[EDIT: The price of the Firefly board game has been corrected]
Now, the title above says Gift Giving guide, but this is really more of a source of inspiration. I cannot include every incredible thing that has come out this year and a true guide would include some great all time gifts as well. That is not this list, this list is small, but brave. Like a Hobbit. Ok, yeah I saw the Desolation of Smaug last night. I'm not comparing everything to hobbits, I am not obsessed. See how I ran rings around rings around your argument?
Which reminds me, real friends and loved ones don't gift cursed artifacts, corrupting lost technology, addictive magical rings, or any other dangerous plot McGuffins for the holidays. It's just not polite. What your gift is really saying is "Do I like you? Or do I want you to go on an adventure for an indeterminate mount of time and possibly die? Either way, good luck". If you must give an important plot Mcguffin as a gift something more appropriate would be the weapon of one's parents, who have since died fighting the good fight. Or the incredibly cutting edge technology that will give the user the opportunity to transcend their lot in life is always a winner. I also recommend acceptance into an education institution that will help the recipient to achieve their inner potential. Just be sure you know what their inner potential really is. Harry Potter would not have done as well in Britain's premier bowling high school. Don't be that person.
Instead, let's focus on some geeky, mundane gifts. For this, I asked the Ace of Geeks staff what they would suggest for some nerdy holiday gift giving. After an hour of explaining the need for clarity (one staff member began texting/IMing me "GAMING COMPUTER" over and over) we finally were able to come up with some clear examples. Here is what they suggested, and my comments.
1. Cameron suggests: CARDS AGAINST HUMANITY ($25 for the main box $15 for each expansion) this ingenious party game has taken my friend circles by storm. I may have helped. In this easily set up card game, people take turns reading a phrase to finish or question to answer on a black card. Others randomly submit a white card and the first player (Card Czar) reads each out loud and judges them harshly. The winning white card wins the black card, and the position of Card Czar shifts to the next player. If this game reminds you of Apples to Apples, it is essentially the same, except that the cards are shocking, foul, mind blowing, and full of nerdy references. It's Apples to Apples for Nerdy and Dirty Adults....as I often say. Play the game no more than once a week so as not to burn out.....the humor is too pure. Much recommend.
2. Lauren suggests: Alpha Maile Dice Bags. ($40) You protect your character in mail, plate, leathers, and magics, but how do you protect your dice? Mere cloth is is beneath the dignity of the polygraphite polyhedral chaos engines that determine your character's fate. For maximum protection, Alpha Maile offers chain and scale mail dice bags.In looking over their online catalogue, I was actually quite taken aback at the prices they are asking for. I'd say these are a steal, but rogues don't wear armor this heavy. Now, there are obvious drawbacks to having a metallic dice bag, the eight is multiples of cloth for the same size bag and the metal must be kept responsibly. However, the weight of one of these dice bags (a friend made one like this) is not a burden and who keeps their things in a damp dark place?
Gollum, that's who.
3.Stephanie suggests: the Tardis Teapot ($44.38) Now, what I love about this gift is the juxtaposition. This useful item combines the Tardis of Doctor Who with a teapot, two concepts which have nothing to do with one another. Nope, these two things have no common origins, no common themes, and one has never been mentioned in the other. Completely different elements brought together in once form with satisfying function. That is if you enjoy tea. And I'm not going to argue that not enjoying tea would make you any less a person. Aren't Dalek's a kind of people? Not that you would have to be a Dalek not to enjoy tea. That would be crazy. What am I saying? Oh yeah, this teapot allows you to enjoy previously boiled tea while pondering exactly how much tea would be required to fill the infinite space of the Tardis. Goes well with this mug.
5. Cameron suggests: The Lucifer graphic novels. ($12 per tradeback) I could not agree with Cameron heartily enough, even if I were a bowl of hearty chowder. This incredibly well written and lovingly drawn comic was inspired by the Sandman universe, where it is set, though Neil Gaiman did not write it. The books center on the modern character development of the Bible's "Lucifer", as he comes to enjoy life after giving up control of Hell. He explores the Sandman universe, humanity, religion, and takes on responsibility and comes to redevelop his relationship with Yahweh, his maker. I discovered and enjoyed the series in college and can attest that it will appeal to friends who enjoy religion, history of mythology, the Sandman comics, or the lucifer archetype in general. There are eleven tradebacks.
