August is GenCon season, but it’s still bumping on Kickstarter! This month we’ve also seen the tagline “Break Kickstarter” pop up, which has produced some intriguing campaigns. Needless to say, there’s plenty to sift through. Don’t worry though, because sift I did, and I’ve come up with my top nine for the month! Check out some hacks, some new games, and some truly odd design projects.
An entrepreneur managing armies of battle droids instead of finances and job orders, trying to find some way to turn a profit in all this. A member of the Separatist Senate who truly believes in the cause, working to sway both allies and enemies. A warrior of an ancient tradition, fighting for glory in a galaxy that condemns him. A swordswoman skilled in magicks, out in the galaxy to prove herself and perhaps even learn a thing or two. The Grand Army of the Republic and the Jedi Order aren’t the only ones with stories to tell during the Clone Wars . . . so deploy the droids and get ready to fight for freedom from the Republic with this ready-to-play party of Separatists for Star Wars Roleplaying from Fantasy Flight Games!
I’ve made plenty of hay over my opinions about D&D. D&D is not a bad game, but it’s such a limited expression of what a role-playing game can look like. The most common counter-argument I get to saying that a gamer should play games other than D&D is somewhere along the lines of “if that’s what they like, that’s what they should play”. This is usually followed by pointing out several more obscure games, which usually look absolutely nothing like D&D, and harping on about how that’s not the play experience they want. And this straw man argument is one of many reasons I’ve decided to sing the praises of the giant middle ground of the hobby, the traditional RPGs.
The one subsystem that all traditional RPGs bolt onto their core resolution mechanics is a conflict system and, like it or not, the most popular iteration of a conflict system is one for physical combat. Cyberpunk 2020 had a combat system designed with realism in mind, and, thanks to a statistical basis in actual criminal activity using guns, did very well in terms of combat verisimilitude. This did mean that some of the “imbalance” in the system, namely the overwhelming power of a high initiative roll and the destabilizing impact of armor, were based on reality. Quirks aside, what made ‘realistic’ fun was that the system played quickly and had enough detail to mean that player choices in terms of tactics and weapons mattered. The issue with Cyberpunk’s conflict systems, really, is that combat is much more ‘baked’ than the other conflict system, netrunning, and the only semblance of a social conflict system is the ‘facedown’ mechanic, which is one die roll for one specific situation.
“The Clone Wars rage on. Both the GALACTIC REPUBLIC and the SEPARATIST ALLIANCE have had great gains and losses in territorial battles and planetary allegiances. Years of conflict have exposed doubts in the JEDI ORDER, as veteran clone troopers question their own role. Other organizations take advantage of the chaos of war to pursue their own agendas. Bounty hunters and criminals ply their trades. The NIGHTSISTERS of Dathomir conduct esoteric rituals to further their plots while the DEATH WATCH of Mandalore escalate their terrorist activities in the name of tradition. The Force brings these agents together in the most unexpected ways…” This is the end of the age of heroes, but has it saved the best for last? Let’s find out together and bring the Clone Wars to a close as we go chapter by chapter through Collapse of the Republic for Star Wars Roleplaying from Fantasy Flight Games!
As the doors of Halcyon City High School #5’s auditorium blasted inwards in a ball of fire and debris to interrupt the semi-formal dance, three things happened in rapid succession. First, the majority of the students present began to scream in panic and terror. Second, Gil and the Hemophiliac each separately took one look at the explosion and grabbed their dates, rushing Emma and the Sea Tarantula out a back door to safety. Third, the Lawman stood up from where he’d been knocked to the floor, drawing his revolver. Fanning the hammer he sent a hail of bullets through the smoke and dust . . . but there was an answering chatter of automatic fire. The revolver clattered to the floor as the Lawman went down, lost in the smoke and debris. The only active adult superhero and A.E.G.I.S. agent present was out for the count, maybe even dead. It looked like the younger breed of heroes were going to have to step up.
I’m a fan of Fate Core, and my favorite additions to the Fate Core family have been the purple books, the System Toolkits. What makes Fate so interesting to me is the level of modularity and genericization available in the rules, which both let players run pretty much anything they can imagine in Fate. With all that flexibility, though, comes the simple fact that there are a hundred ways to do anything, including some really inventive ones that any single player probably didn’t think of.
Here lies Lump, Expert Lamplighter, Goat Rider, and The Iron Gut. He was a good goblin, and a better friend. He once let me borrow his shovel, and was barely even mad when I sold it for mushrooms. It’s unfortunate that he was killed by a gelatinous cube, and even more unfortunate that the cube was then eaten by a giant cave lizard. We bury this lizard mess in remembrance of him. To Lump!
Welcome to Goblinville Gazette, a game of bumbling adventure, shiny loot, and the ever-approaching threat of calamity. If you’ve ever wanted to play as a lovable band of misfit monsters, Goblinville has something special for you. Strap on an eyepatch, grab your rusty knife, and get ready to build the best goblin town that anyone has ever seen—which, to be fair, is a pretty low bar.
You had heard the whispers for a long time: someone up high was on the take, and people who stepped out of line had a habit of vanishing. The town had been a hive of villainy long enough, what was a couple more people on the take…but things got stranger. There was a buzz on the street and strange rumors: people vanishing and returning a bit off, politicians showing up dead and eaten from the inside out. But it was none of your business until she walked in…she had legs for days, just not in the way you thought…and her idea of biting your head off turned a bit too literal for your taste. Before, you might have chalked it up to a bad client, but now…now you’re in too deep and if you’re not careful, you’ll be left as just a shell, a reminder of your former self, an . . . Exuviae.
In RPG discussion circles in places like Reddit and Twitter, there has been a fair amount of hay made over the relative absence of ‘critique’ in the RPG realm. As someone who reviews RPGs fairly regularly, this is something which is difficult to parse but ultimately fair. A review aims to go over the traits and writing quality of a game in order to answer whether it is worth buying and worth trying to play. In RPGs (though honestly in all media) reviews skew positive because negative reviews get more negative attention, and because honestly writing 1500 words about something you don’t like simply isn’t fun.