Generic RPGs are written for GMs. A game with a setting or a conceit can speak to anyone who sees it on the shelf or reads through its Kickstarter campaign, but a game with no setting has a tougher time marketing itself. Those of us who run games, though, see them for what they are: toolkits. A good generic RPG is the toolbox that lets you build a game, and every generic RPG is a different set of tools. GURPS is the five hundred pound box of every wrench and screwdriver imaginable. Cortex Prime is a massive array of dials and knobs, ready to be toggled for your campaign. Fate is a smart everyday carry pack, providing the fewest tools to cover the most situations. What about others? Where do other approaches fit in between these?
Everywhen is a genericized version of the popular swords and sorcery RPG Barbarians of Lemuria, and it would have escaped my notice had I not seen a well-known GURPShead on Reddit give it an unequivocal recommendation. Intrigued but skeptical, I checked it out. What I found was a game that hit the right medium crunch sweet spot but also had some design choices that made it easy for any GM, novice or experienced, to write exactly what they want with it.
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PARIS GONDO read heroic stories from the age of 5, and loved the order and beauty of equipment described in them. From the age of 15, they studied inventorying. Paris started tidying in their own cell and moved onto those of fellow anchorites. Now, Paris lives in the Monastery of St. Eyvān, helping adventurers transform encumbered loads into packs of beauty, peace, and inspiration. Using the six steps of the play-based GonParis Method you too, oh over-encumbered and despondent adventurer, may finally find your equipment sparking joy instead of weighing you down. This is the roleplaying game where encumbrance is everything, Kalum’s Paris Gondo: The Life-Saving Magic of Inventorying!
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Frank Herbert’s Dune is high in the science fiction pantheon. The novel combined originality and prescience in a way that has continued to inspire readers over the last 55 years; it has also defied adaptation. Both film versions of Dune (prior to the upcoming 2021 movie) were beautiful failures in their own right, and the version that never happened, plotted by psychedelic filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky, was so ambitious that its lack of production still inspired a documentary. Dune’s RPG history is similarly troubled. Dune: Chronicles of the Imperium was designed by Last Unicorn Games and held up by licensing disputes. When Wizards of the Coast acquired Last Unicorn, they got permission to print any pending projects, and a 3000 copy print run of Chronicles of the Imperium was made. Apparently the entire run got scooped up on the con circuit and the game fell into obscurity after WotC scrapped further printing in favor of converting the whole thing to d20, which fortunately died on the vine in a new spate of licensing disputes. So, literally two decades later, Modiphius has the vaunted Dune license and has made good with Adventures in the Imperium, their latest 2d20 title.
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About five hundred years ago the galactic community of alien species known as the Myriad had known harmony for 80,000 years, and had no use for violence and no concept of capitalism. Then the humans showed up, and it turned out everyone liked the taste of both. Now that galactic society is more of a chaotic, disparate sprawl the only thing anyone can agree on is a love for humankind’s third gift: the anti-gravity RIP Drive, and the ability to stuff these interstellar engines into much smaller craft for use in planet-bound, high speed death races. This isn’t a sport, it’s a lifestyle. It’s a deathstyle, baby: it’s Luke Westaway’s sci-fi racing RPG, Gravity RIP!
Continue reading Gravity RIP Review: Pro-Racing, Anti-Gravity
There are certain things one takes for granted in a role-playing game. I’m not talking about anything as concrete as attributes or skills or levels, I’m talking about exogenous conflict, which is so omnipresent in traditional RPGs (and most non-traditional RPGs as well) that it’s invisible. Well of course there are monsters to fight. Well of course you need to define a ‘need’ in Fiasco. Well of course there’s scarcity in your apocalypse. Like many people I took this for granted until I saw a game that completely stepped away from it. No, the war is over, no one fights. No, people are inherently good, there are no monsters. No, you will have hospitality in every place you visit. When I first read Wanderhome, this twisted my mind a little. How does one play a game with so little conflict? And then I created a character. And then I immediately got it.
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I’ve previously written about the The Pirates of Drinax, and I believe that it’s for good reason. It is one of my favorite published campaigns, and I would argue that it is the best I have ever seen in terms of being a true sandbox. It begins with a promise that the players are being brought in to take a miniscule star nation operating between two behemoths, and to make it an Empire in its own right and not only is it possible, it offers a chance to have the players take an active stance in the government that is formed. The campaign is not only flexible enough that it offers the ideas that players might want to spurn their patron and carve out a kingdom of their own, but it actively sets rules for how to go about it. There is a story seed for virtually every planet, for which there are multiple populating each of dozens of subsectors. You could likely make an entire campaign about dealing with the Pirate Lords of Theev, a group of politically insulated pirates that operate out of a planet is a surprisingly open secret. All of this is on top of a ten module progression of the campaign as players take a single ship and try to form a pirate flotilla.
And as much as I love it, I do not think I will ever run another session using the rules as written. So, it was with a bit of hesitation that I picked up the Drinaxian Companion. Yet, as a result, I have found my interest rekindled.
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Sometimes a tank or a fighter jet just won’t do the trick. Sometimes, the best way to deal with a problem is a big, stompy mecha. However, while life is finally returning to Genesys proper with EDGE Studios announcing their upcoming Twilight Imperium supplement, if you want to be jumping in the cockpit with the Narrative Dice System running the show you’ve been dealing with homegrown material. Now, though, there’s an offering on the Foundry itself which just might turn the tide of your own personal giant robot war. From mecha creation to pilot recruitment, lets head to the hangar to check out Mechasys from Studio 404 Games!
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Every so often, I look at a game, and make an impulse purchase sight unseen. Sometimes it’s a follow up to a campaign that I have previously waxed eloquent about, others it is a supplement to a system that opens up rules for something I had envisioned, or has a high concept that is so unique that I can’t help but look. Other times, it is because it promises the ability to play in fictional works I love so much that I can’t help but churn out a cry of “Shut Up and Take My Money!” It’s the last of these that triggered an irresistible pull to Rookie Jet’s Over Arms.
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A light-hearted romance emulating dating sim video games/visual novels. Letter writing inspired by Harvest Moon, Stardew Valley, and Animal Crossing. A bond between a pilot and their AI-linked mech. A theatre performance covering up a heist. Building super-powered characters and settings. Trying to find unused wishes in a world where everyone gets three, and you’ve already used yours. Sounds like an RPG anthology, right? Not quite. These are the six games, the six Possible Worlds, featured in Tyler Crumrine’s RPG subscription box.
Continue reading Possible Worlds Kickstarter Review: An RPG Subscription Box
Gamemaster’s Log, Stardate 57252.7. It has been several months since the launch of the New Orleans-class starship U.S.S. Verrazzano, NCC-07302, from the Foggy Peak system. Since that time, I have seen her crew serve with distinction in accordance with the finest traditions of Starfleet. I have also seen them called before a board of Admirals to review their actions and directive violations, and while impressive the fact that no fewer than three starbases have had to be commissioned to deal with the discoveries from their missions is beginning to put a notable dent in the power requirements for the local sector’s industrial replicators. As the Verrazzano is currently away, responding to a distress call from a Vulcan Expeditionary Group, I have decided that this is a fine opportunity to review their so-called ‘Star Trek Adventures’ in-depth, to better understand how they have and will continue to boldly go where no one, not even the rest of Starfleet, has gone before.
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