Category Archives: The Independents

Good Strong Hands Review

I have to admit, fantasy games come to the plate with two strikes for me. The ubiquity of Dungeons and Dragons, coupled with the large number of single-game players, means that fantasy games generally need to work twice as hard to do something interesting within the existing constraints of the genre. When I first read Good Strong Hands, I saw a game that leaned hard into a very broad, often repeated conceit: A great evil is corrupting the land and you, the heroes, must stop it. Couple this with light, fairly basic mechanics, and I didn’t really know if I was going to find anything interesting in this game.

Luckily, I was wrong. While Good Strong Hands is a rules-light game, and while it absolutely leans on a simplified view of good and evil, it takes this basic struggle and makes it the centerpiece of the game. The mechanics of the Void, Shadow and Corruption, force players to make tough decisions and place the voice of evil with the GM to play with as they wish. The game does want to see its players triumph, but the risk of falling to the Void is very real and a party will likely see at least one character lost to evil in a campaign.

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Yazeba’s Bed & Breakfast Review

“Once upon a time, the world was cruel, and there was a witch who knew it well. And so, she sold her heart away and built a house in the woods where the world could never find her.

At first she would let no one into her fortress. But in the long march of days, a strange thing happened: in her own cold and spiteful way, the witch made a friend… and then another… and then several more, until her house was teeming with colorful faces and complicated lives.

The house would come to be known as Yazeba’s Bed & Breakfast, and it would last for a very long time.”

Of course, it’s not just a bed and breakfast – it’s a book, and a game, from Possum Creek Games, currently funding on indiegogo! Let’s see if there’s any free rooms (the sign says yes, but there’s a girl sleeping in the laundry room…) and talk to the creators!

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Warpland: Anathematic Science and Dawning Magick

The chaos that followed the War has never been properly described by any poet or scribe. There are vague accounts of mountains falling and the ground opening up like a mouth to swallow entire cities. We support our reason on the natural order of things, and this order was disrupted when the very fabric of reality was torn apart. Neither side would ever claim victory. From all this suffering and devastation, the Void grew like a blister until it burst, infecting reality like a disease, stretching its tendrils of darkness across the ruined northern territories, corrupting it all with its nothingness.

As the bewildered Demiurge contemplated how his once proud work crumbled, a solemn silence fell, and then—rising in a crescendo from beyond the limits of possibility—a boundless, terrible wail was felt by all things living and not, shaking the very pillars of creation; and just before retreating forever to unknown sidereal regions, His cosmic finger signaled the broken realm.

Once again, Man was allowed to be. Welcome to Warpland.

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Lands of Legends Review – A Thousand Options For Your Game

Adventuring through an old-school-style sandbox setting, or mapping your way through a sprawling hexcrawl? The biggest challenge of playing a game where the characters can go any direction they want is making sure there’s something worth finding in every direction they can possibly go – even more so if the world is functionally boundless. From vast ancient cities consumed by the forest to a monastery of living mummies, from a desert falling into a black hole serving as the hourglass for the world’s life to a barge-bound casino-temple to the god of luck and gambling, there are plenty of options to be found in the Lands of Legends from Axian Spice!

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The Independents: Dreampunk

Role-playing games can be a perfect venue for the surreal. Exploring a strange world that has its own incomprehensible rules is often better done in games, where players have the opportunity to poke, prod, and learn, rather than being stuck in an author’s or director’s interpretation. That said, most games that embrace surreality these days embrace a designer’s vision, and are still one possible experience in a world that could be a whole lot weirder. Enter Dreampunk, a game currently being funded on Kickstarter. Dreampunk is a game that borrows heavily from the mechanics of Belonging Outside Belonging and, by extension, Powered by the Apocalypse. What makes Dreampunk unique, though, is the use of card drawing mechanics not only to pace the game, but to develop the very reality of the setting.

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Cuticorium Review – Microcosmic Insect Adventures

You are a bug. There is little time to comprehend what this means to you. Life is brutally short and brief, full of amazing colors and creatures that will dazzle, trap, and kill you in an instant. The ground shakes, your world turns upside down, and everything begins to spin. But there is one place of solace for you in the constant flux of chaos, the peaceful Cuticorium. No insect remembers where it came from, but the longer you stay around this place, the more you begin to think for yourself instead of just trying to survive from moment to moment.” This is the RPG about a small insectoid world with big secrets and dramatic connections, Cuticorium by Ulysses Duckler!

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LUMEN Review – An SRD For The Quick And Powerful

Sometimes you just want a game where the characters are just awesome. So powerful that death is just a speed bump, so badass that there’s almost nothing they can’t do if they play to their strengths, so deadly that enemies aren’t just opponents, they’re walking health and ammo packs. If this is sounding like a couple of video games you know, you’re not wrong, but this is still a tabletop roleplaying game article. Instead of talking about a singular game, though, today I’m looking at a system used to build them, the LUMEN SRD from Spencer Campbell!

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Hard Wired Island Review – Hard Luck Cyberpunks at Lagrange 5

“In the distant future of 2020, humanity has spread to space. A meteorite struck Earth’s northern hemisphere in 1996. The Impact caused widespread environmental damage that humanity has yet to fully recover from, but it supercharged public interest in space exploration. Around the world, new political unions began pouring money into space programs. The result is Grand Cross, an O’Neill cylinder in the Earth–Moon L5 point. It’s Earth’s gateway to the stars, a launching point for missions to Mars and beyond, and a beacon of hope for its people — but it’s in crisis.

An alliance of space-based corporations known as the Offworld Cartel has moved in. While they sell space exploration as a shared dream they strive for along with everyone else, their true aim is control of Grand Cross and, through it, the future of space settlement. As their influence spreads, so does inequality and crime. The Cartel has convinced the current government to privatize many of the systems that keep Grand Cross running, and the station is slowly falling apart. Behind the scenes, they have even more underhanded schemes running in secret. If the next election favors the Cartel, they’ll be on their way to becoming the landlords of human space.”

This is the retrofuture cyberpunk game of people fighting the unchecked greed of corporations, technocrats, and worse to save their orbital communities, Hard Wired Island by Paul “Ettin” Matijevic and Freyja Katra Erlingsdóttir!

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Paris Gondo Review – The Life-Saving Magic of Inventorying

PARIS GONDO read heroic stories from the age of 5, and loved the order and beauty of equipment described in them. From the age of 15, they studied inventorying. Paris started tidying in their own cell and moved onto those of fellow anchorites. Now, Paris lives in the Monastery of St. Eyvān, helping adventurers transform encumbered loads into packs of beauty, peace, and inspiration. Using the six steps of the play-based GonParis Method you too, oh over-encumbered and despondent adventurer, may finally find your equipment sparking joy instead of weighing you down. This is the roleplaying game where encumbrance is everything, Kalum’s Paris Gondo: The Life-Saving Magic of Inventorying!

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Gravity RIP Review: Pro-Racing, Anti-Gravity

About five hundred years ago the galactic community of alien species known as the Myriad had known harmony for 80,000 years, and had no use for violence and no concept of capitalism. Then the humans showed up, and it turned out everyone liked the taste of both. Now that galactic society is more of a chaotic, disparate sprawl the only thing anyone can agree on is a love for humankind’s third gift: the anti-gravity RIP Drive, and the ability to stuff these interstellar engines into much smaller craft for use in planet-bound, high speed death races. This isn’t a sport, it’s a lifestyle. It’s a deathstyle, baby: it’s Luke Westaway’s sci-fi racing RPG, Gravity RIP!

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