Tabletop RPGs in 2018


Well, sure, in development. :P


Ah-ha! Coulda sworn there was another one:

But there’s more!

But yeah, while there’ve been a handful of decent-to-good Lovecraftian-styled games, very few have tapped into Chaosium’s product, sadly.


Funny this comes up. There’s a new Chaosium-licensed Cthulhu game on iOS:

(Sorry, I know digital games is not really the topic.)

I was really excited for this game! It was X-COM inspired, right?


And that’s the thing. I wasn’t even sure Dark Corners was licensed because, I mean, the Call of Cthulhu is a Lovecraft story. And I think that game was based on it, at least in part. I don’t think I ever read that particular one, though.


I was just thinking about my Call of Cthuhlu editions. I don’t have the newest but I think I’ve got a sixth edition book and my first was a fifth edition. I did get this little one a few years back:

I think the Delta Green will supplant it but The Laundry is a zany Britsh take on the concept.


Yes, sir! That’s the one. Wish I remembered who the developer was. Wish, too, I had kept some of my old files with the pitch materials…


I’m pretty sure you can tell it was licensed because of the logo/font that the title is in- the ‘Trade Dress’.

It was a really cool game, am ‘immersive sim’ story of thing- no health bars, no targeting reticle, map, etc. Damage was done to you on a per-limb basis, so if you broke your arm, you’d have to fix it with a splint, etc.

It was actually a mishmash of three Lovecraft stories, iirc- Shadow over Insmouth, Shadow out of Time (? I think?), and Call of Cthulhu? My memory could be hazy, though.


Yeah, I played it. I just wasn’t sure about the licensing.


Was it Flying Labs? That was where John Tynes worked on the Pirates of the Burning Seas MMO.


YES! That was it 100%.

Good pull, @Nightgaunt!


My tabletop RPG finally made it to it’s official 1.0 release. It only took two years and hundreds (thousands?) of hours of work. No big.

You know who I’ve got new respect for? Game designers. This stuff is hard.

At any rate, give it a look! It’s a big, robust, gritty fantasy narrative-leaning RPG with PbtA roots and support for GM-less play. It’s a bit of an ungainly Frankenstein monster, but I’m proud of it anyway. And, heh, free to download.


Congrats on seeing it through! I’m downloading your masterpiece now.


Congratulations, this is really cool.


My old school “westmarches” game based on @Jason_Lutes’s Freebooters on the Frontier, Perilous Wilds (and Dungeon World) continues.

We have kept it light and moving briskly. These systems are great for that style of play. Everything is randomly generated, including the world, the terrain, the location names, the encounters, the monsters and the loot. Freebooters also does random character generation, so the characters are great mixes of classes and virtue and vices and physical traits.

It was while until we got to game two, due to some sickness and vacations, so I think my previous musings were in the older RPG thread.

Here is the game world map:


Here is the write-up from Session 01:


You left your homes for one reason: to search an unexplored land and plunder enough of its riches to return home rich. You set-off for a new settlement that was built on top of an older town that had suffered some sort of disaster, poised on the edge of a wild continent. You have a map that hints at mysterious places within a few days of the settlement, but the rest of the map is blank.

You met on-board the “Black Dawn”, which was medium-sized sailing ship and maybe formerly a pirate ship. The voyage took a few weeks, a bit longer than expected, and you arrived in the settlement of Laborton in the start of the Autumn. Its run by a well-organized merchant company that keeps things safe and orderly, which allows for a steady flow of goods and occasionally people to flow in, and the valuable pure black timber flowing back to the mainland. The settlement’s flag was a box and a barrel on a red background. The streets are especially busy during the auctions that are held to sell the precious wood.

You stayed in the Deer’s Perch, which is a moderately-sized tavern on the waterfront. Inside is a normal collection of tables and chairs, with a short bar and a glass trophy case along one wall. The tavern is reasonably busy and you have seen merchants, traders and loggers coming through. You know you will be able to buy and sell anything you need in town. There are merchants especially interested in rare furs, skins, and exotic treasures that they can sell back in the mainland, and they often meet up for drinks at the Deer’s Perch.

You gathered in the evening and decided to head south to the forest to explore something called “The Lost Glade”. Everyone prepared and made sure you had enough food, water, shelter and equipment. The next morning you headed out. It was a nice day for early Autumn, bright and sunny and clear. You didn’t travel as fast as you wanted to beyond the settlement, some of your companions were short or limping. During a quick break for lunch you watched a far-off caravan make its way across the horizon and towards the settlement.

