Tabletop RPGs in 2022

Oooh. I know one game I’m purchasing at Dragonmeet. Can’t wait for it. I love the setting and system. I also like what Ben Aaronovitch has described previously about his involvement with the project. He’s a big RPG nerd too.

Devs discuss how One DnD is going:

The big news for all the anti-woke idiots out there is that “race” is now “species” in future materials.

Seen today at Dragonmeet. When you are a GM who really wants to set the scene for the players…

This just makes me nervous, hah. Too much to keep track of!

Look, if WotC can just stop “accidentally” dropping IRL racial stereotypes into their play materials alongside taking solid proactive steps, I’ll be pretty pleased.

New playtest materials include some neat little changes here and there, and the videos about them and the thoughts for the future (including the one linked above) are intriguing enough, but I don’t know if I’ve got the attention span to keep up with the steady flow of content updates over the next 1.5 years. . .

I didn’t stick around to be sure, but it seems like the kind of city that would be the ultimate sandbox. You drop a couple of scenes of interest amid the hubbub and make up the rest as the players interact with various locations. I know it occupied a huge table and was awe inspiring.

That GM clearly prepped for the convention. :O

Dragonmeet in London was a blast today. the convention is on 2 floors with, I would say, over 100 exhibitors. Maybe close to 150. It’s got meeting rooms for seminar and a huge boardgame library where you can just pick up one of the games for free (some long and involved) and go play at one of the tables.

One of the highlights was the launch panel for the Rivers of London roleplaying game . It had all the Chaosium creative leads (Mike Mason, Lynne Hardy, Paul Fricker) and Ben Aaronovitch discussing the game, the books and answering questions.

I really like the sound of what they have done with the system and am not sure I’ll be able to resist until the physical edition comes out (likely end of Q1 2023).

We brought back some loot too. Crafty stuff, coasters and tea for my wife. Posters, dice and an open world choose-your-adventure book and a funny dark horror comedy journaling / group game called "Lucky for None " for my daughter. That one is played with D13’s. So we got a couple free

I got myself some Call of Cthulhu materials (the books signed by Mike Mason for me), some accessories for The Troubleshooters . And We Deal in Lead . Can’t wait to start reading the latter

This is a cool 9’ demo of Lucky for None by the author. I guess he just got the final product in time for the convention.

He had my daughter and I play through a demo. We rolled that we were both mayor and assistant mayor to a city. We had rolled “visitors” and “hungry” for the situation. A meeting was called .

So we decided it was because strange visitors had arrived in town and people had started disappearing. My daughter and I had to calm the people and start looking for the missing. All that rolling on 13 or 13x2 tables and making it up as you go along.

I like that it supports both solo journaling or group improv play. Very neat. Also, my collection was missing D13’s.

Oh hey. I didn’t realize another DestinyQuest gamebook had come out. Last I heard the series was ending with book 3, IIRC because either the publisher declined to do more or it wasn’t selling well enough to continue (or both). On my wishlist that goes.

A sequel to this one is also due on Kickstarter in February 2023 (the author gave me a promo for it). So I guess that’s how they are continuing the series. I hadn’t heard about it before today. But it looks neat.

Yeah, I wasn’t imagining things, this was posted in 2014 and it was indeed the publisher:

But it looks like he eventually decided he was up for Kickstarter after all and there was a whole saga on that front, plus a digital “Infinite” gamebook, and for a while he was working on a TTRPG (to tie things back to this thread) which he finally threw in the towel on but that did lead to a book of lore about the setting being published earlier this year.

I’ll probably back that KS or at least buy book 5 when it comes out. DestinyQuest was a great rethink of the classic gamebook format and I was sad when it didn’t pan out for him. The other one I got was Holdfast (backed the KS) but a lot of other modern gamebook stuff hasn’t felt like it’s really had a strong new concept and although I have a lot of nostalgia for the original wave of them I never felt like much other than Lone Wolf and Fabled Lands held up in terms of design, so if your new gamebooks are just Fighting Fantasy again…ehh. And Holdfast never got past the one book.

