I’m on the lookout for games you can play with kids. Yes, my own is still measuring his age in weeks, and the nature of this sort of thing means that he’ll probably end up a football player or something and hew to the associated stereotype of not wanting anything to do with geeky things, but still. The instinct is there. Got to plan ahead. I thus found it very good fortune to find a game meant just for that landing in my To Be Reviewed inbox. Today The Independents are taking a look at a game built specifically with parents and their children in mind, a superhero world not quite our own, with Power Outage by Bebarce El-Tayib!
Style Over Substance. Attitude is Everything. Take it to the Edge. Break the Rules. I’m the Level One Wonk, and today we’re going to the hairy edge, the space between real and digital where high tech and low life mix into a dark future where it’s always raining and everyone wears their mirrorshades at night. That’s right, choombas, we’re going Cyberpunk.
A rookie Warden, a wizard assigned to protect the city against supernatural threats, receives his first assignment. The last known priestess of an ancient order devoted to fighting the unholy comes to terms with both her powers and with living with one foot in the old country and another in America. A changeling journalist seeks out stories to trade for protection, hoping to buy enough to keep her Fae mother at bay. A grad student, who is a member of a secret society at least as old as the United States, disguises his supernatural research as part of the studies for his degree. Meet the Party brings you ready-to-play characters, complete with backgrounds and relationships, for use both in your own games and as inspiration for creating characters of your own! This week, we have a group of supernatural investigators in the (possibly ironically named) City of Brotherly Love: Philadelphia!
DeGauss stepped off the bus and shouldered his backpack, another day at Halcyon City High School #5 behind him. The house he walked towards was a curious one, first of all because it looked more like three identical houses joined side-to-side. More curious was that one section looked brand new, a second was currently under construction, and a third looked like it would need repairs soon. Just as DeGauss reached the doorway a desktop computer was thrown through the bay window of the soon-to-need repairs section, followed by a torrent of sulfurous cursing, causing DeGauss to roll his eyes; it must be payday again at Collateral Damage Demo and Construction Co. The young man let himself in and started to make his way to his room when a sultry voice piped up: “Ah, young DeGauss. What did the establishment try to drill into your head at school today?”
So why does one play an RPG? Why do we live and die by the dice?
Some people love rules. Their hearts desire to crunch numbers, using and exploiting the respective systems they play in order to deliver maximum “l33t Ub3r Pwn4g3” as the kids say, or at least used to say like 13 years ago. The characters they create are vessels to deliver the sweet stats and abilities they’ve selected and lovingly crafted. Players like this focus on the “G” in “RPG”.
Others focus on the “RP”. They love the escape. They love getting lost in characters and stories, and the stats and skill trees are just there as a vessel to get into the headspace of another person.
This post is in essence an extension of the latter. In a departure from this blog’s usual fare, I present to you, the reader, a story in two parts. This story takes place in the Dresdenverse, that is to say the universe of Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series of urban fantasy novels and accompanying Fate-based RPG, appropriately named The Dresden Files Roleplaying Game. It takes place in the year 1937, and it’s from the perspective of a certain famous author.
And for those who enjoy a s’more, (some crunch with their fluff, get it? Food jokes. Man, we’re killing it right now.) at the end we’ve included a ready-to-use character sheet for your own Dresden Files RPG campaign.
With that, pour yourself a brandy, a hot cup of tea, a Faygo, or whatever you would normally pour yourself, and enjoy “Probation”.
Rating: PG-13 for brief language.
Different genres of role-playing game have different implied stories. Thanks to D&D the most common implied story of a fantasy game is one of adventurers growing into heroes as they make their way across a treacherous land of monsters and dungeons. Thanks to Cyberpunk 2020, the implied story of a Cyberpunk game is one of operators from the fringes of society alternating between struggling to survive and pushing back against the forces which control them. What if you took the story mode of Cyberpunk and placed it, whole-cloth, into a fantasy setting? Then you’d have Spire, a game which takes setting notes from D&D and Steampunk, story notes from Cyberpunk, and mechanical notes from Apocalypse World and blends them all into something wholly unique.
A spy and scout for the Rebellion who has picked up a number of strays with his ship. An old soldier who had found a living as a doctor, returning to the fight to atone for past deeds. A survivor from an extinguished Order, stealing to survive. A former star of an Imperial Academy, forced to flee because of a secret she did not even know she possessed. Meet the Party brings you ready-to-play characters, complete with backgrounds and relationships, for use both in your own games and as inspiration for creating characters of your own. This time we’re destined for the dark times between the death of the Republic and the rise of the Alliance, as we create Star Wars Roleplaying characters using Dawn of Rebellion!
I have a confession to make: I am a massive fanboy for the Dresden Files. A few years ago, I was having a rough summer: I had broken up with a long term girlfriend, I was finding out that my degree was worth less than I thought it was worth, and I was preparing to move to Philadelphia, a city where I knew absolutely no one. And in that time, I finally had the chance to read a book series that I had heard fellow nerds go on about. As I visited a new city with crammed together townhouses, a decidedly different attitude, and loads of history, it became fun to look for ogres under train trestles, secret societies in Independence Hall, and ways to dig into a city where strange but wonderful things lurked.
Boer the dwarf awoke under musty blankets. He had remembered leaving with the smugglers, and remembered the storm, but that was it. Now, as his other adventuring companions gently kicked the dwarf-shaped lump he was making in the old bed, he found himself in a large bedroom in a castle somewhere, with no recollection of how he got there. There was a vivid dream, with tall trees, thick bushes, and a woman laughing . . . but then he awoke in a strange place.
This message will self-destruct in five seconds.
Wait, sorry, I’m out of practice. Hey, at least it’s not like the time when I put the detonation before the message. Boy, did I get chewed out for that one. Anyway, we have successfully deployed our recruiting tool, releasing it through this new “independent gaming website”. Christ, sometimes I really do think the Reds won. Anyway, we made it Pay What You Want (dirty, dirty socialism is what it is!), so potential Agents will be able to easily pick up the basics of what joining The Agency entails without getting off their welfare-loving asses. It also includes the basics of the Field Agent Inserts. I again register my grievance for the identifier: Mindset Stuck in the Fifties. Stuck implies that I would have ever wanted to leave.
Anyway, mission update complete. Now, this message with self destruct in five seconds.
The Agent is explaining to me what this “Internet” is.