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

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


New Year, New Game [1] (NYNG for short) is a new Gnome Stew venture — an annual challenge to GMs all over the world: Run a new game this year.

New Year, New Game is an idea that we hope will catch on with gamers all over the world, much like GM’s Day [2] did (it’s celebrated on March 4th every year). It 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.

That can mean a new RPG, a new campaign, or both. (A 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: Once you know what you want to run this year, 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.

Entry Guidelines

Think of your entry as a pitch for the game you want to run, something akin to an elevator pitch [3]. 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.

To make this even easier, one of our sponsors, Tabletop Adventures [4], is offering two of their products at 25% off for the duration of the contest: Against the Darkness [5], their Vatican horror RPG, and Halls of Horror [6], which offers 150 creepy descriptions for modern games.

…and another of our sponsors, DriveThruRPG [7], is running their annual New Year, New Game sale: 20+ RPGs that cost less than $12 in PDF [8].


We reached out to several companies we thought might like to sponsor this contest, and I’m proud to be able to offer one hell of a grand prize package thanks to our four sponsors: DriveThruRPG [9], Engine Publishing [10], Obsidian Portal [11], and Tabletop Adventures [4]. The grand prize will be awarded to our single favorite NYNG challenge entry, and it’s worth over $150.

Here’s what’s in the grand prize package:


Courtesy of DriveThruRPG [9], a $60 gift DriveThruRPG certificate! This is perfect for picking up the new game to run along with a few supplements — sixty bucks buys a lot of PDFs! DTRPG offers thousands and thousand of products for immediate download, and it’s my favorite place to buy PDFs. They make it easy to find what you need and their customer service is excellent.

Engine Publishing

From Engine Publishing [10], print and PDF copies of Gnome Stew’s two books for GMs: Eureka: 501 Adventure Plots [12] and Masks: 1,000 Memorable NPCs [13] (including free worldwide shipping), a $55.95 value. Both books are aimed straight at GMs, and both can save you prep time while giving you plenty of ideas to spur your creativity.

Obsidian Portal

From Obsidian Portal [11], a 1-year paid Ascendant membership to Obsidian Portal (a $40 value)! Ascendant members get access to features that aren’t available to free accounts, and as a GM you’ll be able to add your whole group to your campaign. I’ve used OP for over a year, and I highly recommend to any GM who wants to be a bit more organized without doing any extra work.

Tabletop Adventures

Courtesy of Tabletop Adventures [4], any three Tabletop Adventures PDFs (or any one product bundle) from DriveThruRPG [14] or RPGNow! [15]) (value varies)! TTA makes products for the harried game master, and virtually everything they sell is designed to aid you in running a more vibrant campaign of any genre, from decks of names to one-page dungeons.


We’re doing something a bit different for this contest: awarding additional prizes if we get enough contest entries. We want the first annual NYNG challenge to be a success, and that means having enough game ideas that GMs who browse NewYearNewGame.com [1] will have plenty of inspiration.

If there are at least 50 entries, we’ll award a second prize:


If we receive 100 or more entries, we’ll also award a third prize:

So if, for example, 62 GMs enter the contest, we’ll select our favorite and second-favorite entries and award the grand and second prizes, but not the third prize (because there weren’t 100+ entries).

How to Win

The authors of Gnome Stew [16] 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 23, 2012. 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. [17] 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.

A Tale of Two NYNGs

To my great embarrassment, I found out that DriveThruRPG [9] not only runs a New Year, New Game sale [8], but they’ve been running it for three years!

We were unaware of DTRPG’s annual sale when we launched this website and our NYNG challenge, but I still feel like a huge dork for not knowing about it. Had I known, I would have talked to Sean P. Fannon over at DTRPG before launching our initiative.

Sean is a great guy, and we’ve spoken about this now. Not only is all well, but DTRPG is one of the sponsors of our NYNG challenge. I chalk this up to great minds thinking alike, and so does Sean.

Their sale runs through 1/13 and features over 20 RPGs that cost $12 or less [8] — a great way to snag a new game for the new year.

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 Comment By Darkchylde On January 17, 2012 @ 4:41 pm

You’d been relaxing at the local tavern and went to pay for your food. As you pulled out your coin, you also pulled a ticket out of your pocket. Looking at the ticket, you saw that it read ‘One-way travel to Akyrema City’ along with some codes that you don’t recognize. You wonder who put the ticket in your pocket and why. Looking around the tavern gave you no clues, as the patrons seem the usual lot. Grabbing your pack, you sigh and shrug. You figure wherever it leads, it will bring some excitement and adventure. Two things that have been lacking in your life for a bit.

