Category Archives: The Independents

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

The Independents: Blackwind

Worlds and plot hooks come together, tension rises, heroes struggle against their foes, and as the dust settles we see the end of the tale. So go movies, books, shows, and no small number of roleplaying games – but there’s a new one coming onto the market that puts that plot progression front and center, and even makes its creation and development the main mechanic of the game. Blackwind by Elisa Mignemi and Allan Kelley is currently running through its Kickstarter project, and they were kind enough to give us a look at the finished product and answer some questions about the game!

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The Independents: Sentinel Comics: The Roleplaying Game Starter Kit

A hush falls over Megapolis City. Citizen Dawn stands from atop his platform, looking over the destruction that her minions have wrought. “I am burdened with a great purpose.” Her voice, though not raised, seems to echo in the dead silence of the normally bustling street. “The bright lure of freedom has led you away from the joy of service. Service to people like me. I am here to correct that mistake.”

Splash Page: “Not if we have anything to say about it!” *The Freedom Five burst into frame* “Let’s go team!”

Based on the popular fixed-deck card game Sentinels of the Multiverse by Greater Than Games, Sentinel Comics: The Roleplaying Game takes you inside the capes of its heroes, pitting them against various dangers and threats which plague the city. Players take up the mantles of very familiar sounding superheroes, combining the backstory from the card games with fresh RPG mechanics and greater narrative freedom. The Starter Kit provides a copy of the rule book, six characters to choose from, and a number of missions, enough to get a campaign of your adventures in Megapolis City going.

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The Independents: Archives of the Sky

There are stories that require a different approach than the traditional party-based RPG. Epic stories, with scales vastly larger than just the four to six people in an adventuring party, have proven difficult in this format, though many have tried. A story-game approach can give the flexibility for telling big stories; that was one of the thoughts behind Ben Robbins’s games Kingdom and Microscope. Now, there is a new designer entering the space: Aaron Reed has created a story-game of epic science fiction stories, Archives of the Sky.

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The Independents: Dragon Heresy

“King Krail of Torengar calls you to rid the border marches of Tanalor of fell beasts, unwholesome fae, and the remnants of the ancient dragon empire. Alongside friends and rivals, carve out your legend and your jarldom in the wild lands north of civilization, seeking fortune and glory worthy of skalds retelling.” So begins the Kickstarter pitch for Dragon Heresy, a Norse-inspired roleplaying game built on Dungeons and Dragons SRD5.1! Kickstarter Wonk put it on the Cannibal Halfling radar, now we get to explore it in depth with creator Douglas Cole. Grab a shield, get ready to grapple, and be prepared to fight with all your vigor as we see what this project has in store!

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The Independents: Revolutionaries

Historical RPGs are having a moment in the sun in the 2010s. Thanks to more focused games becoming the norm, it becomes possible to drill down into a historical event in a way that the market didn’t accept earlier on. In the 20th century, a historical RPG looked more like Pendragon, which spans the entire Arthurian era and can cover literally generations of play. Now, a historical RPG looks more like Night Witches, focusing on one smaller cast of characters in a fascinating corner of the Second World War. Splitting the difference between those two is Revolutionaries, a fascinating game from Make-Believe Games which focuses on the American Revolutionary War.

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The Independents: Power Outage

I’m on the lookout for games you can play with kids. Yes, my own is still measuring his age in weeks, and the nature of this sort of thing means that he’ll probably end up a football player or something and hew to the associated stereotype of not wanting anything to do with geeky things, but still. The instinct is there. Got to plan ahead. I thus found it very good fortune to find a game meant just for that landing in my To Be Reviewed inbox. Today The Independents are taking a look at a game built specifically with parents and their children in mind, a superhero world not quite our own, with Power Outage by Bebarce El-Tayib!

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The Independents: Spire

Different genres of role-playing game have different implied stories. Thanks to D&D the most common implied story of a fantasy game is one of adventurers growing into heroes as they make their way across a treacherous land of monsters and dungeons. Thanks to Cyberpunk 2020, the implied story of a Cyberpunk game is one of operators from the fringes of society alternating between struggling to survive and pushing back against the forces which control them. What if you took the story mode of Cyberpunk and placed it, whole-cloth, into a fantasy setting? Then you’d have Spire, a game which takes setting notes from D&D and Steampunk, story notes from Cyberpunk, and mechanical notes from Apocalypse World and blends them all into something wholly unique.

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The Independents: The Agency

This message will self-destruct in five seconds.

Wait, sorry, I’m out of practice. Hey, at least it’s not like the time when I put the detonation before the message. Boy, did I get chewed out for that one. Anyway, we have successfully deployed our recruiting tool, releasing it through this new “independent gaming website”. Christ, sometimes I really do think the Reds won. Anyway, we made it Pay What You Want (dirty, dirty socialism is what it is!), so potential Agents will be able to easily pick up the basics of what joining The Agency entails without getting off their welfare-loving asses. It also includes the basics of the Field Agent Inserts. I again register my grievance for the identifier: Mindset Stuck in the Fifties. Stuck implies that I would have ever wanted to leave.

Anyway, mission update complete. Now, this message with self destruct in five seconds.

….

The Agent is explaining to me what this “Internet” is.

Oh no.

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The Independents: Micro Games

Walk into your average gaming store and you’ll probably find a fair number of tabletop roleplaying game books for sale, ranging from the relatively slim like Fate Accelerated to mighty tomes that a bard could use as a last-resort weapon such as Numenera. What you probably won’t find, unless someone is hosting a game, are RPGs whose page count is in the single digits, often even only 1 or 2 pages long. While they probably existed beforehand these games are now mostly children of the internet, born on websites and blogs and in competitions and tweets. Sometimes they’re called ‘one page RPGs’, or ‘one page dungeons’. Sometimes they’re referred to as ‘nano games’. I know them mostly as ‘micro games’, and just because they’re short doesn’t mean they aren’t sweet.

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The Independents: Conspiracist

Shadow people stalk the back alleys. Reptilians disguise themselves as humans and prowl through our society. The Grays descend from the stars to carry out who-knows-what kind of experiments on whatever people or animals they can seize. Behind the scenes the Illuminati manipulate all this and more to an end known only to them, and it’s your job to keep it all under wraps. It’s not going to be easy, with all the cults and conspiracy theorists running around. Especially considering the only mission briefing you got was a red d20 with every face reading 9. You’re caught in the web of madness that is Conspiracist: The Game THEY Don’t Want You to Play!

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