the combination of Cthulhu mythos, mecha, sci-fi, multiple invasions of Earth, cultists, conspiracies, and dang! The setting has loads of cool stuff but it’s sort of several games rolled into one–and you can’t run all of them simultanously. The main challenge for me will be getting the horror tone right. I’ve never run an out-and-out horror game before and worry that it will end up more tactical than terrifying.

#14 Comment By oldbear On January 14, 2013 @ 10:58 pm

Riders on the Storm
My next campaign will be a post apocalyptic, high octane western, fantasy game. The players will be part of the Riders on the Storm an infamous band of heroic lawmen that track down criminals working the wild territories bounding the growing nascent towns of recovering civilization. I want all the feel of an old spaghetti western (think High Plains Drifter, Death Rides a Horse, the Shootist, and the Magnificent Seven) with a wide open mix of fantasy and technology, both new and recovered. I am looking at a gritty play style with the game moving from place to place. I am going to use the lyrics from the Doors song “Riders on the Storm” as the background mood for the game. The badge that the players receive as a Rider is a powerful piece of storm magic/tech(?) that will allow them to do incredible things, but at a grave price. Each will chance losing a piece of themselves every time they use the badge, possibly going mad with pain and loss. I want them to have a chance to add to the legend of the Riders, while evolving the characters from shiny new lawmen to heroic but slightly tarnished hard bitten gun/spell slingers riding on the edge.
I am excited about running this game because it has so many strong themes. The plot foils and villains will be larger than life and gloriously over the top. How can it not be great time as the GM when there are so many cool tropes and movie plots to work from? My gaming group will love having such an exotic, but strangely familiar place to explore. There will be great opportunities for players to shine and it will allow them to really stretch themselves role-playing by challenging them to make tough choices.
I intend to use GURPs, as it will allow me to match up the balance of the setting. I can be mechanics heavy in the background, but allow the players to “roll ‘n go” on the front side and keep things moving.
I think the biggest challenge for me will be to keep things running at a high level of intensity. To really make the (admittedly) wide open genre shine I will have to build cliff hangers without making it monotonous. Building in regular “downtime” for the players to “meet the locals will be a must.

#15 Comment By black campbell On January 15, 2013 @ 8:01 am

We’ve got a new gaming Meetup group in Albuquerque that has been doing monthly one-shot games. I decided to jump in and run a few games for the group.

The first session with use Hollow Earth Expedition, a system I’m pretty familiar with. The adventure is “White Apes of the Congo” — and involves the pre-generated characters traveling to Spanish Guinea to rescue a biologist gone missing while looking for the mythic white ape. The players will encounter trouble from the local Spanish authorities (Francoists), who are protecting a mining outpost from rebel attacks. Of course, there’s no way these two things are connected…

The second is a one-shot Serenity game, using the Cortex rules. (Original) Cortex is perhaps my favorite rules set, and it can cover almost any setting, save superheroes (although the Fate-ified Cortex of Marvel Heroic Roleplaying does a very nice job with it.) The adventure will be to be a rip-off of the movie “Deep Rising”: the ship gets hired to take a bunch of mercenaries to stage a robbery aboard a new, slick passenger liner. Only the crew and passengers are missing and their are indications of a massive fight… One word: reavers.

I’m excited to run for new people who react in novel ways to the challenges set before them, and I think part of the challenge will come from the difficulties of time management. We’ll have about six hours — close to the time of two sessions for my normal game group — and I can usually finish a single adventure in that time. Another challenge will be making sure that all of the people who show up get enough “screen time.” The regular group is comfortable with some people getting more attention, from time to time, because it pushed the story, but in a display game like these will be, the narrative approach will have to be more balanced.

#16 Comment By Dhomal On January 15, 2013 @ 11:45 am

I would Love to have a game run in Monte Cook’s Numenera. As I don’t yet have a LOT of information on the setting, I will describe what I envision….

