Category Archives: The Independents

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

The Independents: Seven Wonders

How did the children from Narnia cope with adulthood?  How does a dystopian society rise, and how does it fall? What happens in your village when the heroes are away? What would you sacrifice to save your family? Who protects your home when you’re not looking? What’s it like to voyage into a black hole? What do heroes talk about on the eve of a decisive battle? Seven questions need seven answers, and seven story games provide them. This time out The Independents are going to be exploring a wide range of themes, settings, characters, and framing devices as we check out the story roleplaying game anthology Seven Wonders from Pelgrane Press!

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The Independents: Scum and Villainy

“Easy does it friend.” Ari raises his hands as Marx levels his gun. He raises his voice again across the hanger. “You wouldn’t want to do anything hasty now. I’m sure there’s room to negotiate here. All we want is to get paid, and the artifact is yours.” Already the situation was looking bad. Marx, the supposed buyer they were set up to deal with, chose to bring his own group of thugs, and it seemed like their idea of negotiation involves bullets.

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The Independents: Monster of the Week

A dark shadow lurks at the edge of town. Bodies with strange markings have been found throughout the city. Strange omens appear in the skies. Who will face these grim threats? A blue collar warlock, pulling out his street smarts as much as his arcane knowledge? A girl once given a “gift” by a faerie godmother, that helps (and compels) her to action? The last member of a defunct Order, sworn to stop Nazi experiments of the same? The roaming hunter, traveling from town to town to find the creature who killed his brother? The government agent who has stumbled into something larger, and can’t look away? Together, they will find out…why all these different monsters always seem to arrive like clockwork on one day of the week. It’s uncanny. This is Monster of the Week!

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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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