It has been mentioned that I’ve been a gamer from way back. Now, I’m not talking console or computer games though I’ve gone through phases with those as well. I’m talking pencil and paper and dice, the way nature intended. In the almost three decades I’ve had only a handful of games that truly set my imagination on fire in a lasting way. One of those, and the one I’m here to talk to you about today, is Bulldogs! “Why Bulldogs!” you ask? Maybe it’s because that’s the only time I felt profound loss over the death of one of my characters. Or maybe that soon you’ll be able to enjoy the ass-kicking majesty that makes this the best goddamned Sci-fi RPG I’ve ever played. (Sorry Traveler, but you lost me with the math and killing characters during character generation.)
Now, I won’t go into the mythic history of the game universe. It is a bit convoluted, and I’m not here to give history lessons.
To the best of my recollection, the decision to play Bulldogs! stemmed from having been in a superhero style game previously. The players were kind of tired of saving the world all the time. We wanted something simpler. And with this, deceptively simple sci-fi game we were able to set aside those lofty goals. We weren’t heroes so much as we were the central characters. If we did our job and survived, we’d see a profit. And that was enough. Gone was that concept of “leveling up,” so central to other games we’d been weaned on.
When people ask me now to explain it, the quickest tag I can give is, “Firefly, but crewed with characters from the Mos Eisley cantina, and in the Star Trek universe – sort of.” With two rival galactic empires (neither of them being classically “good”), and a wide neutral zone where wildly alien cargo loaders earned a living, I feel that description is still pretty apt. And that alien part is key. Being able to really go hog-wild with something truly alien…it’s a thing of beauty.
And let me state again, we weren’t heroes. That doesn’t mean we were criminals…not exactly. Although several of us did end up wanted on various planets. And yes, we left many planets to one or more characters chanting “Let’s go, let’s go, let’s GO!” while sirens sounded in the background. In fact, that chant became damn near a mantra over the course of the game. But the whole thing was very working-class. We weren’t going to get rich. We were going to collect a check. And gods help the alien bastard who tried cheating us out of our due.
I was beside myself with excitement when I found out that Brennan Taylor and Galileo Games was bringing out a new version of Bulldogs! So I poked a bit to see how I could be involved. I even ran a short campaign with an early draft. While I can’t make any official announcements about future involement, I am hard at work on a secret project that I hope to be able to share with you all soon. In the meantime, I’m looking forward to the release of the core rule book. I’ve even contributed to their Kickstarter. It’s probably not too late for you to sign on as well. The incentives are almost as exciting as the game itself.
Later this summer, I’ll be running one or two one-shot sessions around the Seattle area to promote the game. And, let’s be honest, I’m just looking forward to playing the game and sharing the joy with a brand-new audience. Keep your eyes on my blog or on Twitter where I’ll be sure to announce once I have a venue and time locked down.
In the meantime, charge up your photon rifles. It’s getting ugly out there!