Back in November of 2017, Fantasy Flight Games released Genesys. Both Seamus and I wanted a fair shake at reviewing it, and in the process we learned why not to do two-part reviews. Still, a lot of people read it and we continued being excited for the generic version of the Star Wars RPG that many of us at Cannibal Halfing had spent a fair amount of time playing. Now, nearly three years later, it’s a perfect time to revisit the system. Asmodee, Fantasy Flight’s parent company, has reorganized their RPG development resources. In the near future new Asmodee-owned RPGs will be released from the new Edge Studio imprint, and based on a panel at GenCon 2020 this will include new Genesys material (the IP referenced there was Twilight Imperium). For now, though, the Asmodee RPG pipeline is on pause, at least until the last couple Legend of the Five Rings supplements enter distribution. On my personal end, I have finally both played and GMed games in Genesys, which means it’s a good time to give Genesys the In-Depth treatment.
The world of role-playing games has been expanding outward ever since Dungeons and Dragons was first released. Within five years of the first published system, games which used different fundamental assumptions and mechanics not only existed but had started to find popularity. Within 15 years, games existed which used the medium in a completely different way than D&D ever intended or expected to. Now, over 45 years later, the RPG world is a vast plane of games with GMs, without GMs, games with dice, with cards, with block towers and with no randomizers at all. There are games which exist to simulate worlds, games which exist to be played optimally, and games which trace out the creation of a story scene by scene. It is, as they say, a glorious time to be alive.Continue reading How Exactly Do I Play This?
The English language would make a terrible role-playing game. There are a lot of rules, many of them contradict each other, and in certain places there still isn’t enough detail to make the mechanics do what you really want. Some words, therefore, words we use frequently in some cases, are surprisingly hard to define. Imagine, if you will, that someone asks you why you play role-playing games. Many of us will answer such a question with our favorite aspect of the hobby, saying something like “I enjoy playing interesting characters” or “I enjoy making a story with my friends” or even “I enjoy the thrill of combat”. These can all be chased down, toddler-like, with another question, “why do you enjoy that?” When you’ve been run down by questions, how many of you will end on (for either accuracy or to get the questions to stop) “because it’s fun”?
The world can be a dark place, peopled with demons of all kinds. In XII: Inner Demons, Witch & Craft Games take the inner demons that haunt people and ask the question: but what if there were bigger demons that found that delicious? In their own words, “With the help of a ragtag band of lesser demons who certainly don’t have your best interests at heart, or perhaps another human with a kindred soul and no clue what they’re getting into, you have twelve days to confront the suffering that has been plaguing you… or face a very unfortunate end indeed.”
Combining urban horror and a punk ass-kicking aesthetic, XII: Inner Demons asks you to go on a journey to save yourself from a slavering Archdemon by traveling to personal anchors from your past. It’s also currently on Kickstarter! In the first of a series of interviews with diverse game designers, Cannibal Halfling Gaming talks to the founders of Witch & Craft Games about the past and future and some stuff in between.
When we play RPGs, we tell stories. For some it’s a fun consequence of the characters’ exploits, while for others it’s the whole point of the game. These stories can often have great power for the groups who create them, creating characters more personal and compelling than any novel ever could. It’s natural, then, to want to share these stories outside the group. The problem here, really, is that a tabletop campaign is a big, extended instance of “you had to be there”. As fun or dramatic or gutwrenching as it was at the time, you cannot recapture those feelings by turning your campaign into a novel.
Welcome back to Kickstarter Wonk! In case you’re wondering, no, nothing is normal yet, and I’m still not covering the ‘normal’ spread of ten games. Fear not, though, because Kickstarter volume does appear to be picking up! Once you sift through the awful pandemic and political cash-grab board games, there are a slowly increasing number of RPG Kickstarters, almost enough for me to start upping my numbers again. Of course, there’s also an increase in shorter campaigns, so I’m missing more of them. One example of this? Necronautilus, by Adam Vass, ended the day before this article was published, sadly. Still, I’d watch that one for late pledges if I were you.
Missed opportunities not withstanding, there’s a great crop here, including games about Chinese restaurants, athletes, sign language, and of course, rodents.
Usually we talk about playing games – how about an episode about making them? From house rules to hacks to wholesale creation, the Cannibal Halflings take a delve into all things tabletop game design: tips, tricks, advice, history, systems, and games worth taking a look at!
Space…the final frontier. The mission: to explore strange new worlds. To seek out new life and new civilizations. To boldly go where no-wait, I am being informed that we are talking about the wrong Star Noun here!
Joking aside, I am a firm believer that the Star Wars Universe has a vast potential to tell stories of different genres. The original Star Wars was born out of a desire to make an updated retelling the serials of the 1930’s and 40’s, of which there was a slew of westerns, swashbucklers, even noir mysteries, but probably one of the most famous update of these serials was another George Lucas project, the other trilogy that he is famous for, the most famous Action Archaeologist, Indiana Jones. As it so happens, Star Wars is absolutely chock full of single biome planets, abandoned temples, strange creatures, hostile natives and an ever present lingering group of fascists looming over the horizon. On top of that, there is the Unknown Regions, a vast regions of space that are uncharted on the hyperlanes. All of the tools for stories about exploration and colonization, and offers the chance to look hard the effects of those on the planets you visit. This cocktail actually is a great mix to harken back to Gentleman Adventurer tropes of Alan Quartermain, Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Around the World in 80 Days and Herge’s Tintin, but perhaps with an extra hundred years of hindsight to explore some of the ramifications of that your characters are doing. One eye on the past, and one eye on the future? That sounds like an excellent mix for exploring the great beyond!
Tabletop RPGs are not realistic, and this is a good thing. On one extreme we don’t really want to simulate the hygiene of our fantasy worlds, and on the other we don’t really want to play Apartment: The Playstationing. What RPGs should and do have, though, is verisimilitude. Verisimilitude is the appearance of being real, and in RPGs this means that the characters exist in a world which behaves in a way the players expect. One place where games fall down in this respect is in having a world that changes around the characters, one that might even be responsive to their actions. That is why I’m returning to my old stomping ground, the field of economics.
I miss the old days. Don’t misunderstand what I am saying. Things are better now, without a doubt. The Empire took everything from us that made us who we are. It ripped apart our most sacred monuments, it dismantled every part of our government that we prided ourselves in. It took our children away to be “reeducated”, they even took the spirit of the land itself away from us. But while they were directly in front of our faces, we hated them with unfettered ferocity. Before, in our old lives, you would have had a scion of a rival family that you would have been obligated to feud with for tradition’s sake. Now, they were in the work camp right next to you, swinging the same pickaxe. At the end of the day you both were literally too tired to care. The Arbiter saw that and knew what he could do with it. We were able to unite, to ignore generations of contempt for each other because our contempt for the Empire was so much greater. After bitter struggle we have at least some measure of ourselves back, but we bear scars: monuments defiled, power structures crippled, refugees who barely remember their old lives pouring back. Even the magic of the land itself has begun to forget us. But as those things are far from normal, our old rivalries have begun anew as every old faction, necessary in our struggle, now wants their voice heard. While we’re Free from the Yoke, we risk forgetting a grave truth: the Empire is still out there. It has not forgotten.