1. What the game is about

The game starts with the characters being brought to the world’s core city. There they meet with a secret group that tells them the power source for the world is slowly dying. They must find out why and how to stop it. While investigating they will find technology long forgotten, fight automaton guardians and travel to the deep dark recesses of the world.

2. Why you’re excited about running it

Automatons, mutants and technology all in a fantasy setting, what more could you ask for? The game system and world are new and from the moment I read a description of it, I was hooked. It is a very unique world and I came up with an adventure plot right away. My mind has been filled with ideas ever since. I haven’t felt this excited for a game in ages.

3. What system you want to use and why

The game is Quantum (from Infinite X Studio) and it isn’t released yet, but should be out in a few months. I don’t have a lot of GM experience and I’ve wanted to try something new. I like the fact that this is a new world and a new game system. I don’t have to worry about people knowing more about it then I do.

4. What challenges running this game might involve

Because it is a new game system along with a new world, the players aren’t going to be familiar with it. I’ve never taught a game to players, so it will be a learning experience. I’d also be running it for players that I haven’t GM’d with before. Learning their play style and quirks will be an additional challenge.

I’m really excited to jump back in the GM seat and give this game a try.

#2 Pingback By New Year, New Game – NYNG – Gnome Stew’s Annual Challenge to GMs On January 17, 2012 @ 9:19 pm

[…] a bit less than a week left in the NYNG blog carnival (hosted by Gnome Stew) and contest, and I have a few new posts about NYNG to […]

#3 Pingback By Robust McManlyPants on Average Display » New Year, New Game, New System, New Worries On January 17, 2012 @ 10:01 pm

[…] On Sunday I wrapped up the last chapter of a short, four session chronicle of Vampire: the Masquerade using the new 20th Anniversary “V20″ edition. It feels so good to run a game and have it finish. That sounds silly, probably, but to see a narrative reach its conclusion and everyone close the book on it together is so incredibly satisfying. It’s a sense of accomplishment in which I’ve been basking non-stop ever since – and yet, here I am, still high on the sense of success from my V20 game (no one died and the players didn’t revolt so I’m putting a mark in the “win” column) and already I have only one thought: what’s next? […]

#4 Comment By Pringle9984 On January 18, 2012 @ 6:17 am

We’ve just come to a breaking point in our 7th Sea campaign so we’re going to try a few other games.

An idea for a one-shot is to have pregen characters with amnesia (cliché!). They have just undergone an unscheduled awakening from cryogenic stasis and the side effects include temporary memory loss.

Prep work includes making dog tags with names on them for each of the possible characters (more characters than players), they’ll be drawn randomly by the players to determine who they are; all they will know initially is their name, they will have no character sheets. I will also produce a deck of cards for each character, each card will have information which could be mechanical or background text (representing fragmented memories).

For example a card might say:
“Computers: 4”
(handed out when a player first tried to blindly use a computer).

Or it might say:
“You recall a conversation with Gabriel; he told you he had concerns about Simone’s loyalty following the mission. He recommended she be detained until you had all returned to Earth.”
(handed out at a plot appropriate point, perhaps moments after the player of Simone has been sent off to do something critical).

I may even hand a card to Simone at the same time, it could be some innocuous skill information or it might say:
“You were sent on this mission as an undercover agent, you don’t remember the exact details but you know you were meant to prevent the team completing their objective at any cost.”
(of course she won’t necessarily remember the team’s objective yet).

Using this method the players should gradually piece together what they were doing, what happened and what skills they possess.

I contemplated using something like Dread (going for a horror/suspense feel) but decided on a streamlined version of NWoD – so basically dice pools. It’s quick and easy, the players are familiar with it (they have enough to try and work out) and we have plenty of D10 from 7th Sea.

The most difficult thing will be constructing a plot so the ‘memory’ cards go together properly. I’m a little worried about characters dying but my plan is that the ship they are aboard only has enough life support to sustain X people, so if one of them dies they can wake someone else from stasis to replace them (though they’ll obviously have no memories).

#5 Comment By witsend On January 18, 2012 @ 4:09 pm

I joined a gaming group last year and its my first turn in the GM chair soon (I’ve not GM’d in years). For added pressure I thought I’d run a system I’d never tried, then heavily modify it for a different setting and use a gaming style my players haven’t tried.

