Tuesday, February 07, 2006

I got ponked!

In Monday's convention report I told you about all the fun I had running Encounter Critical, a super obscure game from the 70's. I wrote a lengthy piece about EC here. Well, dig this press release from that sly dog S. John Ross:



In the spring of 2004, S. John Ross (Risus, Pokéthulhu, Uresia, et al) released "Encounter Critical" - a new free RPG - onto the Web. A retro garage-job throwback to the smallest-press RPGs of the late 1970s, Encounter Critical was released without any indication that S. John designed it himself ... and for nearly two years, it slipped quietly into place as a genuine gaming-history footnote.

Today, the warm wriggly bag turns out to have contained a cat all along, and Encounter Critical has come home to Cumberland Games & Diversions, where "gaming from another past" will continue into a more definite future. The game - still and forever free - is now available in a slightly spiffier new file that gives credit where it's due, including the revelation of Cody Reichenau and Dave Insel as the master illustrators behind much of EC's ... let's say "remarkable" ... artwork. New support freebies available for download include the long-lost character sheet that would have appeared in Encounter Critical Gazette #4, and the loose Armor Table insert missing from the previous PDF. For those in the mood for more, there's new Encounter Critical swag available at Lulu and CafePress.

Come visit, snag some free stuff, and undertake Encounter Critical: where your Evolved Hobling-Frankenstein Doxy Pioneer can use her Unusual Sexual Gifts, detachable limbs, evil birthmark companion and brand-new Damnation Van to brave a world where the Ape Sultan's sorcerers fill pits with a substance such as crocodiles. Better still: true scientific realism on
every page!

ALSO NEW FROM CUMBERLAND: One of Cumberland's best-selling PDF titles, Lisa Steele's "Fief," is now available in softcover print-on-demand form from Lulu!

Related Links:

Cumberland Games Homepage
Encounter Critical Homepage
Cumberland Lulu Stuff
S. John Ross mini-bio


That's right, folks. EC is a hoax straight from the twisted mind of the author of Risus and Uresia. But in light of this revelation I put Encounter Critical in the same category as the Tenacious D song "Tribute". A work of art can both mock a beloved genre and be an asskicking example of that genre on its own merits. Hats off to Ross for writing such a great homage to the days when RPGs were all good, stupid fun.