So You Don’t Want To Play D&D

It’s wildly common on Reddit: A thread complaining about the popularity of D&D, or a thread complaining about 5e being hacked into things it doesn’t work well for (I am guilty of that second one). Half the commenters will agree that yes, there are so many other games out there, and people should broaden their horizons! The other half will say that if people are having fun with D&D, why must you rain on their parade! And the fights continue, eventually, like they do in all discourse, repeating themselves. But you out there, venty thread creators and venty thread agree-ers, I see you. I know the real reason you’re creating these threads. You, personally, don’t want to play D&D, and either you can’t find a group to play something else with, or, more likely, your home table has you outvoted. Or, if you’re in a slightly better position, maybe you see these threads online and simply can’t imagine going back to playing only D&D (and you like fighting on the internet).

No matter the reason, I know the pain of playing a game you’re not really interested in because you still want to hang out with your friends and roll dice. There are ways to diversify your gaming experiences and be a happier gamer in general. Unsurprisingly, it doesn’t involve complaining on the internet. It also doesn’t involve slagging on D&D.

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Cannibal Halfling Radio Episode 11 – Campaign Closure

It’s been a while! We talk a little about what some of our contributors have been up to when it comes to designing games of their own, including a look at a creative challenge that will be coming around again. Then, we get down to the real business of the episode: ending tabletop roleplaying game campaigns, from how to avoid premature endings, to making the endings you reach satisfactory, to moving on to the next game (sequel or otherwise)!

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System Hack In Practice: Painting Cyberpunk 2020 Red

Welcome back to another System Hack in Practice! Last time, we made some considerations around Cyberpunk Red, and looked at potential ways to address early complaints from Cyberpunk 2020 fans (or not). This time, we’re looking at everything the other way around: How can we take the best parts of Cyberpunk Red and bring them into our Cyberpunk 2020 game?

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Skycrawl Review – Serendipitous Adventures in Strange Skies

In a weird, whimsical, endless sky, villages cling to small rocky spheres lit by sentient suns, brave souls voyage far beyond the reach of gravity toward rootless mountains in far-flung orbits, and strange skybeasts swim wild through vast and distant twilights.

Welcome to the Azure Etern.

Pick your fantasy tabletop roleplaying game of choice, consult your charts, and get ready to explore a universe of infinite skies with Skycrawl from Aaron A. Reed!

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The Elusive Shift Review

Jon Peterson has done it again, my friends. The author of Playing at the World, arguably the most comprehensive history of the creation of Dungeons and Dragons on the market, has released another book. While Playing at the World covered anything and everything that led up to the first publication of Dungeons and Dragons in 1974, Peterson’s second book, The Elusive Shift, focuses narrowly on the time it took for ‘role-playing game’ to become an established medium. The story of how D&D and indeed the tabletop RPG itself matured in this roughly five year period is fascinating, eye-opening, and ends up asking a lot of questions about the state of the hobby some forty years later.

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Kickstarter Wonk: January, 2021

Welcome to the first Kickstarter Wonk of 2021! I’ve been waiting nine months to write that. Now, even though the state of the world is pretty much like it was in December, we’re still facing the biggest collective New Year’s Hangover in quite some time. That collective hangover may explain why there’s…four Kickstarters this month. January is often a thin month but this is thin even for January. Still, these four are good ones, and if you stick around I’ll also throw in some commentary about the RPG Kickstarter market as a whole in 2020.

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Four Years of Cannibal Halflings

Cannibal Halfling Gaming has been working to Bring Games and Gamers Together for four years, and this last one has been by far the strangest. Despite everything, while it has definitely been a year of two steps back, I think in the ways that mattered we managed to take three steps forward. Let’s take a look at what we’ve done, and have a think about where we’re going next.

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Indie Frontiers: Ind Of The Year #2

The journal of a lone lighthouse keeper, their compatriots having vanished as a storm rages all around the island. The Dwarves of the Renidar Mountain Ranges, with all of their unique deities and cultural foibles. A project manager with little hope of success, filling out Status Reports and desperately trying to keep their job.  As we continue to close in on the end of the year we also continue to check out the Ind of the Year . . . Bundle of twenty-five different indie games from around the world!

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The Level One Wonk Holiday Special: 2020

Welcome to the Level One Wonk Holiday Special for 2020! Traditionally the last post of the year is when I look back on the year past and ahead to the future, thinking about what’s happened in the world and what I’m going to write next. Needless to say, looking back means reflecting on some solid, unprecedented weirdness.

No two ways about it, 2020 has been a hell of a year. The pandemic created an environment the likes of which none of us have seen in our lifetimes, and that will likely define the generation that is growing up while it happens. And that meant many of us, once we were able to manage the emergent pressures on our health and well-being, needed a retreat, a release. And for readers of this site, that retreat was often going to be tabletop RPGs.

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Vaesen Review

For reasons not entirely clear to me, I have never reviewed a Year Zero game. The Year Zero engine is Fria Ligan’s centerpiece, and maybe even their house system as well. Named for Mutant: Year Zero, the game system powers designs as widely varied as the Alien RPG and Tales from the Loop. And now Free League Publishing’s Vaesen. Vaesen is new territory for the Year Zero engine and indeed mainstream tabletop RPGs in general, being a game of fairy tale horror and specifically Scandinavian fairy tale horror at that. While fairy tale horror may not seem like the most natural fit for a system better known for maps, bases, and colored dice, Vaesen ends up being a pretty wonderful take on the system, its juxtaposed strengths working well provided that you buy into the high concept.

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