Seasons Greetings from your secret masters!
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! The season is turning, snow is falling (in some places, anyway), and Santa Claus begins his yearly security sweep in earnest, activating sleeper agents and leave-behind networks to identify, track, and analyze the naughty and the nice. It is also the time of year that we prepare to exchange gifts with our family and friends. We’re willing to bet at least a few of the people on your gift list are gamers, especially since you’re presently reading a website that exclusively provides game and game-related content. Also the word “nerd” is in the URL. So.
In any case, we are proud to submit the first annual Illuminerdy Holiday Gift Guide for your purchasing pleasure.*
The 5th edition of the world’s most popular roleplaying game (historically speaking) has got all of the Illuminerdy pretty excited. If by some strange coincidence the gamer in your life hasn’t already purchased the three newest D&D core books (the Player’s Handbook, the Monster Manual, and the Dungeon Master’s Guide), now’s your chance to swoop in and be the hero. Explicitly meant to evoke the feel of the earliest editions of Dungeons and Dragons, the game nevertheless brings a few new innovations to the table. Buy it for the budding gamer on your list, or the lapsed tabletop wizard you want to return to the fold. MSRP 49.95 each, but potentially available for a little less at your friendly local game store.
Night’s Black Agents
Just imagine the Bourne Identity, but the TREADSTONE program is actually vampires. That’s the short pitch for Night’s Black Agents, about which we have written many, many times. (Admittedly, we may be biased, as a couple of the Illuminerdy are contributing to the game’s current adventure Kickstarter: The Dracula Dossier.) If you haven’t already picked this up for the espionage fiend in your life, do it before the holidays are over. Serious spy-scholars will find much to love in the book’s well-researched descriptions of most major Western spy agencies, and even those whose study of espionage goes no deeper than repeated viewings of The Man With The Golden Gun will find well-crafted rules to support just about any high-action procedural spy game. With vampires, of course. $35.95 in hard copy at most on-line outlets. $24.95 in PDF at Drive-Thru RPG.
Looking for a new card game for your off-nights? Check out Z-Man Games’ Parade. Featuring beautifully illustrated cards, this Alice in Wonderland game transports you to a grand parade that includes all of your favorite Lewis Carroll characters. Gameplay is delightfully snappy and relies on quick thinking and a little math. It’s the perfect stocking-stuffer for your favorite jabberwocky. 19.95 MSRP. Available on Amazon or ask your FLGS.
Ken Writes About Stuff: Season 2
If secret history or forteana get your gamer juices pumping, there are few better game supplements available than a subscription to Ken (Hite) Writes About Stuff. We’ve previously mourned the unavailability of the vast majority of Ken’s old Suppressed Transmission column, but KWAS (as the cool kids call it), now in its second year, makes a good substitute. The first season (still available in compilation) was pure magic: not just ideas, but enough research to really work with. Don’t worry about subscribing “late.” The best part about getting a subscription midway is that you still get all the previous months’ stuff! 24.95 in PDF and all your favorite ebook formats.
The Dungeon Alphabet
Add a little something special to your games this yuletide season with Goodman Games’ all-ages appropriate The Dungeon Alphabet. This slim volume presents quirky, classic tropes as you design dungeons that will make your players cheer and tremble. Containing excellent illustrations and creative game design elements with an alliterative flare, The Dungeon Alphabet is perfect to excite your favorite dungeon master, or to educate the little dungeon master in your life! $29.99 in Print and only $4.00 in PDF!
Genes, Giants, Monsters and Men: The Surviving Elites of the Cosmic War and Their Hidden Agenda
If you’re looking for anything from a handy modern pseudo-scientific explanation for superhuman origins, an expose on an ongoing global conspiracy led by a secret alien elite, or a quick summary of much longer (and less intelligible) books about the prehistoric colonization of earth by powerful extraterrestrials, it’s hard to beat this gem from Dr. Joseph P. Farrell. Completely sincere — and incredibly enthusiastic — in its dismissal of well-grounded science, history, and archaeology, Farrell’s work is chock full of RPG inspiration for games of any era. Get it for the conspiracy buff on your list using untraceable small bills so the government can’t track you. $14.29 in paperback, and $11.49 in ebook.
