Your Best Game Ever!

Created by Monte Cook Games

Get an insider’s look at everything that isn’t part of the game rules—building chemistry in your gaming group, making a character you will love and remember forever, running engaging and exciting games your players will always look forward to, creating thrilling adventures, finding all the right ideas, hosting memorable game nights…and loads more! If you play or run roleplaying games, Your Best Game Ever is for you. Inside this gorgeous hardcover book, suitable for your coffee table or your gaming table, you will find great advice and specific suggestions you can incorporate into every game to enhance your RPG experience at the table and away from it. But that’s not everything we’re offering. We’ve also funded a new version of the Cypher System Rulebook, which lets you use the award-winning game engine from Numenera to run any campaign you like. And we’re making several genre books as well: The Stars Are Fire, Stay Alive!, Godforsaken, and We Are All Mad Here. Each of these books incorporates the best advice and techniques from Your Best Game Ever.

Latest Updates from Our Project:

Why I Love Character Porfolios
about 1 year ago – Thu, Aug 16, 2018 at 12:10:05 AM

Cypher System Character Portfolios may soon become a reality. One of these 24-page booklets is the perfect way to track all your character’s stats, gear, background, notes, and other developing details. How do I know that? Because I’ve used an earlier version (the Numenera Character Portfolio) and I love it.

In fact, I have a long history with character portfolio-style products, going all the way back to my experience using the Advanced D&D “Permanent Character Folder” for my half-demon wizard named Lord Dessatyso sometime in 1981! (I could tell you a story or two about Dessatyso, but maybe another time.)

More recently (much more recently), I used the Numenera Character Portfolio for a long-running character named Crail, a character whose name eventually spawned a curse word now widely uttered in the Ninth World, I’m proud to note.


One of the things I love about the character portfolio is that when you record your character in it, it feels as if you are making a commitment to that character. Putting your character into a portfolio makes that character feel just a little more real.

That’s partly because a character portfolio offers so much more “elbow room” in which to describe a character and what happens to them over time. At 24 pages, the portfolio is the perfect place to record all my character’s pools, abilities, skills, cyphers, and so on. But a lot can happen in a campaign. Which is why I so appreciate that the portfolio also has room for notes, sketches, and further details about my abilities, cyphers, and artifacts. There are dedicated areas to jot down thoughts about a character’s appearance and mannerisms, callouts for connections to the other PCs in the party, along with people, creatures, objects, and locations discovered while adventuring.


Another reason I appreciate the portfolios is because they have a premium feel. The Numenera ones are beautiful (and printed in full color on heavy matte paper that takes pencil and eraser easily), and the Cypher System ones promise to be equally great. Plus, how often in your life are you going to commit 24 pages to a single character sheet?

If you haven’t had the pleasure of doing so before, here’s your opportunity! We're getting very close to the stretch goal. Please continue to help us spread the word! 

~Bruce

Cypher Shorts
about 1 year ago – Tue, Aug 14, 2018 at 11:56:42 PM

I want to tell you guys about an idea I have.

No, Cypher Shorts aren’t MCG-branded underwear. (The Kickstarter for those are next year.) Rather, Cypher Shorts are a way of doing adventures for the Cypher System that I’m really excited about. Specifically, they’re one-shot adventures for a single night (or afternoon) of gaming. It’s a cool format that can fit onto two or four sheets of paper (so in a book it would be one or two two-page spreads). The conceit of a Cypher Short is that the action always starts in medias res and the player characters are all a part of the immediate setting and the story is specifically theirs. So if the adventure is about a space station under attack, the PCs are all people who work on the space station. If the adventure is about a haunted house, the PCs are the family that lives in the house, and so on. (This is opposed to the rather standard conceit of the majority of published adventures, where the PCs are outsiders—explorers, adventurers, mercenaries, investigators.)

The key to making this fun and easy is that Cypher Shorts will require a very quick and easy character creation system. Even quicker and easier than traditional Cypher. So really Cypher Shorts comes in two parts: a brief, in media res adventure, and a distilled version of the character creation rules. These rules won’t give you every option in the book, just enough to make a simple character quickly and jump into the action. In just four pages or so, it would offer a few descriptors, a few special abilities that fit a very general “type,” and a few customizable special abilities that might reflect a “focus.” With these simple rules, you can quickly make a tough speaker who is highly skilled, for example, and then you can customize that character into a starship technician, a lawyer, or a WWII soldier. Whatever that particular Cypher Short calls for.