I’d love to hear your impressions!

I just got back into reading the Conan stories by Howard, and I picked up a used hardback of the 2D20 Conan: Adventures in an Age Undreamed Of from Modiphius. I liked the simplicity of the 2D20 system in Star Trek Adventures, but the version in Conan looks a lot more complicated.

I played in a campaign for over a year and in the end we agreed, way too crunchy for Conan. it has some simulationist rules we did not care for. There is a lot going on and combat can drag on a lot. It starts out easy enough but when you advance a bit there is a lot a character can do and it’s not all straight forward. Each turn took very long. It’s a neat system but don’t go in expecting Star Trek smooth flow. Conan is a very different beast.

For reference, our favourite Conan RPG is Barbarians of Lemuria. If you like games like Pathfinder and others that require more system mastery, Conan 2d20 might be amazing for you.

…And I just found out that Modiphius has passed on continuing the Conan rights.

The roleplaying game line, under licence from Heroic Signatures (Formally Cabinet Entertainment), will end on Dec 31st, no more re-stocks are being ordered, and all stock will be sold by June 30th 2023.

Shame. I really liked how much care and lore they put into the core book. I guess if it wasn’t really selling past the Kickstarter, it just wasn’t worth continuing as a business.

It makes me wonder how the sales are for all of Modiphius’ licensed stuff. My impression is that Star Trek Adventures must be somewhat successful because I see it being used in streams and they continue to publish new products for it. On the flipside, I never see a thing about Dune, Homeworld, Fallout, or Dishonored.

This is why I never buy IP RPG’s or run campaigns outside of some stable system (like GURPS) in their IP universes. Because you get a campaign together, you buy some books, and then, after 3 to 4 years, the IP passes to somebody else. Rinse and repeat.

Yeah, I guess for me and my group, we’re usually going to just pick a system and go for it for a few months before switching to some other shiny, so a publisher losing the rights isn’t a big deal. With Conan, it’s my second-hand copy of the core book and a couple of the other players picked up some pdfs of the same as well as a couple of the regional sourcebooks. None of us were looking to “complete the collection” anyway.

I guess for the hardcore, the shame is that Modiphius had announced a Pict sourcebook, but that won’t ever happen now, at least not for this line.

So there’s an Avatar (the Last Airbender) TTRPG that just came out? I’ve been looking for years for a system and world to bring my kids into role-playing, and after dallying with D&D and Marvel, I just didn’t find it. This could be it. Anyone know anything about the game or the Powered by the Apocalypse system? My RPG knowledge ends with the original White Wolf run, basically, so I know nothing.

I know a bit about Powered by the Apocalypse but not the Avatar RPG. PbtA structures a game with “moves”, which are mechanics that bring to life the feeling of a genre. Most moves refer back to the core mechanic for players of rolling 2d6 and adding a little. Higher gets better in the three tiers of results, and results are detailed in the move itself.

The math is simple, there aren’t many dice to learn, and what a character can do is approachable through the move list.

Howdy! Big PbtA fan and deep in the dollars backer of the new Avatar RPG from Magpie! Gonna start with some higher level stuff that I think is interesting, then get to actual questions to the best of my ability.

Boring Game Designy Stuff

PbtA is technically “just” a design philosophy rooted in the game design grognardery of the old Forge forums, if you want to read the 12-part blogpost series one of its progenitors wrote up over the last couple of years. And, if I recall, you are a game designer yourself, so you might enjoy that!

But, realistically in the modern era of what I think of as 3rd generation PbtA games, certain truisms have emerged that look much more like a game system (one that has relatively consistent, recognizable parts to it). That’s in no small part due to the work of Magpie Games, especially their landmark title Masks: The New Generation, a Young Justice-inspired teen superheroes RPG that cares way more about interpersonal melodrama and the trials of growing up than they do exactly how many hit points a Kryptonian eye ray takes off per second.

