I don’t really get to do a lot of gaming these days, so it’s odd that I have a blog about roleplaying I guess. That being said, I’m still very much interested in roleplaying games, and spend a decent bit of time talking about and looking at interesting games. So here is a list of some games that have caught my eye for one reason or another. The games I am going to list aren’t necessarily new or obscure, and I am sure a lot of people who game a lot more frequently probably play a few of these all the time. Anyway, in no particular order, here is my list:
1. Paranoia – This is an older game, but I’ve never had a chance to play it and it looks like a blast. Set in a dystopian future, the players are “Troubleshooters” for the mainframe computer, which happens to be insane. They are often tasked with literally “shooting trouble” as they weed out treasonous elements of Alpha Complex. A lot of the time this involves shooting each other, since pretty much anything or anyone in Alpha Complex could conceivably be treasonous. This of course means that oftentimes characters are forced to commit treason while in the process of rooting out treason. This game looks like a good excuse to sit down, have a good laugh, and shoot powerful, prone-to-malfunctioning weaponry at your seditious buddies.
2. Torchbearer – Sort of the opposite of Paranoia, this game is a gritty fantasy game that places the characters in darkly oppressive surroundings. This is a game where the world outside the city walls is bleak, dismal, and dangerous. Things don’t seem much better inside the walls either. The whole game looks to have an ominous feeling to it, and things like hunger, fear, and the prospect of a grim death are waiting just around the corner for would be heroes. The game appears to capture a sense of doom and desperation that I think would be a fun change of pace from your typical “bust open the door, kill the monster, get rich” fantasy game.
3. Dungeon World – This looks like the type of fantasy game where you can have a blast busting open doors, killing monsters, and getting rich. The game is story driven and features some unique mechanics, like the game master never rolling any dice. As a guy that ends up game mastering a lot of the time, this is intriguing and appealing to me. I really like the idea of narrative driven fantasy as well, so this game is definitely one I would love to have a shot at running and playing.
4. Age Past: The Incian Sphere – I was actually lucky enough to get a free PDF copy of this game from the author, and while I haven’t had much of a chance to peruse it the book looks amazing. The artwork is top-notch and the mechanics seem solid. I like that the character creation is both archetype based and open-ended, allowing for a whole range of possibilities. There is room here to come up with a lot of your own stuff for your character or to just grab things off the rack, so character creation can be as detailed or as simple as you like. A good bit of attention has been given to the setting as well, which features elements of “traditional fantasy” as well as some more steam punk elements. I’m definitely going to have a more detailed look at this when I get the chance.
5. Clockwork: Dominion – This game recently had a successful kickstarter, and should be available for purchase sometime in 2014. As a general rule, I don’t care much for the Steampunk genre, but this game really caught my attention. The first thing that impresses me about it is that the developers have made a painstaking and well-researched effort to ground all of the technological elements of the setting, at least tenuously, in reality. In the video for their kickstarter campaign, they claim that they “took what was rare or unique, and made it ubiquitous.” Likewise, supernatural elements that exist in the setting were a part of the actual folklore of the era. I attended an online Q&A session with two of the game’s developers, and I was thoroughly impressed with the setting they have brought to life. The second thing that is interesting about the game is its card based mechanics, that promise to handle both physical and social conflict in a realistic and fast paced way. I’m typically not a huge fan of card based mechanics either, but these guys have really done their homework, and it looks like they have put together a solid game. I mean, if they can sell a guy who doesn’t like steampunk or dice-less RPGs on an alternate history game set in Victorian England that uses a deck of cards for conflict resolution, then they have clearly done something right.
6. Hulks & Horrors – This game from a small Indy publisher fits squarely into the old school renaissance category of games. It has six core attributes we’re all familiar with, character classes, levels, and, of course, dungeons. But those dungeons are on myriad alien worlds scattered throughout deep space. In essence, this game combines classic dungeon crawling and space exploration, using a set of mechanics that those of us who played Basic and Advanced Dungeons and Dragons will feel right at home with. I’ve spoken a little with the author of this game, and I like his thorough approach. I also like that he included a whole slew of random tables in the game, for things like dungeon and star system creation, as well as treasure generation.
7. Iron Kingdoms – This is another fantasy setting with a rich history. There looks to be a lot of room to run excellent political games in the setting, with rival kingdoms vying for power. There is also a lot of room for exploration adventures, with lost technology and ancient ruins and all of that fun stuff. Also, as a fan of tabletop miniature games as well as roleplaying games, I like that there is a miniature war game that ties into the setting in the form of Warmachine. In a world where I have a lot more disposable income than I do now, I can imagine a vast campaign tying together the political intrigues of the roleplaying experience with gritty tabletop miniature battles.
8. Desolation – The setting for this game is really intriguing. This is post-apocalyptic fantasy set eighteen months after a great cataclysm. The concept and the setting are dripping with adventure ideas. I like having a rich history and a detailed setting at my disposal, but I also like that the game starts at a point where everything that was has been turned on its head, leaving the way open to really make this world your own. All of this is powered by an engine with relatively simple mechanics and a focus on narrative. I can’t imagine not owning this game at some point, even if I never get to play it.
Has anyone played any of these games? If so, leave me a comment and let me know what you think.