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:

Deluxe Version of Your Best Game Ever Unlocked!
about 1 year ago – Tue, Jul 31, 2018 at 10:31:26 PM

Yes! Now we get to have a gorgeous leatherbound version of Your Best Game Ever. It’s going to be amazing! We are going to make this a book that every roleplayer will shelve proudly next to their favorite game, no matter what that game may be. Like a badge of honor, it will complement your collection and show the world that you love RPGs.

As we mentioned before, this is added FREE to every backer level at I Want it All! and above! You can also add it on for $80. Or, if you're backing at a level that gets you just the regular version, you can upgrade to the deluxe for an additional $35. 

Best yet–if we hit the stretch goal to upgrade Your Best Game Ever with more pages, more art, and comics, that will be for both versions (in print and PDF). 

As a reminder, the next stretch goal makes Your Best Game Ever

• Bigger! More pages with more advice, suggestions, and material. Your Best Game ever will grow to 224 pages.

• More beautiful! We’ll add some beautiful new art to go along with the text—have we mentioned that we want this to be a book so gorgeous you’ll be proud to display it prominently?

• Funnier! We’ll gather together some great cartoonists including John Kovalic (Dork Tower), Vickie Lee (Dungeons and Doggos), Aviv Or (Up to Four Players), Brian Patterson (d20 Monkey), Len Peralta (Geek-a-Week), Alina Pete (Weregeek), and Stan! (Bolt and Quiver)  and we’ll have them create some game-themed cartoons to bring extra fun and levity to the book. 

We're getting close to this goal of $150,000! Let's get there so we share what else we'd like to make. Spread the word! 

~Monte (and the whole MCG team)

A Deeper Look at Your Best Game Ever, Part 2
about 1 year ago – Mon, Jul 30, 2018 at 11:08:34 PM

So, last time, we took a look at a specific issue that Your Best Game Ever will cover and showed the general approach the book will take. This time, we’ll look at another:  

Playing games online.

This is a fantastic opportunity that’s really only come to the fore in the last decade or so. It used to be that if your best gaming friends moved across the country, the game was over. But not anymore. Using a variety of methods, from Skype to Roll20 to a number of others, if everyone in the game has a webcam and a mic, you can all be sitting around the same virtual table even though you’re miles apart.

But while the technology’s not too challenging, running and playing the game can be. If you’re used to sitting in the same room with your friends, you’ll likely encounter what I’m going to call the invisible barrier between you all. You’re not in the same physical space, so a distraction for one person (a TV on in the next room, for example) isn’t a distraction for everyone else. Player attention wanders in a way that it might not if you were in the same locale—you’re all (by definition) sitting in front of a computer, and so you check email. Or social media. The technology gives the illusion of proximity, but there’s still a psychological distance between you all. The issue really comes down to communication and engagement. 

The invisible barrier’s not insurmountable. You just need a few guidelines to help get around it. And the first one is recognizing that it’s there. And recognizing that it’s going to affect different players differently. The person in the later time zone sitting in the dark starts to get sleepy. The person who’s more prone to distraction finds more opportunity to let their mind wander. Players who otherwise would be attentive if they were sitting among their friends just find that they cannot sit alone in a room doing nothing while someone else takes their turn; they start checking Instagram. Or playing a game on their phone.

The second guideline is to use visuals to stimulate interest and engagement. Many apps allow for screen sharing, or even have a built-in way to show an image or a map to help immerse everyone in the game. In some ways, this is an advantage to online gaming, particularly if you’re using an app that can actually show everyone the same map, indicate character positions on that map, and so on. And visuals aren’t just the GM’s responsibility. Players can find artwork that represents their character, or their favorite item, or the little town where they’re from.

Ironically, online gaming might be the time to break out some physical props—specifically, those that can be held up to the webcam for everyone to see. The bad guy just inflicted 7 points of damage on one of the PCs? The GM can hold up a playing card with a 7 on it. The player can then hold up their own card with a 7. Or maybe they hold up a 3, because that’s how many hit points they have left. This works for initiative and other mechanics as well.

Another way to deal with the invisible barrier is to turn up the volume on player agency. It’s always everyone’s responsibility to keep up the energy level in a game, and to help contribute to the story and make things interesting for everyone else. Players should take more upon themselves in an online game. One way to do that is for the group to agree that the players have more agency over the narrative and the world. Everyone’s going to pay extra attention—despite the barrier—if they can make suggestions to what’s going on around them. To facilitate this, the GM can call upon the players for contributions even—or perhaps particularly—when it’s not their turn. “Keith, what does the guard say when Sarah’s character approaches?” “Richard, what are the bystanders in the back doing?” This increases engagement. (This kind of thing isn’t everyone’s play style, of course, but it might be something to try. It’s something we’ll discuss for all games in further depth—and regardless of what your preference is, understanding where player agency over the narrative and the setting begins and ends is something the whole group should be comfortable with.)

