Monthly Archives: December 2018

As we run up to Christmas, DriveThruRPG is running their Teach Your Kids to Game promo, so we’ll theme the week accordingly. The first standout Pick for this week is Michtim: Fluffy Adventures, a game definitely all about appealing to kids and the kid in all of us. 

Straight up, you’re playing “Cute Heroes With Special Powers,” and the demo video has a puppet of a cute fuzzy as the GM. There’s a significant focus on inclusivity, and a proud affirmation of “indie” development.

Cute Heroes with Special Powers

Michtims are easily mistaken for hamsters at first glance, yet they have access to magic, technology and nature’s allies. They are in constant struggle with human’s plans to take down their sacred Immergrummel woods. Nevertheless, they also know how to have a good time, because bakery festivals are an important part of their culture.

Easy to Learn / Fun to Tinker with

The core rules are taught in steps. The game is playable with just the basic rules (that are also reproduced on the character sheet for your convenience). If the Michtims grow experienced enough, the game master will introduce Callings and Gear to offer more complexity. Players are able to create new material, based on the existing framework or change the fiction aspect of established content.

Personality as Core Mechanic

Michtims are very emotional. Their abilities are directly based on five emotions. Anger is used to attack foes, while Love allows the Michtim to tend the wounds of friends. Joy provides mobility and perception, while Fear is used to hide or evade attacks. Grief, on the other hand, allows the Michtim to weep to reduce incoming damage.

A Blend of Magic, Tech and Nature

Michtims rely on these three things. There are several magical Callings that provide for spellcasting in the fiction, like the Sorcerer or Witch. Technology is also a viable path to power for Machinists and Cybertooths. All Michtims have the ability to speak with animals, so Nature is a strong ally to all Michtims. Players can take any Calling and change its meaning in the fiction, by providing new themes for existing mechanics.

100% Indie / 100% Inclusive

The art, game design, graphic design and writing were all created by Georg Mir, and are thus guided by a single vision: to create a game that will be a welcoming place to all kinds of people, no matter their gender, sexual orientation or ethnic background.

[There’s a lot more shared on the actual sales page…]

Sean Patrick Fannon
Writer & Game Designer: Shaintar, Star Wars, Savage Rifts, Freedom Squadron, and much more!
Please check out my Patreon and get involved directly with my next projects!

I make no apologies for the fact that Eddy Webb is both one of my favorite people and favorite creators, so it’s no surprise that the crowning Pick for New Games for Christmas Week is his much-anticipated Monarchies of Mau. The natural follow-up to Pugmire, this is nonetheless a standalone game that takes on the same world from the perspective of the cats that trust their instincts.

It’s all fully compatible, as I can attest due to a wonderful crossover game Eddy ran at AndoCon last year.

Before we were six. Now we are one. We differ on many points, but on these we agree: Always trust our instincts, always reward loyalty, and always pounce upon minions of the Unseen. Without these tenets, we are no longer worthy of the adoration of Man. 

Monarch Trillani Persian von Mau, deceased

Cats have inherited the world, unifying their six fractious monarchies after untold centuries. These cats have been uplifted to use tools and language, and they seek to rediscover the ruins of the Old Ones. Some have learned to use the leftover technology of humanity, but they believe it to be magic given to them by their lost worshippers. Others seek to create a cohesive nation, using Precepts of Mau agreed to after years of political conflict. The world is dangerous and mysterious, but the instincts of a good cat will always be true.

Some highlights of Monarchies of Mau include:

  • An evocative and mysterious setting that’s both family friendly and deep enough to create compelling stories.
  • A traditional fantasy rules system redesigned for streamlined play and easy creation of heroic cats, with an emphasis on cooperation and action over competition and violence.
  • A variety of callings and houses that give access to several fun and interesting secrets.
  • Rival species to interact with, like dogs and mice, along with terrifying and dangerous monsters that roam the landscape.

Will you trust your instincts?

Sean Patrick Fannon
Writer & Game Designer: Shaintar, Star Wars, Savage Rifts, Freedom Squadron, and much more!
Please check out my Patreon and get involved directly with my next projects!

As we continue looking at New Games for Christmas, here’s a recent release from the brilliant Rose Bailey. Featuring a unique system, round-robin Game Mastering, and special Plot Cards that help you tell your story, you examine what it means to be really good at what you do, yet being rejected for being who you are.

