Welcome to Crowdfunding Carnival for May! Now, I admit, last month I was a bit low on energy, low on patience, and I forgot some things. For one, I forgot to write a five year retrospective for April. Now, there’s no use in crying over spilt free content, but I assure you that my energy is up and we’re back in the swing of things for May. In addition to this month’s five year retrospective, I have thirteen different games that I’ll run through in rapidfire fashion. We’re back to all Kickstarters for standalone games this month, but in between the copycat 5e pablum and a whole lot more NSFW miniatures (seriously, what is up with that), there were some diamonds in the rough.
We start with an interesting twist on a worldbuilding game. Inquisitor Kada’s Exquisite Corpse structures the creation of a grimdark world around Exquisite Corpse. If you haven’t heard of it, Exquisite Corpse is a writing game where one player writes one line of a story, then the next player the next, and so on. This game uses the authorial voice of Inquisitor Kada combined with monsters, items, characters, and setting elements to create unique setting riffs for your group.
Continuing on the idea of riffing on something familiar, Stoneburner takes the fantasy dwarf trope and shoots it into space. In this old-school inspired game, characters are asteroid mining dwarves who inherit a demon-infested mine. Part Doom, part Bastionland, this game uses the same mechanics as the designer’s earlier release, Breathless.
We have a few third party standouts this month. Ronin is a Mork Borg hack set in medieval Japan, continuing the trend of filling every niche Mork Borg could conceivably be stuffed into. World Well Wasted: Gestalt is a mecha RPG using Free League’s Year Zero Engine. This is one of the first entirely third party efforts I’ve seen using YZE; the campaign indicates it’s a passion project and a first effort but those things don’t mean it should be overlooked. There’s also Teeth, a monster-hunting game set in a fictional (and kind of grimdark) region of 18th century England, using Forged in the Dark. It’s not Doskvol, but it’s not not Doskvol either, at least in my opinion. Rounding everything out is Harrow: The Blighted Plane, a ‘crystalpunk’ game using the Cypher System. It might just be me, but ‘crystalpunk’ makes me think of Numenera anyway, so this could be a good match.
Be Like a Cat is a one or two player journaling game where the name kind of gives away the game. Oddly, this is the second game in maybe not a series, but at least similar titles from the designer. The first one? Be Like a Crow. Another weirdo this month (and I mean that in the best way possible) is Army Men, where your characters are green plastic army men. I played Sarge’s Heroes for the Nintendo 64 so I get it, but…I don’t get it. That said, the writing is on the nose and quite witty (The Acetal Empire? United Polymeria?) so I hope this finds an audience. Choose Your Resin!
There are a couple all-ages games which could be worth checking out this month. Wyrmlings is still a dragon game in a manner of speaking, but aims for the vibes of (as the designer states) My Little Pony or Steven Universe. Designed for kids or ‘anyone who wants wholesome gaming’. Also aiming for new and younger gamers is Tales from Myriad, which has a more traditional (read: fantasy heartbreaker) design than Wyrmlings. I do appreciate, though, a focus on character dress and wardrobes.
Coming onto Kickstarter this month is BREAK!!, a game that’s been floating around the RPG world for several years now. Break is a tactical RPG a la Lancer or 4e D&D, focused heavily on combat and with relatively light rules to tie it together. Between the anime and JRPG influences, Break is exactly designed to push me away, but it also has some of the tightest, best looking layout concepts I’ve seen. If you’re interested in tactics-based, combat-forward gaming this could be up your alley. If you’re just interested in game design, it might be worth the read anyway.
There are a couple of rereleases to note in among everything else. Ben Milton’s OSR magnum opus Knave is campaigning for a second edition, and has smashed through a quarter million dollars of funding after one day. If you’ve heard good things about Knave like I have, this is a great chance to get in on the new edition. Second, Gavriel Quiroga‘s Neurocity is campaigning for a second edition. I actually covered Neurocity when it was on Kickstarter the first time in June of 2020, and I’m glad to see it was popular enough to warrant a revision.
Carnival in Review: May, 2018
I completely forgot the retrospective last month! I’m back on it for May, though, and this is an interesting one. We start with several breakouts; Overlight, BFF and Star Crossed saw success after their campaigns and are still actively in print; I personally backed Star Crossed and it was a great addition to the Bully Pulpit library. BFF is also worth noting, having been nominated for five ENnies. The rest of the month was more fragmented. Syystem, which I called ‘rough around the edges’ in the article, not only failed to fund but faceplanted, getting less than $600 of a $10,000 goal. Wingless funded and updates looked like the game was going to deliver, but the creator went silent and apparently has disappeared. The other four games did fund and successfully deliver; Agents of Concordia is the most successful from what I can see, being picked up for distribution by Modiphius. Nagual and An Atlas of the Horizons are both available on DriveThruRPG, though neither have earned any tier ranks at this point. Journey Away seems to have journeyed away, the creator’s itch.io page has been wiped clean of that and all of their other games. That’s how the cookie crumbles, though, and how the Kickstarters thud.
Spring is truly here! Thirteen games, including a nice spread of popular and obscure, as well as a few rereleases in there (but still over ten even without them). Now’s a great time to look into some new games; hopefully five years from now we’ll look back and see as many ENnie nominations and big successes as we did looking back at 2018. If you’re as optimistic as me, make some pledges! If not (or if you’re a rational person with a budget), there’s always next month. And next month, just like this month, there’ll be a Crowdfunding Carnival!
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