I give up, I really do. What is it about Vincent Baker’s work that turns me in to a giggling fanboy? In general, I have little patience for fanboyism. To me the term evokes a sort of blind and arbitrary ardour for something. A kind of nerdish religious fundamentalism that brooks no critical analysis or discussion. But it would be hard to describe my relationship with Baker’s games and game theory as anything else. I have a hard time finding fault with anything that he puts out, or the style in which he does it. Even the one major complaint that I have voiced, that the rules can be obscure and dense, I actually secretly think is a good thing: I honestly love his writing style as being an act of poetic terseness! He uses one word exquisitely to say what would otherwise be said with 10! For fucks sake! Any criticism I might muster is inherently weak, because I honestly just believe that this shit is just too good.
At least I can take refuge in the fact that I’m apparently not alone in this. With the advent of his game Apocalypse World Baker has set up a some forums to provide support and give people access to hack the game for their own design. A game that I have always thought of as having a rules set utterly inseperable from the setting, being adapted to other settings? C’est impossible! But then you look at the discussion, and realise that the heart of the game is not the moves as per se, but the principles and agenda of the Master of Ceremonies. The moves, the mechanical actions possible, are really artifacts of the setting. Which means you can have a hack for the rules for most settings. There’s one in planning for Iceland, which is amazingly hot (Viking viking viking! viking!). How about the apocalypse of D&D, Dark sun? No worries! Or, my favourite two so far (both partially or fully the brain child of Baker of course) one for the game of Knife and Candle () and one of Vincent Baker’s own design called Dragon Killer: a fantasy post apocalypse. “When the dragon lived, there was magic everywhere, and ley flowed like water. But when the King of Death broke the dragon’s heart, everything was ruined.”
Seriously, who doesn’t want to play in that world? Who doesn’t want to know what happens next, what does the dragon’s death mean, how does doom come upon us all? I feel like I should be branded, like some sort of cattle. I’ll be the Hefer with the Vx branded on it’s side. I shall attempt to maintain the poise of a critical decision maker, but in the end it’s all just the lowing of steak-in-waiting.