So that’s New-Year-New-Game-New-System-New-Setting-New-Style-New-Group-Old-GM.

Easy peasy!

I’ve selected FATE (Spirit of the Century, though I’d love to try Dresden Files if I can get my hands on it) to run a homebrew Ghostbusters game where the players roleplay themselves, nicknamed ‘Ghostbusters: Us’. After quite a few months in development I think I finally have everything in place so that bustin’ makes us feel good!

I love FATE’s unique Aspects feature, plus the rules on weird science suit Ghostbusters perfectly. I’ve homebrewed the proton gun rules so one contested roll determines hitting, stress, potential malfunctions and collateral damage (in best Ghostbuster tradition no location should ever survive intact!). I’m going prop heavy, with title sequences, ID badges, a Tobins Spirit Guide, Equipment Blueprints, bustin’ contracts, Lego Ghostbuster figures and helping them film their own ‘Ghostbusters franchise advert’.

The major challenge is ensuring what I’ve invented dovetails neatly with FATE, and teaching the players (cribsheets should ease this). I’m confident the players will do justice to roleplaying themselves; plenty of opportunities to ham up foibles, run screaming, and step up as the heroes we’d all love to be! My goal is to make the campaign a ‘Bruckheimer-esque’ rollercoaster.

So, when strange things happen in London, a group of misfit gamers turned franchise owning Paranormal Eliminators and Investigators are the only ones who are ready to believe. A visit by superstar actor (and friend of the ‘Old Vic’ West End Theatre) Kevin Spacey about freaky accidents in the theatre kick starts a campaign that will see the PC’s caught up in the battle between Hecate, the goddess of Witches (and her covens and ghostly heralds) and a WW2 Army Captain turned psychotic Liche who is trapped in the underground war tunnels beneath London’s streets. These two sides are squaring off to control the mystic leylines nexus that is right underneath Westminster Abbey (the most haunted place in Britain). Cue blasting through Mummies in the British Museum, hunting the ghost of Sweeney Todd through Fleet Street and zapping goblin possessed Meat Pies in a race against time to stop either side controlling the nexus.

So, who ya gonna call?

#6 Comment By Muzeni On January 18, 2012 @ 4:39 pm

I often GM for complete strangers online. That isn’t really normal, I know, but I always enjoy trying new things and my real life group doesn’t have the time to do all of them. I enjoy testing new systems, themes and ideas but recently, I had this idea that could really only be done online.

Time loops are a common plot device, from Groundhog Day to Majora’s Mask to the Norse legend with the Everlasting Battle of Hedin and Högni, they’ve been used in storytelling for a long while, but I’ve never seen it done in roleplay. The fluid nature and control that players have over the story not only complicate the time loops, but it makes the device boring. Whilst it’s fun to watch someone in a time loop, simulating the experience through roleplay isn’t interesting since it gives a freedom that breaks the already gossamer immersion.

We can see from Majora’s Mask that it can be used to create fun gameplay and it’s all about working the puzzle that’s inherent to the situation. I felt that the best way to do that is to use the social aspect of roleplay and present the puzzle to different people. A player plays as the premade character and lacks meta-knowledge other than what the previous player has left for him or her. The character has plans within the loop but if the player doesn’t figure out how and takes the action to stop the time loop within the five days, he’ll be given a short amount of in character time to leave something and the next player takes over from the beginning of the next loop.

I’ll most likely use Strands of FATE for its narrative focus on gameplay, but I’m also seriously considering new World of Darkness. It’s going to be difficult, especially making sure that the players can figure out the puzzles. I plan to release the roleplay logs and meta-information when narratively appropriate and the character knows how and what is happening. I’m really excited because it’s so different to normal GMing and I’m trying out ideas that I’ve never seen done before and it’s a challenge to the players that not only enforces the themes of loneliness in character, but creates a communal feeling out of character. I’ve already asked for potential players and I’ve gotten replies.

And if you’re interested, I always need more players.

