Free Role Playing Games Day is this Saturday June 25th. That’s your cue to visit a participating friendly local game store to grab some free stuff. But if all you’re doing is a flyby of treats you can sign off with, then you’re missing the point. Free RPG Day is about building community, not gobbling up merch. Instead, why not grab a brochure, sit down at a table, and start playing one of those games right away?
Polygon had the opportunity to preview all the materials that were given away during this year’s Free RPG Day. Here’s our pick of the five best tabletop RPGs that you should be able to get up and running with just a handful of inexperienced players and very little prep time.
Dungeon Crawl Classics: Danger in the Air
Dungeon Crawl Classics Role Playing Game is a set of retro rules of Goodman Games that evokes the same sense of danger and exploration present in the original 1974 version of Dungeons & Dragons. The system has been “modernized” in such a way that it is extremely familiar to fans of later editions of the game, including the most recent fifth edition.
danger in the air it’s a funnel for 0-level characters that requires little more than a working understanding of the d20 system. (If that gives you anxiety, there is also a 44 page Quick Start Guide available online). At the end of an hour or two, expect to have a handful of level 1 adventurers ready for their first real mission, and dozens of bodies from those who failed the task. What is that task? Well, he’s exploring a drifting extraplanar ship of mysterious origins that has been hovering over the city for the last few days. It’s a great way to kick off a larger Dungeon Crawl Classics campaign, or tease people excited about the pending Dungeons & Dragons reboot. magician adjustment.
Level 1: The Independent RPG Anthology, Volume 3
Tier 1: The Anthology of Indie RPGs is back with its third issue this year, and it’s basically a bag of holdings packed with thoughtful rule-light RPGs. This year’s jewel is called old media gods by Graham Gentzthat encourages you to take on several of the world’s most beloved characters and turn them into Eldritch forces bent on world domination.
Imagine that all the passion, love, and care that fans put into their favorite fictional characters also empowers those characters. Now imagine that these characters exist as immortal gods, their power relative to their peers, and even humanity itself, fluctuating with every movie or video game release. Simply roll through Brand Awareness to get started. The matchups are endless, especially when you consider how deep a reserve of power must be granted to demonic entities old enough to enter the public domain.
a family problem
a family problem is a lighthearted game with excellent bona fides; was co-created by critical role‘s marisha ray Y honey theft creator Grant Howitt. a family problem puts players in the role of “fancy and stressed” familiars, sentient magical animal companions of spell casters, trying to keep up with a group of adventurers. The project was announced earlier this month, and now that I’ve had a chance to take a look at it I’m really impressed. She has all the charm you’d expect from the game’s real-star team, and all the randomness and open-ended design Howitt’s work is known for. It’s the perfect icebreaker for an event like Free RPG Day, or perhaps your next regular home game.
Rolled and Counted Volume 1
The most important offer for this year’s Free RPG Day is Rolled and Counted Volume 1, which is a full-size hardcover book first published in 2019. It is a collection of seven adventures in the Rolled & Told series, which is a hybrid publication combining serial comic book adventures and a companion set of compatible adventures with the fifth edition. Originally priced at $39.99, it may be that publisher The Lion Forge had a lot of them sitting in storage and wanted to get rid of them. But that doesn’t make the excellent, long-running adventures contained within any less worthwhile.
Lastly, of the officially licensed items on offer during Free RPG Day, by far the most interesting is the paperback quick start guide for Homeworld Revelations, the high-concept tabletop RPG based on the beloved real-time strategy series. While it doesn’t include all of the delicious fluff penned by the game’s original writer Martin Cirulis, you do get a healthy glimpse of how the game’s mechanics will work ahead of general release.
Other licensed games include modules for Paizo’s Pathfinder and Starfinder settings; Steamforged Games’ Epic Encounters series of Fifth Edition compatible adventures; a new quick start for Root: The RPG; Cyberpunk Red Easy Modewhich is an excellent little version of the complete TTRPG which serves as a prequel to cyberpunk 2077; and a new one-shot for the Iron Kingdoms setting from Privateer Press called A strange light breaks.
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