You arrived in the woods after lunch. They were dark, with the rare black wood and the dense canopy blocking most of the light. In the afternoon you discovered a perfectly round clearing about 100 yards across, with sunlight streaming down. You noticed a series of smooth, white, perfectly-spherical stones that created the outline of a sun, partially hidden in the knee-high grass.

When you moved the stones, they rolled slowly back into place as if by magic. Your companion seemed possessed, suggested you leave and started to walk away. Someone else grabbed a stone. Suddenly, a wind picked up and knocked them off their feet. A woman appeared high in the trees, gesturing and sending gusts of wind down to buffet you. She vanished when you withdrew, but they appeared again when you tried to take the stones. You began to break the stones, and she became angry and chanted until clouds appeared that caused magical lightning to strike down and stun you.

After a few blasts of wind and lightning, which eventually knocked two of your companions unconscious, you withdrew and she disappeared. You were torn whether to sneak back after nightfall to steal some of these stones, which may be valuable, or whether to head further into the forest. You withdraw an hour’s walk away, remaining in woods, ate a quiet dinner and camped for the night.

In the morning a thin rain began to fall, making things even dimmer below the tall black trees. You decided to continue to search the forest - maybe that was the Lost Glade or maybe it was still hidden elsewhere within this forest. In either case, you were not going back until you had something valuable to show for your time!

And here is the write-up for Session 02:


The party woke up on a cold, grey morning still in the thick of the dark woods. You packed up and headed out early. You were focused on the task at hand: find the Lost Glade, find something of value and haul it to back to Laborton to sell. There was no way you were going home empty-handed.

Just before lunch you realized that the leaves overhead were getting darker, and it did not take long to notice the thick webs high up in the trees. You moved ahead cautiously and soon discovered the webs made their way to the leafy floor, blocking off a huge section of the forest. Trapped in the webs was a large boar, struggling and angry, and above it a half-dozen man-sized spiders crept towards it.

You decided to fight, and broke out flint and steel and torches and began to burn the webs and make your way to the spiders. 3 of them turned to face you and 3 more crept towards the boar. Although the opening moments were not graceful, with Tildur the Cleric’s weapon getting stuck in the webs and Zarl the Thief’s shirt getting even more stuck, soon Scrydan the Fighter was warmed up and smashing spiders.

After the first three were dispatched you decided to move to finish off the spiders that were on top of the trapped boar. Someone muttered something about the boar making a fine meal. This fight was not as easy, however, and soon Scrydan was arm-deep in spider ichor, Zarl was seriously wounded and hiding behind a bush, and Tildur was …. whoops, he was dead. And now an even bigger spider was coming down from the highest branches, intent on wrapping up the freshly killed elf for a tasty meal. Things looked grim.

Scrydan hesitated then turned to face the mother spider, unable to bear it feasting on his companion. They exchanged blows and it wasn’t certain who would emerge victorious. Zarl got his courage back and distracted the giant spider by slashing one of its legs, allowing Scydan to get a serious blow in. The spider pulled back into the higher branches, and tried to cover Scrydan in her webs. He dodged out of the way, and then the spider retreated for good.

You cleaned up and bundled up the Cleric, killed and carved up the boar, dug some valuable parts out of the spiders, and tried to find your way out of the woods. Along the way you spied a group of 6 or so humanoid-shapes with large boar heads, dressed in metallic armor and a few carried polearms. You decided to lay low, and they passed. No one in town had mentioned boar-men lived close by.

You managed to return to Laborton just as night fell, and the guards recognized you and let you in the walls. Over the next few days you sold the parts for some silver, divided up Tildur’s belongings and re-equipped yourself. You thoughtfully brought Tildur to a church for burial. They invited you to the ceremony, some nice words were said, and that is end of the story of the elven Cleric.

In town you met another Cleric, Tobrek the grey human, who was convinced to join your group with only a minor donation. You returned to the Deer’s Perch for a nice warm meal of boar pastries (hmm, seems like a lot of boar around here) and decided on a plan. Although Prospector’s Rock was appealing, especially since no-one has died there yet, Zarl made the sensible suggestion that the spiders were already killed or wounded, and some damage done, so returning there may be easier than heading somewhere new. The party agreed to return to the forest in the morning.

A nasty storm was brewing the next day. You hurried, the winds building up across the plain as you traveled, and you made it to the woodline before the rain started. You trekked determinedly through the dark woods, luckily finding your trail again. You saw a party of the boar-men again, whether it was the same or different is hard to say, and again decided to avoid them. Wait a minute, why are there so many boar things around here? One of you felt queasy thinking about last night’s dinner.