First off, what I DO know sounds Delightfully wonderful! I have long since been a fan of post-apocalyptic items…. Yes, I had Gamma World, as well as another, Aftermath. (No idea where my Aftermath is now, it has been Many years…)

I would like to use Numenera because I am a Kickstarter backer of it, and well, want to USE it, as well as it being up my alley as it were. Challenges abound with a new system, something myself and my players would learn together. But if everyone is on the same page, it could run wonderfully smoothly!

As for plot, I tend toward exploration and discovery for Post-Apoc games. Sure, there is some survival thrown in, but it seems that in Numenera, the survival is a proven possibility, with how far in the future it is set, and the exploring and discovering would come more to the forefront. Just my take I guess. Discovering some “new” piece of “tech” or connecting with another pocket of survival/nomadic bunch can easily be the catalyst for more discovery and for growth of the characters.

And I also envision some surprises for the players. For a long time, I have been one that likes to add things to the games I play. Be it spells or magic items, classes or races, whatever seems to work.

#17 Comment By Joe On January 15, 2013 @ 11:23 pm

Mega City One is being ripped apart by violent revolution as Judges are forced to fight for the very survival of the organization. With the Judge attention else where a new Criminal Syndicate has risen up and is taking over city one block at a time. You will be playing a member of special task force of Judges put together to deal with this new Criminal Syndicate. So strap on your Lawgiver, sheathing your daystick and mount your Lawmaster it’s time to hit streets of Mega City One to enforce the law.
The Judge Dredd universe is a Dystopian future where you locations can be wide and varied from a High Tech Skyscraper to a Radioactive Wasteland. Villains can be suave and sophisticated or Dark and Psychotic.
To capture the disposal and violent nature Judges I’ve chosen VSCA Hollowpoint game. The game allows for fast and violent play where the player characters lives can be short and deadly.
The challenge will be keeping the flavor uniquely Judge Dredd and not feeling like a generic action flick.

#18 Comment By Suspense On January 16, 2013 @ 6:14 pm

I’m a new GM running a game for a new group of players, currently numbering two. I’ve only ever played D20 systems (D&D 3.0, 4.0 and Pathfinder.) I feel there must be other systems out there that would fit me better; what are the chances of finding the right game the first time? The system I would love to try next is Fate Core (having backed the Kickstarter for access to the rules, especially the Magic System Toolkit.) I feel like D20 is far too crunchy for my taste. But Fate Core has far less crunch–in fact, most of the crunch is about how to use fluff as crunch. I am completely enamored with this idea.

The game I want to play is a low-fantasy setting on an Earth-like world. It will involve a series of short campaigns in progressive time periods; pre-history, iron age, classical, dark ages, renaissance, etc. Players could directly influence the world’s history from the start; characters from early campaigns will likely become famous historical figures later. Eventually the player characters could wind up in space.

I’m excited about this game because in the short time I’ve GMed, I’ve loved it. I also love world building, and this game would give me the opportunity to build a world from the ground up while giving me historical events as they actually occur in the game. The Fate Core system lets me do this without being tied to someone else’s concept of magic or character classes or anything else. It will let me develop my GM skills with a small group while also providing natural stopping points where new players can be introduced.

All of these things will be challenges for me. I have a tendency to take on large projects and then run out of steam, but having a group of players depending on me every couple weeks will help keep me going. I see the biggest challenge as making the jump from one campaign to the next in a timely manner and in a way that makes sense in the world.

#19 Comment By Ben Phelps On January 16, 2013 @ 10:55 pm

The Fall of Gladia
It has been 278 years since Caesar dismantled the Gladian Republic and established the Gladia Imperium in its place. Empire has been good for Gladia, we can be certain of that. Gladia’s territory has expanded to more than double its pre-Imperial size, and food, land, and more importantly Essence – blood of the so called gods which we have have enslaved, harvested by our Magi, and “woven” into all kinds of items and tools to imbue them with magic abilities – are all plentiful. And Empire has been good to our citizens as well. Sure, Caesar reduced the power of the Senate, and the Plebian Tribunals, but they aren’t gone, or powerless. They even managed to put aside trivial political differences for a fleeting moment to unanimously veto the Emperor when he tried to disband the Magi Academia.