These suggestions address engagement, but the other problem that occurs in online gaming is communication. Unlike at a table, online you can really only have one conversation at a time because if more than one person is speaking, you won’t hear any of them. Everyone on your screen has the same emphasis, while at a table, it’s likely there’s more focus on the GM (and certainly on the people you happen to be seated near).

Again, use technology rather fight against it. A player can text or direct message another player or the GM. The GM can give personal, pertinent information to just one player in the same way. Just don’t spend so much time typing that no one’s actually talking to each other. The GM has an advantage, though, as they can have messages of this sort already typed into a document and ready to quickly paste into a chat window.

This is only the start of what will be an entire chapter in Your Best Game Ever, but as I said before, I just want to give you an idea of the kind of material will be in this book, and why everyone who plays roleplaying games will want it on their shelf. This isn’t a book that advocates a certain play style. Instead, it embraces them all. If you’re a kick-down-the-door-and-kill-the-orc player, great! If you’re a deep, immersive storyteller, that’s great too. Either way, though, I want to really examine all the options and see if there aren’t some suggestions that can make your next game your best game ever.

In Part 3, I’ll cover one more topic—character arcs that can give your characters both depth and the impetus to set their own goals.


A Different Kind of Stretch Goal
about 1 year ago – Mon, Jul 30, 2018 at 09:44:01 PM

We’re thrilled to see the number of backers already getting in on this Kickstarter. So much so, in fact, that we want to set a special stretch goal based solely on the number of backers. That means to achieve this one, we all really need to share the link with other gamers and spread the word.

And we really want to achieve it because it’s really cool. Cool, as in… a deluxe, leatherbound version of Your Best Game Ever that will look gorgeous on your shelf or coffee table! This will be a limited edition—basically, we’ll print enough to fulfill demand in this Kickstarter, and then that will be it.

This lovely book will be a reality if we can reach a backer total of 1550. How will we get there? Well, you play a big part in that. Share the link to this campaign on social media or with your friends in any way you choose. We’re going to work hard to make certain that Your Best Game Ever appeals to everyone who plays roleplaying games, so tell all your gamer friends and mention it in all the gamer forums or pages you visit.

The deluxe version of Your Best Game Ever will be added to the I Want it All! backer level and above (yes, you'll get both versions at those levels!). It will also be an add-on you can select, either as an upgrade or an additional copy. In other words, if you are backing at a level where you already get Your Best Game Ever in print and you want a deluxe version and not a standard version, you’ll be able to select the Deluxe Upgrade add-on and you’ll get a deluxe rather than a standard. If you want a deluxe version and a standard version, you’ll select the Deluxe Your Best Game Ever add-on. Of course, I Want it All backers (and above) will get both versions!

See you on the other side of 1550!

~Monte (and the whole MCG team)  

A Deeper Look at Your Best Game Ever, Part 1
about 1 year ago – Mon, Jul 30, 2018 at 09:43:05 PM

Every hobby has a go-to guidebook. Definitive and broad in scope, it’s the thing that every seasoned veteran has, and it’s the book that every newcomer is encouraged to get. The one that comes to mind for me is Wonderbook by Jeff Vandameer, a very comprehensive look at writing science fiction and fantasy.

I’ve always felt that roleplaying games needed a book like this. Particularly now. Because the hobby’s been around for 40 years and yet we’re still seeing a wonderful influx of new people.

There have been books about gaming. About gamemastering. About playing. I’ve worked on more than a few myself. What makes Your Best Game Ever different?

It’s a how-to book for all the things that we take for granted, but probably shouldn’t. How do you find a good game group? How does a GM create an adventure suited to the people around their table? What do you do with the problem childish player that’s diminishing everyone’s fun? What are some tips for when you’re hosting the game in your home? What about if you’re playing online?

To give you an idea of what this book offers, let’s take a look at just one of those topics in more depth.

Let’s look at problem players. And in fact, let’s narrow in even more and look at one kind of problem player in specific: the player who’s always trying to run everyone else’s character.

You’ve likely seen it happen. It’s Sarah’s turn and Richard starts suggesting which spell she should cast or where her character should move. Or Keith states his character’s action but Richard interrupts and tells him what he should do instead. This kind of thing happens most often in tactical or action scenes. And it’s often the case that Richard is a more experienced player.

It can even go so far as when Sarah rolls for her action and Richard reads the die and announces the roll before she can. Maybe even having already added her die modifier for her.

Regardless of how it manifests, the situation is likely quite frustrating for Sarah and Keith. But if they say something, Richard just says that he’s trying to be helpful. And maybe in his mind, that’s true.

Like all such issues, this is a table problem, not a GM problem. So many times we rely on the GM to solve or arbitrate or police problems, but unless it directly involves GMing, that’s just not the case. That’s too much responsibility to give to just one person. Besides, in this scenario, the one offering the unsolicited suggestions might actually be the GM.

