Degenesis: Justitian Review

TL;DR

As a game master the best present I could ever receive is a setting book that makes me feel that if I got on a horse and rode far enough, I could reach the places it describes. I could smell the dust in the air, hear the sounds of its people, and see the sights change as I moved through it. Give me a world in motion, with fascinating, engaging NPCs, architectural oddities, weird accidents of history, seething tensions, and unexpected alliances. Drop story hooks on every page – some I can riff off on the fly, some so big they could propel multi-session adventures. Lure me with enticing stories and evocative images. That’s what you get with Justitian, an epic two-volume 570-page sourcebook that drops you into the most powerful city in the Protectorate. It guides you through the surrounding cities, spills the secrets of key NPCs, and reveals long-hidden secrets from the Degenesis metaplot. And it’s available for free. Read more

First Look: Rune & Steel

This is a first look at a draft of Rune & Steel, a tabletop RPG that is being Kickstarted by the father-son team of Ryan and Kael Shuck. The game aims to provide a rich fantasy setting based on Norse mythology. Because this is still a work in progress I’ll hit a few aspects of the game I find most interesting, rather than attempt anything like a review. Read more

Cyberpunk Red: The Actual Play Review

TL;DR

Cyberpunk Red puts players in the chromed-out retro-future of Night City in the year 2045. This is a game that knows what it is about, and it follows its earlier incarnations without being trapped by them. The mechanics are straightforward, and making interesting and engaging characters is easy. Cyberpunk Red is like an instruction manual – very focused on play, easy to absorb. It’s also full of visual and textual flavor that drops you right into the setting. Whether you use the Jumpstart Kit or the core rulebook, you’ll be getting a quality product. Read on to get more detailed impressions and see the differences between the two products. Read more

2020 Report

The year 2020 was a disaster in so many ways. Before I go any further with this wrap-up of how Unpossible Journeys fared, I hope you and yours were able to weather the storm (and fires, and pandemic, and economic disruption, and political insanity) without much long-term ill effect. Read more

Review – The Elusive Shift: How Roleplaying Games Forged Their Identity

TL;DR

With The Elusive Shift Jon Peterson delivers an engaging and thoroughly-researched history of how the first Dungeons & Dragons players discussed, argued about, hacked, and designed alternatives to these loosely-defined rules for fantasy wargaming. These trailblazers hailed from two different traditions – wargaming and science fiction fandom – and the fundamental differences in their approaches led to a range of interpretations about what “roleplaying” even meant. By shedding light on the early days of the hobby, Peterson’s surefooted work also provides context that helps us understand its current state. Read more

First Look: Quest

This is a first look at the Quest tabletop RPG. It appears to have two primary design goals: to serve as an easy onramp for tabletop roleplaying newcomers, and to facilitate smooth online play. I won’t attempt to judge if it succeeds in those goals definitively, as I don’t believe it’s possible to issue such verdicts on a game I haven’t played. These are merely initial impressions as I dig into the game. Read more

You’re Gonna Screw Up

Really, you will. No matter what you do, when you play a tabletop roleplaying game, you’ll misinterpret the rules. You’ll create a character that just doesn’t mesh with the rest of the PCs. You’ll make the wrong choice. You’ll introduce something as a gamemaster that will make your players look at you like you’re out of your mind. Read more