The adventurers rested, either leaning against the altar with weapons in hand, or scrambling around the spare furnishings of the temple. The Shadows moved faster than Folk did, and they didn’t have much time until the ten of them that were released found the way up and out of the crypt. Ander and Jethro found glass bottles in the Undertaker’s apartment and filled them with water for their skins, setting the bottles and some of the silver they gathered from the Keep in front of Hugh, who performed a ceremony to bless the water. Holy water seemed to be a potent ally in the fight against what was to come. Clouds gathered over the temple, and the adventurers prepared for a fight. As the sky darkened, the adventurers scrambled to the squares of sunlight made by the overhead windows; shadows didn’t usually exist in daylight, and the adventurers needed all the help they could get. The Shadows ascended the crypt stairs in groups of two and three, met by eldritch blasts, sacred weapons, and holy water. Now, with time to prepare and adequate supplies, the adventurers drove back the Shadows with only a few wounds and a little strength sapped. Not yet ready to return to the crypt, Hrive went outside the walls to retrieve his mule, and the group foraged old abandoned gardens for food. Sleep came easier in the keep without gnolls to harry them, but the adventurers were still wary.
Theories are tools for understanding and explaining any number of different subjects. As role-playing games began to increase in subject matter breadth, there immediately followed an attempt to explain what different games do, and what games do best. Unsurprisingly, attempts to “explain” the range of games on the market were typically incomplete and sometimes dreadfully inaccurate. Despite this, some theories stuck around, usually because they were punchy and easy to remember, and were “close enough” to work as a shorthand. Today, the Level One Wonk is going to look a bit at game design theory, and use one of the most popular theories as a springboard to discussion about RPG Theory as a whole and what it’s trying to accomplish. As George Box once said, “All models are wrong, but some are useful.” That is the best way to understand many RPG Theories, including the GNS Model.
Marvel has S.H.I.E.L.D., DC has A.R.G.U.S., and Masks: A New Generation has A.E.G.I.S., the Advanced Expert Group for Intervention and Security. In Halcyon City and beyond, while superheroes are wearing flashy colors and punching their enemies through buildings it’s the agents of A.E.G.I.S. who fill in the gaps, clean up the messes, nip nascent threats in the bud, and keep an eye on everything in the name of protecting everyone. A.E.G.I.S. has always been a factor for the New Generation to consider, but we can now learn the Secrets of A.E.G.I.S. in the second Masks supplement from Magpie Games!
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.
Welcome to Kickstarter Wonk for May! There are tons of games out there, and as usual, it can be tough to narrow down to a reasonable number. This month I’m highlighting nine games and a tenth category, into which at least three of this month’s games fell. In thinking about this spread of projects, it made it clear to me that I needed to ask a very direct question: what makes a project stand out? What makes a game that can advance or expand the hobby? These ten games all provided a good answer to those questions, whether I’d choose to pick them up for my personal library or not.
When Genesys was released late in 2017, it was a product with a lot of promise for fans of generic systems. As shown in our review, the core rulebook presented the Narrative Dice System from FFG’s earlier Star Wars games in a clear manner with a lot of solid design tools for aspiring hackers and designers. At the same time, the amount of supporting material in the core book was thin, especially when it came to pre-existing items and opponents. Realms of Terrinoth is the first supplement for Genesys, and gamers are expecting that this supplement and the ones that follow will fill the gaps in the core book. From my read, they won’t be disappointed. In addition to a comprehensive gazetteer of Terrinoth and other areas in the world of Mennara, Realms of Terrinoth includes all the necessary widgets to run a fantasy game in Genesys, whether you use the Runebound setting or create your own.
“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.
Welcome back to Adventure Log! Our heroes have scoured the city of Glebhavern, and are turning their attention to underground, where opportunity awaits. However, mysterious crypts and undead foes give characters plenty of chances to really step in it, and the Glebhavern Crypt is no exception. When things go south, do the characters breathe their last, or does the DM step in to keep the party going?
Welcome to this month’s edition of Kickstarter Wonk! As Kickstarter season has well and truly kicked off, it has become more clear to me that trying to write up every single new RPG project on Kickstarter is a fool’s errand. I have a day job, after all! Therefore, I have decided that Kickstarter Wonk will represent the Level One Wonk’s top ten RPG Kickstarters of the month. These are all new games, though some of them use existing rulesets. There were a ton of interesting supplements this month also, but that at least doubles the material to choose from and I have to draw the line somewhere! Like before, I’ve noted if I’ve funded the project already or have saved it to potentially fund later. Though I most likely will not fund all of these (my day job doesn’t pay *that* well), I believe that all of them are worthy of your consideration.