And your story is one of spies, espionage, and finding your way in a world where you’ve been cast out and need to make use of skills that hardly fit in a 9-5 pattern. Rejected by your original agency for being “out” in one way or another, now you work for the Ministry in a “60s” that never was – and it might be the 1960s, the 1760s, or even the 1260s. If you’re On Nobody’s Side, what do you stand for?

Thrown Out for Being Out

You were the best at what you did, and what you did was as lethal as it was quiet. But you weren’t quiet enough about something else… your gender, your orientation, your ancestry. Your employers didn’t like who you really were, and they threw you out without ceremony or dignity.

A License to Live

But no one wants an unemployed spy. The Ministry approached you, and gave you the chance to once again fight for the free world… or at least the free market. In exchange, on your off time, you get to be yourself, without fear of prosecution or persecution.

Are you loyal to your masters or your friends? To your country or your principles? Or are you…

On Nobody’s Side

On Nobody’s Side is a spy thriller set in the 60s… any 60s you like, any midcentury flashpoint when everything’s to play for. You and your friends create spies, their contacts, and their enemies. You rotate the GM position, telling interweaving stories of action, intrigue, and betrayal.

Features

  • Take risks to get more dice, while matches open up opportunities and rain down consequences.
  • Use plot cards like Irresistible Attraction, Desperate Chase, or I Expect You to Die to guide your story toward iconic spy moments.
  • As Controller, put your spy into deadly situations, fix deals with dangerous factions, and confront other agents.

Your download includes the 24-page core rulebook and 38 plot cards, in both VTT-friendly image and tabletop print-and-play formats.

Sean Patrick Fannon
Writer & Game Designer: Shaintar, Star Wars, Savage Rifts, Freedom Squadron, and much more!
Please check out my Patreon and get involved directly with my next projects!

This one falls well within the “gaming as exploration of current events and eternal struggles” realm. Dream Askew/Dream Apart is also a definitively 21st century indie design (“no dice, no masters system”).

There are actually two games here (hence the title), each dealing with the concept of belonging while not belonging. Emotional examinations, philosophical considerations, and community building are the vectors of play. If you’re ready to move beyond traditional gaming – even if only for a short diversion – this is a solid choice to take a detour with.

This book contains two games of belonging outside belonging. Dream Askew explores the story of a queer enclave amid the collapse of civilization. Dream Apartexplores the story of a Jewish shtetl in a fantastical version of nineteenth-century Eastern Europe.

Both games are about a marginalized group of people living together in precarious community. They use a simple no dice, no masters system that puts the focus on relationships. community struggles, and player choice.

Build a community together, and then make trouble within it!

This book is organized into four chapters:

Playing the Dream
A thorough, beginner-friendly guide on how to play Dream Askew, Dream Apart, and other games of belonging outside belonging. Includes detailed running examples.

Dream Askew
Everything you need to play Dream Askew – the character roles, setting elements, enclave worksheet, design notes, a mediography, and a recipe to serve your friends before playing.

Dream Apart
Everything you need to play Dream Apart – the character roles, setting elements, shtetl worksheet, design notes, mediography, glossary, list of regional names, and a recipe for borsht.

Designing New Games
A step-by-step guide to designing your own games of belonging outside belonging, with wisdom on both the thematic and mechanical aspects of game design.

Sean Patrick Fannon
Writer & Game Designer: Shaintar, Star Wars, Savage Rifts, Freedom Squadron, and much more!
Please check out my Patreon and get involved directly with my next projects!

Today’s New Games for Christmas Pick is a 5e-compatible (meaning you’ll still want the core D&D books for maximum effectiveness) setting and expansion of rules that spans the sci-fi gamut of space opera, interstellar horror, and post-humanity chrome-and-grit. Spaceships and Starwyrms is newer-than-new, so you’ve got a great chance of being one of the first kids on your block to own and run it – or to get your favorite GM to run it, if you give it to them for Christmas!

A wiry Human woman guns the throttle of a contraband military vessel while navigating through an asteroid field. Her copilot, a round, squat creature with one eye on a long stalk, gleefully fires the ship’s plasma cannon at the pursuing bounty hunters. A gnarled hunk of meteorite lays in the hold. It pulses with the ultraviolet glow of dark matter magic. A vaguely humanoid android snaps a jeweler’s monocle into place on their optical sensor to get a closer look as a feline man takes a wrench to the smoking engine room.