#7 Comment By twwombat On January 19, 2012 @ 5:50 am

Don’t close your eyes. Don’t even blink. If you fall asleep, they’ll rip you apart from the inside out. Don’t let your guard down, even for a second. You’re Awake, and you’ve crossed over into the Mad City. Caffeine-soaked dreams of success have transformed corporate overachievers into droning Nightmares who feed on Sleepers’ fears. The Clockwork Men, tirelessly tick-tocking to implement the orders of their superiors. Desire, twisted in her abandon, whispers her way into unhearing ears until murder becomes the only option left. Spiders infest the brain, catching dreams in their webs and wrapping them in silk to suck out the liquefied joy.

You haven’t slept in a week, but you can see the Nightmares clear as day now – in fact, you can see through walls and through time itself. Discipline has always been your strength, but Father Insomnia has added gifts of Exhaustion and Madness to your toolbox. You’ll need all of them to overcome your own Nightmares and maybe do some good in the Mad City. You don’t go to work any more. You have a new job: protecting the innocent from the monsters they don’t even believe exist. Starting with yourself.

Just try not to lose your mind, or you’ll become a Nightmare yourself.


I’m running a game of Don’t Rest Your Head this year. It’s a new system to me. Its setting and intensity are completely out of my comfort zone as a GM, but it’s designed to let the entire group tell a kick-butt story. I’m already hacking the rules in spots, so it’ll be interesting to see how those hacks change the game during play. DRYH centers around narration and pushing your luck, with a great economy of Hope and Despair (boons and complications). The style of the game fits with the Schrodinger’s Gun approach to GMing that I’m developing in my blog, so hopefully I can generalize some GMing techniques for use in other games as well.

I’m excited to explore a system and setting that are totally new for me, but I fear that I won’t be able to make the protagonists’ fears real enough to sustain the intensity that DRYH calls for. We shall see what unfolds as the game comes together.

But now, back to the Mad City as we all fight the demons of self-doubt on our way up Mount Wordcount…

#8 Comment By Silent On January 19, 2012 @ 10:23 pm

For this coming semester I am planning to run a Feng Shui campaign, which is based on action movies. Let’s be honest who doesn’t want the ability to defy the laws of physics and live the life of an action movie hero. The crazy stunts, explosions, and massive fight scenes that you can only see in movies and on TV will be done right here in my campaign.

It will be begin in Hong Kong during the 1850s. Immediately time travel will begin into the dark Netherworld, which is the host area for a secret war that began in 69AD and is still going on during 2056. Different powerful groups are all fighting for control of powerful feng shui sites in order to gain ultimate control. Time travel is constantly used to change events in history resulting in new powers rising up in a blink of an eye. A group known as the Dragons (your go to underdogs) plan to fight for the greater good trying to keep balance, but they can use all the help they can get because they are constantly being defeated.

I’m excited to run this game because this is my first time being a gm and I’m really excited to give it a try. I chose Feng Shui as my first game because action movies are something I love and know like the back of my hand. I figured starting with something familiar would keep me in my comfort zone and help with inspiration. Also I know my group of players will get into it and allow for a fun atmosphere, which is the whole point of running a game in the first place.

Being a new gm is something that will be a challenge because I’ve only really played in one campaign. But I know if I stay focused and just have fun I’ll get through it. All I need to do is get through the first session and hopefully it will just get easier from then on. I know that I will probably over plan and have a bit of trouble improvising at first but that’s how you learn.

#9 Comment By DarthPrefect On January 21, 2012 @ 1:18 pm

The game I’ll be running in 2012 isn’t really a new game, and in another sense, it isn’t new to me, either. I’ve both played and GMed Pathfinder before, but have never managed to make a serious go at running a proper campaign with it. When it first came out, I had a long-running SWSE campaign going on, and when that game went on a (permanent?) hiatus, scheduling conflicts kept my gaming group from getting together to play often, and when we could, we’d play one-shots or even do board-game nights instead of starting a new campaign knowing it’d probably never finish (or even get to a third session).

This summer, Paizo is releasing an updated remake of their very first Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rise of the Runelords, and I’ve heard so many good things about it that I can’t wait to get my hands on it. Since I’ll (hopefully!) be working full-time as a teacher starting this fall, I’ll have much less free time on my hands, and so having a high-quality published adventure path like this is going to be very valuable for me as a GM. Since it’s doubtful my existing game group is going to be able to get together and play any more than we’ve been so far, I intend to run this game primarily through Skype, possibly using a VTT if I can find one that suits my needs. I’ve played a few games through Skype before, and have had mainly positive experiences doing so, but I’m brand new to VTT software, and the few I’ve looked at so far all looked… well, let’s just say that user-friendly is not something I’d call them. That and finding a good group of gamers is probably going to be my biggest challenge, but I’m hoping that I’ll be able to make it work in a way that lets me run through the campaign I’ve wanted to play since I first started getting into Pathfinder.

