It’s the start of another year and there are so many roleplaying games out there already, not to mention so many due to be released in the year to come. There will always be surprises and blind spots, but I thought I would have a look and share a few that have caught my attention.
I have a caveat for this set. These are all RPGs which are so new they’re not even on Kickstarter, Backerkit, GameFound, Itchfunding or anywhere else yet. What makes a ‘new’ RPG is so tricky, so I’ve gone for the most new. There are a lot of games which have funded and aren’t out yet (i.e. Salvage Union, The Unquiet Dark) and ones which have released digitally but not physically (i.e. Mothership 1E, Brindlewood Bay). I’ve decided to skip them this time.
Black Armada Games
The first edition of Lovecraftesque sees players pass a single character around the table, delving into an investigation they really shouldn’t have. One player acts as the narrator for the scene and everyone else as ‘watchers’, adding flavour and elements from a mystery card no one else knows the contents of. The story flows through investigative phases and assumptions about what the truth of the mystery might be. Eventually, the game speeds up its pacing as the investigator races towards what is almost always their doom.
The second edition is going to increase the card-based play and Black Armada have experimented with the format a couple of times with games on their Patreon, so I can’t wait to see what they do with this new edition.
Keep an eye on Black Armada’s site for when the Kickstarter launches: https://blackarmada.com/
Rowan Rook and Decard
The makers of Spire & Heart are going into a new world of grim fantasy, where realms open up when things get grim enough. You play people similarly infected, similarly Hollow. You can enter the Hollows and hunt down the Hollow Lord inside, removing the blight from the world and keeping yourself going slightly longer. There are unique Weapons which are aware, hate you, but can grant you abilities to help in your quest.
It’s been interesting seeing an increase in indie RPGs embracing tactical fights, such as Nova and Rune from Gile RPGs. I’m curious to see what this means for Hollows. If you want a game name-checking Monster Hunter and Dark Souls in its list of inspirations, this is the place for you.
Sign up to playtest here: https://rowanrookanddecard.com/hollows-is-coming-soon-and-you-can-playtest-it/
Whatever The Gauntlet is Up To
I’ve always been vocal about my love of the games put out by Gauntlet Publishing, and this year it sounds like they’ve got a number of projects being worked on.
Arkham Herald by Oli Jeffery is a game using the fantastic Carved from Brindlewood mystery system to tell stories of investigative journalists in the 70’s encountering cosmic horrors.
Moonlight Vale by Megan Caldwell and Xander Bimski is a kind of Stardew Valley using CfB mechanics. I was one of those people who got heavily into Animal Crossing during the first lockdown, and I’m curious about how this game which could be tonally quite different to the other CfBs will be.
Public Access by Jason Cordova is a kind of retro television creepypasta RPG. The players are ‘Latchkeys’ who are looking into things like weird haunted houses. It looks like it’s got a lot of things about weird things like number stations, the Satanic Panic and haunted video tapes.
The Silt Verses RPG by Gabriel Robinson is based on a spooky podcast and using the CfB framework, it has players as Peacekeepers to have to deal with weird phenomena and stray gods. I’ve literally just started listening to the podcast because of this announcement and it is fascinating.
The Gauntlet’s site is here: https://www.gauntlet-rpg.com/
By Machine Age Games
I’ve loved what Machine Age did with monster hunting with #iHunt. Olivia Hill asked online about interest in making a specifically trans-friendly magic school, because fuck that school by that TERF. The plan has expanded and changed a lot, tagging in influences like Nick Spencer’s fantastic Morning Glories, the Re-Animator films and from what I’ve seen so far, possibly even some The Magicians. It has characters studying magic, actually improving and messing around with their grades as part of the game. There have only been small previews so far, but I’m already excited to see what comes of it.
A lot of their games have initial versions in their Codex zine and on their Patreon which can be found here: https://www.patreon.com/gauntlet/
Machine Age’s Patreon is here: https://www.patreon.com/machineage/
I admit this is a bigger company than the others on this list and not really an indie, but the generational Arthurian RPG has always felt like a white whale for me. I flit from game to game, but this feels like one which could take a lifetime. You play Arthurian knights year after year during the dwindling age of Uther and then their offspring, generation after generation through the rise and eventual fall of Arthur. You must be good at maintaining your household and courting in order to guarantee a next generation to inherit your glory when you eventually fall.
The sixth edition was being worked on by Greg Stafford when he passed away in 2018 and this edition’s been worked on by Chaosium with a hopeful release this year. This includes a starter set which will have a slightly shorter campaign than I described. I love the idea of this game, and am looking forward to seeing it.
Keep an eye on Chaosium’s blog for more news: https://www.chaosium.com/blog/
By Moss Powers
You’re damned whalers hunting a hellwhale. You gamble with souls, use tokens for your resolve and the framework comes from Belonging Outside Beloinging games, which is going to be interesting in a game with a directed story where you’re setting out on a quest.
You can check out Moss’ Itch page here: https://brewisttabletopgames.itch.io/
By will jobst
The author of Torq and This Discord Had Ghosts in it has a game about ‘mutant freaks in the weird future’. I know literally nothing else, but I like their work, so it’s best to keep an eye on what these mutant freaks are up to.
will’s site is found here: https://willjobst.itch.io/
By Evil Hat Productions
The name says it all. Battle Royale, Squid Games, all of those sorts of stories. Little else is know, although the author, Tim Dinee, released a gorgeous illustrated recap. If you want to compete with other players in brutal game show warfare on an island, I’m guessing this’ll be the place to go to.
Girl by Moonlight
By Evil Hat Productions
A Forged in the Dark game about magical girls. I admit I know very little about this and the genre, but FitD is a great framework and it looks like there are a bunch of interesting takes on the magical girl type of story.
Evil Hat Productions’ website is found here: https://evilhat.com/
And finally, some Expansions from Evil Hat
I was torn about including expansions, but you know what? They’re so rare for indie RPGs that I’m including them. Evil Hat’s going to be releasing a couple:
- AGON: Realms of Khaos – I love Matt Fraction and Christian Ward’s gonzo science fiction ODY-C and this sounds like it’ll add some of that cosmic energy to the bombastic hero-fest that is baseline AGON.
- Blades in the Dark: Dagger Isles – Blades in the Dark is one of the best roleplaying games, this is an official supplement for that, so it’ll be one of the best supplements, I need say nothing more.
- Monster of the Week: Codex of Worlds – I like the look of Monster of the Week and this looks to shake up the campaign structure, which will be interesting to check out.
Oh, and also upcoming Zine Month Entries
I’ve only heard some rumblings about what’s coming out during Zine Month and it’s just round the corner, so I might have to do like previous years and try to cover what’s out here. Luckily Zine Month has its own lovely site which acts as an index of them, so that may not be necessary.
I feel like I’ve barely touched the surface of what’s coming out this year in the RPG world. What indie RPGs are you looking forward to?
Dang so many cool rpgs I haven’t heard of, tx for sharing.