So Sarah and Keith need to speak up. Not in anger, but in a calm, straightforward matter and to Richard, but probably with the whole group present. “Let me play my character when it’s my turn,” they should say. “I know you want to help, but I won’t get to know how to do this as well as you do if I don’t make my own decisions.”  

But let’s look at it from Richard’s point of view for a moment. He loves the rules, most likely, and he’s showing enthusiasm for the game, even if it’s in an annoying way. He’s not entirely content just playing his own character. Sarah and Keith should agree that if they are stuck, or have rules questions, they’ll ask Richard. It might, in fact, be handy if Sarah can ask Richard to look up a spell description for her while she figures out what to do next. Even the GM can ask Richard to reference rules or do similar tasks that help them and the whole table. Maybe Richard should run the next game the group plays.

It’s worth one last note that this is not always a rules matter. Sometimes, it’s a matter of a character’s role or personality. “Well, you’re the warrior, so you probably just charge in,” Sarah might say to Keith. Or, “Your character’s dad was killed by a killer robot, so you hate this android.” It’s good to have developed a character who is so established, consistent, and believable that others can predict their actions, but actually deciding actions for you based on that knowledge is no different than telling you which mechanical option to use. It’s usually even more easily solved too.

Players who do this do so for two reasons: they are attempting to reinforce stereotypes and cliches (“you’re the mage, so you should stand in the back”) or are only showing their appreciation for a well-played character. The first can be countered with “I’m playing a different kind of character than what you’d expect.” The response to the second can be “Thanks, I’m glad you like my character, but let me narrate their actions—I might just surprise you.” In both cases, the response is intriguing, and most players will want to watch what happens so that they can know more.

Your Best Game Ever is going to deal with topics like this and a lot more. This isn’t an excerpt from the book (it’s still in development) but it gives you an idea of a philosophical approach. In part 2 of this article, I’m going to pick a very different topic to explore with depth: playing a tabletop game online.


P.S. Please take a moment to retweet about the Kickstarter or share the news on your favorite gaming forum or Discord. I just know there are so many people out there who want Your Best Game Ever but don't know about it yet!

P. P.S. Did you see our "outtake reel"? We have almost as much fun making Kickstarter videos as we do making books!

The Stars are Fire Unlocked!
about 1 year ago – Mon, Jul 30, 2018 at 09:42:41 PM

Wow! That was fast! We had a huge stretch goal right out of the gate, and you helped us hit it on day 2. Thank you. 

That means a whole new book is coming your way: The Stars are Fire will be a reality. All kinds of science fictiony goodness await! This will be a 160-page hardcover book with Bruce R. Cordell as the lead designer. We can’t wait to see it (and those with the Early Playtest Access add-on or the I Want It All and I Want My Say! will get to see it early too).

If you’re new to Kickstarter, you might be wondering, “How do I select an add-on?” It’s easy. Select the Manage Your Pledge button on the right-hand side of the Kickstarter page for this campaign and increase your pledge for the amount listed for the add-on. For example, if you want The Stars are Fire, add +$45 to your pledge. It’s that easy. After the campaign closes, we’ll be using a service called Backerkit to collect your information, and at that time you can specify the add-on that you’ve already paid for, so that’s when you’ll tell us to send you a copy of The Stars are Fire when it’s ready.

So what’s next, you ask? 

Let’s make every version of Your Best Game Ever, in both PDF and print, even better! How can we do that? How about:

• Bigger! More pages with more advice, suggestions, and material. Your Best Game Ever will grow to 224 pages.
• More art! We’ll add some beautiful new art to go along with the text—have we mentioned that we want this to be a book so gorgeous you’ll be proud to display it prominently? 
• Plus, we had a fun idea to take this to the next level: Cartoons! We’ll gather together some great cartoonists including:

John Kovalic (Dork Tower)
Vickie Lee (Dungeons and Doggos)
Aviv Or (Up to Four Players)
Brian Patterson (d20 Monkey)
Len Peralta (Geek-a-Week)
Alina Pete (Weregeek)
Stan! (Bolt and Quiver)

...and have them create some game-themed cartoons to bring extra fun and levity to the book. We gamers love to laugh at ourselves, and we love game-related jokes that only we really “get,” so this will be a fun celebration of our fantastic, imaginative hobby.

We’ll unlock this upgrade to Your Best Game Ever if we reach $150,000. That means that if you’re already getting that book in any format, this stretch goal just makes what you get better. And you didn’t have to do anything! Well, except that we can’t reach that goal without you. Please continue to share the link to this Kickstarter campaign with every gamer you know. And even those you don’t know.

No roleplayer should be without this book on their shelf next to their favorite game!

Thank you for your support. Hope your next game is your best game ever!

~Monte (and the whole MCG crew)