#10 Comment By Raf Blutaxt On January 22, 2012 @ 11:13 am

The game I am going to run this year is Hellas – Worlds of Sun and Stone. I have supported all the Kickstarter campaigns for the game just because I like the idea of greeks in space and the designer is such a nice person, but I think the time has come to actually try out the game. I’ll run the campaign framework that is included in the main book and am very much looking forward to the whole experience.

Why am I excited? It’s greeks in space, zeusdamnit! I want my players to experience this weird mix of cheesy movies from the seventies, mixed with the atmosphere of Star Wars, they should picture the universe in slightly faded colours and have the opportunity to run around shirtless without having to resort to wimpy werewolves and suchlike. Their dialogues will have a slight echoe in their minds and they will face the end of the university with square-jawed stares of determination, just before they fly small fighters into ventilation ducts of temple moons and blow the atlanteans back to Hades.

What is the greatest challenge? It is a new system for me, but that doesn’t bother me much, the greatest challenge for me and my players will be to actually embrace the slightly cheesy atmosphere of the whole game, to act it out and loosen the tight grips we as slightly insecure persons usually have on ourselves. I think this is even more important for the kind of game I have in mind this time, than it is for all games in general and I am hoping that it will work out. As for the system, it is Omni, which I have heard about, but have never played so far. But then character generation should be next tuesday, so I’d better get some more reading done.

#11 Comment By Scot Newbury On January 22, 2012 @ 12:20 pm

A Return to Rylon is the premise for my new game this year and it will be using the Pathfinder rule set.

It’s a new campaign that is set a number of years into the future from the last major campaign I ran – it’s new because the entire landscape of the area has changed. Instead of large cities and established kingdoms it’ll be small townships still fighting for survival in the wake of the massive war that was to be the culmination of my last campaign. It’s also new in the sense that this will be our first ‘sandbox’ style as every campaign up until now had a solid central theme and plot.

I’m excited about making the run at this for a number of reasons:
1. I’ve never run a sandbox style game
2. I get to build on backstory from another campaign for the first time
3. I (hopefully) get to run another long term campaign
4. I get to go back to my roots as a GM again – putting together people, places and things that my players find interesting
5. I’m going to take a stab at running the entire campaign from my laptop

I’m also going to use the Pathfinder rules as we’ve only dabbled with them. I think the rule set is solid but we haven’t really played for any length of time with them despite my group’s decision not to move to 4e and go Pathfinder instead.

The challenges are many, becoming fully conversant with the rule set, lots of campaign details need to be created as the world needs to “breath” for it to work and I think the sandbox style itself will be a challenge as the players need to communicate more as to what they want to do instead of waiting for me to guide them.

All in all I’m excited to get this ball rolling – looking forward to some gaming in 2012.

#12 Comment By dwashba On January 22, 2012 @ 6:44 pm

What the game is about

The Game is about an international group of specialists who are the last resort for world safety. Their first mission was to investigate the FBI(notice the irony) and what they discover lead them on a chase across the world and eventually to stop a resurrected Hitler from finding the spear of destiny and ruling the world.
All this and more.

Why you’re excited about running it

My players are insane and they only add to the crazy ideas already in the game.

What system you want to use, and why

Risus the anything RPG because its free, it has really simple fun rules, and because it encourages bat-shit crazy things to happen with its rules, by encouraging players to use stats that they shouldn’t be able to use.

What challenges running this game might involve

Keeping from getting too out of hand, since everything is pretty goofy it could just go nuts at some point but I want it to stay at least somewhat grounded.

#13 Pingback By New Year, New Game – NYNG – Gnome Stew’s Annual Challenge to GMs On January 23, 2012 @ 7:25 am

[…] is the final day of our first annual NYNG challenge! You can still enter the contest and take part in the blog carnival, but only for a few more […]

#14 Comment By wildmage On January 23, 2012 @ 8:01 am

What the game is about?
Dealing with problems in the small town of the Guilfort as a period of relative peace comes to a close and the town gets drawn into the problems of the world at large and those who oppose the characters goals.

Why you’re excited about running it?
This is the first campaign the group will be running. We have done one-shots/few session games off and on for about 6 months. We are also using a new rule system.