This vignette is a glimpse into one of many space adventures that you can bring to your table with Spaceships and Starwyrms. S&S is a comprehensive 5th edition supplement that gives you nearly 400 pages of science fiction flavor and rules to transform your 5e experience. The supplement includes:

  • 13 playable species
  • 5 new classes
  • 2 augmented classes
  • Archetypes for bards, fighters, rogues, paladins, and sorcerers
  • 16 new backgrounds
  • New equipment, including armor, weapons, and vehicles
  • A whole chapter on spaceships and spaceship combat
  • Hacking rules
  • New cover rules
  • Environmental rules for zero gravity, radiation, and more
  • New monsters, including robots, abominations, and starwyrms
  • A brand-new setting to play in
  • A custom character sheet

The S&S Core Sourcebook provides everything you need to play in and run all sorts of science fiction adventures, from space operas to cyberpunk runs to exploration missions and everything in between! So buckle up, spacers, and get ready to dive in at warp speed.

Sean Patrick Fannon
Writer & Game Designer: Shaintar, Star Wars, Savage Rifts, Freedom Squadron, and much more!
Please check out my Patreon and get involved directly with my next projects!

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, and no matter what you choose to celebrate in particular, the end of the year usually means gifts for those you love and care about. So this week’s theme is New Games for Christmas, and we open up with this top-seller from the gang that brought you Tales from the Loop and Mutant: Year Zero.

Forbidden Lands skips the part where you’re heroes banded together by outside forces to defend a kingdom, recover a treasure, or whatever. Nope, you’re “Raiders and Rogues in a Cursed World,” hanging together to explore and survive. Not sure I’d have gone with the digital game terminology of “open world” (the GM is the one to determine that, yeah?), but I grok why they went there and want to appeal to Red Dead Redemption and MMO fans. Obviously, a lot of other folks agree, as it’s been quite the hot item for a while.

Round the beggar from Varassa all sat in a ring,

and by the campfire they sat and heard his song.

And about walkers and wolfkin and every terrible thing,

and of his fear he sang to them all night long:

“There is something beyond the mountains, beyond the howls beyond the mist, there is something behind the veils, behind hearts cold as stone.

Hearken, something walks and whispers, walks and lures you in and whimpers:

Come to us, for this earth shall ever be ours and ours alone!”

Forbidden Lands is a new take on classic fantasy roleplaying. In this open-world survival roleplaying game, you’re not heroes sent on missions dictated by others – instead, you are raiders and rogues bent on making your own mark on a cursed world. You will discover lost tombs, fight terrible monsters, wander the wild lands and, if you live long enough, build your own stronghold to defend. Contents:

  • Player’s Manual including rules for fast character generation, visceral combat, lethal magic, dangerous journeys and for building your own stronghold – easily be ported to your own favorite game world.
  • Gamemaster’s Guide including a rich and detailed description of the Forbidden Lands setting, a large illustrated Bestiary, extensive random encounters, and three complete adventure sites.
  • The Legends & Adventurers booklet, letting you flesh out your characters and give them unique backgrounds.
  • Full-color map, giving you the freedom to explore the Forbidden Lands any way you want, hex by hex.

From the creators of the award-winning RPGs Tales from the Loop, Coriolis – The Third Horizon and Mutant: Year Zero.

Sean Patrick Fannon
Writer & Game Designer: Shaintar, Star Wars, Savage Rifts, Freedom Squadron, and much more!
Please check out my Patreon and get involved directly with my next projects!

We close out Goodbye RPGNow Week with one more project that enjoyed prominence on the Top List of the site dedicated to “Indie RPGs,” The Black Hack, Second Edition. The Black Hack is an OGL/OSR foundation that’s launched an entire series of products from all kinds of small publishers, and it’s lauded as one of the best ways to play “old style” fantasy gaming while having a modernized presentation. 

The actual “sundown” for RPGNow doesn’t happen until February of 2019, so there will probably be at least one more week where I do something like this, but with the recent announcement, I thought getting some eyeballs on the kinds of products that might have a harder time standing out on DriveThru was a good idea. I plan to do plenty of “Indie” weeks in the future to help spotlight these efforts.

Black is Back!

