Depending on how the ubiquitous credit crunch impacts my own personal finances and those of various game manufacturers, this is a list of the six games I'm most looking forward to getting my hands on in the New Year (in order of priority):
(1) Doctor Who (Cubicle 7) - a no-brainer; I've been hot for this title since it was first announced and any reservations over the possible mechanics have been allayed by what little information has leaked out about the game. I guess either because of licencing issues with the Beeb - or just fears of jinxing things - Cubicle 7 has been as tight as anything about letting non-playtesters (silenced by NDAs) know too much about the system.
What little we do know (from the only online preview of the game I could find) is that the core mechanic is "a simple mechanism of Attribute + Skill + 2d6 versus Difficulty Number", which was enough to win me round.
The Renegade Time Lord's sneak preview also included a mention of characters having Story Points which "allowed you to use useful gadgets (like Sonic Screwdrivers and Vortex Manipulators), roll extra dice, or force a simple success".
It all sounds very solid and traditional to me and will hopefully win a large number of Doctor Who fans over to the wonderful world of roleplaying.
And let's not forget that a Time Lord - like The Doctor - can travel to any place or period in history anywhere in the universe and this game is going to be able to let us play that out. If Cubicle 7 play their cards right, this could become the ultimate generic/universal role-playing system!
The game's writer, Dave Chapman, has a sporadic, but entertaining, blog about its development, but these are more concerned generally with production issues than details of the make-up of the game itself.
The Doctor Who RPG is currently scheduled for release, in a box set format, around Easter (possibly to co-incide with the next Doctor Who special on TV). Even if I have to sell a kidney (or not buy any other games in 2009), I'm determined to get this.
(2) Pulp Cthulhu (Chaosium): This long-delayed roleplaying game promises to shift the Call of Cthulhu game from the Roaring 20s to the pulp era of the 1930s and allow players to take on the roles of characters more akin to Doc Savage and The Shadow rather than aging antiquarians and librarians on the verge of insanity.
The book has had a chequered history since it was first announced several years ago, but is currently in the hands of Lovecraftian author and game writer William Jones, whose blog can be found at William's Ramblings, and features a few snippets about the game and its new mechanics.
(3) Traveller: Judge Dredd (Mongoose): Mongoose Publishing's take on Traveller was so wonderfully retro that I feared I was in for a major disappointment when they failed to fulfill their promises of "expanding the settings available for this game to encompass Judge Dredd, Strontium Dog, Hammers Slammers and many more."
However, their Babylon 5 (using Traveller) supplement has just come out and Matthew Sprange, Mongoose head honcho, has announced in his annual State of The Mongoose that the Judge Dredd supplement is on the cards for the summer, in a full-colour, hardback format.
He teases: "Character creation will take you through your judge’s 15 years at the Academy of Law, giving you plenty of time to make friends and enemies (and yes, you most certainly can die at the Academy!) "
With Mongoose now being part of the Rebellion Group (which publishes 2000AD), it means Mongoose has faster - and more secure - access to 2000AD properties such as Judge Dredd and Strontium Dog.
(4) Supernatural (Margaret Weis Productions): Supernatural has been my big discovery of 2008 and while I'd rather see an RPG of it use Eden's Unisystem (as used to drive the Buffy The Vampire Slayer RPG), I'll take what I can get.
This game will actually use the Cortex System (as seen in the Battlestar Galactica RPG, Serenity RPG and Demon Hunters RPG - none of which have exactly blown my socks off), but rather worringly - for a game listed on Amazon as coming out next month - the publisher's website has disappeared.
I understand that it was hacked some time ago, but I would have thought it would have made good business sense to try and get it up and running again as soon as possible.
(5) The Dresden Files (Evil Hat Productions): Another game that seems to have been an eternity in coming out, but the beauty of Evil Hat is that they are fully transparent and have kept fans in the loop during their playtesting process and methodical revisions of the game to ensure that it is as close as possible to Dresden Files' author Jim Butcher's original vision.
The game uses the FATE System, as seen in Spirit Of The Century (the darling of the 'indie' scene), and while this may not be my cup of tea when it comes to rules, I feel certain that the game will be chock full of interesting fluff and guidelines for running this style of urban fantasy adventure.
(6) Ghosts Of Albion (Eden Studios): Already available in PDF form (see the video of Kurt Wiegel's review for Game Geeks above), I'm holding out for a dead tree edition as I don't want to spend a fortune on printing off the PDF. Eden has always produced beautiful looking books and I doubt my printer (currently out of action anyway) would be able to do it justice.
Unfortunately, Eden has also always been notorious for missing deadlines and they haven't updated the news section of their website since August 1; claiming at the time that the hardcover edition of Ghosts of Albion would ship in September. It didn't. Obviously.