The Cthulhu Mythos Encyclopedia
Need an idea for your next Cthulhu game or just want a way to check on which Mythos tales included “The King in Yellow”? The Cthulhu Mythos Encyclopedia has entries that encompass not just Lovecraft’s original Mythos tales but the expanded tales from authors like August Derleth. If you need an idea to spark the next session of adventure in your horror game just open to a random page and start reading it won’t take long to have an idea jump out and summon the Old Ones for you. $13.26 in paperback.
Baby’s First Mythos
And speaking of Cthulhu, you can tickle the tentacles of your tiniest friends with a copy of Baby’s First Mythos! A beautifully (if also creepily) illustrated board book, Baby’s First Mythos is perfect for any new parents welcoming fresh spawn into the world, or for early readers looking for a taste of madness. $4.00 on Amazon.
The Leviathan Trilogy
Scott Westerfield’s Brilliant and fun steampunk young adult Leviathan Trilogy is a wonderful mix of clanking steam powered mechs and biological airships is a wonderful series with scenes that practically beg to included in tabletop roleplaying games. High adventure appropriate for teens but still stirring for adults, get it for the goggle enthusiast on your “nice” list this year. The $20.00 boxed set is available now.
The Imago Sequence
Laird Barron’s The Imago Sequence and Other Stories short story collection can help you see ways in which the Weird fits into our late 20th and early 21st century world. He weaves themes throughout his stories that gradually paint a dark picture of the planet on which we live and those with whom we live. Unlike so many Lovecraftian writers, Barron avoids pastiching earlier writers. For those who love the Weird, and in particular for GMs who’ve gotten themselves into a rut in Weird gaming, Barron is tough to beat. $17.45 in hardcover, 12.25 in paperback, and 10.49 on kindle.
The Noteboard is a key tool in any GM’s kit. It’s a pocket RPG board, squares on one side, hex on the other. It’s an essential addition to the Emergency Gaming Kit! It’s small enough that you can easily stuff it in a purse or backpack (or a pocket, if you’ve got one), and it comes with its own marker & eraser. If you GM anywhere but at home, you need it. And even if you GM at home, you may find it giving you more flexibility. Useful for anything from idea mapping or note-taking to complex dungeon diagrams, we’ve even seen the Noteboard used to draw a treasure-map style diagram to help players orient themselves in an otherwise mapless game. $12.00 on Amazon, 10 Pounds at the UK Noteboard site, and probably available for a similar price at your FLGS.
All Rolled Up Dice and Pencil Bag
Looking for a way to ensure all your dice and critical gaming paraphernalia can get to the table all at once? Try a dice and pencil bag from All Rolled Up, the new hotness in dicebag technology, to scoop up all your stuff into one easily portable unit. Dice bag, pencils, figures, tokens, maps, character sheets. All rolled up together! (Hence, the name). 25£ from the UK site, but ships world-wide!
Zombie CSU: The Forensics of the Living Dead
Looking for a real-world approach to how to survive a zombie apocalypse? Check out Zombie CSU: The Forensics of the Living Dead and sink your teeth into the warm flesh of the hard science of an undead outbreak. This unique book analyzes how modern agencies – police, federal, medical – would investigate, contain, and rationalize a zombie outbreak, from Patient Zero onwards. If your GM wants to add some realism to her supernatural infection scenario, this is the perfect gift! For just over $13 on Amazon, pick up the paperback for your favorite zombie fanatic.
*All Amazon links included on this gift guide are affiliate links. Any and all proceeds go towards the upkeep of The Illuminerdy.
Photo credit: Flickr