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What's on your list of indie rpgs that are kind of weird and interesting?

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04 Jul 2022 17:36 - 07 Jul 2022 14:34 #334011 by Cranberries
Obviously Mork Borg and Thousand Year Old Vampire would be on the list. What else is clever and a little weird that you're into right now?
Last edit: 07 Jul 2022 14:34 by Cranberries.

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04 Jul 2022 18:22 #334012 by dysjunct
SHANTY HUNTERS. Travel at the end of the age of sail, recording shanties for posterity. Except they come to life and you must fight their manifestations in real life. Also you get to sing shanties with your game group.
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04 Jul 2022 18:25 #334013 by Cranberries

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04 Jul 2022 21:03 - 04 Jul 2022 21:48 #334017 by charlest
Lacuna Part 1. The Creation of the Mystery and the Girl From Blue City - Matrix-esque exploration of a dream world. The players work for a secretive organization that sends them in on missions.

There's a mysterious static system reflecting building tension through opaque trigger conditions that may reflect in game and out of game behavior (such as "gain 1 static if a player goes to the bathroom").

There's also these bizarre antmen that wear Russian hats and chase you down when things go really South.

When I ran this I mocked up an NDA with a form I took from the police department I was working for at the time. I blacked out most of it (redacted) and required my players sign it before entering the room where we played.

When they entered, they found a water bottle with the label removed, a number 2 pencil, and a small dossier with their character sheet at each seat.

All of Vincent Baker's catalogue is phenomenal. He's the best designer in the RPG world, living or dead in my opinion.

Including...
Dogs in the Vineyard - Mormon Gunslingers in the Old West serve as judge, jury, and executioner as they wander town to town and deal with moral problems such as rape, physical abuse, possession, and murder.

Poison'd - a raw and concise RPG best described as doing for pirates what Deadwood did for Westerns.

In a Wicked Age - the best sword & sorcery RPG bar none. Each session is a separate short story, but characters are written onto a list and then eligible to return later. However each story can have an indeterminable amount of time between them, so you get stuff equivalent to Conan appearing as a pirate in one session and a warrior king in the next.

Because each session is a one shot effectively (even if they're part of a larger whole), players can take on the roles of things like a mad god, or massive snake-man. It can get wild and it all hangs together.

Apocalypse World - this doesn't need a description as it's one of the most popular indie games ever designed. Brilliant.

More Non Baker stuff:

Burning Wheel - my favorite fantasy RPG. Story driven while also being rather crunchy and detailed adding to fidelity. I'm running a Torchbearer campaign right now which is basically Burning Wheel meets OSR with the brutality of Darkest Dungeon.

Primetime Adventures - players collaborate to make a television show. Maintains a GM and cast of players, so not totally free form. Resolution system is about controlling the narrative conclusion of each scene. One of my favorite campaigns ever was using this where I ran a game show set in GW's Necromunda setting, and it was similar in content to The Wire. Our theme song (you are required to select one and play it before each session) - was Whipping Post.

Dust Devils is a wonderful Western RPG that does stories like Unforgiven.

The Mountain Witch - maybe the best true one (or two) shot RPG. Each player is a samurai that has agreed in a Seven Samurai like scenario to travel to the mountainside fortress of a witch that is terrorizing the countryside.

Each samurai has a secret dealt from a group of cards which is slowly revealed to the group through GM prompts and scenes. Of course the climax is bloody, but it can be profound and full of drama.

There's more but it's been too many years. I'm not really current with the indie scene unfortunately, but went through a big phase where we tried everything remotely popular. That was like 15 years ago at this point now.
Last edit: 04 Jul 2022 21:48 by charlest.
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04 Jul 2022 21:17 - 07 Jul 2022 14:58 #334018 by Cranberries
These look wonderful, thank you. I had a friend buy me Jason Morningstar'The Shab-Al-Hiri Roach, which I have not yet played. I saw it in a local game store that had some old stock. Now it is out of print. I love discovering cool stuff.

The Shab-al-Hiri Roach is a dark comedy of manners, lampooning academia and asking players to answer a difficult question – are you willing to swallow a soul-eating telepathic insect bent on destroying human civilization?

No?

Even if it will get you tenure?