6. Lauren suggests: the ongoing Saga graphic novel ($15) My gods. I just. I can't. How do I....?
Saga is one of my favorite comics I have ever read and it's only on its second tradeback. Written by the intelligent Brian K. Vaughn and drawn by the deft Fiona Stamples, Saga has reinvigorated the Space Opera genre with ingenious narrative and breath taking panels. I want to make more jokes here but I might be too much of a fan not to take this comic seriously (lying). The story is revolves around the flight of two lovers, Alana and Marko from two warring cultures as they attempt to escape their past and the consequences of their love. Fantastic technology meets advanced magic in a world were robots seem as organic and self possessed as any other species. If I didn't know any better, I'd say it was created by my favorite comics writer.
7. Stephanie suggests: this glowing D20 ($23) It's an age old calamity: you are playing a table top roleplaying game that requires a twenty-sided die, you make an important roll to see whether your character succeeds in their effort to overcome dramatically appropriate opposition, you are rewarded with the highest possible result you could get, and the appropriate flashing lights to celebrate your CRITICAL success FAILS to manifest! Well, suffer no longer, adventurers, for there now exists a piece of equipment whose magical properties can bequeath to you the celebration you DESERVE. This large die flashes jubilantly when its twentieth face is upright, letting the GM and the whole table know how much you RAWK. From my own experiences with this die, I suggest you store it somewhere upside down.
8. Colin suggests; these dangling Sonic Screwdriver earrings. ($20) These stainless steel dangle earrings are modeled after the Eleventh Doctors's sonic screwdriver. Should you happen upon a an adventure in space and time, you MIGHT find these useful for technological solutions. And there's a spare for a friend. Do be warned, they do not work on wood, however. This would make a lovely gift for the fancy whovian in your life.If you order them now, you should get them in timey-wimey for Christmas. I cannot, unfortunately, give a recommendation for these hanging helpers, as I don't know anyone who would wear them and they are not quite my style. But I can tell you that they look masterful. Well...not MASTERful. I wouldn't suggest.....ack, nevermind.
9. Cameron (and Colin) suggest: Lightsaber chopsticks ($15) Our final Thinkgeek product (you can send your gratuitous gifts to REDACTED), these are not as clumsy as a spork, but elegant eating implements for a more civilized age If you have ever wanted to bring your love of asian style together with Space Opera weapons, this is your chance. Why such a great price, you ask? Well, these finger sabers are not actually destructive magnetically sealed plasma projectors, allowing you to use them without cauterizing you fingers.They also are silent, so any lightsaber noises will have to come from you, via the mechanisms of your (in all likelihood) chewing mouth. I cannot promise that any medical remuneration will be granted to those whose lightsaber noises offend their dining partners to the point where the chopsticks need to be extracted from the user.
10. I suggest The Firefly Board Game ($50) I just had to insert myself here, as I was delighted to discover this game at the much-loved Black Diamond Games in Concord, CA.This game allows up to four players to simulate owning a Firefly class spacecraft, picking a crew, and trading around the verse, all in one to two hours. There are Alliance and Reavers to dodge, double dealing employers to one up, and other fun to be had. There are two expansions out already, one of which allows you to act as thieves and bounty hunters, preying on other players. This game looks really fun and I can't wait to play it. (hint hint.......HINTHINTHINTHINTHINT). This game offers everything I would want from a firefly board game, as I am a big fan of tactics through simulation. It's about Gorram time!
So, whether you celebrate the Solstice or Saturnalia, I hope this list helps to provide the push you need to get out there and become an avatar of the Gift Giving god, Generus! Roll your willpower to hold on to your sense of self while containing the divine power of the ultimate presenter of presents.