My Christmas shopping is done. For the rest of you, it's crunch time.
Since I'm a hell of a guy, I thought I'd help.
For the role player
Since I write RPGs and know tons of gamers, let's start here. One caveat, Im not pimping any of my stuff here, I figure I do that enough in my own weird historical-essay-posting way.
Thieves World (Green Ronin)
One of the best RPG books I've read in a long time, this will be a sure hit for that gamer you know itching to start a new campaign (it also makes a great hint if you would like your DM to run Thieves World so you can play it).
It's got solid mechanics and a really nice set of magic rules that were drawn from the Sovereign Stone campaign setting, one of the first (and still one of the best) d20 books I ever bought. But the GR team adds some wrinkles to those rules, making them even stronger.
Conan RPG (Mongoose Publishing)
This is one of the best designed game settings for any system period. The fact that it brings to life my favorite all time fantasy setting to vivid life is pure (and oh so sweet) gravy. Some nice combat rules that add flavor to the rules and yet another alternate magic system to make magic both dangerous and unreliable.
Plus this book is just flat out gorgeous. Also, for the gift-giver on a budget, there's a pocket version out that comes a little cheaper.
Call of Cthulhu d20
This is a little older but can still be found for a fairly reasonable price. An excellent modern game, an excellent 20's game and an excellent horror game. It has it all. Maybe the best d20 Monte Cook has done (other than, you know, writing the 3e DMG).
For the video game player
You can probably guess what I think would be good picks here, and since I've just gabbed about FF XII, Marvel Ultimate Alliance and Dragon Quest VIII, I'll throw in a couple of PC games this time.
I have been a fan of these games from the beginning. They're the best turn-based strategy games ever designed for the PC. Period.
That said, Civ III was something of a disappointment. More is not always better, and though the graphics improvements were nice, Civ III just took TOO LONG to play. Im not in high school anymore. I have a life that I can't duck as easily as homeroom (and all the classes that came after).
Civ IV improves on Civ III's graphics (by a mile or two) but also makes the game shorter, more fun and more engaging.
This might be the best version of my favorite strategy game.
Romance of the Three Kingdoms X
For your console turn-based strategy fix, look no further. Another venerable series, this takes the time-tested formula of united three kingdoms China and adds a role-playing element or two into the mix, making the game even more intriguing.
In this version you can play any officer in the game and you won't always be the boss. You can play the entire game SERVING a computer officer, trying to earn prestige by diligently performing your lord's assignments and hoping to be given a military command.
Of course you can also blow off your boss' instructions and slack, spending your time dueling and raising your personal fame (either just because you're that happy go lucky of an adventurer or because you plan on being your own boss some day).
For the reader
My other big passion, I love buying books for friends, introducing them to something good.
These are out as individual issues but also tradebacks. These days I prefer tradeback collections to getting comics monthly, mostly because I have a life and can't be bothered to trek to the comics store every Wednesday.
That said, I flat-out gave Marvel my credit card and subscribed to this one cause I couldn't wait. Joss Whedon writes the X-men? Joss Whedon brings back Kitty Pryde and Colossus to the X-men? I am so there.
And apparently I am not alone. As the Buffy scribe nears the end of a two-year run some are already calling one of the X-men's finest EVER, the book is consistently Marvel's single highest-selling title.
Inside Delta Force
A serious look at a very serious group of men, this inside look by one of the group's founders is a riveting read. Interesting, enlightening and sometimes a little scary. The author of this book is also the technical consultant on The Unit, a show that I will tune into again and again.
For the couch potato
A sequel to a classic? Bad idea. But as Ben Affleck (playing himself) informed us in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back "Sometimes you have to go back to the well".
Good Will Hunting II: It's Hunting Season this ain't. Dante and Randal (and Jay and Silent Bob) are back, and this time it's personal. No wait, this time it's in color.
And since the Quick Stop and the Video Store where they worked has been burned down (Randall: "Was it terrorists? Oh... I left the coffee pot running again didn't I...") our intrepid Inaction Heroes have found gainful employment at a Mooby's (and fortunately no angels of death show up).
It's just as funny as the original, perhaps raunchier and with an honest to god United Colors of Benetton dance number set to the Jackson 5's "ABC".
If this is going back to the well, sign me up for a regular shipment of the water.
If you like 24, or the Unit, or just good well-written adult drama, you will love Sleeper Cell, a 10 part mini-series that debuted on Showtime but is now out on video.
Oded Fehr (of the Mummy movies) is flat-out AWESOME as the smart, charming terrorist cell leader who doesn't know his tight-knit group has been infiltrated by a Muslim former Army Ranger turned FBI agent.
It's a great series with a great ending.
Well, there you go, I did my part to help you be the ultimate santa, hope this helps at least one panicked gift giver out there.