Another fortnight, another slew of new games and releases that have made their way onto my radar. In between PAX East, the Gayming Awards, and the first D&D Direct, a lot has happened. I’ve already covered Role’s new digital release Chrome, the Spelljammer announcement, and the new Marvel Multiverse Role-Playing Game, but we’re here to dive into some indie tabletop role-playing games. And we’re starting out with a new game from a fantastic author (and a personal friend!): Jason Cordova.
Creator Spotlight: Gauntlet Publishing
Gauntlet Publishing is a massive community of TTRPG players that hosts a massive calendar of online games that anyone can join, produces both actual play and nonfiction gaming podcasts, and supports independent publishing projects. They also publish Codex, a monthly gaming magazine that yours truly was published in back in 2020, and (in the spirit of full disclosure) I have previously freelanced for the magazine in the past as its copy and development editor. Their last crowdfunding outings include a Codex compendium, Trophy, and Hearts of Wulin. And now? Brindlewood Bay has just launched and has already surpassed its crowdfunding goal four times over!
From the core rulebook, “Brindlewood Bay is a roleplaying game about a group of elderly women—members of the local Murder Mavens mystery book club—who frequently find themselves investigating (and solving!) real-life murder mysteries. They become increasingly aware that there are supernatural forces that connect the cases they are working on and, in particular, a cult dedicated to the dark, monstrous aspect of the goddess Persephone will come to vex them.”
Cordova’s work on Brindlewood Bay encompasses years of TTRPG experience, resulting in a game that is mechanically compelling and uses a lot of sitcom tropes to their fullest extent. The Brindlewood Bay system (which reads like a heavily modified Powered by the Apocalypse) is perfectly designed for mystery-solving, clue-gathering, and supernatural meddling. One of Cordova’s signatures—a guide on how to easily write your own mystery, including setup, NPCs, and a simplified game structure—is present in this game, which embodies Cordova’s ethos of accessibility and inclusion.
New Releases: Solar Blades and Cosmic Spells, Wrongwood, Warlords of Mars
So, not just because I’m still on a Spelljammer kick, I’m highlighting Solar Blades and Cosmic Spells by Diogo Old Skull. This is a rules-light space sorcery game with pulpy sci-fi roots; the incredibly detailed book is 450 pages of illustrations, adventure seeds, item and NPC tables, and adventures! The actual rules are a comparative 150 pages, which feels right for a galaxy-spanning book about jumping through stars on living meteors.
Welcome to Wrongwood by David Blandy is a short map-crawl full of mycelium traveling and rotting forest. It’s got a lot of trippy hallucinogenic flavor and provides a great base for a microsetting in any kind of system. It’s easily portable, well-written, and a great little addition to any campaign.
A Fiasco playset, Warlords of Mars is about a lone human trying to stop a war on the Red Planet. It’s pulpy and full of callbacks to Edgar Rice Burroughs’ A Princess of Mars, meaning that it’s got romance, an unavoidable climate change plot, and a whole lot of action.
Crowdfunding: Emerald Templars, To Change, Pitcrawler
Emerald Templars by DeAngelo Murillo: “In a world under the constant threat of chaos magic, only one faction stands between order and destruction: You are the Emerald Templars. Brave souls from all walks of life, sworn to use your might and magic against unimaginable dangers. Embark on harrowing quests to investigate and stop the occult. Encounter otherworldly enemies who command terrible power in depths of forsaken lands. All the while risking not just your body, but your mind and soul.”
To Change by Ulysses “Duck” Duckler and Ewen Albright: “To Change is a rules-light TTRPG where players will find themselves faced with a shared experience of a transformation in the body and mind. Whether the change is something terrible to be avoided or something wonderful to be pursued, whether it is something enigmatic or anticipated, the possibilities are limitless. The system is setting agnostic, with adventures that span a wide range of genres to cover themes of body horror and lost humanity, as well as self discovery and the joy of taking on a new form.”
Pitcrawler: “Designed by Jonathan Sims (The Magnus Archives, Thirteen Storeys) and Sasha Sienna (Himbo Treasure Hunt, Doctor Who: Redacted), Pitcrawler is a two-player TTRPG inspired by classic adventure gamebook series like Fighting Fantasy, Lone Wolf, and Sonic the Hedgehog (seriously, there were six of them and they were awesome), with one player taking the role of the adventurer and the other taking the GM role by playing the book.”
In Other News:
- The 2022 Gayming Award ceremony happened on April 25, and celebrated a ton of geeky queer gamer goodness including top honors for Life is Strange: True Colors (Best Game) and Tanya DePas (Gayming Icon)
- Debuting at PAX East, AlchemyRPG showed off an impressive set of virtual tabletop (VTT) tools for D&D, aimed at streamers and worldbuilders.
- Castles in the Sky, a “spacial puzzle” board game, has successfully crowdfunded.
- Following CY_BORG’s successful Kickstarter, Kyle Tam released Idols of Flesh and Blood, an unofficial, entertainer-focused supplement for the game.
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