But all is not well beneath the surface. The Oracles have been warning of our gods losing their power over their own Essence. Our military spreads thin across the territories, and cannot defend us as they should – barbarians and centaurs are banging on the gates to the north and west, and insurrections in the outlying reaches to the east and south are not uncommon. And conquest stalling makes shortages of Essence not only probable, but imminent. On top of it all, a dark magic of unknown origin, a Corruption, turns our own people against us, turning them into monsters.

The world is dying. And it needs heroes now more than ever. But it may already be too late.

What it’s about
Basically my game is about a fantasy world heavily inspired by the classical era. Roman politics, Greek religion… any aspects I find interesting to mash together. Players will be Gladian citizens of all walks of life – Soldiers, Senators, Magi, Hashishin… whatever strikes their fancy. There are numerous threats to the Imperium from without and within, and players cannot possibly attend to them all.

Why I’m excited
I actually have a few reasons for this.
1) I designed the setting, and intend to publish it.
2) I designed the system, and intend to playtest and publish it.
3) Most fantasy games do not take place during a civilization’s active and imminent decline.
4) Players will have an active role in saving Gladia from dire circumstances – or maybe only preserving parts of it. Which parts will be entirely in their hands.

I will be using a custom system that I have been designing based around d10s. Players will use a combination of dice rolling and betting, allowing a halfway between luck and strategy in a narrative/gamist hybrid.

The custom system! Also, getting player buy-in to an unfamiliar world and getting honest feedback will be difficult – even moreso than any other GMing excursion. It’s going to be a wild ride but it will all be worth it in the end!

#20 Comment By shortymonster On January 17, 2013 @ 3:29 am

Game: Kuro

Adventure: Ravaged.

My Sunday night game group fell apart recently, and since then the efforts of myself and two others have been directed into getting a new group back together. It seems appropriate that this will happen soon in the new year, and that my first choice will be a game none of us has had any experience of before. The game in question is Kuro, and I’m going to be GMing it for a couple of reasons. Firstly, more than one of the gamers in our new group has never role played before, and another is still a relative novice. That means that if I pick a system that no one has payed before, we have a level playing field. Secondly, Kuro just looks amazing; it fits into two of my perfect game slots, covering both cyberpunk and horror.

What will the game be about?

The demise of a wealthy family. All the PCs will be off the same large and sprawling family that has managed – so far – to stay on top after the Event. That will all change quickly though as their fortune gets destroyed through mismanagement and corporate attacks. The players will then be forced to fell from their ivory towers, taking what they can carry plus any onboard cyberware they’re lucky enough to possess, and try to escape the body jackers who will be after them for anything of value that can be used to pay off the family debts. Will they go into hiding, seeking refuge with criminals and other unsavoury characters? Will they fight back, trying to right the injustice, and hopefully figure out what laid them so low in the first place? Due to the open world nature of my game plan, it all rests in the PC’s hands. But even as they work to put their plans into motion, the supernatural nature of world they live in will be pushing against them. For the first time, they will be unable to hide away from its horrors.

Potential problems

With inexperienced players, I may have to jostle the group along a little more than with a seasoned group, but any trials on my part will be a learning experience for them. I hope…

As above, but with links. [14]

#21 Comment By Razjah On January 17, 2013 @ 12:46 pm

I am planning to run a game based on the Warlord Chronicles by Bernard Cornwell. Cornwell’s books are an Arthurian tale that makes the story grim, dark, and down to earth. I want to tell a similar tale, without Arthur (unless a player makes the bastard son of the high king). Uther Pendragon lies on his death bed, his son was slain months ago by the Saxons, and the only heir is Mordred, Uther’s infant grandson. With the High King and king of Dumnonia near death, many other kings are preparing to remove Mordred and gain land and wealth from Dumnonia. While the British fight amongst themselves, the Saxons and continuing their invasion and pressing west, being bribed by the British who cannot mount a unified front against the Saxon advance. While the land is near chaos, Merilin is seeking to return the land to the old Pagan ways, and the Christians are spreading their influence (with many a corrupt priest) taking gold for the protection of souls. The PCs will have sworn to Uther to protect Mordred and Dumnonia, but how they go about it, or if the even follow their oaths, are up to them. Dark times are befalling Britain.

