A Shopping Notice from the N.T.A.B. Department of Trade and Commerce: 2022 Christmas Edition

The administration would like to again strenuously object to any form of venturing out into public squares, marketplaces, big box stores, or malls on this or any other weekend. If you want to take your life into your own hands, we are hosting a series of gladiator-style contests here at the bunker, focusing on fighting style, brute strength, and the ability to dodge a thrown hand axe.

I realize that in some certain cases, you may be forced to make the trip due to lack of access to available raw materials to carve and shape your own Monopoly board. The NTAB Department of Trade and Commerce would like to remind all of you to shop as close to your home as possible, either from local retailers, local artists, other small manufacturing concerns in your city or county, or within the state of your residence, or within the United States—in that order—whenever you can. This ensures that money spent there will re-circulate in the area in which is was spent, up to 2.5-3 times as 67 cents per dollar spent sticks around and benefits your community in some way. Money to other states, countries, or into the maw of Eldritch corporations with amorphous structures and no accountability do not recirculate as much, and only about 31 cents per dollar benefits your community.

Cyber-Monday Options For Your Uber-geeks

I’m going to come right out and say it: buy stuff from the creative people in your life. You heard me. I know (and you know, too, by way of transitive property) some really talented people. The bunker is chock-full of clever and inventive associates, all of whom would love to supply you with just the thing for the oddball cousin or sibling in your life…or maybe you’re that oddball, for whom everyone just expects wild and weird presents. Either way.

1. Small Press Games and Zines!

There are a ton of small press game and content creators who are making some inexpensive publications that are just gems—beautifully written, illustrated, fun and easy to play, and like nothing else out there right now. This of course includes My Zines like Tools of the Trade: A GM’s Guide to Creating & Running Fantasy Heists (but you knew that already, right?) One of the big online repositories of some of these zinesters is Exalted Funeral.  They sell and help distribute small press games and zines and you will Their site is but the tip of the iceberg.

Another thing I want to recommend is Tim Hutchings’ Thousand Year-Old Vampire. It’s a solo game, where you journal the life of a, well, you get it, using a series of writing prompts—no two games are alike—and when you get finished, you have this interesting story that you can do something cool with, like turn it into a graphic novel. That’s the nuts and bolts, but what my pithy little description fails to convey is the beautiful, fascinating, utterly engrossing layout and art design that won Tim so many awards and accolades. It looks exactly like the thing it’s supposed to be: someone’s old travel journal. You gotta check out some of the pages at his website, above. If you have a vampire nut in your life, they will love this game, guaranteed.

2.  RPG Boxed Starter Sets

You know what’s making a comeback? Your favorite game from 40 years ago. No, not that one, the other one! Thanks to the success of Dungeon & Dragon’s Starter Set and Essentials Set, this is a new-old-new again trend, making an introduction to a bigger, more complicated game, that includes everything a new player or group needs, including some dice. Now all you need is pencils, paper, and your imagination—just like back in the good old days.

If you’ve got someone who wants to play games, but can’t be bothered to put down the controller, there’s a Fallout tabletop RPG Starter Set from Modiphius to ease them away from talking to screens to talking to people. It’s completely on-brand, including some Vault-Tec inspired dice. And you can buy actual Nuka-Cola caps on Etsy for even more immersion (try it out first, though!).

Free League Publishing makes beautiful games, both big and small, and they will tempt you with affordable boxed starter sets for Alien (as in “In Space, No One Can Hear You Scream”) and The One Ring (AKA “The Lord of the Rings”) role-playing games. The Alien game includes a stress mechanic that is not unlike the Sanity checks in Call of Cthulhu, and it’s designed to take you from cool as a cucumber all the way to “Game Over, Man!” It’s one of the best-designed games I’ve seen in a long time. And speaking of Sanity Los…

Chaosium’s Call of Cthulhu Seventh Edition boxed starter set is nearly-just perfect, walking you through creating a character step-by-step as you play through a solo adventure. This storied game system is easy to learn, incredibly expansive, and boasts the most amazing collection of support props and documents from their massive creative community. If you’ve never played before, or if you’re a veteran wanting to come back, this is your jam.

3.  Dice and Dice Bags

Maybe you know some gamers but don’t know what they are into (I find this very unlikely as most gamers are only too happy to talk to you about their character and the latest adventure they went on), but even flying blind, there’s always something you can buy gamers that they will appreciate: Dice and Dice Bags. Black Oak Workshop is my go-to for those things; their newest dice bags showed up just in time for the Christmas season and they don’t ever disappoint.  Here’s me, with the one I got.

Yes, that IS Thulsa Doom’s symbol. On my dice bag. With a d20 in the middle. See, this is what I’m talking about. There are some really cool dice bag designs over at the website, above, and you will not be disappointed, either. Their dice are big and chunky and incredibly well-designed. Last year, I posted pictures of the dice I was pulling every day out of their Advent-ure Calendar. It’s become one of their best-selling products, and with good reason. You get a lot of dice, and they are all themed up, too.

4. Geek Chic Art!  

Tim Doyle is a fantastic artist and a stand-up guy, to boot, and his art prints are both stylish and affordable. Bolster your Geek Cred with these amazing prints pulled from popular culture. Maybe you know someone who likes things a little darker? Check out the limited run Bernie Wrightson prints he’s selling (with the full blessing and endorsement of Michelle, Wrightson’s widow). He’s got a sale going on right now at Nakatomi Inc. I own several of Tim’s prints and his art book, and I’m never disappointed with the quality or the professionalism of his studio’s output.

5. Books!

I’m on the record as being pro-book. In fact, I’ve written a few. You should have all of them in your personal library already, so let me just suggest a few recent publications that you may not have on your shelves that you can buy for someone else, or better yet, buy it for you, wrap it, put it under the tree labeled to Yourself, from Santa, and then look very surprised and confused when you open it on Christmas Day.

Persephone Station by Stina Leicht

This book is the gender-flipped Sci-Fi version of The Seven Samurai that you didn’t know you needed. Stina is a fantastic writer and this book may well be her best one yet. The book really made me want to start up a Traveller game and I may yet do it.

Love, Death + Robots: the Official Anthology (vol 1, and vol. 2 and 3)

If you haven’t been watching the series on Netflix (but, that’s ridiculous, of course you have, right?) you may have wondered where you could read all of the wonderful. Short stories that the series seemed to be basing its episodes on. Well, good news: someone did that for you! There’s two books, one for volume 1 of the show, and another for volumes 2 and 3 together.

A Book of Blades: A Sword and Sorcery Anthology from the Rogues in the House Podcast

I’ve got the privilege of knowing most of the people involved with this project, but even if I didn’t know them, I’d want this fantastic collection of new-era Sword and Sorcery stories that have all of the wild derring-do and batshit crazy magic that the genre is known for, without all of the chauvinistic and bigoted tendencies that older sword and sorcery sometimes gets saddled with.

Astute readers will notice that there is no Amazon link above. You don’t need a link to Amazon. You know where it is already. Try to find these in the wild, first, if you can. If your friendly local book store or game store doesn’t have these titles, they can order them. If they can’t order them, there are lots of locally owned and/or independent booksellers online, from Powell’s on down. Please take a few extra minutes and buy from someone who will appreciate your business.

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