I read Penny Arcade for the comics; when I do venture into the commentary, I’m often impressed by Tycho’s writing, but I only rarely have any idea what he’s talking about. Which is to say I’m not anything resembling a hardcore gamer—but I’m following Gabe and Tycho’s development of Thornwatch with a lot of interest. At first it was the idea of a deck-based RPG that caught my attention; again, I’m not a serious gamer, so maybe this isn’t a new idea, but there’s something appealing about having a hand of semi-randomly-selected options that’s reduced as you take wounds. It seems to capture something about the pressures of the moment that you’d expect when you’re in combat—one of the appallingly annoying things about combat in high-level D&D, and sometimes even mid-level D&D, is the inevitable gridlock when a player takes minutes and minutes to decide on an action that, in-game, has to be decided and executed in seconds. So there’s something organic in the idea that your options change from moment to moment as combat ebbs and flows, and insight strikes.

But I’ve also enjoyed Tycho’s development of the mythology of the whole thing. There’s something wonderfully creepy about the idea that anyone could go into the forest and summon a hero at some unknown but probably dire cost. You almost want to play the summoner rather than the hero, really.

The cards look great, and Gabe’s art in the three recent Thornwatch strips is amazing as well. Plus, you know, wolfbat. Wait, they have t-shirts? SQUIRRELAnyway, I’m thinking seriously about whether I want to pay $60 for prints. We’re already so behind on framing the art we already have, though, and doubly behind about hanging the art that is framed, and possibly triply behind on even having enough wall space to hang all of it.

Still, though. Wolfbat.

Christ, I’m tired.