As I’ve wandered into the Indie Frontiers this past year, I’ve heard tales of a fabled place where indie RPG designers gather from across the land: Big Bad Con. This yearly tabletop and LARP convention is hosted in Walnut Creek, CA, a short seven hour drive from my home in Los Angeles. I had never been to an RPG convention before, but this was too good an opportunity to miss. I left LA with a backpack full of dice and a mission—a mission to interview as many up-and-coming indie RPG designers as I could find.
Today’s interviewees: JR Goldberg, Viditya Voleti, Riley Rethal, Dee Pennyway, and Kurt Potts.
Continue reading Indie Frontiers #2: Big Bad Blitz Part 1
Welcome to Indie Frontiers, the new article series spotlighting up-and-coming Indie RPG designers and their games. This is the place where we will explore the cutting-edge of game design; the place where we fearlessly read the most experimental RPG’s you can find! Join me on my Sisyphean quest to read all the games emerging on itch.io, and become a part of the Indie RPG revolution.
Today we will be looking at four designers: Jared Sinclair, Jay Dragon, Riley Hopkins, and Kienna Shaw. Let’s get started.
Continue reading Indie Frontiers #1: Developer Spotlight
There she stands on high mountain, overlooking her domain: My Queen, my Love, the woman who will kill me. I know she has planned my end, yet still I love her with every ragged shred of my darkened heart. No matter how hard she tries, she will not find peace while I yet live. My death will sever the line of inheritance of the Duchess, and quell her rival’s ambition. Perhaps when I lay still this war will end, and she may remove her cloak and veil and rest easy on the throne she has always deserved. Yet for now there is one more path to walk…
Welcome to For the Queen, a storytelling game of political machinations, dark history, and undying love. Put on your travelling boots, sharpen your sword, and keep an eye out for skulking figures in the night as you follow your liege on a fateful journey to broker peace.
Continue reading The Independents: For the Queen
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.
Continue reading The Independents: Goblinville Gazette
I duck behind a car for a moment, trying to catch my breath. Silencing the voices in my head is no easy feat, but I need a clear mind if I’m going to make it out of this alive. Check my pistol, three shots left. Check my shoulder, clean exit wound. We expected armed guards, we just didn’t expect them to be lead by a rampaging arch-demon. How did these mercenaries even manage to summon that thing?
Welcome to The ORPHEUS Protocol, a game of cult infiltration, mind-numbing monsters, and spy-thriller action. Have the urge to play a coven of monster-exterminating witches? How about a traveling exorcist and his werewolf companion? Maybe a militant team of cyborgs who are also ghost hunters? Buckle your seatbelts eldritch fans, things are about to get weird.
Continue reading The Independents: The ORPHEUS Protocol
Life on the road in Sundown is tough; you have to savor rest when you can get it. I’ve been a guest at the Ruelas homestead for the past week. They’ve treated me to hot meals, a bed, and have promised me a bag of coin if I can help them deal with their bird problem. They’re good folk, fond of the Fiendswatch even on a safe day. But today ain’t safe.
Welcome to Sundown, a game for monster hunters, transhumanist revolutionaries, and everyone in between. Get ready to leave our world behind and explore the beautiful and brutal land where still water flows deep and death waits behind every bend.
Continue reading The Independents: Sundown
Things get lonely out here in the Long Rim, especially when you’re laying an ambush for the pirate who almost killed you a month ago. A white hot sun beats down on the black-glass face of my SSC METALMARK, but I’ve dimmed the cockpit displays and cranked the internal temperature controls way down. Gotta stay frosty.
Welcome to Lancer, a game of big robots, big guns, and big personalities. If you’ve ever wanted to fly through space tinkering with the parts of your mech and the hearts of your enemies, Lancer is the game for you. Continue reading The Independents: Lancer
It probably won’t surprise you to hear that distributing RPGs can be a major pain, especially for independent publishers. Printing physical copies, funding shipping and distribution, dealing with returns, controlling PDF disbursement, combating pirates—the list of issues goes on. Some authors have chosen to sell games through their own websites, but many turn to the monolithic marketplace of RPG sales: DriveThruRPG. Despite some overlap with Kickstarter and Patreon, DriveThru is clearly the leader in both physical and digital RPG fulfillment.
That being said, a curious challenger to DriveThru’s platform has begun to stir up some discussion within the indie RPG scene: itch.io.
Continue reading The Independents: Emotional Mecha Jam
For a long time, we were at war with The Jackals. Now, finally, we’ve driven them off, and we’re left with this: a year of relative peace. One quiet year, with which to build our community up and learn again how to work together.
The opening words of The Quiet Year lay out the bones of a melancholy story. A community torn apart by war, a mysterious enemy gone but not destroyed, and the empty promise of a year of peace. No matter how desperately the community clings to survival, something awaits them on the horizon. Every hardship conquered pales in comparison to what is to come. When winter arrives, the Frost Shepherds shall also—and things will never be the same.
Continue reading The Independents: The Quiet Year
Every game of Lady Blackbird starts in the same place: The cold iron brig of the Hand of Sorrow. Five rebellious heroes are trapped in the uncaring grip of the Empire, with aspirations of freedom alongside the far-off pirate king Uriah Flint. The premise is exciting, but the genius of this 2009 indie darling really begins to show when your players take control of the crew of The Owl. Will they talk their way out of imprisonment? Can they break out with force? Perhaps the predicament requires a more uncanny solution—teleportation, shapeshifting, or summoned lightning. No matter what the party does, their choices will send your story spinning off into The Wild Blue.
Continue reading The Independents: Lady Blackbird