Having achieved tenure, this game feels darkly prescient
Last edit: 07 Jul 2022 14:58 by Cranberries.
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04 Jul 2022 21:41 #334020 by dysjunct
DITV is one of the best games ever made. The setting and system are alchemical magic, in that they somehow convince players from modern liberal western democracies to have their “heroic” PCs enact policies that are indistinguishable from Islamic theocracies, and it all seems organic and inevitable. Forced marriages? Check. Forbidding girls from getting an education? Check. Public execution, holy arson in the name of the Lord? Check. Note, however, that Baker removed DITV from print/sale because of his increasing discomfort with how the treatment of natives is baked into old west settings. There’s a settingless rewrite, D.O.G.S., on DTRPG.
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05 Jul 2022 12:48 #334025 by Cranberries
I may have pirated a version. I'll look at the new, improved version. I have pioneer ancestors who burned approaching government wagons and were killed by Native Americans, and deserved it. I've lived under Sharia law, and also graduated from BYU, which is similar in some ways. So it could be fun, or really painful. I"m also a fairly active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (we are supposed to move away from the word Mormon) and was the leader of the men's group of 150 people for 2.5 years, but am also a liberal democrat. Apologies for making every post autobiographical, it's the adderall.

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05 Jul 2022 14:07 #334028 by dysjunct
The designer of DITV is an exmo, who wrote the game as part of coming to terms with his upbringing.


Are you interested just in recent weird indie stuff? Or any weird indie stuff, even if it's of an older vintage? Do you have a particular working definition of "indie," like "not D&D," or something else?

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05 Jul 2022 15:12 - 05 Jul 2022 15:27 #334031 by Josh Look
Necronautilus

Anything by the incredibly talented World Champ Games fits the bill, but this is one of the most weirdest and most innovative RPGs I've ever read. It's like a white hot shock of pure mad brilliance right to the brain.
Last edit: 05 Jul 2022 15:27 by Josh Look.
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06 Jul 2022 21:09 #334078 by Cranberries

dysjunct wrote: The designer of DITV is an exmo, who wrote the game as part of coming to terms with his upbringing.



Are you interested just in recent weird indie stuff? Or any weird indie stuff, even if it's of an older vintage? Do you have a particular working definition of "indie," like "not D&D," or something else?


I'm down with vintage weirdness. So much creativity in the RPG space, which I know is not news, but I keep running into these bizarre art project RPGs and other fun stuff. I pretty much can't bring myself to do anything in the Fantasy space, but then something like Mork Borg comes along.

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08 Jul 2022 16:04 - 08 Jul 2022 16:30 #334131 by ChristopherMD
Microscope RPG has role-playing in it if players want to but I'd say it's more about group narrative and world-building. Since it's so focused on one aspect of RPG's, the world-building, I find it weird and interesting.

The only other unusual recommend I have is one I haven't played; Ryuutama. If Studio Ghibli made a Harvest Moon RPG it would be something like this. It's a world where every person goes on a hero's journey once in their lives so everyone you meet is generally helpful because they've done it too. Really more about traveling/exploring the land than fighting monsters.
Last edit: 08 Jul 2022 16:30 by ChristopherMD.
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08 Jul 2022 18:45 #334137 by Virabhadra
Our local comic shop had a copy of Nobilis on its shelf around 20 years ago. Kind of Sandman-esque. Still looks pretty cool.

en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nobilis
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09 Jul 2022 17:06 #334144 by dysjunct
Okay, here's a brief list of stuff that I think is cool and weird, of either recent or modern vintage. There's really too much out there, so I'll try to restrain myself.

BRINDLEWOOD BAY. "Murder, She Wrote" with a little bit of Lovecraftian weirdness. Plucky widows solve cozy mysteries. Preview version with two mysteries is free here: link . Notable in that the mysteries do not have set solutions. The characters collect clues, and when they have enough, they brainstorm and make a roll. They get a +1 to their roll for each clue they incorporate into their proposed solution. Success means they are correct. PBTA-based.

THE BETWEEN. Same system as Brindlewood, but Penny Dreadful, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen style Victorian horror investigations.

