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Reviews in Project: Roleplaying Games (21)

Dice Dice Baby

The Comae Engine

By Clarence Redd  

4 Apr, 2024

Roleplaying Games


Clarence Redd’s1 The Comae Engine (V. 1.0) is a tabletop roleplaying game. First published in Beta in 2022, the most recent update came out in 2024.

The first thing buyers will notice on receiving the perfect-bound rulebook might be Axel Sauerwald’s striking cover art. The second would be the book’s length, or rather lack thereof. Comae is just fifty-four pages long. As they say, more words, deeper hole. Brevity can be strength.

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Mirth and Mayhem

Dragonbane: Mirth and Mayhem Roleplaying

By Tomas Härenstam  

10 Aug, 2023

Roleplaying Games


Tomas Härenstam’s1 2023’s Dragonbane: Mirth and Mayhem Roleplaying is the English language edition of the most recent edition of the venerable Swedish tabletop fantasy roleplaying game, Drakar och Demoner (DoD).

Dragonbane began as the Swedish translation of Chaosium’s Basic Roleplaying and the Magic World supplement from Worlds of Wonder. It has evolved greatly over the decades and I am not sure how many editions it has had (have fun working out which versions were true new editions and which were merely variants!).

What waits the modern player inside the hefty, sturdy shipping box?

WARNING: Excessively Long Review Follows

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Waiting For A Better Day

Blade Runner the Roleplaying Game Core Rules

By Tomas Härenstam, Joe LeFavi, Nils Karlén & Gareth Mugridge  

19 Jul, 2023

Roleplaying Games

1 comment

2022’s Blade Runner the Roleplaying Game Core Rules is an alternate-near-future/science-fiction/police-procedural roleplaying game. Tomas Härenstam was lead designer, Joe LeFavi was lead setting writer, with additional writing by Nils Karlén and Gareth Mugridge1.

As one might expect from the title, this is an adaptation of the film Blade Runner … from a certain point of view. It is put out by Swedish game company Fria Ligan (Free League).

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Against All Odds

Danger International

By Douglas L. Garrett, George MacDonald & Steve Peterson  

14 Mar, 2023

Roleplaying Games


L. Douglas Garrett, George Macdonald, and Steve Peterson’s1 1985 Danger International is a modern-day roleplaying game (modern per 1985), intended to cover adventures set from 1945 to the year

2000 and beyond.” Published by Hero Games, Danger International (or DI” as it was known to aficionados) is a descendent of the rules pioneered in 1981’s Champions.

And what did one find in the box? First, that there was no box. Danger International replaced the box sets of previous Hero Games, games with a 174-page perfect-bound text2 (176 if you count the ads).

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GURPS, 3rd Edition (Revised)

By Steve Jackson  

12 Jan, 2023

Roleplaying Games


Steve Jackson’s GURPS, 3rd Edition (Revised) is (as one might expect) the third, revised edition of GURPS, whose first edition was published in 1986. Also, as one might expect, it is published by Steve Jackson Games1, founded by GURPS designer Steve Jackson (human Texan)2.

In a previous review, I discussed the sad history of the venerable tabletop roleplaying game The Fantasy Trip (TFT). It was doomed to decades of oblivion by a combination of clashing personalities and business setbacks. But all was not lost. We soon heard that Steve Jackson was working on a great unnamed roleplaying system, to be given a shinier name once Steve Jackson thought of one. In 1986, that shiny new name was revealed: GURPS. Which stood for Generic Universal Roleplaying System.

GURPS prevails. While a 4thedition is available, this is a (commissioned) review of the 3rdedition.

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Sword & Sorcery

Swords of the Serpentine

By Kevin Kulp & Emily Dresner  

17 Nov, 2022

Roleplaying Games


Kevin Kulp and Emily Dresner’s Swords of the Serpentine1 is a fantasy roleplaying game (RPG) set in Venice Eversink, an entirely fictional secondary world fantasy city that is simultaneously a geological mystery, a thriving trade community, and the living embodiment of a goddess. Core mechanics are based on Robin Laws’ Gumshoe game engine. The game emulates the heroic fantasy of Howard, Leiber, Lackey, and Pratchett.

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Wonder In Most Every Thing I See

Slaying the Dragon: A Secret History of Dungeons & Dragons

By Ben Riggs  

4 Aug, 2022

Roleplaying Games


Ben Riggs’ 2022 Slaying the Dragon: A Secret History of Dungeons & Dragons is an account of the rise and fall of TSR, publisher of Dungeons & Dragons, as well as many related works. 

Although there were precursors to table-top roleplaying games (including the Bronte siblings’ 19th century foreshadowingof the pastime), Dungeons and Dragons is generally acknowledged as the first modern roleplaying game. Having founded the field, publisher TSR dominated sales. Roleplaying fans and game merchants, therefore, were taken aback when in the mid-1990s TSR suddenly imploded. Only timely intervention by cash-rich Wizards of the Coast gave the game a new owner and new lease on life.

Perhaps the chief question addressed is What went wrong?” 

Having read the book, perhaps a better question is how did nemesis take so long to catch up with TSR?”

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