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I hope I get a chance to play Mausritter someday. It channels that same sense of adventure and excitement as the media that inspires it, and that cannot be discounted.

   But for me? Mausritter nails the terror of being small. And in an RPG scene where heroes are nigh-unkillable, facing down dragons without a second thought, I think it’s good to be reminded that we live alongside real life dragons every day.

Asercion, who’s probably best known in the indie scene for their phenomenal Microscope hack, i’m sorry did you say street magic, uses the tried-and-true method of deck-based prompts to allow players to design their own fantastical animals and direct their own nature documentaries. With gorgeous art by Si F. Sweetman, it’s a wonderful exercise in creature design and worldbuilding.

That’s where Beak, Feather, and Bone bleeds over from fantasy worldbuilding into the actual politics of cartography. The lines you draw in BFB assert a truth about the world, that your faction actually can and does enforce a claim on specific buildings and regions of the map. But in a game where your map is both objectively accurate and also designed by multiple factions with competing agendas, it makes me wonder how strong a particular crow-person’s hold on that nice duplex might actually be.

Influenced by Three Houses and Naruto, but also by Gundam and Friends at the Table’s “Counter/Weight” season, Spectres is a game that explicitly emulates stories about students facing each other across battlefields, torn between the love they once shared and their devotion to their causes. It’s exactly the kind of narrative-focused game I want to see in the world, and I’m so glad it’s finally being released. Go to class, have big feelings, and have it all fall apart as the world is consumed by mecha warfare. High school never ends, you just graduate to the frontlines. 

Mui surprised me by saying that Lumen Ryder is ultimately not a system about combat, but instead one that uses combat as an expression of personality and identity. And if you dig into the themes, mechanics, and tokusatsu’s history of selling toys to children, I think they’re right. 

Using the language of cinema to guide players through the last scenes of their campaign, World Ending Game gently, but firmly, nudges your characters through moments of closure. It allows you to linger in nostalgia for the stories you’ve told, but ultimately asks you to draw the curtain. It’s keenly concerned with ensuring everyone has a satisfying end. But after the credits roll, it is still very much the end. 

Anamnesis is about deciding who you are in spite of who you’ve been. Your memories, even if they’re forgotten or manufactured, aren’t as important as what you do with what time you still have. Your past is undoubtedly important, and it may follow you long after you’ve forgotten it. But it’s not some all-powerful force like gravity or destiny. With time, even the past can be re-written. And the good news is: you always have time to become someone new.

Houses of the Sun by Night is more than just a series of minigames. It’s an invitation to try something, to expand your understanding of what a TTRPG can be. While its flavor text is astounding, and it provides an incredible variety of interstitial games to easily slot into an ongoing campaign, Houses is weird in the best way possible, in a way I’m desperately trying to achieve in my own writing. I’m so happy I found this text.

Clean Spirit is a game about shelter, relationships, and disappointment, and it hit me real hard

I liked this game a normal amount

Glad you liked it, good luck with crowdfunding!

Earnest without being overbearing, and simple without being flimsy, Broken is a tragic LARP that embraces the physical struggle of emotional turmoil .

What Dust Remains, written by 2022 Diana Jones Emerging Designer Award winner Momatoes, asks players to go behind the scenes of the accomplished and powerful, take up the mantle of legacy, and try to build something that will eclipse you, even at the cost of the things you hold most dear.

Brumal/Vernal is a two player epistolary (letter writing) game written by Armanda Haller. Its name refers to the character types inhabited by each player: one of you will be a witch of Winter, one a witch of Spring. Together, you’ll collaborate on a quilt, and in 8 to 20 letters will create your patches, catch your counterpart up on happenings in your neck of the woods, and trade recipes and magical secrets.

More important than its cozy vibes and natural themes, however, is the medium in which you play Brumal/Vernal. While you could send letters over email or one of a half dozen instant messaging platforms, to get its full impact, I firmly believe you need to play it by mail. Because at its core, this is a game about longing. 

Navathem’s End, written by Sinta Posadas and Pamela Punzalan, not only achieved the fantasy of expanding a D&D campaign, but elevated it into an entire book. It turns characters from Posadas and Punzalan’s previous game into saints, inspiring a new generation of heroes to look to the past in order to salvage a world that was broken long ago. Absolutely stuffed with lore and employing a blend of Forged in the Dark (FITD) and Powered by the Apocalypse (PBTA)  mechanics, Navathem’s End is a robust game that will appeal to both D&D players and indie enthusiasts.

