So, a few days ago I gave you, our fine readers, a glance at some of the offerings from this year’s Free RPG Day. They are all great products, from great publishers, and there is nothing I wouldn’t sit down and play. But ultimately those were the ones I just glanced through. Some I’ve seen or played before. Some were previews of games yet to come, that maybe I’ll play and maybe I won’t. Today I’m going to talk about the games that excited me. The freebies that I knew were coming or that I saw and just went YES. Just like the last list, there’s no real order of preference here, just how I read them.
Overlight (Renegade Game Studios) is a game we covered during its very successful Kickstarter Campaign. The gameplay seems solid, the world they’ve created is amazing, and the art is beyond exceptional. The stories behind the creation of the game are almost as entertaining as the final game promises to be. In this sneak preview of the game (hitting stores in a few short months) we get a brief introduction to the themes that inspired Overlight as well as an overview of the unique setting, peoples, and abilities in the game. The book closes with a decent adventure that can be played as an introduction for new players, as well as a prelude to the adventure included with the Core Rulebook. What it does NOT include is any quickstart rules or pre-generated characters. For that, you’ll need to do some interweb searching (because they do exist) or wait until the game is actually released. But even without the immediate playability, this prelude adventure does a great job showing a bit of what’s to come, and how it will look.
Kids on Bikes (Infectious Play Publishing & Renegade Game Studios) is a game I discovered shortly after their Kickstarter closed, having just reviewed one of co-creator Doug Levandowski’s previous games. The concept harkens back to a simpler time, the 1980’s, when kids had the freedom to go on adventures of their own making. Such adventures often started while riding their bikes. For the Free RPG Day Edition, the rules have been distilled down to a detailed description of how to create and run a game. It’s less of a quickstart and more of a walkthrough. They include three sets of four characters, and just by looking at them I could intuitively recognize many of the character creation points that would get discussed after them. As a whole, the rules and gameplay feel a bit like they were inspired by the Powered by the Apocalypse system, but so far appear to lack in some of the key components that I actually really don’t care for in those particular rules. This is definitely a game I want to learn more about when it get’s released.
Jame Edward Raggi IV’s Eldritch Cock (Lamentations of the Flame Princess) started as a joke in last year’s Vaginas are Magic, and even though it was never intended to be any but a joke people wanted it, so now we have it. I first encountered Lamentations of the Flame Princess at Free RPG Day 2015, when they released a massive tome of an adventure. Since then I’ve had the pleasure to review a number of their releases for other sites. The biggest thing I’ve learned is that creator James Edward Raggi IV is as metal as you can get, as old-school punk as you can get, and generally as anti-establishment as you can get. He’s basically the Black Flag of RPGs. As amazing and wonderfully weird as LotFP is, his Author’s Notes are possibly the best and most brutally honest thing you will ever read in gaming. This HARDCOVER book of insane spells takes all their spell names from various song titles, are theoretically usable in most “Old School” RPG games. Another nice touch is that the last two pages of the book are dedicated to presenting a few potential rules changes that are being tested for an eventual new edition of the game. LotFP is rated 18+ and isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. But it is something that any open-minded gamer, looking for something different, should look into.
Pathfinder (Paizo) has been one of my favourite Free RPG Day handouts for years. Why you ask? Goblins. We Be 5uper Goblins! is the fifth outing in the We Be Goblins series. This time our heroes (i guess you can call them heroes) find themselves inside a secret land inside a magic bag. It was creative, it was elegant, is was much too short. It almost felt like they were just going through the motions. They did, however, do a really good job setting up a potential part six for next year. The ultimate question here, is will next year be the end of Reta, Chuffy, Poog, and Mogmurch? Will we even see a part six, given that Pathfinder 2nd Edition will hit its official release a few months later, or will we get something new for 2E?
Starfinder (Paizo) has been an unmitigated hit, so it only made sense to see an adventure come out to promote that as well. Skitter Shot lets players take the part of a group of Skittermanders. They are a cute, furry, colourful, and generally a fun race of creatures. So it makes sense to put them to the forefront. I won’t lie, I was honestly hoping for Gobins in Space. But Skittermanders are a good second choice. I’m hoping that Paizo will develop this series into a closer knit Adventure Path style series. We Be Goblins started that way, but sort of fell off course a bit with last year’s prequel We B4 Goblins. If they make the call now, know how the We Be Goblins series exploded, we could be in for a great ride.
Unknown Armies (Atlas Games) was a pleasant surprise. On the one hand, I’d be shocked if I didn’t know this was coming, yet somehow I have no recollection of knowing this was coming. I have the three book Deluxe Set of Unknown Armies sitting on my personal shelf, just waiting for me to have time to give it a try. But being on my personal shelf as opposed to my reviewer’s shelf it keeps getting passed over. Maria in Three Parts gives a wonderfully concise quickstart rules summary, followed by a short adventure. Peppered throughout are small sidebars referring players to find additional info in the regular rulebooks.
Midnight Legion (Studio 9) seems to be inspired by the old Choose Your Own Adventure books. But turned up to 11. Last Recruit acts as a prequel to the first book in the series and allows a player to bypass the regular character creation rules, and start Book 1 with a fully form Agent of the Midnight Legion. Because of the book format, there seems to be somewhat limited replayability to the main game, but judging from this little prequel, it will be a wild ride. Book 3 in the series appears to be scheduled for Kickstarter sometime this summer.
Cthulhu Confidential / The Fall of Delta Green (Pelgrane Press) is a dual game book and by far the largest product of the year, at just shy of 90 pages. The first half-ish of the book presents A Cable’s Length From Shore, a Cthulhu Confidential adventure for the new character Phyllis Oakley. The game uses the innovative GUMSHOE One-2-One system for a single Player and a single GM. Until now the games have focused around the three specifically balanced characters presented in the Core Rulebook. It’s nice to see them branching out into a new city and a new person. With the second One-2-One game, Night’s Black Agents: Solo Ops, on the horizon this is a great introduction to the system. On a Bank, By Moonlight is an introductory adventure for The Fall of Delta Green. The game takes Arc Publishing’s Delta Green RPG and adapts it to Pelgrane’s GUMSHOE system, while sending players back into Arc Publishing’s backstory of the 1960s. Again, we are given an incredibly brief quickstart before diving into the adventure.
So with that, another year’s Free RPG Day comes to a close. If any of the games catches your eye, check with your Friendly Local Gaming Store. They may have a copy the Free products left. If not, many publishers will distribute copies themselves, starting late July.