Category: Pick of the Day

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!

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!

At long last, RPGNow is in sundown, fully merging with DriveThruRPG. This is something that probably should have happened a long time ago, but the sense of identity some customers and publishers felt with the venerable site forestalled the decision by parent company, OneBookShelf. The sites are identical in all by bannerhead and color scheme, and one account applies to both, so the functional changes in experience for the customer will be… practically non-existent.

Still, it’s the end of an era in a lot of ways as “The Leading Source for Indie RPGs” shuts down, so this week is Goodbye RPGNow Week (though it may still be active for a while, there’s a push now to get everyone ready to hit DriveThruRPG whenever they go to the other site). One of the things about RPGNow was the fact that the massive sellers didn’t always dominate the Top Lists, so I’m taking a look at five products that shine at the top of RPGNow this week, starting with Rangers of Shadow DeepLess RPG and more “callback to the origins of D&D, folks create a team to follow a ranger to fight dark powers encroaching on their lands. It’s a tabletop miniatures game that gets at the heart of where fantasy gaming came from.

A kingdom stands on the brink of destruction, as the vast realm called the Shadow Deep slowly swallows everything in its path. As the army fights to contain the tide of evil creatures teeming up out of the black clouds, the kingdom’s best soldiers, the rangers, must venture down into the shadows to gather information, rescue prisoners, and ambush enemy supply lines. It is a desperate fight against overwhelming odds, but every little victory brings another day of hope.

Rangers of Shadow Deep is a solo and co-operative tabletop miniatures game, in which players create their ranger, gather companions, and play through a series of missions in their fight to hold back the darkness. If their rangers survive, they will grow in power and ability, and be sent on more difficult, dangerous and intricate assignments.

This book also includes the first supplement for the game, Burning Light. In this mission, the rangers must venture to ruined convent, searching for an ancient artefact. As they choose what order to explore the ruins, and thus the order in which scenarios are played, they must gather clues to the artefact’s location. But they must be quick, for the longer they remain, the more the forces of the Shadow Deep become aware of their presence.

By the creator of Frostgrave and Ghost Archipelago.

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 yesterday (lots of stuff ate my day), here’s a bonus Celebrating InSight Week Pick, Adamant Entertainment‘s Savage Worlds treatment of the Burroughsian vision of the swords-and-lasers fantasy that is Mars. Though many games (including most of the Picks this week) go to this place when exploring Mars, it’s fair to say Gareth Skarka was one of the first to delve this deep and with this much love. There’s also the earlier d20 version.

Not Mars as it is – airless, most likely lifeless, with only the faintest hints of what might have once been a damp, if not necessarily lush and living, world billions of years in the past. No, this is Mars as it should be and as it was once imagined to be – an ancient, dying, but not yet dead world, a world where a vast canal network reaches from pole to pole, bringing water and life to vast and fantastic cities. A Mars where albino apes run a vast empire in the last surviving jungle, a world where warrior tribes of Green Martians raid the outlying cities of the canal dwellers, a world where, in places dark and quiet and forgotten beneath the surface, ancient and terrible intellects plan dark and dire deeds.

It is a Mars of sky-corsairs, of duels with blade and blaster, of vile plots, fantastic inventions, daring rescues, arena battles, and spectacular stunts. It is a Mars where ancient cities can be discovered and their lost treasures plundered, a Mars where a trek across the dry sea bottoms can yield amazing discoveries, where terrible monsters roam the rocky wastes.

It is the Mars of pulp fiction and Saturday morning serials.

It is now yours. 

Adamant Entertainment’s sword-and-planet campaign setting is now available for Savage Worlds! From character creation, to creatures, to tips on the planetary romance genre, MARS: Savage Worlds Edition features everything you need to get started telling savage tales of adventure beneath the moons of Mars.

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 I close out Celebrating InSight Week, my exaltation of the latest NASA Mars project, we’re taking a look at Mars-specific gaming products. Today’s Pick is from Onyx Path, and it’s yet another Burroughs-inspired space fantasy delve into the mysterious red sands of the warrior planet. Rose Bailey (and a fantastic cast of co-creators, including my old friend and one of my favorite artists, Storn Cook) bring a fresh, loving perspective to this idea, and it’s a clear sign of Onyx Path’s successful exploration of worlds beyond Darkness. Check out Cavaliers of Mars!

Return now to dying Mars in its last age of glory. A world of flashing swords and choking sands, of winking courtesans and lantern-lit canal cities. Mars, where romance and heartbreak are two sides of the same obsidian chit.

