Category Archives: The Independents

Reviews of tabletop role-playing games created by independent and small publishers!

The Independents: For the Queen

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.

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The Independents: Dust Bowl Galaxy

You are in a tin can with half a dozen other scoundrels and there is literally nothing outside for light years. You are tumbling through a bitter galaxy that used to have a lot more people. You are going where many others have gone before. The trick is surviving to come back. You are looking for a new rock for your people to call home. And once you find it, the refugees can leave their overcrowded slums to become settlers so you get rich doing the right thing – just this once. On an unrelated note, you are not pirates. “Not in this port, officer.” Such is the world of a space western game with quick-shooting dice, details in the cards, and a wrecked and dangerous universe to rediscover: Dust Bowl Galaxy by Ilya Bossov and Lagging Dice LLC! Continue reading The Independents: Dust Bowl Galaxy

The Independents: Goblinville Gazette

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.

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The Independents: Exuviae: Relics of House Dragonfly

You had heard the whispers for a long time: someone up high was on the take, and people who stepped out of line had a habit of vanishing. The town had been a hive of villainy long enough, what was a couple more people on the take…but things got stranger. There was a buzz on the street and strange rumors: people vanishing and returning a bit off, politicians showing up dead and eaten from the inside out. But it was none of your business until she walked in…she had legs for days, just not in the way you thought…and her idea of biting your head off turned a bit too literal for your taste. Before, you might have chalked it up to a bad client, but now…now you’re in too deep and if you’re not careful, you’ll be left as just a shell, a reminder of your former self, an . . . Exuviae.

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The Independents: Ngen Mapu

The world is dying. Three times now Kaykayfilu, the Serpent Fish with a Hundred Feet, has arisen from the depths after growing huge on the energy of destruction, flooding the Land. Each time more reality has vanished forever, never to return. Each time the humans, lacking any kind of supervision, have caused the destruction that brought the flood. The fourth flood may very well be the last. It falls to the ngen, the Masters and Owners of Things and mighty preternatural beings from before the dawn of time, to infiltrate the dreaded cities of mankind. Not to strike the humans down, because that way lies corruption. Instead the ngen must convince the humans to turn aside from the path of destruction, one piece of the world at a time. Save the natural world from humanity (and humanity from itself) in Ngen Mapu, a new Fate World of Adventure of South American urban fantasy from Felipe Real and Evil Hat Productions!

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The Independents: Sangre y Mascaras

I have a confession to make: I never got into professional wrestling. I seem to have completely missed the boat when it came to the days of Stone Cold Steve Austin, and my memories of Dwayne Johnson are all as an actor. So, in that vein, digging into luchador culture is like jumping straight to eight ounces of sweet black-tar heroin. It is with this proverbial drug trip that Sangre y Mascaras, the Powered by the Apocalypse homage to luchador movies, jumps into the action.

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The Independents: Heroes All

Superhero stories are at their most interesting when talking about conflicts that aren’t easily knocked down with super-strength or a utility belt of gadgets. The most memorable superheroes across every continuity are those who are both relatable and who must struggle to earn their victories. As our readers have seen with Seamus’s High Impact Heroics Adventure Log, there are newer supers games like Masks which do a great job of emphasizing the human aspects of the superheroic. Cut from a similar cloth is Heroes All, a new game by Brandon Sichling. Heroes All is built around the core conflicts that make or break a superheroic character. By pairing the creation of an antagonist with the player’s protagonist, Heroes All creates an immediate conflict for every player right out of the gate.

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The Independents: The ORPHEUS Protocol

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.

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PAX Independents: … and then we died

Being a ghost is a tough gig, even if you’re ‘lucky’ enough to be hanging around with a bunch of other ghosts. I mean, there you are all definitely deceased but not passing on, and you’ve got no idea how you got there. Passing on to the other side seems like a definite improvement, but you really want to figure out how your life ended first, right? So how does one do that? Well, you and your fellow ghosts will have to tell the story of your demise to one another, plucking fragments of words and memories from the aether and stringing them together. Such is the tale to be told with the storytelling game from Emma Larkins … and then we died. Continue reading PAX Independents: … and then we died

The Independents: Hack the Planet

Forged in the Dark is out of the starting gates. Where Apocalypse World spawned ‘Powered by the Apocalypse’ (PbtA), Blades in the Dark spawned Forged in the Dark, a similar moniker to describe new games which hack and adapt the original game’s ruleset. Now, three years after Blades was first available digitally, there are three Forged in the Dark games at various stages of completion: Scum and Villainy, Band of Blades, and Hack the Planet. Of these, Hack the Planet is the second one released and the one I’ve personally been waiting for. Designed by Fraser Simons, best known for his work on PbtA cyberpunk game The Veil, Hack the Planet means its title literally, and takes place in a dark future where climate change has wrought havoc on the planet. Characters are Glitches, those who eschew the protection (and surveillance) of the corporations from the refugee city Shelter 1 and instead try to make their own way, adapting technology, modifying their bodies, and even fighting the weather to do so. Storm-chasing cyberpunk sound interesting? Read on.

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