The Indie Games Short-list

A list of new roleplaying games everyone should be aware of. In other words, my wish list.

Unhallowed Metropolis – ‘Gothic Victorian horror in a steampunk, gasmask-chic style.’ Or something to that effect. Unhallowed has one of the best settings I’ve seen in a while, and that’s nothing to scoff at. Plus, the rules are similar enough to TORG to hope for a third-party conversion. Also to note–the game’s first expansion, Unhallowed Necropolis, is scheduled to hit stores early 2009. It features more undead, ghost, and paranormal rules, along with psychics, and more tech.

Edge of Midnight – Pulp, firmly in the film noir genre of dark city streets, blonde bombshells, and a plethora of trenchcoat-wearing detectives. Of course, it also has a lot of magic and intrigue in it–not quite to the level of Bloodshadows, but still, it’s in print, and it looks hot. The system is relatively simple enough, making it a quick game for on-the-run one-shots.

Cthulhutech – Gothic horror meets mecha. I know I already went over this one recently, but I feel I need to keep plugging away at this game. After fixing a plethora of errors with the first, black-and-white print run, the game has been re-released in an awesome print run. Plus, there’s plenty of books out for it, and more on the way–it’s a heckuva line.

Hollow Earth Expedition – Science Fantasy, in that ’30s pulp action kind of way. Another one I mentioned recently, but I bring up again because it’s that good. The system is incredibly simple, the world is incredibly versatile, the book packed with all sorts of movie and novel references. This one’s pretty hot, no denying.

Spirit of the Century – Pure pulp fantasy, more in the ’30s epic actioneer serials than in the more two-fisted heroics of Hollow Earth or dusky noir of Edge of Midnight. Spirit assumes your characters are very powerful, and assumes your players are very fast on their feet when it comes to rolling with the punches. The game demands a lot of its players, namely in that all of the characters’ abilities and powers come straight from the players’ imagination. The more imagination, the more awesome the ability. It looks fast, fun, and epically awesome. Evil Hat Productions also is working on the Dresden Files RPG, and did a bunch of other awesome stuff.

Dogs in the Vineyard – Western, with a lot of spiritual influences. You play a Morman watchdog wandering from town to town doing a variety of tasks, form carrying the mail to enforcing the law. What sets this game apart is its originality–who thinks up these things?

In A Wicked Age
– Sword-and-sandals fantasy. Heavily influenced by the ancient empires, as well as swords-and-barbarians action. Yet another game light on rules and high on fun, this game is not only quick, but offers one of my favorite gameplay options yet: a prophecy-tarot draw using your standard poker deck (or the online generator, if you will). You can make some fantastic plots with this.

Savage Worlds – ’nuff said. The game lines I most like to point out are Tour of Darkness, the survival-horror game based in the jungles of Vietnam (imagine if Platoon was as dark as Apocalypse Now, and the growing madness was helped along by the supernatural terrors in the woods), and Necessary Evil (imagine if all the superheroes were killed by aliens, requiring you to play the necessary evil–a supervillain–who kicks alien butt to liberate earth). Sadly, both are hard to find and

I tried to keep it indie as long as possible, but can’t help but promote these last games. When the first released last year, it won my nominations, and I still consider it the best game idea of 2007. The other has been around for a while as a d20 product, but was released as its own game a few years back; it fits into my top-ten list of “this is an awesome concept” list.

Scion – Modern Fantasy, with a good dose of the epic and a lot of mythology rolling about. Imagine if you were the child of the gods, starting as an avatar to fight the titanspawn and save Earth and ending up replacing your parent as part of the patheon. Now, imagine that it was using a variation of Exalted Second Edition, had the most well-documented pantheon options, and used the standard White Wolf system that is both easy to learn and quick to play. That’s your game.

Grimm – Modern Fantasy with a lot of dark elements. In Grimm, your character is a child sucked into the realm of fairy tales to fix whatever’s currently screwing with it. And the world is indeed screwed, resulting in a much darker fairy land than the Grimm brothers ever told it. Your character must defeat the evils and save the world, should that be possible. See Labyrinth, Dark Crystal, Stardust (most Gaiman in general), and a lot of other modern influences–it’s like Changeling, only a lot more playable. (E.g., your players could possibly concieve of how to play this.)

Honorable Mention –
Dark Heresy – Warhammer 40k. Duh. A list of recent RPG’s is just lacking something without a mention of DH.

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