Tag Archives: Opinion

Unearthing the Barbarian and Monk

A raging warrior influenced by a realm that abounds with beauty, unpredictable emotion, and rampant magic. A contemplative who focuses their meditations inwards, bringing forth their true self. We’ve been given some new player character options for 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons in this week’s Unearthed Arcana, and neither one of them is tied as tightly to the Material Plane as your bog standard characters. How do they shape up, and what might their appearance on the playtesting table mean? Let’s find out as I go through feature by feature to examine the Path of the Wild Soul for the Barbarian and the Way of the Astral Self for the Monk!

Continue reading Unearthing the Barbarian and Monk

The Independents: For the Queen

There she stands on high mountain, overlooking her domain: My Queen, my Love, the woman who will kill me. I know she has planned my end, yet still I love her with every ragged shred of my darkened heart. No matter how hard she tries, she will not find peace while I yet live. My death will sever the line of inheritance of the Duchess, and quell her rival’s ambition. Perhaps when I lay still this war will end, and she may remove her cloak and veil and rest easy on the throne she has always deserved. Yet for now there is one more path to walk…

Welcome to For the Queen, a storytelling game of political machinations, dark history, and undying love. Put on your travelling boots, sharpen your sword, and keep an eye out for skulking figures in the night as you follow your liege on a fateful journey to broker peace.

Continue reading The Independents: For the Queen

Cyberpunk Red Jumpstart Kit Gameplay Review

The Cyberpunk Red Jumpstart Kit made a splash at GenCon, selling out huge stacks of the black and red box set in what seemed like no time at all. Given the hype of Cyberpunk 2077, it’s important to step back and look at both what this means for Cyberpunk fans as well as what we can honestly expect out of a product which is still just a Beginner Box.

Personally, I’ve been waiting for this moment in one way or another since 2005. 2005 was, for those of us who remember, the release of Cyberpunk v3. Without casting (too many) aspersions at that product, I can say that it was not what Cyberpunk fans expected or wanted, and was disappointing to many, including myself. After making my peace with the fact that Cyberpunk 2020 was the last edition of the line that I’d play, the announcement of Cyberpunk Red split me between side-eyed skepticism and bouncing off my chair like, well, a nerdy teenager.

Continue reading Cyberpunk Red Jumpstart Kit Gameplay Review

The Independents: Dust Bowl Galaxy

You are in a tin can with half a dozen other scoundrels and there is literally nothing outside for light years. You are tumbling through a bitter galaxy that used to have a lot more people. You are going where many others have gone before. The trick is surviving to come back. You are looking for a new rock for your people to call home. And once you find it, the refugees can leave their overcrowded slums to become settlers so you get rich doing the right thing – just this once. On an unrelated note, you are not pirates. “Not in this port, officer.” Such is the world of a space western game with quick-shooting dice, details in the cards, and a wrecked and dangerous universe to rediscover: Dust Bowl Galaxy by Ilya Bossov and Lagging Dice LLC! Continue reading The Independents: Dust Bowl Galaxy

Kickstarter Wonk: August, 2019

August is GenCon season, but it’s still bumping on Kickstarter! This month we’ve also seen the tagline “Break Kickstarter” pop up, which has produced some intriguing campaigns. Needless to say, there’s plenty to sift through. Don’t worry though, because sift I did, and I’ve come up with my top nine for the month! Check out some hacks, some new games, and some truly odd design projects.

Continue reading Kickstarter Wonk: August, 2019

Traditional Games and Why We Love Them

I’ve made plenty of hay over my opinions about D&D. D&D is not a bad game, but it’s such a limited expression of what a role-playing game can look like. The most common counter-argument I get to saying that a gamer should play games other than D&D is somewhere along the lines of “if that’s what they like, that’s what they should play”. This is usually followed by pointing out several more obscure games, which usually look absolutely nothing like D&D, and harping on about how that’s not the play experience they want. And this straw man argument is one of many reasons I’ve decided to sing the praises of the giant middle ground of the hobby, the traditional RPGs.

Continue reading Traditional Games and Why We Love Them

System Hack: Cyberpunk Chimera Combat

The one subsystem that all traditional RPGs bolt onto their core resolution mechanics is a conflict system and, like it or not, the most popular iteration of a conflict system is one for physical combat. Cyberpunk 2020 had a combat system designed with realism in mind, and, thanks to a statistical basis in actual criminal activity using guns, did very well in terms of combat verisimilitude. This did mean that some of the “imbalance” in the system, namely the overwhelming power of a high initiative roll and the destabilizing impact of armor, were based on reality. Quirks aside, what made ‘realistic’ fun was that the system played quickly and had enough detail to mean that player choices in terms of tactics and weapons mattered. The issue with Cyberpunk’s conflict systems, really, is that combat is much more ‘baked’ than the other conflict system, netrunning, and the only semblance of a social conflict system is the ‘facedown’ mechanic, which is one die roll for one specific situation. 

Continue reading System Hack: Cyberpunk Chimera Combat

Star Wars: Collapse of the Republic Review

“The Clone Wars rage on. Both the GALACTIC REPUBLIC and the SEPARATIST ALLIANCE have had great gains and losses in territorial battles and planetary allegiances. Years of conflict have exposed doubts in the JEDI ORDER, as veteran clone troopers question their own role. Other organizations take advantage of the chaos of war to pursue their own agendas. Bounty hunters and criminals ply their trades. The NIGHTSISTERS of Dathomir conduct esoteric rituals to further their plots while the DEATH WATCH of Mandalore escalate their terrorist activities in the name of tradition. The Force brings these agents together in the most unexpected ways…” This is the end of the age of heroes, but has it saved the best for last? Let’s find out together and bring the Clone Wars to a close as we go chapter by chapter through Collapse of the Republic for Star Wars Roleplaying from Fantasy Flight Games!

Continue reading Star Wars: Collapse of the Republic Review

Fate Space Toolkit Review

I’m a fan of Fate Core, and my favorite additions to the Fate Core family have been the purple books, the System Toolkits. What makes Fate so interesting to me is the level of modularity and genericization available in the rules, which both let players run pretty much anything they can imagine in Fate. With all that flexibility, though, comes the simple fact that there are a hundred ways to do anything, including some really inventive ones that any single player probably didn’t think of.

Continue reading Fate Space Toolkit Review

The Independents: Goblinville Gazette

Here lies Lump, Expert Lamplighter, Goat Rider, and The Iron Gut. He was a good goblin, and a better friend. He once let me borrow his shovel, and was barely even mad when I sold it for mushrooms. It’s unfortunate that he was killed by a gelatinous cube, and even more unfortunate that the cube was then eaten by a giant cave lizard. We bury this lizard mess in remembrance of him. To Lump!

Welcome to Goblinville Gazette, a game of bumbling adventure, shiny loot, and the ever-approaching threat of calamity. If you’ve ever wanted to play as a lovable band of misfit monsters, Goblinville has something special for you. Strap on an eyepatch, grab your rusty knife, and get ready to build the best goblin town that anyone has ever seen—which, to be fair, is a pretty low bar.

Continue reading The Independents: Goblinville Gazette