Sometimes it’s not about slaying monsters, or resource acquisition, or worker placement, or even building railroad lines. Sometimes a board game is about relaxing with friends and loved ones, taking it easy and having a good time doing something as simple as watching the flowers grow. I’m working through the list of board games I came across and snagged copies of at PAX Unplugged 2019, and I decided something like that would be just the thing to start. Place tiles, build a beautiful array of twisting vines, and watch the flower (pieces) bloom with Trellis, a game of zen and blossoms designed by Teale Fristoe, illustrated by Vikki Chu, and published by Breaking Games!
As I’ve wandered into the Indie Frontiers this past year, I’ve heard tales of a fabled place where indie RPG designers gather from across the land: Big Bad Con. This yearly tabletop and LARP convention is hosted in Walnut Creek, CA, a short seven hour drive from my home in Los Angeles. I had never been to an RPG convention before, but this was too good an opportunity to miss. I left LA with a backpack full of dice and a mission—a mission to interview as many up-and-coming indie RPG designers as I could find.
Today’s interviewees: Taylor LaBresh, Suzanne Schenewerk, Justin Ford, Adam Vass, Sidney Icarus, and Charles Simon.
Pick a card, any card, any card at all . . . and it’ll tell you what kind of story you’re in and what your characters can do. Despite walking around a convention with Unplugged in the name, there were a fair number of plugged-in offerings. It could actually be called one of the motifs of the convention: games crossing the border between physical and digital games (going both ways), digital enhancements to traditional games, and games that blend the two from the foundation up. Among the latter is Weave: Storytelling Redefined, a game that’s half tarot, half roleplay, and all story.
Exploration has been baked into humanity from our earliest history. It has inspired epic journeys, discoveries and legends that have shaped us. So, of course it would seem natural that our wanderlust and thirst for the unknown would lead us deep into the reaches of space. However, with that discovery has always come an immediate complication: who owns what’s newly discovered. It wouldn’t be humanity without quarreling over it, and with an entire sector of recently settled space, you better believe that there is room to move that petty bickering to a (literally) astronomical scale, and with Mongoose’s newest splatbook, Traveller: Behind the Claw, there is material for a resourceful GM to build for years.
The real trouble with edition changes, once you get past the nit-picking, is the missed experiences. Different editions of a game can offer very unique things to their players, but die-hard fans of the older variety miss out on the active ecosystem of the current edition, while newer players miss out on the playstyle of older dungeon delving that they might very well love. Stepping in to bridge the gap is Five Torches Deep from Jessica and Ben Dutter and Sigil Stone Publishing, a “streamlined adventure game combining the best mechanics and principles of 5e, the OSR, and modern game design.” So how bright does FTD shine? Let’s go chapter by chapter to find out!
Aki might have had the brainpower to check in every day of PAX Unplugged, but I . . . didn’t. There was a lot to do and see, however: board games, events, roleplaying games, accessories, actual play opportunities! I came home with . . . a lot to write about, and more than a few review copies, but there are plenty of things that would get missed by doing things one article at a time. So here’s my PAX Unplugged Roundup of some of the things worth checking out, whether they’re things to look for next con or something worth chasing right now!
Every successful RPG must have a strong setting or a strong ruleset. When Fantasy Flight Games hit it out of the park with their trio of Star Wars RPGs, they clearly had a strong setting. As it turned out, though, the system was pretty solid too; the Narrative Dice System had been patched to tone down the excesses of WFRP 3e, resulting in a game that was a good balance between robust and quick, and added a good amount of narrative flair and interesting in-game decisions. It was so good that people were able to overlook the expensive proprietary dice. From Star Wars came Genesys, a generic RPG which truly begs the question of whether the Narrative Dice System can succeed on mechanics alone.
A Psychic Warrior who shields their fellows and strikes their foes with the power of their awakened mind. A Soulknife who cuts at the very minds of their enemies with blades of psychic force A wizard of the Psionics tradition, who manifests as pure psionic energy. I hope you’re ready to use your head, because the latest Unearthed Arcana is revisiting psionics with options for the fighter, rogue, and wizard as well as some new spells and feats. Let’s see what these intelligent adventurers can do, and then address the big psionics questions for Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition! Continue reading Unearthing Psionic Fighters, Rogues, and Wizards
A Bow who wanted for nothing and had the world at her fingertips before suffering a rude awakening. A Sword who never understood other humans, instead being raised and taught life’s lessons by the wilderness, his only kin the wolves. A Shield who was haunted by the city their parents brought them to, a stranger in a land where they didn’t belong. All three have died. None know how, or even really who they were. As the Boatman delivers them to the shifting sands of the Tenebris, though, these Wanderers will grasp at glimpses of memory and start their journey to the Beyond in this Meet the Party for Afterlife: Wandering Souls!
“Whether aboard an airship or a train car, embark on thrilling adventures shrouded in intrigue! Discover secrets buried by years of devastating war, in which magic-fueled weapons threatened an entire continent.” The pulp adventure and noir intrigue of Eberron have come to the 5th Edition of Dungeons and Dragons in full, hardcover form! After multiple iterations of artifice, after reading the Wayfinder’s Guide on the lightning rail ride here, we’re finally Rising from the Last War with new races, new narrative mechanics, 5e’s first all-new class, and a tacklebox worth of hooks to bring your characters into the adventure. Let’s go through chapter by chapter, and see what there is to find under the light of the Ring of Siberys!