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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
Any sort of interstellar community or shining future died in a tide of plague and mutant bodies. The galaxy suffers under the metal boots of a crazed machine cult, and the best that can be hoped for is usually just surviving for another week. For a crew of sharpers like yourself there’s a ship, whatever job is in front of them, and a powerful need to eat sometime this week. It’s been two days since you have, after all. Unfortunately the only job you’ve got in front of you involves killing a robot. Homicide? Not a problem. But you’re going to have all kinds of heat on your tail after committing Synthicide.
There’s a mad scientist robbing a bank with a swarm of psychically controlled bees. Turns out that your best friend wants to be something more, but thinks your teammate is competition. The Red Dragon’s dad is calling and complaining about him not ‘upholding our legacy’, while Spitfire can’t go outside out of costume without being hunted by nefarious forces or endangering her family. The Lawman just called you in to A.E.G.I.S. HQ to lecture you about the property damage the team caused last night. Did we mention that there’s a AP Calculus test on Monday? Life as a superhero is always a messy affair, but doubly so when you’re a teenager and everyone has ideas about what you should be doing. This is Masks: A New Generation!
Renowned art dealer Christina Bowbridge is selling a portrait of His Royal Highness Prince Edward IV, and you want to purchase it. You’ve heard rumors, however, that the painting is not genuine. You want to inquire about inspecting the work of art before buying it, but Bowbridge is both enthusiastic about her work and adores the monarchy; it would be quite easy to offend her and lose the chance to buy the painting entirely. You’ll have to write a letter, and it’ll take good penmanship, the right words, a few flourishes, and . . . at least 3d6? That’s because you’re not just writing a letter, you’re playing Quill: A Letter-Writing Roleplaying Game for a Single Player!
You have been raised by the monks of the Flying Temple as Pilgrims, taught how to fly and sent out into the Many Worlds to help people with whatever problems are plaguing their lives. One day, however, you return to the Flying Temple to find it vanished, with only a dragon’s egg in its place! The Many Worlds still have problems, and the letters asking for the help of the teenage Pilgrims are still arriving, but there are no monks to give you advice. You can’t turn your backs on those in need, so what choices will you make? Will you hold to the tenets of non-violence that the monks taught you, or give into temptation to take the easy path and suffer the consequences? What is the connection between the newborn dragon and the Temple? What sort of adventure awaits you in Do: Fate of the Flying Temple? Continue reading The Independents: Do: Fate of the Flying Temple