Monday, 23 June 2014

Free RPG Day 2014

Last Saturday 'twas that time of year again, the proverbial gift-mas in June: Free RPG Day. I hope you were able to make it two a participating FLGS and grab a few items to try something new or supplement your collection. I, myself managed to hit up two retailers before I had to go to work and got a handful of free products plus one that I'd paid for. Again I had to pick and choose between all the entries that garnered my interest:

Laminations of the Flame Princess - The Doom-Cave of the Crystal-Headed Children

First off we'll start off with the second-time winner in my humble opinion of Free RPG Day (if it was a contest), Laminations of the Flame Princess' brilliant entry: The Doom-Cave of the Crystal-Headed Children. Like their previous year's entry, the excellent production values were funded by a successful crowd-funding project.

Despite clocking in at a smaller page count (36-pages) compared to last years' massive near-100 page entry: Better Than Any Man, this year's entry is just as well-written. Whereas Better Than Any Man was more of a sandbox with an overarching, time-sensitive plot attached to it, Doom-Cave is more of a classic dungeon crawl with an excellent story, making it in my opinion more accessible to new LotFP players or other OSR gamers who'd like to drop Doom-Cave into a pre-existing game or give its parent system a try.

Again no quick-start rules, appropriately because a free no-art version of the LotFP rules is available online. The art might not be as stellar in comparison to Better, but the sketch-art in Doom-Cave is very thematic to the setting. Word of warning again to the squeamish, the content might be considered explicit to those with certain sensitivities.

I've yet to read thoroughly through Doom-Cave, but the a decent mix of good old grid dungeons, random tables, interesting encounters, and a good heaping dose of the weirdness that is LotFP makes me look forward to digesting this entry. Also last year's Better Than Any Man is available on PDF for pay-what-you want here.

Cosmic Patrol - Quick-Start Rules: The Continuance Contingency

Another small sampling of Cosmic Patrol by our friends at Catalyst Game Labs. About half of this 24-page folio is filled with quick-start rules, which I've already covered in my last Free RPG Day entry.

The remainder is filled with a couple pre-gen characters, example enemies, and a several mission briefs.

All in all, a decent, if sparse Free RPG Day 2014 entry.

Castles & Crusades - A Druid's Lament

I was fortunate enough a couple months ago to acquire a few of last years Free RPG Day entries (the advantages of living in a small capital city), namely Castles & Crusades, Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls, and Swords & Wizardry: A Pot of Broken Bones (& Halfling Broth), a preview pack, and Hall of Bones, respectively.

These free leftovers from my FLGS did help round out my collection and fulfil my desire for more 'old school' games during my hunt for material to possibly convert over to my ongoing Torchbearer game.

Personally, I found the T&T entry a little too hack'n'slash for my tastes, and the C&C one somewhat generic but decent. I did actually enjoy the S&W entry Hall of Bones though, I found it had a decent layout and simple but well-done delve.

Back to now, the entry this year, A Druid's Lament by C&C, I think was better than it's predecessor, though it does suffer from some weak writing. (I.e. it was written the Druid directs the party to a great tree, but one can only presume she does do because she knows that's where the forest spirit resumes? Also she's very loath to tell the story of what happened, but eventually does so anyway?)

Since C&C is stripped down version of d20, I'm not really a fan of it system-wise but this entry is a nice little side-trek that can be dropped into about any other fantasy game.

Mage: The Ascension - Introductory Quickstart Rules and Adventure Hooks

One of the entries with a higher page count, I picked up this Mage quickstart because it came to my attention last week I don't own any material by White Wolf (or it's new parent company, Onyx Path Publishing). Not that I really want anything by WW in my collection; (I sold a collection of Werewolf: The Apocalypse books that had come into my possession to a friend) despite playing a few WW games, I just have never felt the desire to own any of them.

Anyway, the main reason I grabbed Mage was because a couple friends who want to game with me a few weeks ago had little experience in RPGs beyond Mage and Pathfinder, so I grabbed it for a lark.

I had heard good things about Mage as far as the WoD line goes, and maybe once I sat down and read this booklet I might like what I see. If not, I'll give to someone who appreciates it more. That all said, the general layout and the art is top notch.

Dungeon Crawl Classics/Maximum Xcrawl - Elzemon and the Blood-Drinking Box/Dungeon Detonation 

23 pages of goodness from Goodman Games. Alas, only roughly four of these pages host a short but interesting mini-delve in DCC, the remainder cover a Maximum Xcrawl scenario.

What is Maximum Xcrawl you ask? Imagine if dungeon crawling was a modern competitive sport/game show akin to American Gladiators, Monday Night Combat, Smash TV, and/or Japanese Game Shows; for Pathfinder.

It's also worth mentioning that MX currently has a kickstarter to make a hardcover edition, so check it out if that's your thing. An amusing and interesting concept, though I don't know if I'd ever play/run it personally. Maybe if the fancy strikes or at a convention.

The Stuff I Didn't Get:

  • Pathfinder "Risen from the Sands Adventure" - I have enough Pathfinder/3.x material I can use right now.
  • Pathfinder Adventure Card Pack - No thanks.
  • ShadowRun/BattleTech Quick-Start Rules - I have little interest in either.
  • Q-Workshop/Chessex Modern Fudge/Commemorative Dice - Either/both would've been a nice little keepsake if they were available.
  • Valiant Universe RPG Quick-Start Rules - Never been a huge 'supers' fan, and I know even less about the Valiant Comics Universe than usual. This quick-start is available online on PDF here.
  • 13th Age "Make Your Own Luck" - This would've been my sixth item, had it not already been swiped at the second locale I visited; I'm curious to see if 13th Age lives up to the praise I've heard.
  • A Chooseomatic book "Time Travel Dinosaur -Mesozoic Mayhem" - It was interesting to see a free choose-your-own-adventure'ish book available. Apparently the creator had a kickstarter to cover the costs. All the power to him.
  • I didn't even get to see the rest of the single examples, either they were already snatched up and/or FLGS employees had first pick.

Lastly, I finally picked up a copy of Dungeon World. I know I might be a little late to the *Worlds systems, but better late than never. At least I've played a few. :)

Plus purchasing something during the event helps retailers know that Free RPG Day can be lucrative and encourage them to order in more games!

Thanks to all the publishers that made Free RPG Day exist! ;{١

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