I’m excited to run a Burning Wheel game where PCs can take up the faith mechanic. To do my best to follow the power of the druids in the books they have access only to the Major Miracles and can affect believers and non-believers. However, this is very difficult to do successfully. The Faithful Christians have access to only the Minor Miracles and can only affect other believers- many priests are not truly Faithful. I’m also excited to get to run a long campaign having graduated college and no longer being bound by semesters with a group. I want to use Burning Wheel for this game to give the players a lot of power to influence the setting, and I want be able to make better use of Burning Wheel’s advancement mechanics which rarely occur with a short game.

The challenges are from my group, they are happy to sit with a story; this should encourage them to be more involved in the plot. I also need to use the Faith mechanic which I have left out of my previous Burning Wheel games. The last challenge is getting my game voted for when I make my pitch.

#22 Comment By ldraconus On January 17, 2013 @ 1:27 pm

Imagine a SteamPunk/Fantasy game:

Magic is weak and being driven out by science and the power of steam! Most magical creatures have fled over the fabled sea to the mystic isles. Only Minotaurs (Taurin) and the Snakes (actually Utah Raptors with feathers) remain in large numbers. The Empire is still recovering from a War with the Snakes to the south, a war that was won by the invention if the airship.

Now cross it with Battlestar Galactica in mid-campaign as the Snakes create artificial warriors to fight the next war for them … and then lose control over them. The Empire, and some Snakes, are forced to follow the elves across the sea in giant airships or face annihilation.

This game begs to be run in a Universal System of some sort. I’m going to use the Hero System (6th edition) but GURPS, or d20 Modern, Savage Worlds, or Fate would work equally well. It has to be a universal system to handle all of the mixtures I want to throw in, weak magic, technology, and all of the trappings.

I’m excited about running this game as it combine all three of my favorite things (SteamPunk, Fantasy and Science Fiction) in one game is a great framework, and it is the first great story arc I’ve ever started a campaign with. I already know how this campaign should play out!

The challenges facing me are getting buy-in from the players, and making sure all of the events in the campaign follow logically from player actions in the campaign. I don’t want to spring the idea of automatons without giving clues, and it would be best if the players were somehow responsible for the Snakes losing control of them! Giant airships need to be introduced logically, and everything managed without railroading the players.

But what a glorious challenge and game this will be!

#23 Comment By randite On January 21, 2013 @ 1:14 am

This year I want to really expand my nerdly repertoire and push past my typical roleplaying boundaries. That’s where Cosmic Patrol comes into play. It’s truly a game of shared narrative which is fantastic, and unlike anything we’ve ever played. There’s no one GM in Cosmic P, but I’ll be the one to get the ball rolling.

Here’s my vision: We’ll do something totally new for our group. We’re going to use the prefab characters and begin with a couple of the Mission Briefs straight out of the book. (We _never_ run modules.) I’m going to keep a “techno jargon” log and an “interesting themes” log so that from session to session we can begin to develop a common language and feel for the game. Once that’s established, we can start bringing in homemade Mission Briefs, really make the game our own. I’d like to see the game push more into Weird Fiction territory because I’m less secure in that vein of SciFi. I typically prefer more of a Heinlein style, but pushing our norm is what this game will be all about. I know I want the tone of the game to get much darker as it goes along, but I’ll only be able to control so much of that. And that’ll be the real fun of it.

#24 Comment By Charlie On January 21, 2013 @ 8:07 am

Living On the Edge (Star Wars: Edge of Empire Beta)

Your PCs trade and smuggle on their starship, trying to make ends meet, while dealing with the scum and villainy of the Star Wars universe. Your PCs would be fringers, scouts, traders, mercs, pilots, and mechanics trying to meet your group’s obligations and keep your ship flying while avoiding Imperial entanglements, Hutt gangsters, bounty hunters, and rival smugglers.

