Welcome back to Kickstarter Wonk! We’re apparently in the midst of a GenCon hangover, as it’s once again tough to come up with a full top ten games. There are tons of campaigns, but mostly for settings, supplements, and accessories. And while I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least mention the Main Gauche supplement for Zweihander, we’re looking for new games here, people! Fear not; I’ve come up with nine interesting ones, and rounded the list out with a second edition so intriguing I backed it as I was writing this article. How’s that for an endorsement?
Triskelion Space is the first full-featured game built with the Exodus System. The Exodus System is a generic game largely inspired by the OSR, but striving to keep many innovations of the last 30 years intact. Exodus is highly functional, but the main product available is in the form of an SRD and is not the most inspiring, working better for conversion. Triskelion Space aims to change that by following in the footsteps of Stars Without Number, providing an intriguing setting (a three-armed galaxy giving the game its name), rules for spacecraft and sci-fi focused character roles, and GM tools for quick encounter and adventure creation. Triskelion Space could be a day in the sun for the Exodus System; $15 gets you a PDF copy.
The Black Hack is a light OSR game that takes the standard D&D framework and bolts on a good dose of ‘play to find out what happens’. The Jack Hack takes this notion to Whitechapel, London, in and around the time of Jack the Ripper. There are new classes, rules, and random tables to reflect the Victorian setting, as well as additional materials for incorporating both Lovecraft and HG Wells into your 19th century adventures. With the campaign fully funded and the core material around 90% complete (according to the author), this game should be a safe bet and an interesting complement to others set in the era like Blades in the Dark. As befits a lightweight game, you can get a PDF copy for six pounds, or roughly $8.
Here at Cannibal Halfling, we’re all about “bringing games and gamers together”, and part of that (and part I especially enjoy and feel strongly about) is finding new experiences that fit under the roleplaying umbrella. Prism is definitely new. A diceless system with an aquatic setting, Prism focuses on relationships, be they platonic or romantic. There is magic and there are six realms within the setting with their own cultures, but the game is really turned inward on the relationships characters have and how they affect that character’s world. Prism is aimed at a different take on how games interact with the notion of relationships, and also at creating a table environment in which to explore these relationships. $10 will allow you to explore this game in PDF form.
Event is fascinating. Coming from an Italian designer whose last game, Myst (unfortunate coincidence, the name), was intricate and highly language-based, making translation from Italian somewhere between impossible and pointless. Event is a new game, designed to be much simpler and at least possible to release in English. As far as the game goes, let me put it this way: the designer says he was a big fan of The Forge during its heyday, and it shows. Event is an exploration in separating task from narrative, where determining ‘how’ something happens may be a separate roll from determining whether or not the thing was a success. To me, the game appears to internalize many of the lessons from The Forge that Apocalypse World did, though in a very different way. There are free rules linked in the campaign, and you owe it to yourself to at least read them, especially if you’re a fan of PbtA or other things released by the likes of Jared Sorensen or Jason Morningstar. And if you like where this is going, 5 euro (about $6) gets you in on the campaign.
While the first edition of Dystopia Rising came out in 2011, its journey has made Dystopia Rising: Evolution a particularly intriguing reboot/reimagining. While Dystopia Rising may have just floated along as yet another post-apocalyptic RPG when it was released by Eschaton Press, it found great success in the LARP community, and is now one of if not the premier post-apocalyptic LARP campaigns in the United States. Dystopia Rising: Evolution brings in updates and story from the LARP and takes the game back to its tabletop roots. What’s more, the game has been redone in the
Storyteller Storypath system by Onyx Path, tying the game into mechanics that are both well-known and already highly embedded in other parts of the LARP community. Whether you’re a fan of the LARP or have been waiting for a White Wolf-style post-apocalypse game, Dystopia Rising is an intriguing campaign that has already drawn its share of eyeballs and funding dollars. $25 gets you a core PDF.
Era: The Chosen is a horror game with an interesting premise: it takes place as humanity battles horrific monsters from beyond across three time periods. The monsters and world look interesting. The ruleset, character options (how many of you would guess there are ‘five’ clans) and even name though look one takedown notice short of a White Wolf game. It’s not a bad premise for a heartbreaker, but I’m going to call a spade a spade here. $15 gets you a PDF of the core rules.
Free Spacer is following in the footsteps of games like Scum and Villainy, Stars Without Number, and (duh) Traveller, picking up innovations from each (I will never fault anyone for cribbing the Faction Turn from SWN, because it’s a great mechanic). What makes Free Spacer different, at first glance, is a heavier emphasis on resource management and long-term planning. As the game’s stated theme is one of freedom versus power, using these mechanics to give the characters more influence than your typical low-level traders or mercs could make things really intriguing, especially if the characters then get to start mucking about in the politics that the GM has generated. I think there are some neat ideas here, and C$10 (about $8) will get you a PDF to check them out.
Domina Magica is a magical girl RPG, full stop. The game, designed for one-shot play, dives deep into the tropes of magical girl anime and throws in some artifacts from the time when the genre first ascended in the US. That’s right…the 90s. The campaign is sending slap bracelets to everyone who backs, and you’re going to start the game making one of those folded paper fortune telling things…which has actual game mechanics attached to it! Add to it a double-sided character sheet (to be flipped after your transformation, of course) and a ‘Dark Energy Circle’ where your players track the darkness progressing through the world, and you have a game that’s leaning in hard with physicality and unique mechanics. As of this writing the campaign ends very soon (later this week!), so if the idea of being a magical girl interests you at all, you only have a little time to get in on it.
I knew that eventually someone would actually try to sell “Shadowrun, but more like D&D”. That day has come. Entromancy is a “Cyberpunk Fantasy Roleplaying Game” which uses a 5e rules scaffold to present a world with both high technology and magic. While the rules are from 5e, the concept is from Shadowrun, and the premise is from Black Panther (“ceridium”), the game mates what are arguably highly traditional game concepts to mission and faction based structures that look pretty intriguing. Rank up with certain factions, gain access to prestige classes. If that causes intraparty conflict, then we’ve got a real Cyberpunk boogie. $10 gains you a PDF of this peculiar dark future.
Troika is not a new game, but gets mention as a truly fascinating game built upon 80s British gaming and literature. Generate a random character, and get into peculiar situations. As described, your characters will “galumph across the hump-backed sky, always looking towards the horizon”. I’m not doing the game justice, and I’m not sure it’s easy to explain. That said, there’s a free version of the original available, and a mere 6 pounds ($8) will get you a PDF. I’ve been so confused and intrigued by this gem that I’ve gone ahead and backed it myself.
We’ve got a whole range of games in here, from distant galaxies to Whitechapel, and from adapting 5e to adapting the Storyteller system to simply adapting to the fact that your previous game only works in Italian. This month’s batch is a number of intriguing games, and I’d say where possible you should read quickstarts and previous editions. There’s a wide world of games out there, and Kickstarter is giving us some insight into the past, present, and future. Go forth, and vote with your dollars!