Let’s be honest – once you’ve killed one adult green dragon, you’ve killed them all.
The darling of the RPG community, D&D is fantastic…but it does have its problems. Combat can be a slog, the fantasy setting can turn players off, and players can simply be burnt out playing the same world over and over again.
But whether you’re trying to get into board gaming or just keen to try something new, the Indie RPG scene will have something for you to try.
This can range from glorious one-shots, unique worlds, or streamlined play-styles that minimize rules and maximize fun. Here are eight of our favorites that you should give a go the next time you think about getting your polyhedrals out.
An outright storytelling game, Quiet Year asks players to cover the lives of a civilization after a disastrous physical collapse. Play is streamlined with the use of a deck of cards that will represent each of the 52 weeks of the year before the arrival of the mysterious ‘Frost Shepards’. This creates a wonderous engine where your group responds to the threats and challenges facing your people as best you can while preparing for the oncoming arrival of your enemy. Ready to play straight out of the box – or bag if you go to their website – it’s a wonderful choice for players who enjoy creativity over carving up monsters. Though, speaking of-
Designed by the wonderful Jason Morningstar, Skeletons asks “Exactly what is it like to be a skeleton waiting to be smashed to pieces in a tomb by a barbarian”. Letting you play as the undead guarding the game’s treasure, the game is an introspective marvel that forces players to learn more about the sinister skeleton they control and who they once were – tracking victories, defeats, and the state of the tomb as the years crawl by. Or for those of you who prefer their storytelling a little livelier or tongue-in-cheek, Morningstar’s Shab Al-Hiri Roach is another wonderful choice that combines cosmic horror and academic rivalry to perfect effect.
Promising “Chivalric tragedy at the North Pole”, Polaris not only delivers but excels with its subject material. Completely GM-less, players tell a collaborative story about noble knights at the north pole and their attempt to fight against evil during a time of perpetual night. Play is first-and-foremost built around shared storytelling – with players controlling the nuances of their hopes, fears, and interactions with other players. Beautifully written, expertly designed, and offering a unique playspace – if your group is willing to take the next step with their fantasy roleplaying, this is a tremendous way to do it.
Roleplaying’s ability to spark the imagination shouldn’t be limited to adults. Designed for creative kids (and their families), NTYE is a wonderful gateway game for younger roleplayers that lets players adventure in a brightly colored fantasy world with minimal rules overhead and scales its complexity based on the player’s age or confidence. This lets kids build their confidence with simple maths, rewards creative problem solving, and – frankly – lets them steamroller over any enemies that stand in their path. A wonderful start for any creative storytelling fan, NTYE is the perfect pick for quarantined kids the world over.
We all love board games for a reason. But, sometimes, you just want to play something that has minimal rules and maximum scope for fun. And if that’s the case for you, dear reader, browsing through this list – Lasers and Feelings is your jam. With the game’s rules fitting onto one side of a PDF. Play involves the dueling themes at the heart of sci-fi. Your character is either good with lasers (tech, science, and ships) or feelings (diplomacy, passion, and passion) and uses those skills to defuse the latest disaster the crew is in. With an emphasis on in-the-moment storytelling over rules and scenarios, L&F is a wonderous (and free) one-shot that’s a breath of life for a seasoned group or someone going boldly into the world of roleplaying for the first time.