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!
Surprise, it’s not the normal Level One Wonk this time, though I am gladly ripping off his format. At the start of the month, nominations for the ENnie awards were released. The nominations present a wonderful resource for GMs and gamers, and similarly for game reviewers. It had turned out that a number of nominations were games that we had written about in the past, but there were plenty more for us to study as well. In particular, there was one category that interested me: Best Free Game. Occasionally, players and GMs run on tight finances but still require their gaming fix. SRDs are plenty helpful, but sometimes you want to try something a bit different. A number of these games are more demos or skins for games that stop early than full, completely ready out of the box systems, but it is enough to get started, and to see if you enjoy the product enough to buy the full version . . . or creative players and GMs might be able to push it beyond expectations. These are only cursory reviews, and if something interests you, I fully recommend checking them out. They are, after all, free.
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!
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.
“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!
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!
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.
Are you a Butt-Kicker, a Specialist, or a Story-Teller? There is a huge world of games out there to satisfy every player’s and group’s style. And while there are academic discussions in every corner of the internet, sometimes it’s best to start at level one. Join the Level One Wonk in exploring the possibilities that RPGs have to offer, from Aberrant to Zorcerer of Zo. Today, we’re taking an economist’s view of the zombie apocalypse with Red Markets!