Examples of games other than Dungeons & Dragons, including covers for Blades in the Dark, Savage Worlds, Ironsworn: Starforged, Pathfinder, and Fate of Cthulhu

S3E12 Games other than Dungeons & Dragons

On this episode of the Lair of Secrets we venture deep into the Role-Playing Game Vault to uncover a host of games that aren’t Dungeons & Dragons. We also talk about the new games we didn’t buy, ZineQuest 5, and the launch of the Leon Library Book Club, and The Obelisk Gate by N. K. Jemisin.

The Neon Library Book Club

The Library

  • The Obelisk Gate by N. K. Jemisin
    • Follow up to the Fifth Season – post apocalyptic setting with a very cool magic mechanic.
    • Much faster read than The Fifth Season.
    • Settled into the 2nd person perspective much more easily, and there are fewer time jumps this time.
    • And the mystery of the Earth and its seasons is being revealed, which has me looking forward to Book 3.

The Game Room

  • GoldenEye is out for Switch and Xbox One. Ken didn’t buy it.
    • Yet.
  • Olympus Fluxx is out. David did buy it, but hasn’t played it.
    • Yet

The Zine Rack

Main Topic: Games other than Dungeons & Dragons

We haven’t thrown in our two cents about Wizards of the Coast, the OGL, and Dungeons & Dragons until now because, honestly, it doesn’t really affect us. We don’t just play D&D and we haven’t streamed it. The more we see about it though, the more we would like to help those of you out there for whom D&D is their core game or are looking for something other than DnD.

And before we jump in, if you still want to play DnD that’s cool too. It’s a fun game, even if WotC did some pretty bad missteps lately. You aren’t WotC or Hasbro, you are blameless and should enjoy yourselves!

If you wantthen playbecausebut beware
High action, high-risk gamesSavage WorldsExploding dice mechanic creates unexpected results.

Bennies encourage players to take risks.  
Bad for nuance and subtlety.
Collaborative world building with a variety of conflictsFATE (Spirit of the Century, Dresden Files, Fate of Cthulhu)Aspects encourage players and game master to tag the world with descriptors.

Lots of dials to make the setting and genre you want.
Not great for crunchy, mechanically complex characters.
Traditional, fantasy-inspired role-playing with lots of complexityPathfinder, Pathfinder 2E1E is an offshoot of D&D 3rd Edition, and retains its mechanical complexity (with a few streamlining efforts, like combat maneuvers)

2E continues the streamlining … but still crunchy
Complexity may be too much for players looking for a simpler game. 
Gonzo fantasy role-playing game inspired by the classics of fantasy literature.Dungeon Crawl Classics, Mutant Crawl ClassicsYou want to roll funky dice.

You want to start with 0-level characters, don’t mind a high body count among players, and want magic to be dangerous.
May be too brutal for some players.

Conflates species with class.
Investigation-based, horror-themed game with a straightforward rule setCall of CthulhuYou want to explore the themes of cosmic horror and humanity’s desire to learn things it shouldn’t.

You enjoy playing in a variety of modern or near-modern eras (e.g. late 1800s, 1920s, 2000s)
Lethal with a high chance of mental incapacitation. No mechanic to ensure the players find all the necessary clues.
An investigation game in which players are sure to progress through the mystery.GUMSHOE (Night’s Black Agents, The Fall of Delta Green)You want zero chance that the players won’t find the clue that prevents the Great Old One from rising.Prefer traditional mysteries with a chance of failure.
Player-centric games focused on world building where the game master adjudicates, but rarely rolls dice.Powered by the Apocalypse (Apocalypse World, Dungeon World, Thirsty Sword Lesbians, Monster of the Week)Players drive the world, build connections amongst themselves, and work with the game master to build out the setting.

Character playbooks provide a framework and rules for what each character type can do.
Playbooks, with their limited number of moves that players can take, may be off-putting to some gamers.

The Game Master’s role requires a major mental shift.
Not as crunchy as other systems, but more than FATE.
The current hotness, which can either be a plus or minus.
You want to play a game without a gamemasterIronsworn, Ironsworn: StarforgedGreat for solo or collaborative play in both fantasy and science fiction genres.There are a lot of moves. We mean a lot of moves.
A crew-based, non-linear game that encourages flashbacks and mechanics that incentivize storytelling and risk taking.Forged in the Dark (Blades in the Dark, Scum and Villainy)The games provided a baked in reason for players to be together (e.g. a gang, a crew).

Focused on the action, not the hours of planning to get to the action.

Not sure how you got here? Do a flashback.
Descended from Powered by the Apocalypse
People who like planning heists/capers/missions may be turned off by these games.
The current hotness, which can either be a plus or minus.
Stunt-based fantasy adventures.Fantasy AGELooking for that old-school feel, but with a modern mechanical hook.

Students give your character the ability to do something amazing (think Legolas in Lord of the Rings)
Stunts can get a little stale after a while, so be prepared to change up the narrative you’re using to describe them.
Commit high heresy and don’t use any dice. At all.Amber Diceless Roleplaying Game, Lords of Gossamer & ShadowScheme for control of a multiverse spawned by your player’s will and imagination.

Resolve conflicts with fixed stats. 
If you like to roll dice, this game isn’t for you.
Superheroes, aliens posing as gods, where your characters are world changersGodsend AgendaPlayers craft their own Agendas as they make their superheroes. As they play, they are a powerful force in the world, striving to achieve the goals of that Agenda.

People who like superheroes with a purpose.
David knows the designer and likes concept of the game, but hasn’t played the newest edition yet.
Not your typical superhero setting, if that is what you were looking for.
Table: An index of games, their advantages, and disadvantages.


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