If you wanted to, you could take a Cypher Short character and pretty easily figure out how to make it a full-on Cypher System character, basically by figuring out how they might advance. (Cypher Shorts characters would always be the equivalent of “starting” Cypher characters.) But really, that’s not the point. The point is to easily make it so that one week you have a sci-fi adventure and the next week you have a horror game. Or maybe you interrupt your ongoing campaign to do a one-shot in a different genre just for a break or if not everyone who’s a part of the main game can show up that night. Like our Instant Adventures products for Numenera and The Strange, these would be something the group could do at the spur of the moment.

I love this idea, but it will be a fair bit of additional development and playtesting. So we’re going to make it a backer-focused stretch goal. If we reach 2750 backers, we will add the character creation rules for Cypher Shorts characters in the new Cypher System Rulebook and we will put Cypher Short adventures into all the follow-up books like the Stars Are Fire and Stay Alive! (As well as all additional books that we fund during this Kickstarter).

We’ll make the character creation rules into a single-fold double-sided 11x17 document printed on nice sturdy stock that all backers at the I Want it All! level and above get when they get their new Cypher System Rulebook. These will make it really easy to give all the players in the group access and speed the whole process.

What’s more, we’ll make the character creation rules into a separate PDF and make that available to every backer of this Kickstarter from the $20 level on up.

So tell your friends. Spread the word on social media. Let’s get a lot of new backers for this campaign and make Cypher Shorts happen!

~Monte

The Stars are Fire Upgrade Unlocked!
about 1 year ago – Sun, Aug 12, 2018 at 10:25:46 PM

Nice! Thanks to you and your support, our science fiction sourcebook, The Stars are Fire, is going to be bigger and better than before. It will have more pages with more content—focusing in particular on short adventures you can use right away. It will also have more art and a double-sided poster map. All that, but the price is the same. Kickstarter is awesome!

Let’s do something different next. Let’s do something specifically for players rather than GMs. If we can reach $250,000, we will unlock Cypher System Character Portfolios. You’ll be able to showcase your characters in style with these beautiful and well-organized 24-page booklets. Use them to track all your character’s stats, gear, background, and significant details that you can continue to add to as your character grows more experienced. And you won’t get just one—you’ll get a pack of five for multiple characters (or you can share them with your game group).

The portfolios will be added to the I Want it All! pledge level and above for free, and will be available as an add-on. The PDF version will also be added to the All the PDFs! level. 
But only if we reach the goal. 

Please continue sharing this Kickstarter on social media and elsewhere. You are all amazing.

~Monte (and the whole MCG team)

P.S. Oh, and how about a sneak peek for a possible goal up ahead? What's that? Another cover? What do you think this might be? Unlock the current goal and maybe this will be next!

Inside Stay Alive!
about 1 year ago – Fri, Aug 10, 2018 at 01:10:14 AM

If you're curious and excited about what will be in Stay Alive!, proceed!

Most of us at MCG enjoy the horror (and thriller) genres and are looking forward to all the details we'll put into this 160-page book. Stay Alive! will provide rules and stats for classic horror monsters such as vampires, zombies, mummies, golems, dark magic, werewolves, and cryptids. It will also include advice on creating an enhancing a mood of fear, excitement, and suspense; choosing the right level of violence; recognizing safe boundaries for player fear; and how to incorporate aspects of other genres into a horror game. It will also include an entire campaign setting built using the guidelines in Your Best Game Ever.

The team has been talking about an idea for a specific horror setting for about a year now, and debating how to keep its secret twist under wraps (we've seen enough RPGs, adventures, and movie posters that have a major spoiler in the cover art, and we want to avoid that). So here’s a spoiler-free summary: It's set in the modern day; the PCs are all newly-created vampires who awaken alone from their unexpected transformation, without any experienced vampires to train or command them. The PCs get some time to enjoy their new abilities, avenge old slights, battle their hunger for blood, and find a place for themselves in the power vacuum left behind by their creators' absence. Just as they settle into their new roles as masters of the night, they find that something is hunting them, and the campaign shifts from intrigue and power plays to survival mode.

But let's talk more about horror and its subgenres.

