Role-playing games are a delightfully analog hobby; the best parts of coming together with your friends to roll dice and tell stories cannot be duplicated by digital media. The way we play, though, has changed, with forums and voice chat programs and online dice rollers all giving us ways to use technology to enhance the RPG experience. When it comes to the actual reference materials, progress has been uneven. Online SRDs and paywalled content providers like D&D Beyond show we at least acknowledge that digital reference materials can look different, but the majority of game PDFs out there are just books, barely improved from the days when RPG PDFs were made with a scanner.
Æon. Poor, sweet Æon. Or is it Trinity? Depends on who you’re asking and if Viacom is listening. This RPG was meant to be White Wolf’s epic space opera, but fell short financially and was cancelled much to the dismay of it’s small, but loyal fanbase. However, the death of Æon had larger reprocussions. As the first chapter in what became a planned trilogy, its inability to generate sales spelled doom for the other two games in the Æon Continuum. I had written a piece awhile back about Aberrant, the second game in the series, which was White Wolf’s swing at the superhero genre. They introduced us to an engrossing, but nihilistic story of superhumans doomed to be their own destroyers. In the time since writing that article, Amazon released The Boys, which is basically Aberrant the TV show. I had a friend text me, quite serious, asking if White Wolf was planning to go to court over it. They didn’t. He didn’t know it was a comic and White Wolf didn’t invent the grim superhero shtick. They didn’t invent the epic space opera either, but with Æon they gave it an earnest shot.
We’ve gotten so much Unearthed Arcana content for Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition lately that, I’ll admit, I had a hard time keeping up! I’ve got a lock on it now, though. First we got a sorcerer with an aberrant mind and a warlock who lurks in the deep. Then we got an Eloquent bard and a Heroic paladin (capitalization deliberate and important). Finally we got a twilight cleric, a wildfire druid, and a name-calling wizard. I think my speculation from the barbarian and the monk is proving true: we only see a swath of content like this when another book is on the horizon. So lets Unearth some Arcana and see what our new varieties of adventurer can do!
Gaming news and games we Can’t Let Go, Happy Horror Stories wherein things went awry on the table in the best way, and a four-way pitch fight for the best Halloween One-Shot RPG in this episode of CHR!
A Falcon hunting phantoms through the trees of Shinomen Forest. A Lion trying to heal the wounded and avenge an ancestor’s death. A Unicorn riding out to free the spirits of corrupted kin from the shadows that have swallowed them. A Phoenix desperate to redeem his bloodline and himself before it’s too late. The land of Rokugan thrives in the light of the sun, but shadows creep in, and someone must stand against them. We’re telling another tale in the Legend of the Five Rings from Fantasy Flight Games with this haunted but ready-to-play party of samurai seeking honor and glory in the Shadowlands!
Not everyone is so lucky as to be an ace pilot the moment that they fall into the cockpit. Some have gotten as far as they have due to a lifetime of training and experience. Yet for all of their grizzled charm and “oh you sweet summer child” attitude, they had to start somewhere. Something had to hone those instincts and prepare them for the battle at hand, and this week, we get to find out what. Strap back in for this supplement of Evil Hat’s starfighter RPG Tachyon Squadron in Tachyon Squadron: Starfighter Academy.
Welcome to Indie Frontiers, the new article series spotlighting up-and-coming Indie RPG designers and their games. This is the place where we will explore the cutting-edge of game design; the place where we fearlessly read the most experimental RPG’s you can find! Join me on my Sisyphean quest to read all the games emerging on itch.io, and become a part of the Indie RPG revolution.
Today we will be looking at four designers: Jared Sinclair, Jay Dragon, Riley Hopkins, and Kienna Shaw. Let’s get started.
There’s a lot of reasons people say that the RPG hobby is in a golden age right now. Increased legitimacy of the hobby in general, new audiences reaching games through streaming and podcasts, and an exploding variety of types and titles of games make for a more diverse and dynamic hobby than we’ve ever had before. But what do we actually know about the hobby and how it’s growing? What do we know about the competitive dynamics of the industry, from Wizards of the Coast down to the one-man shops? The simple answer to “what do we know” is “not much”. Finding real data about this hobby of ours is a struggle—and that’s when it isn’t downright impossible.
LARPs are all about getting dressed up, either with groups of people who got in heavily costumed and shouting spells while others wailed away on each with foam swords or actively plotting about the plots against their domains or the biggest threat to the Freehold with earnest index cards and play rock papers scissors, right? Well, just as there are innumerable styles of play, and people willing to experiment with design of more traditional tabletop formats, there are people who like to play around with how to run different styles of LARP, and I wound up stumbling into a freeform style that prioritizes how people get and stay in character, and what they do to make a story interesting entirely over mechanics.
The year was 1987, and mad science was brewing in the offices of White Dwarf magazine. Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay developer Graeme Davis held, in one hand, a steaming vial containing the concentrated essence of hundreds of schemes, plot twists, and capers. In the other, he held the core rulebook for WFRP 1st Edition. With a cackle and a grin, he poured the vial over the rulebook, pulled an ominous lever on the wall and a bolt of lightning crashed through a skylight to give birth to his new creation.
…Or something like that. The details may have been different, but the end result was the adventure A Rough Night at the Three Feathers. Up to this point, roleplaying modules focused on a single plot thread – an evil wizard kidnaps a princess, the king sets the heroes a quest, a dragon terrorizes a town, etc. Graeme wanted to see if multiple plots in a single story could work as well as they did on film when translated to roleplaying games. Judging by audience reactions, he was on to something, as A Rough Night at the Three Feathers continues to be one of the best remembered rpg modules of all time.
With the release of WFRP 4th edition, Graeme and the rest of the development team decided to update the original Rough Night alongside two sequel stories he’d written in the decades since, and add two more adventures in the same vein for good measure. The end product is Rough Nights and Hard Days, the subject of today’s review. Does the original hold up to modern rpg standards? And can this concept survive more than one game session? Let’s dive in and find out!