All these things will be lost, in time...
This is going to be a review of Agon, the most recent RPG from designers John Harper and Sean Nittner, but first I would like to think a little bit about how RPGs are reviewed. It struck me recently how one sided RPG reviews are.
Time is something the medieval mages of Ars Magica have in plenty. They have no need of wealth or work. A specialist class of peasantry, called Grogs, cater for their basic needs. Their magic can bend time and potions extend their lifespans to hundreds of years. Ironic, then, that Ars Magica is one of the most time-consuming role-playing games around. It also happens to be one of the best.
“Some years ago—never mind how long precisely—having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world.
Over the last few years there has been an explosion of creativity in the indie RPG scene. Small games, made by dedicated individuals or teams are where some of the really innovative games are emerging in the hobby and I wanted to take the time to highlight my personal favourite, Blades in the Dark. I backed the game whilst it was on Kickstarter and started a local group towards the end of last year, with a new group starting up just recently online. It's a fantastic system, interesting setting and the two are interwoven to make a thoroughly compelling game. Let's take a closer look at what makes Blades tick and why I think you should give it a try, either as GM or player.
It's rare that the first thing to strike you about a book is a noise. But here, it was. After being so excited by the Starter Set, I couldn't wait to get into this. So I ignored the cover and opened the book to a loud crack as the spine flexed for the first time. It was like the sound of the lock falling away from my teenage memories.
Going down, party timeMy friends are gonna be there too
Something a bit different this week. I’m not sure we’ve ever had an out and out RPG review on the front page before, but that’s what’s on offer today. And given that it’s a horror game and that we’re approaching a certain ancient festival at the end of the month that has particular relevance to gamers, and that we’ve pretty much done the topic of horror board games to death in October of previous years, it seemed appropriate. So, ladies and gentlemen, I give youDread, a horror game with a focus on one-night sessions of 3-4 hours, although a longer campaign is certainly a possibility if your group really wants to do it..
I've always been amused by the way player and dungeon master materials swapped size between the 1st and 2nd editions of D&D. With first edition, it seemed obvious the DMG should be bigger than the PHB. With second, it seemed equally obvious that the opposite should be true since everyone ought to know most of the rules.
At age eight I was rummaging through a book stall at an agricultural fair, and I found a book that would change my life. It was “What is Dungeons & Dragons” and it stood out like a monstrous thumb among the worthy tomes on seed rotation. If I hadn’t bought it, it’s unlikely you’d be reading this column right now.
“The wind from the west, from the sundered land. Rot rides it, and the stench of blood. Cursed walker, will you travel there?”
An RPG tilted as confronting lens on information, freedom, technology and agency. A dialogue about now and the future couched as play. No goblins.
The first question I tend to ask when faced with a new role-playing game is: why? Why does this game exist? What does it do that I can't do with my favourite existing role-playing system? And even the strapline on Night's Black Agents, "a vampire spy thriller" barks that question at the full moon. If you want a vampire spy thriller, surely something like Cthulhu or Dresden Files or even Shadowrun already fits the bill?
"Forget it, Sunny, it's San Nabisco."
Excellent new RPGs from one of the industry's best publishers.
Hurt me plenty.
“The blessing of land is that nothing else can exist within its mass. The earth’s denizens may grow upon and disembowel caverns within it, always with the safety of knowing that the solidity of terra firma itself can hold no threat or mystery. With one’s back to the wall, there remains a wall to back against. Meanwhile, the sea establishes no constant: It is an unfathomable expanse above and below a diaphanous separation of air and water, where anything at any time may be.”
OK you’ve read the name, feel free to hum a few bars of the R.E.M. song in your head so that we can get on with the review. You good? Alright, let’s move on.
One of the best uses of a licensed setting in RPG history.
It was a bitter journey home, the wind finding seams in coats and gloves, ice frosting on cars and windows. When I reached the sanctuary of the porch I found, as well as a welcome glow of warmth, a package. Books, from a land much colder and windier than mine.
I opened them, stamping in the hallway, my kids crowding round to see what they were. "Turd... wang?", one of them attempted, brow creased by the typography. I tried not to laugh and showed them how to read the font: Trudvang.
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