Playing our version of Star Wars smugglers really appeals to me. The tension of staying flying, staying true to each character’s personal motivation, and getting into and out of trouble sounds really exciting. And each player character has many options for developing both an interesting alter ego all his own while at the same time, on the mechanical side, learning many new skills and abilities.

I have the Star Wars: Edge of the Empire Beta with the update from 11 weeks of playtesting. The game would be more about Firefly-like space opera than Star Wars. It has all the options of Rogue Trader but with a modern dice pool system with narrative options and without the huge ship and thousands of NPCs along for the ride. In a nutshell, when your PCs need credits they take on more Obligations. To lower Obligations, the PCs complete tasks (go on adventures).

If we go with Star Wars, only the rulebook and anything we agree on in game is canon. In other words, we won’t be wading through movies or books to answer stuff. If you want to bring something in from the greater Star Wars world just ask. Otherwise, what is in the rulebook and what shows up during the game is our version of Star Wars. The game has no Force careers (it takes place just after the first Death Star is destroyed) so everyone is equal. Some Force powers can be learned, but at the expense of learning other skills. When the main rulebook comes out in a few months I will likely upgrade at that point to that book. We’ll see what impact, if any, that has before doing so.

Are you ready to live on the edge?

#25 Pingback By Haste! Pathfinder Kickstarter Afterthoughts, Gnome Stew New Game New Year Contest, Rob Schwalb’s Character Death & Creation | Words In The Dark On January 22, 2013 @ 11:44 am

[…] guys over at Gnome Stew have a great contest going on and there’s still time to enter. Tell them what game you want to run this year, why, what […]

#26 Comment By OriginalDan On January 28, 2013 @ 1:29 pm

Twin Worlds Task Force
What the game is about:
Welcome to the Two Worlds Task Force (TWTF). First, a little history; on August 7, 2007 Bridge 9340 in Minneapolis, Minnesota collapsed. In a matter of days, a new bridge was commissioned and 415 days later the I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge opened for business.

The new bridge was rushed into place in a feeble attempt to hide the fact that the Human World and the Fae Realm were once again connected. Using a combination of magic and technology the gateway between the Human World and the Fae Realm is stable and permanent.

Trade between the two worlds is booming and both sides of the connection are making money hand over fist. With this much profit to be found, the gangsters and the evil fae lords immediately began to find ways around the law.

That is why you are here. You have been sent to us because someone thought you could handle being a member of the most elite crime fighting unit in either world. As a member of the TWTF you will track down and stop any unauthorized trade and by any means necessary stop unauthorized travel between worlds.

If you have any sort of prejudices towards humans or fae you might as well leave now. We are successful because we work as a team and every one of you will work in with both fae and humans.

Why you’re excited about running it:
I am excited about playing this game because it mixes crime investigation and modern fantasy. Players will have an opportunity to play as a human or as a fae and solve both mundane and supernatural crime.

What system you want to use, and why:
I will run it out of the Savage Worlds system because it can handle both magic and firearms without blinking an eye, because it is capable of running an investigation game and is flexible enough with races to keep everything balanced.

What challenges running this game might involve:
Making the fae fun and new while not making humans dull. Keeping a balance between firearms and magic will also be an interesting challenge.

Interested? Track the setting creation here: [15]

#27 Comment By Martin Ralya On January 28, 2013 @ 10:12 pm

…and NYNG 2013 is over! Thank you to everyone who entered the challenge. We’ll start reviewing entries now, and we’ll announce the winners shortly.

#28 Pingback By » The winners of the second annual NYNG challenge! New Year, New Game On February 6, 2013 @ 1:17 am

[…] were 20 entries in the second annual New Year, New Game challenge. That’s a big drop from the first year’s 57, but there were still some excellent ideas […]