#RPGaDay2021 – Day 15 – Supplement

For those who are confounded, confused, and concerned by choice, Sundays are the most fun days as there is only a single prompt! Today is August 15th, and so also the 15th day of #RPGaDay2021, and our prompt for the day is ‘supplement’. Of course, even though there is just a single prompt, there is still a lot of variety in this word. For instance, will you respond to it from the perspective of it being a noun, as in ‘one of the best supplements ever was…’ or will you come at like a verb, ‘I like to supplement my descriptions with…’?

Even among those who treat it like a noun today, depending on the game or lineage of games that informs the basis of their response, we are likely to see some variation as one company’s supplement is not necessarily like another’s.

No matter how you approach it, this prompt brings us to the end of the second full week of the marathon and it puts at the cusp between the first half and the second half of the event. Considering the role of supplements as the lifeblood of a lot of RPG companies, as the way many people enter into that side of the hobby, and as a common topic of conversation, that seems like a fitting spot for such a word as our prompt, don’t you think?

Often pronounced SPLAT

LISTEN to the Casting Shadows Podcast instead

Supplement

As I described in an earlier post, my view on what to buy and what to take care of myself as a roleplaying gamer has changed a lot over the 38 years of my being one. In the beginning, partly by the necessity of very limited finances and access to game stores and partly by philosophy, I was very much a ‘core books only’ sort of person. The whole idea of gaming to me was to take the rules and then make your own settings and situations for them. Even when I got to read a few adventures and later when I was given some, they seemed somehow different from the main direction of the hobby to me. My friends and fellow gamers all seemed to love them and love using and reusing them in various ways, but for me it seemed like they were the exhibition game part of preparing for the regular season.

How about that? I have finally supplemented the usual store of metaphors with one from the world of sports!

I blame Costner.

Later in life, under the influence of Chaosium, White Wolf, and FASA, I found the urge to obtain supplements that I knew contained additional rules or information (such as historical data about an era, or maps or details of a famous and re-useable place) began to grow. Gradually freed from the financial restrictions of my teen years and able to earn good money all through university, and completely free of my past access problems, this was a golden age of expansion for me. One milk crate after another filled up and joined the stack.

Like with anything else, exposure led to a sort of desensitization, and soon I started adding things because they existed, not necessarily because they added anything that I needed or wanted. After enough disappointment, recognition turned to acceptance and then to action: back to basics only.

Basics?

What are basics when it comes to a game line, though? What makes one supplement a must-have, one of interest only, and one flat-out not for you?

For me, I only consider supplements that I know will make play easier and/or richer. That is a tall order, and I will occasionally get a GM screen if it comes with a booklet with “rules that could not fit in the page count of the core book” or I will get a supplement that reskins the game in a whole new theme or genre – so I do not have to.

A great supplement that made play easier for me, and in a way that I would not normally find useful or of interest, was Book II: The Old Ones for Palladium Fantasy. That book gave me just enough information to be able to fill out the rest of the Palladium World the way I wanted it to be and gave me a stable and fun starting point in its presentation of the Timiro Kingdom. I would eventually get all the regional books, but it is Book II that stands out in my memory, and got the most use – by far. I would launch a campaign with it tomorrow, given the chance.

Another supplement that I found added a lot that I didn’t expect, but that definitely eased my play of a game was the Companion for A Time of War, for BattleTech / Mechwarrior. While the game runs well without it, the suggestions within are really useful and if adopted can make the game easier to understand and implement.

FFG’s Career Sourcebooks were excellent for the latter aspect – making play richer. The sections they offered on how to consider those careers in a Star Wars context and a specific game line context was really useful for me in rounding out my responses in play to my very diverse crew in our long-running Edge of the Empire campaign, The Seeds of Reckoning.

Making play easier and richer is handled by one great supplement for Ubiquity. This killer supplement to outshine all supplements by Wiggy of Triple Ace Games saw life both for All for One: Regime Diabolique and for Leagues of Adventure. For Leagues, it was called The Globetrotter’s Guide to Dramatic Developments and it is a groundbreaking and eye-opening look at running any Ubiquity game. It has more than a few transferable ideas for other games as well, making it worth the read regardless of system preference. It is what a GM’s advice book or section should be, in my eyes: actual, practical advice on using the system to achieve specific ends in situations that are likely to arise. Now that is a supplement!

Another great supplement that hits both of my personal criteria is the Luther Arkwright expansion for Mythras. Expanding the rules from the iron age to well-beyond the space age plus adding in all sorts of useful personality and trauma rules, as well as a detailed set of psionic powers while also covering every aspect of how to use all of those rules with its adaptation of the Luther Arkwright graphic novels makes it really stand out from the usual sort of publication.

In Our Play

To make use of the tremendous playlist of product unboxings on the channel, I offer another sort of product with which to supplement play: cards~

Comments
One Response to “#RPGaDay2021 – Day 15 – Supplement”
  1. Looking forward to more shares from people talking about their favorite supplements for this prompt. It is sad that an eye for a supplement worth its cover price can only be learned at the cost of financial disappointment, which can be exploited by certain publishers to wring dollars out of their ‘good name’. My pockets have never been deep enough to take those chances, and ‘honest’ reviews are even harder to come by.

    Glad to have you as a source for at least getting to see physical products for games that otherwise wouldn’t be seen elsewhere (in the video form).

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