Since Jeff Rients has declared 2010 The International Encounter Critical Year I’ll throw my hat into the ring. I discovered E.C. last year and I immediately thought that the game is brilliant. Not only is E.C. an imaginative game system but, as has been bandied about the entrée-net, E.C. began as an rpg publishing practical joke. “This is gaming from another past, a garage-made RPG designed circa 1979 by two mythical gamer-buddies,” S. John Ross even wrote the game in character using a personality named Hank Riley.
If we can believe anything written in this rule set than E.C. is an rpg for all genres and encourages mixing these genres. This is a big selling point for me because who wouldn’t want to have laser guns, Road Warrior style cars and a Tyrannosaurus Rex or two all in the same role playing campaign? The twelve player races include entries from the two most popular Sci-fi franchises of all time along with the obligatory fantasy races.
E.C. has an old school rpg look and presentation complete with pages and pages of percentile based skill charts. I loved this skill system since the use of percentile dice is nonexistent in D20 systems. In fact, the E.C. system exists without the use of the d20 at all. Brilliant, Encounter Critical is the Anti-D20 in a gaming environment dominated and seemingly dependant on the D20 System. I believe the development of E.C. was a study in how to build an imaginative and independent rpg system from scratch. S. John Ross has released a digital document titled the Phasic Cyaborg Edition which includes a discussion of his development process. I have not purchased this product yet but another payday is just around the corner.
I’ve introduced E.C. to many friends and relatives, I’ve run an adventure of the game with my gaming group and I’ve been scheduled to run the game at a convention. Not everyone I’ve introduced to E.C. shares my enthusiasm, some have declared the system broken. To these detractors I must point out, the same man who created the complexity and challenge of Encounter Critical is also the creator of the simplicity and free spirit of Risus.