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Old 06-05-2016, 04:14 PM
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Default Talking about indie RPGs

We've got a lot of threads about various RPGs on this forum, especially D&D and Pathfinder, but other than the "I Read RPG Manuals" thread, we don't really have a spot to talk about games that aren't in that family. So now we do!

In the past few months, I've gotten really interested in reading about and playing RPGs. I had no idea that there had been so many cool ideas and games to come out in the past ten years or that there was such a good community around them (which is weirdly concentrated on Google Plus).

A few weeks ago I started GMing a campaign of Dungeon World , one of the many, many games derived from Apocalypse World. The imagery and language is straight from D&D, but the structure of play and the mechanics are much more fiction-focused than recent D&D stuff. It's really good! I don't have a ton of practice as a GM, so it's been a bit rough going and the campaign hasn't really hit its stride yet, but I (and my players) are enjoying it nonetheless. Highly recommended, especially if you find yourself daunted by the amount of prep more traditional games demand of you.

One of my players couldn't make it to our Dungeon World game last week, so instead we played a session of Lady Blackbird. I think if I were to pick a game to introduce somebody to RPGs with, this would be it. It's simple (every rule you need is on your character sheet), with a pre-made setting, situation and characters. It really encourages getting into character too, since the way you earn experience is by following your character's "Keys"; basically, things that character cares about. For instance, if you're playing as Naomi Bishop, Lady Blackbird's bodyguard, you get an experience point whenever you protect the Lady and two if that put you into danger (which it probably will.) It's a great way to encourage players to put themselves in interesting situations.

Also, a few weeks ago I played Microscope, a really awesome, GM-less game about creating a fictional history. It's kind of tough to explain, but really really good.

So, has anybody else been playing any interesting RPGs lately? Anything coming out soon that has you interested?
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Old 06-05-2016, 06:48 PM
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After getting really into Friends at the Table, I've become really interested in Dungeon World and the games of that style. One of these days I want to run something using one of those systems, though I also feel a little scared by feeling that I need to be much more on top of telling a story then I would be playing any D&D-style game.

But maybe that's more a factor of the community of players I'm normally surrounded by, who tend to enjoy mechanics over story. Though that's not to say that they also don't like telling stories at times, either.
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Old 06-05-2016, 06:54 PM
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Friends at the Table is also what introduced me to Dungeon World!

There's a bunch of other Powered by the Apocalypse games that I want to play. There's the second edition of Apocalypse World itself, obviously, which comes out soon. The Sprawl, which is played on Season 2 of Friends at the Table, seems like a really fun cyberpunk game. But I think the one I want to try the most is Masks, a game about playing as teenage superheroes in the style of Young Justice, Young Avengers or Teen Titans.

I get what you mean about the nervousness, but I think it's less about telling a cool story than about describing things as clearly and vividly as possible, so that when the players do something, you understand how it will affect the moment/scene/world.
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Old 06-05-2016, 07:36 PM
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Wow, I love indie RPGs so much! Right now, just on the list of "indie rpgs to play as soon as possible", I've got:
  • Vincent Baker's Apocalypse World (obviously)
  • Vincent Baker's (get used to that name) The Sundered Land, a collection of one-page games about specific types of scenes in "the ruins of the future", e.g. "Night Watch", in which your characters tell stories about their pasts around a campfire in dangerous territory, or "Doomed Pilgrim", intended to be played on Facebook or Google Plus or whatever, where there's one player and many GMs (all trying to kill the one player). (We played a round or two of that last one here!)
  • Epidiah Ravachol's Vast and Starlit, a business-card-sized game about finding new worlds and new civilizations after breaking out of space jail.
  • Vincent Baker's Rock of Tahamaat, in which one player is Rock of Tahamaat, Space Tyrant, lord of what is essentially a bronze age space empire (think, like, slave-rowed space barges), and the other players are people chafing under his rule (whose names will never hold his attention). I've played once before but would like to try with another Tyrant player.
  • Jenna Moran's Chuubo's Marvelous Wish-Granting Engine, which is a weird esoteric slice-of-life game about godlike anime figures and hapless kids, maybe? It's got some really neat ideas.
  • Ben Robbins's Microscope (also noted above)
  • John Harper's Lasers and Feelings (or one of his other neat one-page games)
  • Philippe Tromeur's Wuthering Heights Roleplay, a surprisingly brilliant game about some self-involved jerks who rapidly self-destruct. I have some specific notes on how I prefer to fill in the gaps in the game, but overall this is one of the most successful light RPGs I've played, particularly with "non-rpg-players". I've also got a playtest version of "Fruity Rumpus Asshole Factory", an adaptation of this ruleset for games about a group of Homestuck trolls.