New expanded Second Edition rules now include a wealth of extra material and tools for every Black Hack GM. The main rules still only take up 30 pages, but the full edition adds over 90 more pages of NPCs, monsters, dungeons, traps, magic items and much more.

The Black Hack is a super-streamlined roleplaying game that uses the Original 1970s Fantasy Roleplaying Game as a base, and could well be the most straightforward modern OSR compatible clone available. If speed of play and character creation, compatibility, and simple – yet elegant rules are what you yearn for. Look no further!

The Black Hack is a fast playing game and the rules can be picked up in minutes.

Sean Patrick Fannon
Writer & Game Designer: Shaintar, Star Wars, Savage Rifts, Freedom Squadron, and much more!
Please check out my Patreon and get involved directly with my next projects!

Another day, another Pick from the top sellers on RPGNow as we say Goodbye RPGNow Week. A company like Zozer Games will miss the site, as they may not get the same time in the top spot landscape. I will have to make sure I do what I can to help offset that, because Zenobia represents the kind of game that folks should get a chance to see among the more dominant product lines. Fallen Rome, desert clans, mythical monsters, intrigue, and so much more, all driven by a streamlined 2d6 system.

Where Rome meets the desert –

Rome crumbles, and here in the Desert Kingdoms  there are tribes, cults, kings and queens that all want their piece.  It is a lawless frontier, a world where the deserts are home to fierce Saracen tribes, lost cities, sphinx and scorpion-men. And where the cities teem with scheming princes, bandit kings and sinister cults. Opportunity and adventure are everywhere!

ZENOBIA is the fantasy roleplaying game of adventure and magic in the ancient world.

A complete game using a fast and easy-to-use 2d6 mechanic. With rules for gladiatorial fights, sailing, traps, wilderness travel, combat, magic, cults and ancient religions. 

  • Quick-play character archetypes.
  • Gritty combat results that depend on player decision, not dice rolling.
  • Cults, temples and divine intervention
  • Monsters and magical items.
  • An adventure tool-kit – how to build your fantasy scenario.
  • Campaigns – gladiators, sailors, legionaries, mercenaries … you choose!
  • Useful advice on scenario and campaign construction. 
  • Sailing, trading and sea combat rules.
  • Mass battle rules – fight the Battle of Gaugamela in 5 minutes!
  • Solo Zenobia – rules to support playing Zenobia campaigns completely on your own.
  • Detailed maps and copious colour and line art.
  • Expansive notes on the cultures and kingdoms of the Desert Kingdoms. 

Sean Patrick Fannon
Writer & Game Designer: Shaintar, Star Wars, Savage Rifts, Freedom Squadron, and much more!
Please check out my Patreon and get involved directly with my next projects!

Another current top seller on RPGNow, which we are celebrating this week as part of Goodbye RPGNow Week. A guidebook for those who want to run D&D or other fantasy campaigns, Return of the Lazy Dungeon Master is a follow-up to the highly-successful and very accessible The Lazy Dungeon Master from five years ago.

Return of the Lazy Dungeon Master is a book designed to help Gamemasters of all kinds get more out of our roleplaying games by preparing less. This book makes use of the experiences of thousands of other GMs to help you focus on how you prepare your games, how you run your games, and how you think about your games.

Built around an eight-step process for lightweight game preparation, it covers a wide range of practical steps and preparation activities that will bring the biggest impact to your game.

Building off the concepts of the well-received GM’s guidebook The Lazy Dungeon Master, Return of the Lazy Dungeon Master updates the lessons of that book with five years of new insights, new approaches, and new observations of the way people prepare and run RPGs.

Funded by over 6,700 backers on Kickstarter, Return of the Lazy Dungeon Master offers a new, focused approach for preparing and running our roleplaying games.

Sean Patrick Fannon
Writer & Game Designer: Shaintar, Star Wars, Savage Rifts, Freedom Squadron, and much more!
Please check out my Patreon and get involved directly with my next projects!

Since I missed Monday, I am going with two Picks today for Goodbye RPGNow Week. This one has one of the most confusion full titles I’ve seen in a long time – Microlite78 First Edition Lite Expanded Second Edition. It’s highly popular on RPGNow, and there are good reasons for it, but if you’re not already immersed in what the Microlite project is, you’ll need to do a bit of digging to grock it. The essence, however, is a pathway to Old School D&D gaming that’s meant to be clean, clear, and fun (even if the title belies that).

