My Favorite RPG Releases of the last few years – Part 2

Hello all,

This is a continuation from my previous post. Without further chit-chat, here it goes:

HulksAndHorrosHulks & Horrors

This game actually had an Indiegogo campaign at one time that sadly did not complete successfully. Still a mystery to me. Check the link out for some sweet space bear artwork! The creator did release his game anyway, in an artless version, for free even!

I love the almost silly aliens and generally lighter tone of the game. It does not take itself too seriously. The mechanics are again totally old school DnD, I really do not like them much. What I liked? The basic premise of porting classic DnD gameplay, dungeon and all, to a Sci Fi /Space Opera setting sounds weird, but works very well. It has some great inspirational generation rules for space adventures and locations as well as random artifact” loot. If you are a Space Opera / Sci fi RPG fan you owe it to yourself to give it a read.

SaWoDeluxeSavage Worlds

Ah Savage Worlds. The game I came to from DnD 3.5. This game opened my eyes. I was so frustrated with DnD 3.5 that I was about to give up on GMing games completely. The cumbersome encounter building, excessiveness of character options and rules was just suffocating me. Along comes Savage Worlds and dares me to adventure again. “Don’t worry, just play” is the mantra coming from this game to me as a GM. Savage Worlds not only rekindled my interest in GMing, it is also responsible for one of my most productive RPG phases. Because of this game I started intensively interacting with a RPG community online for the first time. I learned about hacking a game to suit your needs, just taking the rules and not waiting for someone else to tell you what to do with it, just do it yourself. I always had house rules and homebrew settings. But the ability to take a rule set and make it your own, inventing swathes of rules or parts of it you need, that was new to me. I laugh at myself now thinking back, but back then when I wanted to run a horror game I would wait for Wizards to release Heroes of Horror. Fired on by a great community and driven by excitement I wrote “Savage Space”, a Sci Fi Fan supplement for Savage worlds you can take a look at in the Downloads area of this blog. It is the first thing I ever did of such a scope and I am still very much proud of it. Even though at some point my interest for Savage Worlds waned as you can read about here, I still follow what they do and buy books that interest me, it is just not my go to game system anymore that it was for a while.

Edge-of-the-Empire-Corerulebook_FFG_2013Star Wars: Edge of the Empire

Interestingly this is the only big name, big price game on this list. I am as surprised as maybe you are. The big publishers left me cold mostly, but Edge of the Empire is different. The game gets a lot of flak for using “Funny Dice”, but as soon as I played it I was hooked. Great mechanics that emulate the Star Wars movie experience in an RPG in ways I have not seen before. Gone are the days of binary results, now you could succeed and still create something bad, or fail miserably while creating another advantage. It is hard to explain, I feel you need to play it to understand the flow of it. An incredible game that is a huge hit at all conventions I have seen it played. Give it a whirl if you get the chance. Sadly it has some severe drawbacks. The price is pretty high and there are no PDF available because of some ridiculous licensing issues with the Star Wars license. And you need the “Funny Dice” of course. Still has a fixed spot in my shelves for years to come.

SWNStars without Number

I believe this was my first contact with an OSR game. I always have been more of a Space Opera / Sci Fantasy / Sci Fi guy, even though I mostly ran fantasy because of player interest. This is a game that inspires me. While the underlying rules are nice, they are not why I like this game so much. It is the only RPG I remember giving the DM a “Minigame” to play between sessions. Also the sheer scope of content is amazing for something you can get free. The contained World / Universe / Adventure / Faction building tools are excellent, so many tables all full of juicy bits to inspire you. I have always preferred a more improvisational style of GMing, but creating a sector with these tools in advance is quick and fun. And the results drip with adventure potential. I think for me the best thing is that the fantastic tools and tables in this book are actually system agnostic and you can use them in every game you want. I highly recommend it. Did I mention it is free? The book was my first contact with Crawford’s work, and since then I have become an avid fan of his. I will buy anything he puts out, sight unseen. I may never get to play his games myself, but my, is the content useful!

StrangeStarsStrange Stars

This book is a beauty. It has a very unique charm in its unapologetic retro style. Strange Stars is a system less space opera setting clearly inspired by the 70s. The book is written as if it was in use in the universe it describes itself, and as such is a great aid directly at the table. You can hand this to your players without worry. There is tons of color art in this book, and that is also the reason for the price. Do not be fooled by the page count. This supplement is chock full of great and inspiring stuff, easy to slip into and just run with. Adapting it to your preferred Sci Fi rule system should be a breeze. It is the first setting book in this form I have seen and I wish there were more like it. It is perfect for someone who does not want to invent a whole setting on their own but needs something to anchor their game in. While Beasts & Barbarians gave me a cool setting with lots of words and some cool art, Strange Stars eschews a lot of words for art and style. If I have to choose my favorite between the two Strange Stars wins.

VornheimVornheim: The Complete City Kit

Oh Vornheim, how I like you. The author is Zak Smith who recently released Red & Pleasant Land. Another book that almost made this list, but I still have not fully read yet. Shame on me. Anyway, Vornheim won the tech award at IndieCade 2012. Unheard of for an RPG supplement, but well deserved. Vornheim is a toolbox; it lets you create an urban setting to adventure in, full of mystery, adventure and weirdness. The assumed setting is based on Zak’s DnD Campaign, and to be honest way to gonzo for me personally. But as you may guess, the setting is not what is great about it, it is again the tools it provides. You can take those out of the book and adapt them to your own needs. Mike Evans did a great job with his Shadowrun and Firefly  Hacks of Vornheim. Check them out to see what this is all about. There is talk of another print run for Vornheim soon, looking forward to that because I missed it the first time.

This concludes my little excursion, I hope you found it a bit interesting. Maybe I could even convince you to look at one or two things you did not know before. What are you favorite releases of the last few years? Leave me a comment!

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