Weekly Indie RPG Review Week 23 (and beyond)

To make my blog a more lively place where I can also safekeep all the cool stuff I find all the time, I’ve decided to (try to!) write weekly reviews about the things happening in the indie RPG world in the past week.

This first one is a bit longer because I’ve collected stuff from the past several weeks I absolutely don’t want to lose.

Interesting RPG thoughts:

Does every game need stats?

+Hayley Gordon, one half of the Storybrewers duo making “Alas for the Awful Sea” blogs about her thoughts on stats in RPGs and how to tell if your game might need them, or not. (Some more comments happened in the G+ thread.)

By the way, Storybrewers have published a few cool free games, too: among others To the Temple of Doom!, Tales from the Lost Kitchen, All Things Grow, and Dynasty, for which an updated version is in the works. They are also working on a yummy Jane Austen RPG I can’t wait to read.

Kickstarter indie game publishing and money

+Mark Richardson talks about the finances involved in publishing his pbtA-based “Headspace” RPG. (Hat-tip to Thorsten). Looks like some setbacks (books destroyed during shipping) and unexpected costs (hardcover printing is really really expensive) caused the project to be a few hundred dollars in the red for now. It’s probably safe to say most indie RPG designers are not in it for the money!

New directions for Freeform Universal

It’s no secret I’m a big, big fan of the lightweight universal RPG FU by Nathan Russell. Recently, Nathan posted some ideas on how to do a few things differently. Here’s a G+ post where I link to his thoughts, summarize most of them, and Nathan and others have a lively discussion in the comments. My favorite idea is using one D20 instead of multiple D6s.

Character building during play

Brent Newhall writes about how to generate your character during play, using Risus in this instance. I find this idea very appealing, since a few of my players have told me they don’t really know yet who their character is in the beginning and want to find out during the game. Character generation is actually really stressful to them.

I think you could use Brent’s approach in other games as well; my first thought was FU, of course, which has descriptors that are coneptually similar to Risus’ catchphrases (instead of stats). I’ve been tinkering with a “young witches getting to know themselves and what they can do better” FU playset (based on the webcomic Pepper & Carrot and inspired by the movie Kiki’s Delivery Service) for a while. This could be just the ticket to make the players feel they are actually growing as people, finding their “specialty” after meeting challenges.

(Hat-tip to Sophia Brandt)

Cool Kickstarters

Cthulhu Dark

Graham Walmsley has a new Kickstarter up for his well regarded tiny freeform Mythos RPG Cthulhu Dark, which is still the same small size of two pages, but everything around it has expanded into 200 intriguing pages chock full of settings, adventures, gamemastering, hacking, and adventure creation advice. There’s a PDF version and two different printed book editions. A prerelease “Cthulhu Dark Zero” PDF will become available to backers immediately after the campaign is over, and includes a Print on Demand code. Also, in celebration of the Kickstarter, here’s a link to a 20% off coupon on Graham’s Mythos adventures from Pelgrane Press (I’ve heard so much good about these!) as well as one to a very interesting background info about how the game came to be.

And finally, there’s Alex Robert’s fascinating backstory podcast interview with Graham on both Cthulhu Dark and other games he’s made and played. Alex’ backstory podcast is really good in general, and I suggest you subscribe to it if you’re interested in storygames and their designers! It’s a bit difficult to find, but here’s Alex’ advice, which worked for me: > Backstory is on the ONE SHOT network, but it has its own feed. Search iTunes or whichever podcast app you use for Backstory specifically!

Useful and cool downloads!

Blades in the Dark wipeoff progress clock cards

+Phil Vecchione of Gnomestew posted some reusable progress-clock cards for Blades in the Dark you can print, laminate, write on, and wipe off again. (Direct link to Google Drive files.)

So many Lasers & Feelings hacks!

Three weeks ago, “A Point of Inspiration” posted two more hacks for John Harper’s lightweight Lasers & Feelings: “Blood & Wine” (vampire high society) and “The Little Dance” (mystical martial arts). A few weeks back they already posted another intriguing hack of L&F: “Doves & Demons”, gothic fantasy about hunters of demonic monsters. This week, after polling fans about which hack they should make next, they published the winner: “Witness me!”, a post-apocalyptic hack apparently inspired by Mad Max: Fury Road. They are actually planning a whole set of 10 hacks to release in one big PDF. They talk about these plans and about both The Little Dance and Blood and Wine, in this reddit post.

Caper: Tiny heists

Caper is a GMless tiny, short and rules-light heist game for 3+ players by Dale Elvy that involves real physical stealth and stealing. Challenges are secretly written on slips of paper by the players and drawn from a hat. During setup and play you put some coins on the table (action resolution is also based on a coin toss). If you manage to steal one of the coins without anyone noticing, you successfully double-cross your team and take the treasure for yourself! Caper was a submission to the 2017 200 Word RPG Challenge that also has an expanded and prettied up version that’s worth downloading! Thorsten even made a German version!

Adventures with Star Trek and the Apocalypse

The Star Trek Adventures RPG is now up for preorder, and an interesting G+ discussion among German playtesters (in German) led me to a fan-made pbtA hack for Star Trek by +1of3 that reads fantastically thematic and flavorful, and which I would just love to play really soon. (The actual Star Trek Adventures didn’t turn out to be for me; way too crunchy and written in a style I find highly inaccessible.) Finally, here’s someone who “gets” what Star Trek is all about. I love the “Normal” playbook, based on characters like O’Brien and McCoy. Get PbtAStarTrek here!

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