So, you’ve got some mostly agreed-upon basics: Characters are built using Playbooks, which encapsulate most of the mechanics you need to play and develop the character in a 1-4 page document you can easily print out. The core mechanic of the game is rolling 2d6, adding a very small modifier at most, and seeing if you hit “Fail” (6 or less), “Mixed Success” (7-9), or “Full Success” (10+) on the roll. These rolls are called for when certain Moves are triggered by players – Moves are basically “When your character does [something specific] in the fiction of the game, make [this move].” Moves also include a set of fictional and mechanical effects based on how well you roll them, often prompting players and/or the GM to generate new fiction along with whatever effect they have. Characters often take fictionally described Conditions rather than just rote points of damage. The GM never rolls dice, instead just playing NPCs, setting the stage, and responding to player actions/roll results with their own little list of Moves (some of which include, well, “deal some damage to that fool who tried to fight and sucked at it.”)

All this results in a family of games that are very player-driven and roleplay-heavy. They tend not to have a ton of mechanical crunch. Specifics like distances and weights are often handwaved or full-on ignored. GMs aren’t generally expected to do much pre-planning; you should instead respond to player actions, lean into character relationships, and riff off the results of failed and mixed success rolls using your GM moves and principles. Very “fail-forward” type game design where even a totally botched rolls is intended to make something interesting happen that naturally leads into the question: “Now what?!”

Avatar-Specific Stuff

Avatar Legends: The Roleplaying Game contains a TON of Masks DNA, but also a lot of really intriguing revisions to that formula and additions to mirror the fiction of the Avatar media universe better. But the basics are still there. Create characters using heavily archetypal playbooks like The Bold or The Prodigy that feature special moves and often pair character development to mechanical progression, gently pushing your character along some trope-y personal storylines without fully seizing control of their fate. Characters get stats like Creativity and Passion. They face Conditions like Afraid and Insecure when they falter. The game has a set of basic shared moves like Assess a Situation or Push Your Luck that cover the stuff characters in Avatar shows do all the time. The GM has a nice flavorful list of responsive Moves, like Reveal a hidden truth and Twist loyalties with tempting offers. The book contains tons of great setting details and flavor and art, digging deep into details of many eras of the Avatar world that didn’t get a ton of visibility in the original two shows (lots of content from the graphic novels, as I understand it).

It also includes the aforementioned revisions and special tweaks. There’s a really neat Balance system reflecting conflicting but valid Principles that guide how characters view and interact with the world around them – one might have a balance between Self-Reliance and Trust, for instance. This comes up in all sorts of places, as characters try to make their way in the world, sometimes having their core principles pushed on (for good or ill). There’s also a much more elaborate combat system than many PbtA games (where a fight can often be resolved in one Move!), with some extra trackers like Fatigue and tons of cool Moves and Techniques tied into the basic formula reflecting the really cool powers of the shows but also helping play out the emotional battles that often underpinned the actual fights.

It’s built as a game about a group of young, driven, but still-learning Companions going on awesome quests and journeys together. There’s going to be lots of hooks for intra-character roleplay and encouragement for characters to grow as people just as much as they do as piles of special moves and stats :)

I will say that due to the extra systems, and the somewhat-unusual-for-PbtA combat focus, this is a somewhat more difficult-to-learn game than the average PbtA title. It benefits a lot from at least the GM really deeply reading and understanding the book to get how all these interesting little narrative mechanics tie together to run a cohesive experience. Players coming from D&D or Pathfinder are going to spend a lot of time wondering where stuff they assume is mandatory in an RPG is here. If you’re just looking for a “punching bad guys in dark caves” simulator, this will be a terrible choice.

But if everyone at the table is invested in telling a shared, collaborative story about young heroes growing up and changing the world around them for the better while also having cool magic powers, then this is a great, great game!

Also @Nightgaunt, if you have followed any of the Ironsworn/Starforged conversations around here, that system is also PbtA, you can get an idea of how the general concept of ‘moves’ plays (from a solo perspective at least) from this thread: