Back to the real topic - other games. In the course of my own inter-game explorations, I've come across many systems. One of the properties I have seen vary the most, but consistently improve over the years is the production value, also known scientifically as the "prettiness" of the book. A hard cover with pages that didn't fall out would have been considered great production value 15 years ago. My how things have changed since then. Nowadays, if you aren't pimping it out with full color, non standard sized glossy heavy paper stock, it seems like maybe you just aren't trying hard enough. Or perhaps it is the books that are doing that that are trying too hard? Tough to say. I have seen many beautiful, nay absolutely gorgeous books hit the shelves in the past few years. Several of these have even hit my own shelf. But unfortunately many of them have seemed to meet with no commercial success, and others have not even found critical success, outside of the acknowledgement of their design and production efforts.
It is with this in mind that I present to you some of the prettiest RPGs you've never heard of - all of which are sitting on my shelf right now.
A dice pool based primary game mechanic and a free form magic system taking place in a kitchen sink, post apocalyptic earth, in the years just preceding an alien v alien war in which Earth is the central battleground. For me the magic system, and the capability of the game engine to simulate Matrix-Like sequences, in which some actors are immensely faster than others, makes it worth taking a look. The system isn't for everyone, and is definitely on the crunchy side, but I don't find it to be bad crunch.
The monster manual for the game could easily function as a coffee table book of fantasy and sci-fi art, and is worth its purchase price for the inspiration it can lend, if nothing else.
I first discovered this one at GenCon about 5 years back, and preordered on the spot. They had an interested world idea, in which relative morality would be explored. The meta plot set the forces of god (in this world, a young girl) against well, itself. The idea was that god wants to die. But if she does, will the world cease to exist? "What is more important, god or her creation?" the text wonders. Another home grown system runs this game, focusing on the mental physical and emotional status of the PCs, trying to mechanically enable stress and demeanor along with the players' own role playing.
As with others in this post, the books are simply gorgeous. Set into 2 volumes, one for the game rules the other as a world book, they are both full color, glossy pages, and like Alpha Omega, laid out in hardcover landscape fashion, setting them apart from other books, but also making them handy at the table, since they fit a little better. The books ship in a slip case to contain both volumes as well.
Hell, even the character sheets are pretty:
Shadows of Esterenhttp://shadowsofesteren.blogspot.com/
This game may be one you have heard of if you are a Kickstarter junkie like myself. They have launched 2 KS's, and been wildly successful with each, far exceeding their goals. The initial game book is available to all now and in distribution, I believe. I bought a copy directly from the studio at GenCon this past year. A system focused on mystery and terror, and unease is what the creators have tried to create. The game is set within a world of gothic, medieval style horror, enemies and monsters that are equal parts folklore and reality, the games are set are mystery, intrigue, and exploring the areas of the world that men were not meant to see.