This week: a supplement featuring a combat wheelchair for 5e ignites arguments and inspires miniatures; the Dragon Awards nominate three RPGs; and Free League revisits a game from the past about a future that is now the past that never was…
What We’ve Been Playing
On Saturday night, friend-of-the-blog Jess ran us the Junior Braves Survival Guide to the Apocalypse Free RPG Day quickstart. The game adapts Zach Lehrer’s Junior Braves of the Apocalypse comics, and is based on the Kids on Bikes system.
It’s a light system with stats that lean toward “swingy”: when you’re good you can be very good but you can also still fail pretty badly. A pool of bonus tokens that are sometimes — but not always — shared makes for some interesting collaboration.
Jess reckons the Quickstart could be a little taxing on beginners, demanding a lot of on-the-fly improvisation — but Jess is pretty damned good at that.
We’re not familiar with the source material, but it’s a fun game if the genre (kid scouts + post-apocalypse) appeals to you.
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The Combat Wheelchair
A “combat wheelchair” for D&D has gained attention online, igniting arguments over the representation of disabled people in RPGs. (Editor’s note: By “arguments”, we mean a lot of folks whining about realism.) Strata Miniatures are offering a collection of miniatures of D&D characters in combat wheelchairs.
It’s not surprising that the combat wheelchair stretches the imagination for some people. The more common an idea is (realistic or otherwise), the easier it is to imagine, and the really awful truth is this: we have spent more time imagining dragons in our fantasy worlds than we have spent imagining disabled people in our fantasy worlds. We’ve had more practice believing in owlbears than believing in disabled adventurers. Our imaginations clearly need stretching. — Amy
Dragon Award Finalists
DragonCon announces the finalists for the Dragon Awards for the best Sci-Fi, Fantasy & Horror. Free League’s ALIEN, Paizo’s Pathfinder second edition and Scratchpad Publishing’s Spectaculars are the RPG nominees for Best Sci-Fi or Fantasy Miniatures/Collectible Card/Role-Playing Game.
Roll20 teams up with Code2040, an organisation dedicated to fighting against racial disparity in the tech industry.
ICv2 reveals the top-selling roleplaying games of Spring 2020.
Michael Tresca looks at the phenomenon of free and Pay What You Want RPG content.
The Guardian newspaper looks at Free League’s Mörk Borg.
Paste Magazine looks back at three artefacts of the Satanic Panic: Monsters & Mazes, Skullduggery, and Jack Chick’s Dark Dungeons.
New & Upcoming Products
Critical Role reveals the upcoming Vox Machina Funko Pops.
Bundles & Deals
Humble Bundle is offering a bundle of Star Trek Adventures books.
Noteworthy New Projects
Twilight: 2000 – Roleplaying in the WWIII That Never Was: A “retro-apocalyptic” edition of alternative reality WWIII RPG, Twilight: 2000, by Free League Publishing (Tales from the Loop, Forbidden Lands, Alien) — September 3rd. So far this project has raised over SEK 2.7m ($315,000) from 4,200 backers.
Every Free League Kickstarter campaign is an event these days and while this one still has a way to go to overtake Things From the Flood, their biggest RPG project to date, it has more than two weeks to do so.
In this case, they have taken an RPG from 1984 set in the then distant future of 2000, and rebooted it in 2020 as an alternate history setting. This has the blessing and involvement of its original designer Marc Miller, although it remains to be seen if it is intended to eventually segue into the Traveller-universe as the original game did.
I’m intrigued by the decision to use Free League’s proprietorial Year Zero Engine system, and to use it as an opportunity to refine the hexcrawling system used in Forbidden Lands. It’s a whole mishmash of old and new ideas. Whether I’m intrigued enough to actually buy and play it, remains to be seen. — James
Old-School Essentials: Advanced Fantasy: An expanded edition of the B/X retroclone, Old School Essentials, by Exalted Funeral (The Ultraviolet Grasslands, Seekers Beyond The Shroud, Cobwebs TTRPG) — September 11th. So far this project has raised over $147,000 from 2,000 backers.
