Tabletop
Five Favorites from the Tabletop Channel

The Escapist Staff | 16 Dec 2014 12:00
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From the desk of Robert Rath

5. LeLe SWAT: The Best Bootleg Lego SWAT Team You'll Ever Buy

Chinese bootlegs aren't great because they give you a comparable product for a cheaper price - they're great because they kick up stone cold bizarre stuff big brands wouldn't touch.

Exhibit A: the LeLe SWAT Team. I picked up this adorable flak-jacketed terror squad at a market in Hong Kong, and though they're Made in China with a capital M-I-C (including ill-fitted and missing pieces), they're delightful. Little pistols fit into little holsters. The NVGs toggle up and down. And who doesn't want a Lego flashbang grenade? Find them at your local dark corner of the internet today!

4. Paranoia

Greetings, Clone #4! Have you heard that a rebooted Paranoia succeeded on Kickstarter? It is not true. According to The Computer, Paranoia has always had a streamlined character creation and combat system, even when it released in 1984. All previous versions of Paranoia - such as ones made available through the Bundle of Holding this year - are disinformation planted by mutant Commie terrorists.

The Computer would not lie to you. The Computer is your friend.

Paranoia lets you experience the joy of a benevolent Orwellian utopia and keep it safe from subversives like your other party members. Play it!

[You have six seconds to comply.]

All Hail Friend Computer!

3. Some Lovecraft Audiobooks

Specifically The Shadow Over Innsmouth and At The Mountains of Madness Audiobooks, Read By Richard Coyle.

Lovecraft may have been a master of horror, but his dialogue was atrocious. This especially mars his otherwise exceptional novella The Shadow over Innsmouth, where he indulged in transliterated accents that make the story an uneven read. BBC Radio 4 came to the rescue a few years ago, producing an audio version with Welsh actor Richard Coyle (Coupling, Grabbers and Going Postal). Coyle smooths the rougher sections and fosters a brooding atmosphere, resulting in a deliciously unsettling adaptation. He returned to Lovecraft shortly afterward, recording At the Mountains of Madness as well. Both came to Audible this year, but if you're feeling cheap, they're also on YouTube. Jump-start your CoC campaign with a group listening party.

2. Chuck Wendig's Miriam Black Novels

Miriam Black knows when you die. Skin contact nets her a flash-forward of when and how you'll go. It gets her in trouble, especially when the crows start to talk.
Currently a trilogy, the Miriam Black novels - Blackbirds, Mockingbird and The Cormorant - deliver pitch-black supernatural noir with the pace of a muscle car at full rev. Miriam's that rare protagonist who retains humanity and vulnerability while upping her badass level on every page, and her opponents are truly chilling. A must for World of Darkness fans since it strikes a similar tone - Wendig worked on Hunter - but perfect for anyone who loves falling into the shadows.

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1. Valiant Hearts and This War of Mine

I group these two games together because they have a similar theme that's good for gaming everywhere - that for individual people, wars are endured rather than won. They convey this message in different art styles, mechanics and tones, but both share an ideological basis.

Valiant Hearts tells an affecting story through its animated visuals, contrasting with the mud and death of the trenches. This War of Mine deals with uncertainty and survival. Both find expression in objects found around the environment, where a plank of wood can determine survival or a disused helmet tells a story.

Another similarity: both deserve your dollar.

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