Where lost cities are buried in the dunes, and dry oceans stretch out between the last daring bastions of civilization. Where the First Martians, the monument-builders, are but a faded memory. And the Red Martians have become decadent and capricious in their last days. 

Find yourself digging for someone else’s treasure in the lost tombs of Chiaro, or spitting defiance at the Roundhead priests of wild Ziggur, or dashing across the towered crypts of Vance with your long-lost lover. Lock steel with the Princess Invincible, even as your hand reaches towards your flintlaser for insurance.

Cavaliers of Mars includes:

  • A vibrant setting with cultures, careers, characters, and dozens of locations, all organized to get you right into the world of Mars!
  • An all-new system combining your character’s motivations, history, and beliefs with strategic swashbuckling action!
  • Astrology, crafting, psychic powers, and much more!

Created by Rose Bailey

Written by Rose Bailey, Benjamin Baugh, Storn Cook, Steffie de Vaan, Meghan Fitzgerald, Jordan Goldfarb, Danielle Lauzon, Ethan Skemp, Lauren Stone, Travis Stout, and senior writer Audrey Whitman

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!

Even as the new robot living on Mars (yes, that’s right, as far as we know, Mars is entirely inhabited by robots), we continue Celebrating InSight Week with yet another Mars-centric Pick, Edgar Rice Burrough’s Mars: Shadows of a Dying World (An OGL Guide to Monsters, Races, and Beasts). A mouthful of a title, but very informative, as well – this is the definitive guide to incorporating the classic science fantasy work into your 3.x/Pathfinder gaming experience. Another solid work from the great folks at Skirmisher.

Set on the red planet not as it exists, but as people at the turn of the 20th century thought it might be, Shadows of a Dying World is drawn from the Mars series of Edgar Rice Burroughs and presents creatures from his world in game terms. Its contents are compatible with any games that use the OGL system and can be inserted into them in whole or in part. 

On this Mars, elegant city-states rise along the banks of world-spanning canals, luxurious airships ply the thin atmosphere, feisty princesses and feckless nobles are menaced by killers of the drear dried-up sea-beds, and skilled swordsmen defend dynasties that have ruled for aeons. Despite both wondrous technology and mysterious mental abilities developed beyond the comprehension of Earthlings, however, the most farsighted of the Martians know that the history of their world is drawing toward its end, and that its life-giving atmosphere and waterways are already sustained only by vast efforts of engineering. 

Shadows of a Dying World presents the unique wonders and dangers posed by the weirdly sentient denizens of Burroughs’ Mars. Creatures covered in Shadows of a Dying World include the Apt, Banth, Calot, Corphal, Great White Ape, Green Martian, Kaldane, Rykor, Plant Man, Silian, Sith, Thoat, Ulsio, and Zitidar. 

Other features of this book include guidelines for using Burroughs’ creatures in both Mars and non-Mars campaign settings, Martian random encounter tables, new Feats, the Class Defense Bonus combat option, and original illustrations by artists Brendan Cass, Sharon Daugherty, William Hazzard II, Amanda Kahl and Geoff Weber. This book also comes with Combined Creature Creation, a 52-page bonus document compiled and used during the creation of this book and provided as a useful tool for game masters.

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 our Celebrating InSight Week, here’s another look at Mars as a place of adventure in the RPG world. An elaborate adventure and sourcebook for Space: 1889The Complete Canal Priests of Mars restores tons of cut material from the original version and provides a Mars-based mini-campaign that can be the basis for a much longer time spent on the Red Planet.

Serving as an excellent introduction to Space 1889, The Complete Canal Priests of Mars has our heroes help Martians accomplish a holy mission in London, then travel to Mars aboard the Princess Alexandra, the largest and most luxurious ether liner ever built! Throughout their journey they must face the hazards of London, the Ether, and Mars, compounded by mysterious enemies bent on stopping their Martian allies!

The original edition of Canal Priests Of Mars cut slightly over a third of author Marcus L. Rowland’s manuscript to fit GDW’s adventure format.

The Complete Canal Priests Of Mars restores the cut material, features all new artwork by Paul Daly, and adds many useful player handouts. Enjoy the “author’s cut” of a classic Space 1889 adventure, or experience it for the first time!

BASK! In the glory of London, hub of Empire!
TRAVEL! Aboard a luxurious ether liner!
MARVEL! At the wonders of Mars!

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!