And I'm sure I'm missing some.
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Old 06-05-2016, 08:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by willcoon View Post
[*]John Harper's Lasers and Feelings (or one of his other neat one-page games)
Like the aforementioned Lady Blackbird! (Although that's a bit longer than one-page).

Speaking of John Harper, I'm also really looking forward to his upcoming game, Blades in the Dark, and the dozens of hacks for it that are already planned. I'm also looking forward to whatever else John Harper does, because he's the best.
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Old 06-05-2016, 09:02 PM
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I'm a big fan of Lady Blackbird as well.

I'll also put in a plug for Luke Crane's stuff, though it's a bit more well known. Burning Wheel, Mouse Guard, and especially (though Thor Olavsrud is the primary designer on this) Torchbearer.
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Old 06-05-2016, 09:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Karzac View Post
Like the aforementioned Lady Blackbird! (Although that's a bit longer than one-page).

Speaking of John Harper, I'm also really looking forward to his upcoming game, Blades in the Dark, and the dozens of hacks for it that are already planned. I'm also looking forward to whatever else John Harper does, because he's the best.
I hadn't put those three together! I'm also looking forward to Blades in the Dark, and I'll need to put Lady Blackbird on my list.

Last edited by will; 06-06-2016 at 09:19 AM.
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Old 06-06-2016, 09:16 AM
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I don't have a group these days, so this is quite old, but I've always loved InSpectres, which lets you play a team of ghost-busters. Just an elegant, simple rule-set that always ends up with hilarious stories, although it does put a lot of the story-telling heavy lifting on the players, so it's not suited to all groups. It's great if you want to play an RPG without a lot of investment or set-up, which makes it good for one-off sessions if there's an unexpected absence in your regular group.

Another older indie that I'm quite fond of (but never really got to play as much as I'd like) is Dogs in the Vineyard, where players get to be cowboy paladins. Those last two words combined together is usually a sufficient pitch to get it to hit the table, in my experience.
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Old 06-06-2016, 10:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by willcoon View Post
Jenna Moran's Chuubo's Marvelous Wish-Granting Engine, which is a weird esoteric slice-of-life game about godlike anime figures and hapless kids, maybe? It's got some really neat ideas.
I got a copy of Chuubo with last year's Secret Santa, and it seems really interesting. I'd like to dig more into it!

Another game I want to try to dig a bit more into, come to think of it, is Downfall, by Caroline Hobbs, which I Kickstarted. The structure reminds me a lot of when Friends at the Table did a short bit using Kingdom, but it feels like it's meant to be faster, something you can do with a couple of friends in an evening instead of turning it into a larger thing.
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Old 06-05-2016, 09:07 PM
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Yeah, Burning Wheel is high up on my list of games I want to try. I watched a bunch of the campaign on Roll20's YouTube channel and I love the way that Beliefs and Instincts work.
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Old 06-06-2016, 09:37 AM
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I've never played Dogs, but I really want to. AV, I've never heard that complaint before and I'm not actually familiar with the specific rules of the game. Care to elaborate?
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  #12  
Old 06-08-2016, 02:12 PM
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A while back, Lucas told me about a system called OVA: The Anime Roleplaying Game and I'm pretty sure it's literally designed for exactly what you want.
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Old 06-08-2016, 06:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aturtledoesbite View Post
A while back, Lucas told me about a system called OVA: The Anime Roleplaying Game and I'm pretty sure it's literally designed for exactly what you want.
I mean, the rulebook literally encourages you to hold on to some character points so you can develop new attributes in the middle of battle, so yeah, it might be.

Edit: I've actually been considering getting Exalted 3, but 2 was such a mess I've never managed to even finish reading the book, much less considered trying to get it to a table. If 3 is actually better (and that combat does sound interesting!) I probably should check it out.

Last edited by Lucas; 06-08-2016 at 06:46 PM.
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Old 06-09-2016, 02:16 PM
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Ah, a second edition to 7th sea! It was my favorite RPG when i was a teen!

Thanks for the notice! I'll try to convince my group to play it. Do you know when it will be released?
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Old 06-09-2016, 02:24 PM
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They've said they want to have the core rules ready for GenCon 2016, but they've also delayed twice for updates to the text from backer feedback, including tweaking language and culture details, tightening up systems, and fixing errors. So... Expect it soon after, maybe?

The sheer number of supplements funded by the Kickstarter is also impressive, and they've said that if the line does well, they want to do hire people to do a "second season" focused on other swashbuckling traditions - India and China having been mentioned explicitly.
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Old 06-12-2016, 07:08 PM
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Does anyone else get Kevin Crawford's RPGs? Silent Legions isn't my favorite since horror as a genre doesn't do much for me, but Stars Without Number is a nice, simple sci-fi ruleset that can cover a lot of different settings with little trouble and has a good set of rules for dealing with factions which can let the campaign slide right into the PCs running interstellar domains or fleets of ships.