What system you want to use, and why?
Legends of Anglerre. After reading Dresden Files FATE really grew on me. We wanted to do a Fantasy game so Legends of Anglerre seemed like a logical choice to try. Aspects Rock!

What challenges running this game might involve?
From a meta perspective, new group, new system, busy people with kids so scheduling becomes an issue.

In game I plan to try and keep the game balanced exploring many different types of story. The game will start with the investigation of a Plague that has started to spread through the city. Religious conflict will also become an issue. There are multiple churches with conflicting views of the world and one of them in particular has started to spread into the world at large.

#15 Comment By raistlin50201 On January 23, 2012 @ 9:07 am

What is the pitch to the players:

You all were all just enjoying a normal space cruise when the ship came under attack. You escaped but the ship exploded as you escaped and knocked you out. Waking in a cell of some sort a voice speaks into your heads, “Welcome to cell block 001229 new civilians. All prisoners will have have one hour to prepare before new day cycle gets locked.”
You only see a a few familiar faces in the same cell but multitudes of other inmates in other cells. Some cheering, some harrowed, some coming your way.

What the game is about:

Escape from a deadly situation and dealing with a complex environment. The station itself is an ancient alien station that causes those inside to repeat the same actions each day but keeping all memories from each run. Those who are both guilty and are sane will be unable to do anything but the actions they perform during a ‘new day cycle’ that happens when new prisoners arrive. The players are free to act because they are not guilty, but there are many insane prisoners desiring only to increase their numbers.

Why you’re excited about running it:

A very complex situation that will require more notes and planning than I normally do. I hope my players will enjoy this concept and that it will help me grow as a GM that tends to use too much ad-lib in my games.
I am also excited to implement a new idea I have had for a while, player secrets. The basic idea is that each player has a secret card they can reveal to gain a permanent bonus of some sort (determined by how they reveal it) but also carries a flaw that others might exploit. Watching how everyone uses them and why I hope will be a lot of fun.

What system you want to use, and why:

Savage Worlds. I have read over it and it is both a simple system, and looks very fun. I have also heard much about it running and it has intrigued me for a while.

What challenges running this game might involve:

Keeping track of what happens in each location for the next day. Giving the game both a pseudo horror feel while not overplaying it.

#16 Comment By Willen On January 23, 2012 @ 9:29 am

I plan to finally, after a few years of GMing online only, to go back to the table. I miss the adrenalin rush of solving issues on the spot, of telling my players what and how and who with gestures and voices and level looks.

And since it is a comeback, it must be great! I have recently found a RPG system (quite obscure) that I believe deserves a lot more love: Spellbound Kingdoms ( [18]).

The system got my brain cells sparking. It deals with swashbuckling combat, pose and using your Inspirations. It even rules that, if the Inspirations are high, you cannot be removed from play permanently (aka dead). What does this mean? That if you seek revenge, to protect your love, to save the Kingdom, power, fame… you will always be back.
Oh, and it applies to NPCs too, so conflicts now change: in order to remove (defeat) a NPC permanently, you need to crush and burn his motivations first. You need to attack what he wants first. Only then you can deal the killing blow. On the PC side, this means that villains have a legitimate reason to go after your family and loved ones first, reducing your Inspirations to weaken you and strike.

The combat is handled with a maneuvers flowchart that determines what actions can be taken after your last one. The idea is strange and yet so simple is glorious. It is there for free on the website, just give it a look. I sound like a fanboy but oh, am I excited about the ideas!

So, the setting: I have been itching to run a proper Wheel of Time game. And decent is not only combat, but also intrigue, Game of Houses, political backstabbing, the coming of the Dragon. So I am planning to test the system during the first years of the Dragon ascension, in Cairhien itself. A land void of King, scheming with tongue, steel and poison for the advantage… should be fun.

Now, I need to infect my group with my enthusiasm, and find a way to get them together… first issue: getting the gang together. Second issue, having them enjoy a conflict not with bared weapons; I believe we are ready for the challenge, thou. But it will be a lot more complex, and a lot less straightforward than: “I hit him!”
Even thou I am very enthusiastic about this, at times I feel like I am dragging my feet. Fear to prick the bubble? Fear of the idea not living to the standard? Will have to close my eyes and jump right in, I believe.
Now, off to arrange the first session…

#17 Comment By spikexan On January 23, 2012 @ 2:23 pm

Regrets. We all have them. Maybe you didn’t write that novel bouncing around inside your skull for decades. Maybe you never kissed that someone who took your breath away when they walked into the room. Maybe you let your urge for something stupid come before your friends, wife, or kids. You can choke on maybes.