BURNING WHEEL and its related systems. Charlie mentioned Torchbearer, I'll throw in MOUSE GUARD. Crunchy systems that focus on characters' drives and passions, and tests how far they'll go to get what they want. See also BURNING EMPIRES, a sci-fi game based on a comics series about a body-snatchers type invasion of a planet. Notable because the GM has an antagonistic role instead of the usual neutral referee.

ChristopherMD mentioned RYUUTAMA, can confirm this is amazeballs. I ran a mini-campaign (six sessions) a few years ago. It's Nausicca meets Oregon Trail. Heartwarming tone and feel, but then a brutal journey system.

Another Japanese RPG, SHINOBIGAMI. Modern ninja conspiracy battles, generally PvP. Has a fascinating skill system where your ability to use an unknown skill is based on its physical distance, on the character sheet, from the skills you know. Very tight scene economy. Mechanical rewards for learning secrets about the other players.

(Note that the English translator/publisher for those two is habitually late on everything, like years. Their work is excellent but I don't recommend giving them money up front.)

DREAD. Most people have heard of this I think; it was one of the first modern weirdo games. Horror game that uses a Jenga tower instead of dice. To succeed, you have to pull from the tower. If it falls then you die.

BEAT TO QUARTERS. Free on DTRPG. Napoleonic Age of Sail, Hornblower, Aubrey/Maturin, etc. The captain is always an NPC and the PCs are crew. The crew gets a mission from the GM ("find the Spanish privateer that's been harassing our merchants off Gibraltar") and then each PC chooses a personal mission for themselves ("dance with the governor's daughter at the ball.") Card-based system that resolves an entire scene, not individual actions, so it moves along quickly. Hoist the main top'sl! Mind the mizzen!

MYTHENDER. The gods screwed you over so you and a couple friends are going to kill them all. High-octane epic action that makes Dragonball look like patty-cake. Insane system that needs a couple hundred dice and counters as you slowly power up and eventually break continents in half if necessary. Do you want to leap 500 feet in the air and come down and stab Odin in his stupid face? Of course you do. Free on DTRPG.

NIGHT REIGN. Thiefy heist game that uses a very clever blackjack variant for jobs. The deeper you get into the target, the more cards you draw. If you bust, then you're discovered. You can quit whenever you want. Setting is a decadent fantasy Venice with lots of alchemical weirdness and louche nobles. Also weird gods and magic that is probably a bad idea to use.

BLADE RUNNER. A double cheater answer! It's not out yet, except in beta to Kickstarter backers, and also it's by Free League, who maybe was indie at one point but anyone who can get the Tolkien license probably doesn't count as indie anymore. Set in between the two movies. Neon noir Los Angeles, LAPD cops investigate crimes and retire replicants if necessary. Production values are insane; the "case" (scenario) in the starter box has a crapton of handouts that are all gorgeous. Traditional setup, there's a GM and each mystery has an answer. But scenes have a ton of clues, many of which lead to multiple places (which then have more clues) so the PCs are unlikely to get stymied.

Honorable mentions:
- Trophy (dark fantasy, doomed adventurers)
- Mutant Year Zero (post-apoc hexcrawl)
- Alien (space horror based on the movies)
- Twilight 2000 (classic WWIII, abandoned army unit hexcrawls through radioactive Poland)
- Vaesen (folktale weirdness investigations in Victorian Sweden)
- Legacy (generational PBTA far future, switches between high-level maneuvering between the great families, then zoom in every 20-50 years for character-level stories)
- The Warren (PBTA Watership Down)
- Beyond the Wall (hearth and home fantasy, young adults leave home and have harrowing but not especially dark adventures, perfect if you like Prydain or the Hobbit etc.)
- Mausritter (heroic mice with swords, fun tetris inventory where you must physically arrange your stuff on an inventory grid. Don't sneeze!)
- Mazes & Minotaurs (alternate history, what if Gygax was inspired by the Odyssey and Iliad instead of Conan and John Carter of Mars; very well done Greek heroics; free in PDF)
- Blades in the Dark (thiefy heists, great system and amazing graphic design, great downtime system)
- Band of Blades (hack of BITD, fantasy mercenaries struggle to hold on as the apocalypse approaches; think Black Company).
- Lady Blackbird (help a noblewoman escape an arranged marriage in a steampunk space setting; free in PDF).

Let me know if you have questions. Or if there's something you think should exist but can't find, ask and it's probably been done.
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