Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Game That Got Away

Today, I want to take a moment and talk about the games that got away.

I guess I should explain what I mean by "games that got away", but I don't literally mean games that hoped off my book shelf and ran out the door. That would just be silly. This blog is supposed to be super serious, after all.

At one point in everyone's gaming career, they've stumbled upon a game they thought sounded awesome. Maybe the concept grabbed them, or maybe the mechanics seemed pretty cool. The reasons are endless, but you found yourself captivated by the game and just had to buy it, knowing you'd play it eventually. Unfortunately, the book or books have done nothing but collect dust upon your shelf because your group just didn't seem to have the same level of enthusiasm about the game as you do, never giving you the chance to play it. So, metaphorically, the game "got away". I know it's kind of a stretch, but it's the best phrase I could come up with.

The game that got away from me was Wraith: The Oblivion. Published by White Wolf in 1994, Wraith was this odd, little entry into the World of Darkness line. Players take on the role of characters who've recently died and found themselves within a rather dark afterlife. During the game, characters can eventually ascend to the 'true' afterlife (called 'Transcendence'), become entangled in the strange politics of the afterlife, or gradually fade into Oblivion.

As to be expected, each character possesses certain things that keep them tethered to the material plane, preventing them from passing on. These are objects, places, and people they once knew while they were alive (called "Fetters") or strong emotions they failed to resolve before their untimely deaths (called "Passions"). However, what makes the game truly interesting is that each character also has a "Shadow", a self-destructive aspect of the character trying to lead them down the wrong path. This aspect is usually played by another player at the table, and can cause games to be very emotional.

The game had a very short lifespan, only lasting five years or so. I discovered it much later, roughly around the same time I found out about the New World of Darkness. I quickly fell in love with Wraith, loving the intriguing concept, dark flavor, and cool mechanics. However, I feel like the things that I love about it make it a hard sell to other players. Hopefully, I'll find a group of players interested in giving Wraith a chance, hopefully around the time that Onyx Path Publishing releases the 20th Anniversary of the game (something I'm incredibly excited about).

What game did you fall in love with, but never had the chance to actually play/run? When did you discover it, what do you love so much about it, and why have you never played it? I would love to know.