There’s a man who gets rid of your regrets. Nobody seeks him out; he finds you. He makes this offer: I remove your regrets and you only have to do three small favors for me. Rumor has it that he rids regrets first (as a show of good faith), but warns against ignoring his requests. He makes no threat of violence against those who flake out on him, only a simple claim that they should keep to their word.

What would you do for a fresh start?

I’m excited about this game because I’m going to knock the dust off of my Unknown Armies corebook. Years ago, I immersed myself in that series and tried to share it with my gaming group.

They wanted no part of it. Once we reached “writing in your own skills” they were ready for something with a point allocation system and pre-generated skills. I don’t remember what we went into, only that I felt they had cheated themselves out of a great game.

Now, years later, I’ve got a new zip code and new gaming group ready to try something off the beaten path. Another reason I’m excited is that this group of guys and gals make some ridiculously off-beat characters, but quirky for excellent reasons rather some stupid Zooey Deschanel drivel that FOX considers television.

I want to use Unknown Armies because my game is about regret, which isn’t too far from the key Passion mechanic in UA. When they link their regrets to the Cherry mechanic and see how critical it plays in their character’s actions, I believe it will make for some excellent gaming.

The game (mechanics and story) itself shouldn’t pose any hassles as I’m very familiar with the system. Also, it seems to be an easier one to teach. I’m running ten-sessions of the game that mirror ten musical tracks that inspired the game, so I know how the game looks in my head. One “real-world” challenge will be finding one day a month to run these four-to-six hour sessions.

That’s Life.

No Regrets.

#18 Comment By Chico Napolitano On January 23, 2012 @ 2:49 pm

This year I’ll run an adaptation of Avatar: The last airbender to a couple of friends using Fudge system with “O livro do mago da ilha” (“The book of the island’s wizard”), a RPG supplement that a big friend of mine wrote about the essence of magic. Well, this is a really poor way to classify what he has done, but I could say the book lets the players “surf on magic”, doing it in the most creative way, without chains binding the wizard/bender to a paradigm of how the magic must be done. I’m sure that the adaptability of both Fudge and “O livro do mago da ilha” will be an excellent choice to run an Avatar game.

I could say this would be enough to make this an amazing experience, but guess what, the players are D&D munchkin/butt-kickers, and I’ll try to teach them a lesson of magic and serenity. I’m sure we will have a lot of problems, but I will do my best to make our game sessions as great as both Avatar and my friend’s book are. They deserve that!

Anyway, today I feel I’ll be doomed, but I can’t explain in words how much excited I’m.

#19 Comment By David M Jacobs On January 23, 2012 @ 2:50 pm

This year, I’d like to run Mouse Guard for the first time.

Last Christmas, my fiancee and I were looking for a way to help those less fortunate than ourselves. We’re not rich (she’s on disability benefits and I care for her full-time) so we couldn’t afford much, but we’d settled on K-Mart’s Wishing Tree, a sort of Secret Santa for children who otherwise wouldn’t receive presents at all.

Sydney’s gaming scene is ageing, and there’s not a lot of new blood to replace natural attrition. Every year, you see fewer of the same old faces at conventions, and where once, many gamers where in their early teens, most seem to be in their late twenties, thirties or forties.

WotC donated D&D4e material to public libraries in 2010. Mostly, it’s gathered dust on the shelves, but finally, librarians are getting together with gamers to learn how to run RPGs in an educational context. If it works out, we might finally see an influx of younger gamers again.

With all this in mind, last Christmas, my fiancee and I put a D&D4e red box under the Wishing Tree; this year, we hope to supplement it with Pathfinder and Mouse Guard boxed sets as well. Granted, thirty bucks isn’t much, but most of these kids couldn’t otherwise afford to pick up a die. Once you get over the initial costs, though, roleplaying can be a remarkably cheap hobby to pursue.

I don’t read comics much, but I’ve been excited about Mouse Guard ever since I read [19], back in 2009. High chivalry and anthropomorphic mice are right up my alley, and although Mouse Guard sounds radically different to other games I’ve played, I’d love to give it a go.