Necrotic Gnome’s original Kickstarter campaign for Old School Essentials last year went well, and Exalted Funeral are still riding high on their ENnies-win for Ultraviolet Grasslands, so this campaign looks set to do very well. Old School Essentials itself is a retroclone of the 1981 “Moldvay” edition of D&D but this project sets out to massively expand the game, offering a huge range of race and class options. I haven’t seen much that distinguishes it from the crowded field of OSR games, but it is clearly developing its own audience — James
Wondrous Expeditions: Forests – Roleplaying Guide: A system-neutral guide to wilderness travel through forests, by LoreSmyth (Remarkable Inns & Their Drinks, Remarkable Shops & Their Wares) — September 10th. So far this project has raised over €56,000 ($66,000) from 1,400 backers.
LoreSmyth’s Remarkable Shops project last year enjoyed more than 3,000 backers and this campaign has a way to go to equal that, but this is still a respectable first week. This is the first in an intended series of books designed to assist with wilderness exploration, and I have to admit that as a One Ring Loremaster always keen to spice up his Mirkwood encounters, I’m tempted by this one! — James
5e & Pathfinder
The Complete Illustrated Book of Illusion: An illustrated spellbook containing all 5e Illusion spells, by Phil Stone (The Complete Illustrated Book of Divination, The Complete Illustrated Book of Conjuration, The Complete Illustrated Book of Evocation) — August 22nd
Limitless Woodland Bundle: A collection of forest-themed 5e encounters, by Limitless Adventures (Limitless Monsters, The Blood Queen’s Defiance, Journey to Beryl’s Reach) — August 28th
The Grim & Deliberate Beast: A collection of d100-rollable combat A.Is for common monsters, by Dubious Merit Games (Zombie Circus Goats) — September 4th
A system for generating monster actions based on a table. Personally I wouldn’t use this for anything other than solo play — it feels more like a board game mechanic than an RPG mechanic. But it’s an interesting solution to the problem of boring combat. See The Monsters Know What They’re Doing for a different approach to the same problem. — Amy
The Dream Prison: An extraplanar 5e Adventure for levels 6–8, by William Murakami-Brundage (Descent into Mirefen: A D&D 5e Adventure, Adûl, City of Gold: A D&D 5e Adventure, Clash at Kell Crenn: A D&D 5e Adventure) – September 10th
Zan’s Book of Stupid Magic Spells for 5E DnD – $1: “A magic book of 17 brand new absolutely stupid, mostly useless, rather humorous magic spells for 5E D&D. You probably shouldn’t buy it.”, by Zan’s Adventures (Witch Queen of Cair Urnach, The Collector) — September 15th
Chewer of Fingers: A low-level oneshot for The Midderlands, compatible with most OSR games, by Glynn Seal (The Midderlands – An OSR Mini-Setting & Bestiary, The City of Great Lunden, Folk Magic of the Haven Isles) – August 22nd
The Phylactery 2: The second edition of the OSR zine, The Phylactery, by Levi Combs (Jungle Tomb of the Mummy Bride, The Phylactery — An Old School Heroic Fantasy Adventure Zine, Escape from Skullcano Island) — September 3rd
Other and Generic Fantasy
Magic School Mystery: A wizard school RPG, by Tanner Wilson — August 19th
Science Fiction / Cyberpunk
Axon Punk: Expanded – Hip Hop Infused Cyberpunk ttRPG: An improvised, collaborative RPG combining cyberpunk and hip hop, by Colin Kyle (Axon Punk: Overdrive) — August 22nd
I’ve had my eye on Axon Punk: Overdrive for a while as a game that does cyberpunk justice (as opposed to wheeling out tired tropes from the 80s), so I’m excited to see them return for an expanded new edition of the game — James
Urban Fantasy / Horror
The Great American Witch: A modern gothic tabletop RPG based on the framework of the acclaimed RPG, The Great American Novel, by Christopher Grey (The Happiest Apocalypse on Earth Roleplaying Game, The Great American Novel, A Roleplaying Game, #RecognizeKSRU: 10 Workers United RPG) – August 28th
The Great American Novel was nominated for two Indie Groundbreaker Awards this year — best rules and best game — but I haven’t had a chance to check it out yet. Sure there have been quite a few games about witches recently, but can you really have too many? — James
Hexplorer: Create Whiteboard Maps for 5e and Other TTRPGs: A magnetic system of dry-erase hex map tiles, for hex crawl games & West Marches campaigns, by Headless Hydra Press — September 7th
Caster Compendium: A spell card holder and integrated spell tracker for D&D 5E, by The Speechless Bard — September 13th
I don’t spend enough time as a player in F20 games to feel like I can justify buying this. But it’s a pretty nifty tool: I really like the magnetic tracker. — Amy