Welcome to Kickstarter Wonk for October! It’s not exactly that spooky in here. I mean, there’s a bit of grimdark, and some goblins, but overall things are light, bright, and colorful. And there are several games about food. Overall though it’s a great crop, with eight games and an honorable mention zine that should make it into your campaign. Ready? Onward!
I can’t help but compare this game to AGON. Even the font in the splash image reminds me of AGON. That said, Aegean is not AGON, though it walks in the same thematic territory. Rather than AGON’s tight conformance to an epic myth storyline, Aegean is a rather more traditional take on Mythic Greece, using a dice pool system to model mythic heroes clomping about a rather more typical RPG campaign. Typical doesn’t mean bad, though, and Aegean looks to hit the right notes, combining the typical Greek myth bestiary we’ve seen before with a campaign structure that centers around the polis, an imagined city-state where character loyalties lie. If you, like me, didn’t quite jive with the tight structure of AGON, Aegean may be up your alley. And if you, also like me initially, aren’t sure what sets this game apart, there’s a quickstart linked in the campaign. £20 (~$28) gets you a PDF.
The Grim and Perilous crew has walked the retroclone powering their first game Zweihander out in several interesting directions. First came Flames of Freedom, set during the American Revolution, and now Blackbirds, which at first glance seems to retread the ‘grimdark’ setting which Zweihander mostly filed the WFRP serial numbers off. Blackbirds looks more interesting than that, though. Although certainly still using similar flavor to Zweihander and in turn WFRP, Blackbirds walks down the high fantasy road in the direction of something like D&D. The character races are a wild departure from what you’d expect in D&D, and the power level of the eponymous Blackbirds is certainly higher than what Zweihander or WFRP would have. All in all, Blackbirds is a great example of synthesis; I can see all the influences, but when they’re mixed together they create something new and intriguing. $25 gets you a PDF, which in the tradition of Zweihander is a stonking 688 pages.
CHEW is a foodie RPG. And while it is based on a comic, instead of springing straight out of a depraved mind in game form, the source material looks fantastic. The FDA is the most powerful law enforcement agency on the planet after a freak poultry disaster. There are food-powered mutations. And oh yeah, it’s Forged in the Dark. The game riffs a bit, placing players in the FDA’s Special Crimes Division, and driving the group mechanics with an element called the Corkboard. Goofy food conspiracies is certainly an underserved niche in the RPG space, but pairing a solid ruleset with a solid existing comic is a great way to break into it. $25 gets you a PDF, and also includes a PDF of the world book.
When I was in college, a friend of mine attempted to run a sports campaign in Savage Worlds, using the minis rules to adjudicate a playing field. It was a great experiment (and said friend is still a game designer to this day), but it did illustrate why, in 2007, there weren’t many sports RPGs. Fight With Spirit is a sports RPG, and if anyone can pull it off, I think Storybrewers can. If the name Storybrewers doesn’t ring a bell, they’re the design team behind Good Society, the Jane Austen RPG. Focusing on the tropes of sports anime in particular, Fight With Spirit uses cards to both adjudicate and introduce new elements as play goes on. See if your team goes all the way in the tournament, and also what new drama unfolds along the way. A$29 (~$22) gets you a PDF, though a) there is a lower tier for those experiencing financial hardship and b) like many card-driven games, I recommend going up a tier to get the physical card deck, or at least allocating some money to get the deck as an add-on.
Flabbergasted follows the misadventures of a Roaring Twenties social club consisting of the player characters. I must admit the comedy plot structure is making it somewhat difficult to draw parallels, but honestly that makes the game even more intriguing. Built around four character archetypes and a dice pool system, Flabbergasted also introduces some more narrative elements, giving each character archetype ‘scene cues’ which can be used in place of rolling (when they fit), and GM references to help structure the campaign using an overarching ‘season of TV’ structure. Flabbergasted definitely has bits and bobs inspired from other games, but the dedicated focus on the social club and almost complete departure from violence as a mechanic make this all rather new when taken as a complete thing. £15 (~$21) gets you a PDF.
Goblonia puts you in the shoes of goblins being oppressed by the faeries who have taken over their city of Goblonia. Like other games you can see the influences here: oppressed underclass in a city built around an old tower? Hm. City mechanics which track the influence and resources of the city’s boroughs? Hmmmm. PLAYBOOKS? Hm. But. But! Goblonia once again looks to be a great example of synthesis, where even taking certain elements from Spire or Blades in the Dark doesn’t prevent the designers from making a neat, original game. These influences are all tied together with new playing card mechanics, and I do think Goblonia could be a really next expansion of a lot of the design elements we see brought to bear in the PbtA and FitD spaces. $20 gets you a PDF.
A second cooking RPG in one month? Guts & Glory isn’t really anything like CHEW, rather Guts & Glory puts you in the position of rather traditional adventurers with a rather untraditional motivation: exotic ingredients and highly edible rare beasts. Guts & Glory is Powered by the Apocalypse, but also inspired by other media like Monster Hunter. While I personally think of more narrative games first when I think PbtA, Monster of the Week is a big, already popular game that shows this formula can definitely work. Layer in food on top of all that, and now you’re cooking with gas. $16 gets you a PDF, but as of this writing there are still discounted early bird slots left.
Queer super sentai game using mechanics from City of Mist. That’s a lot to take in right there. To kick it up a little more, QUEERZ! Is a manga first, and the artists are either contributing assets to or illustrating for the game, and the whole thing looks utterly gorgeous. Your sentai team has powers fueled by Rainbow Empathy, and fights a whole cadre of villains who in turn are powered by Ignorance. The game is unapologetically…well, everything, but gets away with it from a combination of accepting its own camp, gorgeous artwork, and unrelenting positivity. I like it. $15 gets you a PDF, but as is the style for a campaign which is intensely as much as possible, there are a ton of tiers and add-ons to check out.
The Bubblegum Rave isn’t an original game, but it is original and it is really cool, so it still deserves mention. A systemless zine, The Bubblegum Rave describes a party at the end of eternity, a transdimensional nightclub so hip that all the cool immortals want to be there. There are NPCs, there are drinks, there are plot hooks and narrative procedures. Game or not, OSR or not, The Bubblegum Rave is a neat piece of flair to add to any campaign where it fits. Makes me want to run Planescape for an excuse to use it. £4 (~$6) gets you a PDF.
Halloween themed it’s not, but this month’s Kickstarter Wonk has delivered what I aim for every month: New games, with original concepts, done well. We’re nowhere near done, so be sure to join me next month (and hopefully many months after that) for another Kickstarter Wonk!
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