You camped for the night, knowing the darkest part of the spider woods was just ahead. Night passed quietly, but Zarl couldn’t help but think that he was back again in the very same place that took his companion only days before. It put him in an even fouler mood.

You celebrated the morning by lighting a huge fire and starting to clear the webs with improvised torches. This worked well and soon you saw a large rocky hill past thinner trees. Following it up you discovered a narrow cave entrance. You looked at each other, lit better torches, and ducked inside.

The natural caves twisted in a few different passages and small caverns. It seemed deserted. Two things of note were a dusty barricade, behind which you found the dessicated corpse of a dwarf. His food, clothes and leather armor has almost rotted away, but his steel warhammer and purse of silver coins were still good. In a different cavern was the dead body of a large spider, cut open and cleaned out, dry and brittle and long dead.

The rear cavern opened up into a tall ceiling. Along one wall was a mass of thick webs, blocking any way past. In a different corner were carved out stairs, descending down into darkness. As Scrydan peered closer he set off a small tripwire that triggered a rope that sweep past his feet. He jumped over it quickly, and the rope scattered off down the stairs, bringing with it many pieces of metal that clattered and clanged and echoed down the dark stairway.

As the echoes fade you realize the webs are wiggling and moving and beginning to open…

And here is the dungeon map at the end of the second game:


I am glad I decided to start an old school “renaissance” game. The proc gen took a little while to build / steal / test but the result is I did zero prep for this past session. The players and I can breath a bit of life into whatever situation is in front of us. And there is a real sense of discovery when none of us knows where this is all headed.


I was at Barnes and Noble last night after dinner with my wife, and I noticed Paizo is selling playtesting rules for the next edition of Pathfinder. Are people really buying the playtest rules at $30 a pop (I think, and the hardback had to be more)? Do the playtest rules still have a life when the next edition is complete after the playtesting? Looking on the website they even have a free pdf of it you can download.


Tomb of Annihilation!


Very nice!

And fancy beer accouterments!

How are you guys liking the adventure? I got a little burnt out on WotC’s officially published adventures during the 4E years, and despite Paizo getting a reputation for being amazing campaign writers off the back of early successes like Rise of the Runelords, I kinda wound up having a dim view of them, too. I haven’t really looked into any of the more recent D&D stuff, though.


We’ve been playing the Pathfinder “Iron Gods” adventure path and are nearly at the end of volume 2. Originally it was a temporary fill-in when our regular GM got too busy to write, but it’s been a lot of fun. It’s set in a corner of Golarion that reminds me a lot of the old Expedition to the Barrier Peaks module (laser guns, robots, etc) and we’ve leaned hard into the ridiculousness. My original character guidance was “make something that would look awesome airbrushed onto a van” and it’s kind of spiraled from there. More fun than I expected, for sure.


Three sessions in it looks good. The hex-crawl structure is different from the other pre-made adventures I have played, and I don’t remember the last pre-made campaign I ran/adapted. We played from H1 all the way to E1 or E2 in 4e, so I see where you’re coming from re: burn-out.

Part of the motivation to run ToA is to reduce preptime, and in that way it works well. We took the heavy lifting with world and teambuilding using the Session 0 approach, and the Chult continent is easy to integrate in whatever setting.


The Technology Guide and this AP were a godsend for me when I was running my homebrew world in Pathfinder. Part of the backstory involved some high tech shenanigans (I’ve played too many JRPGs, obviously), so finally having some ostensibly balanced stats to work from when incorporating the techno goofiness into the fantasy setting was nice.

I say ostensibly balanced because man, Paizo really needs some more folks on their development team. . . whoever let the Alternate Class Guide and Mythic Adventures sourcebooks out the door in the shape they were in should probably be fired >.>

I didn’t realize it had a hexcrawl mechanic implemented! That’s awesome–I love that kinda stuff. Like you, I don’t generally run pre-made stuff, but I’m absolutely not above cribbing liberally from them.

Speaking of hexcrawl stuff, I recently slacker-backed Forbidden Lands, a new dark fantasy game from the people who made Tales from the Loop and Mutant: Year Zero using the Year Zero d6 pool engine.

While I’m probably going to toss their setting materials immediately (and hence didn’t back at the physical levels to get goofy stuff like glossy maps and item cards), I’m always looking for cool new ways to represent exploration of the unknown in tabletop games that don’t feel like grindy, mathy survival-horror supply-counting slogs or, alternately, too artificial/high level and disconnected to be interesting at all. It’s a tough balance to strike!