Being a ghost is a tough gig, even if you’re ‘lucky’ enough to be hanging around with a bunch of other ghosts. I mean, there you are all definitely deceased but not passing on, and you’ve got no idea how you got there. Passing on to the other side seems like a definite improvement, but you really want to figure out how your life ended first, right? So how does one do that? Well, you and your fellow ghosts will have to tell the story of your demise to one another, plucking fragments of words and memories from the aether and stringing them together. Such is the tale to be told with the storytelling game from Emma Larkins … and then we died. Continue reading PAX Independents: … and then we died
Forged in the Dark is out of the starting gates. Where Apocalypse World spawned ‘Powered by the Apocalypse’ (PbtA), Blades in the Dark spawned Forged in the Dark, a similar moniker to describe new games which hack and adapt the original game’s ruleset. Now, three years after Blades was first available digitally, there are three Forged in the Dark games at various stages of completion: Scum and Villainy, Band of Blades, and Hack the Planet. Of these, Hack the Planet is the second one released and the one I’ve personally been waiting for. Designed by Fraser Simons, best known for his work on PbtA cyberpunk game The Veil, Hack the Planet means its title literally, and takes place in a dark future where climate change has wrought havoc on the planet. Characters are Glitches, those who eschew the protection (and surveillance) of the corporations from the refugee city Shelter 1 and instead try to make their own way, adapting technology, modifying their bodies, and even fighting the weather to do so. Storm-chasing cyberpunk sound interesting? Read on.
In general, among the writers here at Cannibal Halfling Games, we are attracted to the things that we write about for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, it’s because it is something at the cutting edge of mechanical development. Sometimes, it’s excitement at projects to come. Other times, it’s remembering a forgotten project that could use a bit more love. And, once in a while, we see something that makes us snort with laughter and say “Oh, I have to see that!” It was the final of these that had me take a look at the recent supplement for the Star Wars RPG from Fantasy Flight Games, Allies and Adversaries.
Welcome back to Kickstarter Wonk! This month, you guys…oh man. So many games! So. Many. Games. Down-selecting this list from nearly 20 campaigns was difficult. I had help from another Cannibal Halfling author, Jason, who wrote excellent reviews for both Lancer and Sundown. You won’t see those games covered a second time, but definitely read the linked articles and check them out. In the meanwhile, the top ten for this month came through a lot of reading and pondering, but I’m pretty excited by my selections. All of these games have some really original stuff going on and are worth a look.
Life on the road in Sundown is tough; you have to savor rest when you can get it. I’ve been a guest at the Ruelas homestead for the past week. They’ve treated me to hot meals, a bed, and have promised me a bag of coin if I can help them deal with their bird problem. They’re good folk, fond of the Fiendswatch even on a safe day. But today ain’t safe.
Welcome to Sundown, a game for monster hunters, transhumanist revolutionaries, and everyone in between. Get ready to leave our world behind and explore the beautiful and brutal land where still water flows deep and death waits behind every bend.
“Snowhaven has hosted a theocracy, two civil wars, a magi uprising, been partially burned to the ground, and had one small bout of cannibalism, yet still, she shambles on.” As opening lines to a setting book go, you can do a lot worse. I came across Snowhaven on Kickstarter a while back. The authors described it as “snowpunk”, a new genre they were trying to make stick. The way that the authors described it, they wanted to take the steampunk elements of technology and apply it to a fantasy setting, but also keep the sense of “grim isolation” that winter brings. Rather than having your standard bright, optimistic theme of “gaslamp fantasy”, the people of Snowhaven dwell in a brutally harsh cold water port, filled with intrigue between the noble houses and the Illuminate Church. Technology has not been soaring by leaps and bounds because of a new age of whimsy, discovery and exploration; it has advanced because it is the only way for them to survive (they weren’t kidding about the cannibalism thing).
With both the cultural monolith that is Avengers: Endgame finally upon us, and D&D having sunk it’s claws into my soul after a long absence (I’m trapped in two campaigns at the moment), I felt the urge to play some tabletop super-powered RPGs. Or at the very least, flip through my old books and reminisce about old characters and stories. The RPG I go back to for this fix every time, without fail, is Aberrant, a game that’s out of print and lost in the shuffle. I’ve been wanting to write about it for awhile now because it’s an under appreciated gem in White Wolf’s crown, and I don’t want it to be forgotten.
The gameplay was fun, flexible, and the lore was way ahead of the curve in its depth of world building. I actually think it’s more relevant today in 2019, than when it was released back in 1999. At least a few other people do too, as Onyx Path Publishing is working on a second edition. But I’m getting ahead of myself. What I really want to talk about is the setting.
Cyberpunk brought a new vision to science fiction roleplaying in the late 80s, which was further refined by Cyberpunk 2020. As described in the design goals, the intent for Cyberpunk Chimera is to take what’s already there and adapt it to the sensibilities of me as a GM and what I’ve learned in the 15 years or so since I started playing Cyberpunk. In order to do this, it’ll be necessary to dive into Cyberpunk 2020 and take a look at what’s there to see what I like, what I don’t like, and what’s not necessary to change or adopt. So let’s take a look at the core rulebook, chapter by chapter, and see what conclusions we can draw about both mechanics and presentation of the game. While this is setting up a baseline for the Cyberpunk Chimera, it’s also a detailed, chapter-by-chapter review of the mechanics of Cyberpunk 2020. Whether or not you’re interested in my project, if you want to play Cyberpunk you’re likely to find something useful here.
“Everything has a place in Eberron.” Despite the many unique features of Keith Baker’s D&D setting, this has actually been one of its most common taglines. There are enough mysterious corners of the world, enough factions and forces and peoples, that pretty much anything can find its way into the setting. I’ve embraced that idea myself, to a point: standard evil deities instead become demonic Overlords, strange species pop up in the Eldeen Reaches and Xen’drik and Argonnessen. that sort of thing. But how do you go about literally giving everything a place in Eberron? Well, you might start by reading the Naturalist’s Guide to Eberron: Volume 1: Aarakocra to Azer by Matthew Booth on the DM’s Guild.
The phrase “ahead of its time” is usually hyperbolic, at least a little bit. That said, when you are truly ahead of your time, there are consequences for getting somewhere before everyone else is ready. What made Greg Porter’s Blacksburg Tactical Research Center (BTRC) ahead of its time was moving to PDF-only distribution of their RPGs in 2003, back when PDF was little more than an annoying format you needed that Acrobat Reader thing for. By exiting physical distribution way before everyone else, BTRC made their games pretty hard to find unless you already knew what you were looking for. Fortunately, the rest of the world has caught up…and now the rest of the world can go check out EABA.