Note: I intended to post this on the 18th, then on the 19th, the 20th etc. I really don’t know why I got so damned stuck on this post – I kept faffing about which order to put things in and how to tie them together etc. So in an effort to get this done finally, I decided to ignore all those considerations so please forgive me if the six tips below don’t tie together super well! On to the post:
Today’s AdventBoost is a bit of a weird one, because it doesn’t feature products I’ve actually used personally, but ones that I’d like to use. Specifically, it features 6 tabletop roleplaying games (TTRPGs) that I would really like to play. Sadly time is short, and at the moment my list of friends with an interest in playing and the free time to spare for it is even shorter. Still, I’m hoping I can carve out some opportunities to play or run some of these systems in the beginning of the new decade (maybe online, maybe in person, who knows?). Like with the Etsy shops, not all of these games are necessarily by marginalized creators (that I’m aware), but I wanted to feature indie games that are actually on my want-to-play list (which, since I don’t keep up with the TTRPG market as well as I’d like, is actually not that long). Here they are, in no particular order:
Ever wanted to be a magical girl? Well guess what? Girl by Moonlight is a game for 3-6 people, designed by Andrew Gillis and mechanically based on the Forged in the Dark system, that let’s you do just that. It includes four distinct playsets for exploring the magical girl genre (including one with mecha pilots!), the fight against dark, oppressive forces and the power in building community and relationships. One of the things I find the most appealing about this game is the focus it places on the emotions and inner life of the characters, which is actually mechanized in a way that brings these aspects to the fore in the game. Read this thread by Andrew to see them explain how this works in game, why it’s important and how it can help you develop as a TTRPG player.
Girl By Moonlight is currently in playtesting (you can sign up to playtest it on the page linked above) and will be released by Evil Hat Productions. Here’s an actual play playlist if you want to check the game out (there’s a few different ones available on YouTube).
Ironsworn is one of those interesting TTRPGs where the thematic levels of the game, the setting and so on are not what mainly makes it stand out (to me, anyway). It’s fantasy, a bit on the bleaker end, and the player character(s) are heroes who travel around and take on dangerous quests, including but not limited to monster slaying. However, mechanically it has a lot of interesting stuff going on! A bit too much, in fact, for me to coherently mention here but there’s a couple of things I’d like to highlight:
First of all, this game is designed to allow for three different kinds of play: guided play (a traditional, GM-led playstyle), co-op play (group play without a GM) and, exciting because it seems so rare, solo play. All three modes (though perhaps particularly the two GM-less ones) are supported by another of the things that appeals to me a lot about this game: a helpful-looking set of random rolling tables called Oracles, which can be used to answer questions and help direct the narrative in interesting and unexpected ways. The second thing I’d really like to highlight is that although the setting is partly established, the finer details and nuances are determined by the player(s) at the table. This isn’t the only game I’ve seen that does this explicitly, but it does it in a really neat way that you should check out.
Ironsworn has won an ENnie, is designed by Shawn Tompkin, and is available as a free (!) on its website and in print through DriveThruRPG. Additionally, there seems to be an active community around the game, including a discord server. You can check out a streamed solo campaign of it here, played by Adam Koebel, one of my favorite internet GMs.
If you’re one of those people that really love X-men, but are frustrated by the ways in which their attempts to make mutation a metaphor for various real world marginalizations fall short, then you might be very interested in Mutants in the Night. This is another Forged in the Dark game (I have a type, okay!), in which the players play a group of mutants who have been forced to live in tightly guarded ghettos because humans are afraid of them.
Honestly – I’m not sure (considering I’m white, abled, and otherwise privileged) if I’m really the right person to speak about this game other than to say that it seems really cool, profoundly thought-through and that it seems like playing it would be both potentially quite heavy emotionally and very rewarding. It’s the sort of game that I’d love to play in, but I’m not sure I could ever do justice running.
This game was truly a last-minute addition to the list – a link to a one shot of it floated across my Twitter feed the day before I started drafting the post and with a game name like that, how could I not check it out? As it turns out, that was a great choice!
Do you want spaceships, queer scoundrels with swords, weird space witches, angst, flirting and tools for safety and consent built directly into a the game? Then you should probably check this out! (And, like, if you’re running the game online, maybe consider inviting me?). I haven’t had time to look at the mechanics yet, so I can’t comment on that in detail BUT I can say that it seems like a ton of fun! There’s a playbook (essentially a character class, to use D&D terms) called Spooky Witch! Need I say more?
Thirsty Sword Lesbians was created by designer April Kit Walsh and is available on itch.io. It is in playtesting (you can sign up on this website) until the end of February, and a physical copy is being published by Evil Hat. The wonderful one-shot I watched recently is available here!
What happens once you’ve fought the armies of the undead and lost? Well, if you’re playing Band of Blades, you attempt to make it to Skydagger Keep without loosing too many of the downtrodden Legionnaires that make up your forces. Now I’ll admit that military fantasy is not usually a genre I’m all that interested in playing, but this Forged In The Dark game (yes, another one) has such an interesting setup that it’s currently topping my list of things to buy myself once my wallet has recovered from the holiday season.
See, unlike in most tabletop roleplaying games, in Band you don’t make a single character that you control until the game finishes (or the character dies, whichever comes first). Rather, there is a whole cast of Legionnaires, who are fleshed out as needed throughout the campaign. Gameplay is divide into a Mission phase (which plays rather like a Blades in the Dark mission) and a Campaign phase. Which player plays which character in the Mission phase will vary from mission to mission, and during the Campaign phase each player will have a (fixed) Role for managing the big-picture aspects of the game such as mission selection, resource management, Legion morale and more, and get a chance to freeplay as the various characters. Leveling up isn’t something that happens just to characters, but to the Legion as a whole (by gaining new assets etc) and to the Legion’s Chosen, which is a sort of demigod that acts as a sort of (terrifying and murdery) mascot for your cause.
I’m really curious to find out how this setup will feel in-play, and if I’m being totally honest I also really wanna make a hack of it that takes the rotating cast, resource management and community development aspects of it but sets it in a different, less dark genre.
Setealém: The Seventh Beyond is the smallest and perhaps the most indie of the games listed here (if such a thing can be quantified). It was made earlier this year for a folklore game jam (essentially a community event where designers get together and make a game during an event, in maybe as little as a day or a weekend – a terrifying and appealing prospect, if you ask me). The game is based on Brazilian folklore and urban legends, and features characters trying to survive in a Twilight Zone-like setting of magic and danger.
That’s the list, y’all! “Just” nearly two weeks late. The last and final AdventBoost post will likely be up on New Years Eve so keep an eye out for that!