I keep hearing that the system is [20], and that makes it an ideal gift, too. Who knows? One day, I might get to sit down and play with someone who found their first game under the Wishing Tree.

Even if I don’t win the contest, I hope I’ve inspired a few of you to give an RPG starter set to charity this coming Christmas. Not only can you give back to the hobby you’ve enjoyed for so long, but you can help children who might otherwise find nothing in their stockings, and might never know the joy of rolling a natural 20.

#20 Comment By Amulgur On January 23, 2012 @ 5:51 pm

I’ve been gaming with the same group of friends for about 14 years now. We’ve played games in a bunch of different settings, but generally tend to stick to a few tried and true gaming systems; mainly White Wolf and some D&D. Every once in a while we’ll get a wild hair and try something different, but we tend to come back to our staples time and again. Unfortunately, playing in the same settings over and over gets kind of stale. In order to try getting out of our rut, I’ve proposed trying not one, but two new games, Microscope and Burning Wheel.

Our session with Microscope is going to provide a new setting for us to create and explore. Pre-made worlds can be very useful, but reading setting books can get pretty dull. Or, in the case of somewhere like Faerun, there’s just way too much material. Plus, players are generally reticent to add their own touches to pre-built worlds. Since we’re creating a new world together we will be more invested in the setting and more likely to take control of the setting.

Once we have a world to play in, we’re going to need a system to do it with. I’ve decided to give Burning Wheel a try. The system seems to be more or less a blank slate. Plus, it appears to focus more on the RP aspect of RPG’s rather than mainly being a combat simulator. It looks ideally suited to fit into just about any kind of setting.

Probably the most challenging part will be getting everyone to read the rules for a new game. We’re all pretty busy with RL, and tend to not have a lot of time to spend reading dull manuals. Although, I suspect that altering the system to fit with setting will probably present more challenges than I’m expecting.

At any rate, I’m stoked to give both of these new games a shot. We’ve always stuck with pre-made worlds and other people’s visions. This will give us the opportunity to create something that is truly ours.

#21 Comment By LordTentacle On January 23, 2012 @ 8:59 pm

My last game, about six months ago, died out due to … exhaustion. We played Hellfrost on a weeknight, and though the players who came were into it and dedicated, sometimes just myself, or one or more of the players would simply be worn out or brain dead from work. The game began to drag, and had to be put out of its misery.

Before I desperately got that game together….on a weeknight, I had been jonsing for a game. This has only intensified ….since that game “died.” It has gotten so bad that I have been listening to podcasts of other people playing! Listening to other people roll dice and toss bennies – a new level of geekdom and …. and, then I ran across Dread.

The game is about horror and having fun. I am hooked on dread! It uses Jenga blocks as an impartial judge of a character’s success or failure – and is 100% in the control of the player. And the fear is real. It is live, it is visceral. I want to see the player face the tower (as you look into the tower, the tower also looks into you) and turn away, choosing failure for their character. Or to do the spin dance two or three times – look for a “safe” pull (crashing the tower means death) then look away, then look back and stare, and then back again before deciding.

I’m excited about running it because I want to have a game my friends can get totally immersed in, without having to invest or commit to a campaign. This is perfect for what we need. Perfect for running a one-shot, and perfect for my gaming group – and even a very casual non-gaming group I hang out with.

We we game with pets around; our gaming space only allows for a tight squeeze around the table and this increases the odds of an “accidental” tower crash. I’m not sure how the questionairres will go over well.
I might suck as a “Host” (GM) that night – but hell, that’s a risk anytime I step behind the shield. And that would just make me better.

One cathartic evening of fear-induced tension … until we gather again. Sooner rather than later.

#22 Comment By Martin Ralya On January 23, 2012 @ 10:02 pm

Many thanks to everyone who entered our first annual NYNG contest!

I’ve just validated all entries for length and the other contest guidelines, and after setting side the ones that are too short/too long, we have 41 valid entries. That’s pretty awesome for a contest of this type, where you have to do something above and beyond just commenting, and I appreciate everyone who took the time to enter.

It’ll take me a little time to get these sorted and cross-posted on the NYNG site, and several days at least for the gnomes to judge all 48 entries.

#23 Pingback By New Year, New Game – NYNG – Gnome Stew’s Annual Challenge to GMs On February 2, 2012 @ 1:12 am

[…] one way that you can tell that our first annual New Year, New Game challenge had some excellent entries: After the first round of secret ballot voting by the judges, there was […]