Interested in the First Edition of the world’s most popular tabletop fantasy roleplaying game, but put off by its seemingly random mechanics and design elements? Interested in trying some of the best known First Edition adventures with old school play but want to use the “better designed” D20-style mechanics you already know. The second edition of Microlite78 First Edition Lite is the game for you. These rules take the First Edition rules and filter them though the D20-based Microlite20 system to produce a conversion of the First Edition rules to a rules-lite D20-based system that encourages old-school play without strictly old-school rules.

This Expanded Second Tablet/Digest Edition of Microlite78 First Edition Lite is the ultimate version of the second edition of Microlite78 First Edition Lite. It is suitable for digest-sized printing or tablet viewing (pdf, epub, and mobi versions are included). This 1008 page digest-sized PDF includes new material not included in the standard (orin  the “pay-what-you-want”) version of the second edition of Microlite78 First Edition Lite, for example:

  • New (Optional) Classes: Alchemist, Commander, Monk, and Necromancer
  • 120+ additional monsters
  • over 50 new magic items, including some magic items designed specifically for Microlite78 systems (e.g. items working with the hit point fueled magic system)
  • new spells, including 8th and 9th level spells for Illusionists
  • Additional optional rules
  • rules for using small parties of 1-3 characters in old TSR adventures designed for 8+ PCs
  • a sample campaign and several sample adventures (including a walk-through of creating a dungeon)
  • more advice (e.g. on environmental and terrain hazards) and random tables for Microlite78GMs
  • more art.

Of course, the Microlite78 First Edition Lite Expanded Second Tablet/Digest Edition includes all of the standard features of the second edition of Microlite78 First Edition Lite:

  • Simple Character Creation Rules: Roll 4 attributes and select a race, class, alignment and a background.
  • Basic Classes: Fighter, Magic-User, Cleric, Druid, and Thief.
  • Additional (Optional) Classes: Assassin, Barbarian, Bard, Druid, Illusionist, Paladin, and Ranger.
  • Races: Human, Dwarf, Elf, Gnome, Half-Elf, Half-Orc, and Halfling.
  • Simple and fast-playing combat system that tracks physical damage (aka body points) separately from luck/skill/fatigue (aka hit point) damage. Combat is BAB-based: no to-hit tables or THAC0.
  • Hit points recover with a night’s rest. Spells cost hit points to cast. Actual wounds recover more slowly.
  • Rules for hirelings, monster reactions (not every monster wants to fight), morale (not every monster fights to the death), and more.
  • Many optional rules (Advantages and Disadvantages, Psionics, Action Points, Sanity, more traditional magic and saving rolls, etc.): use none, some, or all.
  • A complete information on spells, monsters and treasure.
  • Gamemaster section with setting design information, and advice.
  • Rules for PC-ruled dominions.
  • Compatible with most other 1e based games and adventures — as well as many designed for 0e, B/X, BECMI, and 2e.

The rules needed to create characters and actually play are short and sweet. Character Creation rules (including race, class, alignment, and background descriptions) are 48 digest-sized pages. The Core rules (skills, saving throws, magic, combat, experience and level advancement) are 22 digest-sized pages. They are written in fairly normal english, not “High Gygaxian”. The rules assume that the GM understands the basic concepts of roleplaying games, but provides information for both the GM and the players on the various “old school” styles of play. Microlite78 First Edition Lite games can easily use adventures and material from early editions of the world’s most popular tabletop fantasy roleplaying game or modern clones.

This is the second edition of Microlite78 First Edition Lite. Core changes from the first edition: The Barbarian and Bard classes were added. The method of determining the number of experience points needed to advance no longer requires recalculating entire experience point advancement charts if optional rules are used. Treasure items are more like those of the first edition of the world’s most popular roleplaying game which makes the game easier to use with published adventures. Rules for character-ruled dominions are included. Gamemaster section with advice for creating and running campaigns added. Some artwork is in color.

Microlite78 can easily be used with all original first edition adventures and settings (as well as those for BECMI or second edition with a bit of work) as well as with modern OSR adventures and settings.

Sean Patrick Fannon
Writer & Game Designer: Shaintar, Star Wars, Savage Rifts, Freedom Squadron, and much more!
Please check out my Patreon and get involved directly with my next projects!