Forged in the Dark is out of the starting gates. Where Apocalypse World spawned ‘Powered by the Apocalypse’ (PbtA), Blades in the Dark spawned Forged in the Dark, a similar moniker to describe new games which hack and adapt the original game’s ruleset. Now, three years after Blades was first available digitally, there are three Forged in the Dark games at various stages of completion: Scum and Villainy, Band of Blades, and Hack the Planet. Of these, Hack the Planet is the second one released and the one I’ve personally been waiting for. Designed by Fraser Simons, best known for his work on PbtA cyberpunk game The Veil, Hack the Planet means its title literally, and takes place in a dark future where climate change has wrought havoc on the planet. Characters are Glitches, those who eschew the protection (and surveillance) of the corporations from the refugee city Shelter 1 and instead try to make their own way, adapting technology, modifying their bodies, and even fighting the weather to do so. Storm-chasing cyberpunk sound interesting? Read on.
Welcome back to Kickstarter Wonk! This month, you guys…oh man. So many games! So. Many. Games. Down-selecting this list from nearly 20 campaigns was difficult. I had help from another Cannibal Halfling author, Jason, who wrote excellent reviews for both Lancer and Sundown. You won’t see those games covered a second time, but definitely read the linked articles and check them out. In the meanwhile, the top ten for this month came through a lot of reading and pondering, but I’m pretty excited by my selections. All of these games have some really original stuff going on and are worth a look.
Life on the road in Sundown is tough; you have to savor rest when you can get it. I’ve been a guest at the Ruelas homestead for the past week. They’ve treated me to hot meals, a bed, and have promised me a bag of coin if I can help them deal with their bird problem. They’re good folk, fond of the Fiendswatch even on a safe day. But today ain’t safe.
Welcome to Sundown, a game for monster hunters, transhumanist revolutionaries, and everyone in between. Get ready to leave our world behind and explore the beautiful and brutal land where still water flows deep and death waits behind every bend.
“Snowhaven has hosted a theocracy, two civil wars, a magi uprising, been partially burned to the ground, and had one small bout of cannibalism, yet still, she shambles on.” As opening lines to a setting book go, you can do a lot worse. I came across Snowhaven on Kickstarter a while back. The authors described it as “snowpunk”, a new genre they were trying to make stick. The way that the authors described it, they wanted to take the steampunk elements of technology and apply it to a fantasy setting, but also keep the sense of “grim isolation” that winter brings. Rather than having your standard bright, optimistic theme of “gaslamp fantasy”, the people of Snowhaven dwell in a brutally harsh cold water port, filled with intrigue between the noble houses and the Illuminate Church. Technology has not been soaring by leaps and bounds because of a new age of whimsy, discovery and exploration; it has advanced because it is the only way for them to survive (they weren’t kidding about the cannibalism thing).
With both the cultural monolith that is Avengers: Endgame finally upon us, and D&D having sunk it’s claws into my soul after a long absence (I’m trapped in two campaigns at the moment), I felt the urge to play some tabletop super-powered RPGs. Or at the very least, flip through my old books and reminisce about old characters and stories. The RPG I go back to for this fix every time, without fail, is Aberrant, a game that’s out of print and lost in the shuffle. I’ve been wanting to write about it for awhile now because it’s an under appreciated gem in White Wolf’s crown, and I don’t want it to be forgotten.
The gameplay was fun, flexible, and the lore was way ahead of the curve in its depth of world building. I actually think it’s more relevant today in 2019, than when it was released back in 1999. At least a few other people do too, as Onyx Path Publishing is working on a second edition. But I’m getting ahead of myself. What I really want to talk about is the setting.
“Everything has a place in Eberron.” Despite the many unique features of Keith Baker’s D&D setting, this has actually been one of its most common taglines. There are enough mysterious corners of the world, enough factions and forces and peoples, that pretty much anything can find its way into the setting. I’ve embraced that idea myself, to a point: standard evil deities instead become demonic Overlords, strange species pop up in the Eldeen Reaches and Xen’drik and Argonnessen. that sort of thing. But how do you go about literally giving everything a place in Eberron? Well, you might start by reading the Naturalist’s Guide to Eberron: Volume 1: Aarakocra to Azer by Matthew Booth on the DM’s Guild.
The phrase “ahead of its time” is usually hyperbolic, at least a little bit. That said, when you are truly ahead of your time, there are consequences for getting somewhere before everyone else is ready. What made Greg Porter’s Blacksburg Tactical Research Center (BTRC) ahead of its time was moving to PDF-only distribution of their RPGs in 2003, back when PDF was little more than an annoying format you needed that Acrobat Reader thing for. By exiting physical distribution way before everyone else, BTRC made their games pretty hard to find unless you already knew what you were looking for. Fortunately, the rest of the world has caught up…and now the rest of the world can go check out EABA.
Some sort of horrible half-frozen tree creature reaches the kingdom’s castle after having attacked the lumber stores, clearly upset at our attempts at resource gathering. If the castle falls all will be lost, but there just aren’t enough defenders in place . . . suddenly, the beat of drums fills the air, and another pair of dwarfs come running from the forest the creature just tore through. In a flurry of axes and hammers the tree creature tumbles to the ground, slain, and the victorious dwarfs return to their homes . . . but the Ogre King just appeared on the walls at the edge of the kingdom, natural disasters begin to hamper our food and stone supplies, and we’ve got three weeks to go until spring. We’ll have to work together in order to survive the cold and the monsters in Dwar7s Winter from Vesuvius Media!
Things get lonely out here in the Long Rim, especially when you’re laying an ambush for the pirate who almost killed you a month ago. A white hot sun beats down on the black-glass face of my SSC METALMARK, but I’ve dimmed the cockpit displays and cranked the internal temperature controls way down. Gotta stay frosty.
Welcome to Lancer, a game of big robots, big guns, and big personalities. If you’ve ever wanted to fly through space tinkering with the parts of your mech and the hearts of your enemies, Lancer is the game for you. Continue reading The Independents: Lancer
Clank! A Deck-Building Adventure is all about going into a dungeon, acquiring some shiny artifacts, and escaping before the dragon can eat you . . . so it probably shouldn’t be too surprising that the adventuring company that’s known to acquire™ anything you ask for would eventually take an interest. In Fall 2019 we’ll see Clank! Legacy: Acquisitions Incorporated, a standalone version of the game where you’ll build your own Acq. Inc. franchise across several games of Clank! It seems that corporate wants to check things out first, though, because right now we’ve got the Acquisitions Incorporated Upper Management Pack expansion bringing Omin Dran, Jim Darkmagic, Viari, and Môrgæn into the dungeon!