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.
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.
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.
It’s never been a better time to be a dungeon crawler. Dungeons and Dragons Fifth Edition and Pathfinder, two versions of the same underlying D&D ruleset, are bestsellers 1 and 2 in the RPG world, and have been for some time. Pathfinder is built for detail and breadth of options, while D&D’s Fifth Edition is built for accessibility and continuity with earlier versions and settings. They offer two versions of a fairly modern D&D experience, where GMs run story arc-based campaigns built around fighting monsters and exploring dungeons. Characters are treated like protagonists, and death is relatively rare. At the same time, we’ve seen a resurgence in “old-school” playstyles, usually represented within the D&D ecosystem by the OSR. Old-school games tend to have fewer rules, presenting challenges and decisions to the players rather than the characters. They tend to have weaker characters who aren’t treated like protagonists, and they need not be organized around a story.
There is a middle ground, though, and a new entrant in the middle ground has stormed into the DriveThruRPG sales charts. Worlds Without Number presents a dangerous old-school world, but uses rules innovations from later versions of D&D (and other role-playing games) to make the game more accessible and make the characters feel a bit more heroic. On top of all that, it provides tons of tools to help GMs run interesting game worlds with or without a driving story. Although many people will simply call Worlds Without Number an OSR game (and there are fair reasons for that), I think that it deserves to be examined against the current state of the art. That’s why this System Split pits Worlds Without Number against Dungeons and Dragons Fifth Edition.Continue reading System Split: Worlds Without Number and D&D Fifth Edition
I’m a fan of games with some heft to them. Rules and procedures are the elements of role-playing games which enable them to generate bigger, more interesting stories than the players could have come up with themselves. Unfortunately, rules-heavy and procedure-heavy games are stuck with a long history of taking up the mechanics of their wargame-based forebears without a great reason to do so. Rules and procedures can be so much more than physics engines and combat mechanics, after all. What if your game built out rules and procedures that were distinctly literary in origin? Imagine that the game not only traces out the course of your story, but also gives you procedures for establishing your own symbolism within the story. It’s quite possible that the game you’re imagining looks a lot like Nicolas ‘Gulix’ Ronvel’s Facing the Titan.
Welcome back to the Bargain Bin! This hobby might often be a financially demanding one, and with the almost infinitely-headed hydra known as ZineQuest on the loose again this month that’s even more true than usual, so I thought it might be nice to have a reminder that you can find good games at bargain prices. When the price is Pay What You Want, you can check the game out for free before spending anything! This time out you will cross the galaxy, taking on the battles that no one else can fight. You will face ruthless aliens, explore desolated worlds and perform terrible deeds just to give humankind one more day before extinction. You will overcome these challenges by the might of your arm and soul… or you will face a destiny worse than death. Not as individuals, no, but as legions of elite warriors. This is Space Knights, written by Gabriel Ciprés!
Are you not satisfied with the dystopia in your life? Is Paranoia too tongue-in-cheek? Is Dark Heresy not tongue-in-cheek enough? Is Cyberpunk just too grounded for what you had in mind? Well, loyal readers, there is another dystopia out there. Combine Paranoia’s sense of humor, Dark Heresy’s grim and dark setting, and Cyberpunk 2020’s love of guns, and you get something altogether different but still, well, ‘British Isles’ in its sensibilities. It’s time to freshen up your resume and go work for SLA Industries.Continue reading SLA Industries 2E Review
When we were kids, my sister and I played with dolls. I had a small team of GI Joes. I’m not sure when I fell out of love with them really. But sometime before they got their own movie, I had clearly decided that playing with soldiers from an American paramilitary organization was not, in fact, good wholesome fun. My sister played with Barbies which was potentially worse. Did you know she – Barbie, not my sister – runs in every presidential US election now? Her last ‘glam-paign’ promised to turn the White House pink. If this was an Onion article, I would’ve laughed. But it’s not – it’s a successful public relations program by a billion-dollar toy company. It’s a well-worn refrain nowadays that we live in a time where satire is complicated.
When I first heard of Capitalites by Samuel Mui Shen Ern, I thought it was satire – a la Crazy Rich Asians, a skewering of Asia’s wealthy. But I was wrong. Capitalites describes itself as “a slice-of-life, coming-of-age tabletop roleplaying game about young adults living in the big city” that explores “real-world themes like ambition, sex, family, and friendships and the sacrifices you make in order to grow up”.
A couple hundred years ago, an event called The Fold sent every living being across every dimension into a sort of nightmare reality. Very Powerful Beings were able to reconstitute themselves eventually, but the world was utterly trashed. Using magic and strange technology, lichs, dragons, demons, angels, capitalists, and other monsters built the sprawling megacity of Neo-Francisco. In one of those lost realities, you might have been the heroes destined to save it. In the neon-sick car crash of technological majesty, fantasy weirdness, dimensional rifts, and incredibly funky music that is NF, however, you’re gig workers working for the delivery app Disposable Heroes. It’s deadly work, but it pays! Sorta. This is the deck-based roleplaying game of long hours, high mortality rates, and blazing neon from Sandy Pug Games!
In a weird, whimsical, endless sky, villages cling to small rocky spheres lit by sentient suns, brave souls voyage far beyond the reach of gravity toward rootless mountains in far-flung orbits, and strange skybeasts swim wild through vast and distant twilights.
Welcome to the Azure Etern.
Pick your fantasy tabletop roleplaying game of choice, consult your charts, and get ready to explore a universe of infinite skies with Skycrawl from Aaron A. Reed!