Too Many To Count 

A lot of people saw the cover preview of Stay Alive! and assumed the setting in the book is about zombies. Part of the book will talk about zombies and survival horror, but that's just one of the approximately three zillion subgenres of horror. Many, many pages in Stay Alive! will be devoted to each of these subgenres. Subgenres of horror include classic movie monsters, horror drama, ghost stories, alien abduction, demonic possession, psychological horror, organ transplantation, Southern Gothic, urban gothic, animals and nature, Lovecraftian (we even published a glimmer about this), creepy dolls, haunted houses, the occult, and body horror. The book will talk about how to incorporate these elements into an RPG campaign, and will include a list of inspirational sources for each subgenre.

Mixing horror with other genres is common, with science fiction horror (such as Alien and Event Horizon) being a common example; mutations and superpowers (Carrie, Split) as a source of conflict; crazed inbred killers; and specific countries putting a unique cultural spin on the genre (such as J-horror and Tasmanian Gothic). Stay Alive! will discuss blending elements from different sources to create a unique setting for a horror campaign.

Of course, the book is not just advice for GMs! It will have sections discussing things players can do to enhance the mood (or avoid breaking it), being prepared for a session that's supposed to make you feel afraid, and taking on other roles in the game after your PC disappears or dies.

Running and playing in an enthralling horror game requires a lot of the same elements as horror fiction or film: pacing, making emotional connections with the characters so you want them to survive, creating narrative tension with highs and lows, knowing when to show instead of tell, or when to hide just enough details to let everyone involved fill in the blanks with their own imagination, and so on. (I wouldn't be surprised if the book ended up with several pages of "cheat sheets" to photocopy and keep on the table as reminders about these concepts.)

Plugging it Into the Campaign

Because there are so many possibilities for a horror game, this book is likely to spend a chapter describing various game mechanics that might apply to many subgenres (such as the Horror Mode described in the Cypher System Rulebook, where the chance for bad things happening increases as the tension does, or custom GM intrusions for types of creatures to add flavor), and the later sections about those subgenres would list which mechanical elements are appropriate and give advice on combining them for the campaign. We won't be starting on this book for a while (we have several Numenera projects to finish first), but we welcome any ideas about how to present this information (post them in the comments!). 

What’s Your Inspiration?

As the lead designer on this book, I'm going to spend much of my time between now and when I start writing to watch and read as much horror material as I can (most certainly in a brightly-lit room). I have my own list of favorites that I’m using as references. What horror comics, television shows, films, and other media have you seen that made you say, "Wow, I need to run a game like this”? Leave your answers in the comments and I'll include them in my to-do list!

~Sean K Reynolds

AMA-a-Thon with Monte Cook!

Got a question for Monte Cook? About ANYTHING? Here's your chance to ask it!

On Monday, starting at4pm PDT, Monte will be trapped at his webcam answering questions live from the audience on topics ranging from gaming advice, his career, or who his favorite Avenger is. (It's Cap. Of course it's Cap.)

He will have to keep going longer as more pledges for Your Best Game Ever are made during that time! 

We have some great special guests lined up from our rock-star cast of consulting experts, too! Be sure and spread the word to keep him spilling secrets until he needs a snack break and we can bring on the guests to answer some questions!


I Want it All!

If you haven't checked out the I Want it All! backer level yet, now's a great time to do so. It gives you 5 hardcover books (and PDFs of all of them) for a fantastic price. And there's still more to come! 





Video Series Unlocked!
about 1 year ago – Wed, Aug 08, 2018 at 12:38:37 AM


Looks like I’m going to be in front of a camera a lot soon! The Your Best Game Ever video series will start in early 2019. We'll release them regularly every two weeks (barring holidays and whatnot). What’s more, each installment will come with a PDF of an outline, key points, and show notes that you’ll all get for free. The whole thing will be free to all of you. 

In case you missed them earlier, here are the links to the videos we already did as sort of a “trial run.”

Don’t Randomize Fun

Finding a Game Group That’s Right For You

Now, how about another stretch goal?

So, what’s next? The Stars are Fire is our science fiction book already unlocked—what if we made it bigger and better? More pages (from 160 to 192), more art, more adventures, and a full-color, double-sided poster map would certainly make it better. Everyone who gets that book will get all of that if we can reach $225,000. 

Let's see if we can get this one done and add even more to the campaign. You can make a huge difference by helping to spread the word. There are still thousands of gamers out there that don’t know about this book, but would love it!

Thank you for all your support.

~Monte (and the whole MCG team)