I also like the idea of Scarlet Heroes, which is basically a new ruleset to let you run old AD&D adventures for groups of just one or two PCs. There's even solitaire rules in there! And like all Crawford's games, tons and tons of random tables for building settings/background characters/adventures/whatever on the fly.
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Old 06-12-2016, 07:12 PM
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I've got the PDF of Star Without Number (it's free, after all), but I haven't really read through it. Everything I've heard about it sounds good though, especially the faction and planet-generation rules. Everybody raves about those.
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Old 06-12-2016, 10:33 PM
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I read Stars Without Number a few years back. It seemed like a solid retroclone with some neat ideas and well-balanced systems. Not something I'd run, and nothing that other sci-fi games don't also do well. (Diaspora, Mindjammer)
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Old 06-15-2016, 10:01 AM
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work got in the stuff for Free RPG Day. spoiler: you NEED this year's Lamentations of the Flame Princess offering.
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Old 06-15-2016, 10:41 AM
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When's free RPG day?
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Old 06-15-2016, 11:01 AM
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This Saturday, June 18.
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Old 09-14-2016, 08:31 PM
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Had a really awesome session of Lady Blackbird on Monday. There were three players, who picked Naomi (the bodyguard), Kale (the first mate) and Snargle (the pilot) as their characters. It was a bit weird playing without the Captain or Lady Blackbird herself and it meant that there were a couple of conversations that took place between NPCs, but otherwise it was good. They escaped the brig, killed some imperials, got their ship back and bartered with some sky pirates for much needed fuel.

The highlight was definitely our Snargle player. Snargle's supposed to be a pacifist, which the player interpreted strictly as "doesn't physically harm people." But he used ample threats of violence to achieve his ends. We chided him for it, but it really was a great interpretation of the character.

So yeah. If you folks haven't played Lady Blackbird, get on that. It's great.
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Old 09-23-2016, 06:43 AM
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DriveThruRPG is having a sale on Powered by the Apocalypse games. Monsterhearts for $6 is extremely tempting.
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Old 09-23-2016, 10:30 AM
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Ok, phew. Over the weekend, some friends noticed that Masks was finally released, so we picked up some copies (I really like what I see in it so far, but I need more time to digest it before I have much in the way of opinions). I also finally decided to buy World Wide Wrestling at the same time, but that one's discount is low enough that I'm not upset about it.
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Old 09-23-2016, 11:37 AM
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I also finally decided to buy World Wide Wrestling at the same time, but that one's discount is low enough that I'm not upset about it.
World Wide Wrestling is fantastic - I backed their recent kickstarter for print copies of it and International Incident, its supplement.
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Old 09-23-2016, 11:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Umbaglo View Post
Ok, phew. Over the weekend, some friends noticed that Masks was finally released, so we picked up some copies (I really like what I see in it so far, but I need more time to digest it before I have much in the way of opinions). I also finally decided to buy World Wide Wrestling at the same time, but that one's discount is low enough that I'm not upset about it.
I really, really want to play Masks and I've heard great things about World Wide Wrestling.
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Old 09-23-2016, 01:53 PM
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Yeah, I really want to play both. And while I could... maybe run a game of Masks, I know I can't run World Wide Wrestling. Probably. I'd have to read it more, but I don't think I have enough of a background to pull it off the way it should.

But also sadly, the two friends of mine who would be most able to are either 1) Already running a super hero game, and 2) Don't like using electronic versions of books.

We'll see. Maybe some day I'll get a chance.
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Old 09-23-2016, 02:29 PM
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Quote:
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I know I can't run World Wide Wrestling. Probably. I'd have to read it more, but I don't think I have enough of a background to pull it off the way it should.
So one of the great things about World Wide Wrestling is that it's really written to acknowledge that a lot of people trying to run it aren't going to be hugely knowledgeable about the Pro Wrestling world. The essays about wrestling are great for getting your head around the genre, a lot of the hard parts are (as usual) handled for you by Moves, and the game's got a very "collaborative" spirit to it. International Incident has a lot of alternative rules that share around the GMing burden; similarly the troupe-style play rules from Night Witches are easily adaptable.

I haven't run it myself, but that's more due to personal circumstances (new baby) than lack of confidence.

(Also the genre lends itself well to borrowing story structures from other media; tournament manga and reality TV adapt especially well)
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Old 09-30-2016, 07:05 AM
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Bit the bullet and bought Monsterhearts in the DriveThruRPG sale, even though the second edition is coming soon.

So if anybody wants to play a game with sexy teenage monsters doing awful things to each other, let me know.
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Old 12-26-2016, 10:49 PM
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That game caught my eye back when Roll 20 did a series on it. It seems really neat.
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