Sageuk: Roleplay in Joseon, is the perfect RPG to dive into the political and personal conflicts that make “K-dramas” beloved. Written by Bryon Casebolt of Hessan’s County, Sageuk cannot be described as anything other than the product of genuine devotion and meticulous research into the people and setting of the Joseon Dynasty. Using a unique blend of the Five Powers dice system and Harmony Drive SRD, Sageuk takes staples of TTRPG design and twists them into an utterly fascinating game.

Far Horizons Guide to Cults is an excellent example of the myriad ways cults can be inserted into any tabletop campaign to add intrigue and excitement. As part of their ongoing Kickstarter campaign, they released two sample factions in their preview, which will be the subject of this review. After looking them over, I was impressed with Far Horizons’ sample cults. Each holds unique beliefs and practices that don’t fall into boring stereotypes, and can be easily adapted to any setting. 

Galactic asks players to consider the relationships between characters, work together to weave an interesting narrative, and engage with the themes of resistance, mysticism, and hope that are at the core of the best Star Wars stories. 

On October 5th, 2021, Lex Kim Bobrow, or TitanomachyRPG on Twitter, released the first iteration of what is now known as the Caltrop Core SRD. Named by Dicebreaker as one of the “best tabletop RPG systems to hack into a custom game,” the Caltrop Core is the foundation for over one hundred TTRPGs.

I’m fairly new to the TTRPG scene. I didn’t even know about until the middle of 2020, and didn’t plug into the indie Twitter community until 2021. Slayers, a rules-light monster-fighting RPG by Spencer Campbell, was published in September of 2020, and the experience of reading it over the past few weeks makes me wish to God I had been following its launch.

Using the Powered by the Apocalypse framework, Interstitial provides all the tools you need to traverse various worlds, smash IPs together, and weave your own indecipherable story about the ties that bind us.

With simple mechanics that constantly ratchet up tension, Breathless is an excellent way to drop into a world where everything is out to kill you, and see if you’ve got what it takes to make it through another bloody day.

Chess: Two Kingdoms is, at its heart, a game that turns an ordinary game of chess into a vehicle for storytelling.

Easy to read and easy to play, Two Kingdoms is a fun and innovative spin on one of the oldest games in history.

Beautifully narrated, and brutal to read, Moriahforces players to examine the world they inhabit and the bonds they share, and ask what they’d give to save them. 

Our Farm Becomes the Battlefield opens with two sentences: “What do you do when one man owns everything? You steal it, and you break his stuff.”

Thanks so much Nick!!

Thanks Mike! The hope was for any long-running campaign to be able to take a break between "seasons" to imagine some fresh ideas for their character and world!

Gawrsh Quest is a welcome addition to the Caltrop Core, and really shows off what the SRD can do with an intuitive designer at the helm. 

The conceit is simple enough, a GM-led rpg whose goal is for 3-5 players to find their friend Mouseman, with the caveat that one of them is infected with the "Hunger." Players must move through various rooms until Mouseman is reached, and the game ends with Mouseman rescued, dead, or when all non-Hungry goofs are dead.

The combat mechanic simple and elegant, with the GM rolling 1d4 to beat your Gawrsh roll. If you win, enemy takes the difference between your 2 rolls. If you do not beat them, the enemy still takes 1 damage. Combat against the players is the same, with the caveat that players do not take damage if the GM doesn't beat their defense roll.

The Hungry mechanic is a ticking time bomb, with a pool of D4 similar to HP, except that with every new room, the Hungry Goof must roll with this shrinking pool of dice. Every result except for a 4 has the Hungry goof turning on the party, dealing HP damage, or worst of all on a 1, unhinging his jaw and more likely than not, eating the other players alive or infecting them with the Hunger as well.

Wisely, Nick's included a mechanic to let the other players feed the hungry Goof, by adding a tag system that will allow the infected Goof to gain back SP and stave off its outbursts. Not only does this include feeding items and relics to the Hungry Goof, but also other NPCs and Player characters, which solidifies both the game's tone and its narrative stakes.  

I really like the playbooks, Nick is doing something really neat with the base Caltrop Core, by adding incentives for picking a lower Die Roll or saving die to be used later to negate damage.

There's a useful GM notes section on designing the dungeon crawl, and I appreciate advice that says it should usually be linear but may offer branching paths. I especially like the time limits for combat and puzzles, and in particular appreciate having a let the players make a roll and then they can have a hint right in the rulebook.

The NPC descriptions give just enough of tone and narrative description to give readers a picture of what this universe is like, which is very fun. Also there's like 3 Kingdom Hearts references so like, bravo Nick. Genuinely want to play this sometime.

Been playing this one season at a day for the past few weeks. Having a wonderful time, really love the flexibility to make my farm balanced with an easy-to-understand system for introducing obstacles.