Welcome to the Crowdfunding Carnival for the month of June in this two thousand and twenty secondth year! Not to worry, Aaron is fine – just lost on a bike somewhere in the continental US, definitely not my fault. While he’s away I’ve snuck in and nicked his top hat and baton and gone looking for some tabletop roleplaying game crowdfunding attractions that are worth your time and possibly your money. There are chaotic cafes, regency scandals, vibrant seas, divine tales, monster-collecting kids, meta games, and exigent exalts along with a few observations from my unusual perspective up on this stage. So, without further ado, on with the show!
I am a huge fan of mechs and their amazing pilots. I love to watch their heroics on the news; I visit when pilots come to my town; I own multiple letterman jackets emblazoned with mech pilots’ insignias. I’m burdened with the dream of piloting and eclipsed by the fear that I will never be more than a spectator. I love that which is unfathomably above me, as they exchange Laser Beams Like So Many Stars.
I have to admit, fantasy games come to the plate with two strikes for me. The ubiquity of Dungeons and Dragons, coupled with the large number of single-game players, means that fantasy games generally need to work twice as hard to do something interesting within the existing constraints of the genre. When I first read Good Strong Hands, I saw a game that leaned hard into a very broad, often repeated conceit: A great evil is corrupting the land and you, the heroes, must stop it. Couple this with light, fairly basic mechanics, and I didn’t really know if I was going to find anything interesting in this game.
Luckily, I was wrong. While Good Strong Hands is a rules-light game, and while it absolutely leans on a simplified view of good and evil, it takes this basic struggle and makes it the centerpiece of the game. The mechanics of the Void, Shadow and Corruption, force players to make tough decisions and place the voice of evil with the GM to play with as they wish. The game does want to see its players triumph, but the risk of falling to the Void is very real and a party will likely see at least one character lost to evil in a campaign.Continue reading Good Strong Hands Review
“Unforeseeable circumstances that prevent someone from fulfilling a contract.” That’s one of the legal definitions of force majeure, and I can think of a few examples. Getting discovered by a dark figure known as Tenth Brother might prevent you from fulfilling a work contract, or the ‘contract’ that is your prison sentence. An “irresistible compulsion or greater force” is another definition, and an offer you can’t refuse to retrieve an artifact from a strange wasteland certainly fits the bill. However, that second definition is also a pretty good description of the reasons Why You Should Listen to the podcast known as Force Majeure. You know how it goes: a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…
Everyone who is part of the story touches Destiny in some way. Even if they are not the heroes. Even if they are not even named in the pages. I am a master bladesmith, the keeper of the Sacred Forge. My blades are renowned for their strength, sharpness, and harmony.
A holy sword does not come from nowhere. It does not materialize from starlight and a wish. It is built through effort, honed through attention, and consecrated by a powerful heart. They will not name me in the story. But my blade will never be forgotten.
The early 2010s produced the indie darlings of today. While game design moves fast, systems like Fate and Powered by the Apocalypse still form the bedrock of what most gamers consider ‘indie’, even though they are relatively conservative extensions of traditional games like Dungeons and Dragons. There were other games that pushed further, though. In 2012, Robin D. Laws and Pelgrane Press campaigned a game called Hillfolk on Kickstarter. The Hillfolk campaign emphasized its Iron Age setting, even including a neat bit of interactivity in the campaign where backers could choose to back either the ‘Lion Clan’ or the ‘Wolf Clan’. The mechanics, though, were significantly more important and more interesting than the setting, as well as the most divisive feature of the game.Continue reading Hillfolk Review
A figure stands in an ancient ruin, bare feet on crumbling stone to make it easier to leap and climb. Her gown is far too fine, representing her dual heritage as the daughter of two kingdoms, bitter rivals only joined through her. Her sword, much too dark, hungers for legacy, fame, immortality via story and myth.
At the princess’ coming of age ceremony, an uninvited guest gifted her with a sword, then vanished, laughing, into smoke. She cannot put it down until she finds the place it came from.
I’ve spent years adventuring through the mysterious, whimsical, dangerous lands of HORIZON PROPHECY ONLINE, a science fantasy MMORPG that peaked at about 161,000 concurrent players. The game always had a scope and reach too ambitious for its budget, but now, with daily player counts in the hundreds, the studio has announced that they’re shutting down HPO for good. With four hours to go before the servers are switched off, I decided to create a new toon and go through the starting area one last time, as a final farewell to the world I’ve given so much of my time.
Ten years ago, Dungeon World kicked Powered by the Apocalypse into the mainstream by tying the system back to Dungeons and Dragons, the hobby’s most popular game. Now, Powered by the Apocalypse (or PbtA) is the newest rules system entrant into the world of licensed RPGs, thanks to Magpie Games,. While Root: The Roleplaying Game might not be the very first licensed PbtA game it is certainly the biggest one to date, using the look, feel, and logo of Leder Games’ critically acclaimed board game to catapult it to a $600,000 Kickstarter success. It also quite likely opened the gate for Magpie’s upcoming Avatar game, which leapfrogged the Kickstarter success of Root more than tenfold.
So now that Root is available not only to backers but to the world at large, what does a game by the largest PbtA publisher look like these days? Magpie Games has built their business on PbtA, scoring hits with the innovative Urban Shadows, Masks, and Bluebeard’s Bride, among others. Given their long track record it’s no surprise that the company has sought out opportunities for licensing like they found with Root. From the outside, though, there are questions about Magpie’s product strategy. Root’s final PDF was delivered to backers over a year late, and Urban Shadows second edition, currently in process, will likely be almost as late as that (original ETA for delivery was September of 2021 for PDFs). While the pandemic and other exogenous factors are clearly part of this, having multiple high-profile Kickstarters in fulfillment at once (Urban Shadows, Root, and Avatar: The Last Airbender were all concurrent prior to Root’s fulfillment) seems to be stretching the team thin.Continue reading Root: The Roleplaying Game Review
“Once upon a time, the world was cruel, and there was a witch who knew it well. And so, she sold her heart away and built a house in the woods where the world could never find her.
At first she would let no one into her fortress. But in the long march of days, a strange thing happened: in her own cold and spiteful way, the witch made a friend… and then another… and then several more, until her house was teeming with colorful faces and complicated lives.
The house would come to be known as Yazeba’s Bed & Breakfast, and it would last for a very long time.”
Of course, it’s not just a bed and breakfast – it’s a book, and a game, from Possum Creek Games, currently funding on indiegogo! Let’s see if there’s any free rooms (the sign says yes, but there’s a girl sleeping in the laundry room…) and talk to the creators!