Since the boom of the tabletop roleplaying industry and kickstarter, we have been able to enjoy games from all over the world from a diverse amount of people. Unsurprisingly, the country with the most horrific creatures on the planet is producing some of the best tabletop RPGs. Due to distance, a lot of these amazing games aren't being showcased in America. So let's change that! Here are some of the best games being produced by Australian designers right now.
1) Relics: A Game of Angels
The first stop on our road trip through Australia is Steve Darlington, creator of Relics and owner of Tin Star Games. You may have heard of Stever Dee, his moniker, as he has been part of the creation of Shadow of the Demon Lord and Vampire:The Requiem. Now his work is focused on a new creation!
Relics: A Game of Angels is a game where you play (surprise!) angels who have come to earth to wage war against demons without the use of divine powers. The war has raged for centuries with no side gaining ground. The catalyst for this game is the withdrawing of God from the cosmic spotlight and vanishing from our perceived existence. What do these thousand year old angels do now that they no longer have guidance, a deity to fight for, or someone watching their back? These are some of the questions you will struggle with as you explore the world of Relics. It uses the tarot-based Fugue system originally created by James Wallis. Not only do the cards tell you about what happens, but also the card helps guide the scenario by the cues from the card’s meaning.
If you are interested in a game where you can play ancient beings who played a part in creation, look no further. Furthermore, I cannot stress how amazing and helpful the Fugue system with the tarot deck is with pushing the story forward. The tarot deck offers so much storytelling inspiration for each action. Join the fight as you learn your place in this vast universe and make sure to pick up a copy of Relics.
2) Good Society: Jane Austen RPG
Next on our trip through Australia are the wonderful designers from Storybrewers. Vee Hendro and Hayley Gordon have brought to life the vivid and romantic stories of Jane Austen through their game Good Society, which won Best Rules by The Indie Game Development Network in 2019. In Good Society, you adopt the personas of your favorite character types from Jane Austen novels and movies. You can be a wealthy debutante, a poor poet seeking love, write to your friends and family concerning the local gossip, or uncover scandal as you dance under crystal chandeliers. Whatever flights of fancy catch your eye within the pages of an Austen novel, you will find them in Good Society.
The game uses cycles of play where you create scenes with other players, send letters, create rumors, and monologue. The conflict resolution is different than what the typical D&D player may be used to and uses a consent based token exchange. At the start of a cycle of play you have two tokens that allow you to to affect another character or accomplish an unlikely task. It is always a conversation; If you want to spread rumors of another player’s substance addiction, you must first enter negotiation with the other player. Everything is consent based and allows for a wonderful “yes and” and “yes but” style of play.
Good Society was successfully funded via Kickstarter and a new expansion is coming out later this year. If you are looking for a narrative focused game with mechanics that do not get in the way, look no further than Good Society: A Jane Austen RPG.
3) Fragged Empire
Our final destination brings us to Fragged Empire by Wade Dyer of Design Ministries. Fragged Empire is a post apocalyptic sci-fi game where you play one of the genetic creations of humanity. After a genocidal war, all the remaining species are trying to reclaim the society they once had. The base game has 4 non-human species that you can play, each one with its own special genetic purpose for their creation. The Corp, a species created in Humanity's image, were rejected by their creator and have now found their niche in controlling trade and finance. The Legion was a species created as soldiers for the war; now that the war is over, their species desperately tries to encourage their people to raise families and start farming.
The mechanics are easy to understand yet provide a lot of tactical nuances that create exciting combat. You can control combat drones, perform multiple combat actions in one turn, and pilot space ships in epic space battles. The conflict resolution mechanics is a skill based system where you roll three six sided dice and add in your relevant skill bonus. If you describe the scene with a level of intensity and flair as the scene demands, the gamemaster can also award you a bonus. It doesn’t end there though. If you roll a six, you unlock a Strong Hit which allows you to perform special feats such as rerolling a d6. Character creation provides a diverse plethora of options in and out of combat, including unique Strong Hit abilities.
There is so much flexibility and customization in the game, you can run any adventure. The universe is wide and vibrant with many planets that you can explore, as well as space stations where you can lose all your money through gambling. If you ever need a hand understanding the system, there are also helpful video tutorials online made by Dyer to help ease GMs and players into the game.
Now that we have concluded our trip through some of Australia’s best tabletop roleplaying games I feel like I have done my part. Now your part is to seek these games out, spread the word, and go on adventures you can only dream of.
Mitchell Wallace is a writer, professional gamemaster, and twitch director for Penny for a Tale. Mitchell playtests, runs, writes, and plays as many tabletop games as he can, and loves sharing them with the world via twitch, twitter, instagram, facebook, and pennyforatale.com
Picture Reference: https://www.tinstargames.com/#/
One click. That’s all it took. I can’t actually remember how I got there, I think some Facebook Kickstarter group linked it. Next think I know, I’m elbow deep in alien races exploring eldritch ruins... Exactly where I like to be, to be honest.
Now, I have a rule. My love for streamlined RPG systems is so great, that I judge a system by the complexity of its character sheet.
The Fragged Empire character sheet is 4 pages long.
I hesitated for more than a few moments. And then, 5 minutes into the background and the dice rolls, I was hooked. And this is why I think you’ll like it too.
1) Great Setting
It is 10,000 years into the future. Humanity is long gone. We reached the technological singularity, relaxed, stagnated and fizzed out. Just before the end, we created another race, the Archeons, to take over the human empire.
That didn’t really work. Instead of taking over, the Archeons started anew, creating hundreds of races, always striving towards biological and sociological perfection. Amongst the most important, they created the Vargarti (human-like humanoids, cunning and charming), who they immediately abandoned, and then the X’ian.
This was, in simple terms ‘a REALLY bad idea’.
The X’ian promptly rebelled, killing any Archeon on sight. The Archeons created the Legion (orc-sized super soldiers) and the Kaltorans (elfin-like humanoids, intelligent, flexible and with genetic memories) and the X’ian came back with the Nephilim, bear-sized genetic abominations (and their escorts, the dreaded bio-ships).
It was a genocide. Every Archeon was destroyed, and when it was done, the X’ian left, leaving everything and everyone behind.
It is 100 years after the war. The Archeons are all dead, the X’ian have disappeared. The Haven System has a presence from all the other 4 races. Tensions run high. Some long-lived individuals still remember fighting in the war. But ultimately, everyone just wants to make a living.
2) Dice System
When an action is desired, roll 3D6. Then, add bonuses. Add further bonus for tools (if applicable). And then, the role play comes into…. Well, play. The GM has the discretion to give a -2 to a +2 bonus, depending on the quality of the description of the action. If you roll any 6’s, that will give you bonuses. A success is usually from a 12 to a 14, but this can obviously be adjusted by the GM
3) Character Creation
CC is non-linear, I won’t lie. However, at every stage of complexity, the Core Rule Book has a full page of a sort of flow chart, making sure they break it down into chewable bits. Also, they have a few pretty funny Youtube videos, helping newbs along.
Again, (see item 3), combat is not linear, however, have no fear! There are at least 3 types of combat, each of differing depths and complexity. Normal mode will be comparable to normal skill rolls (see item 2), but adding weapons bonus, range, cover, etc.
5) Just The Beginning
The Fragged Empire rules have now been expanded to three new settings: Fragged Seas (Pirates and buccaneers, trying to survive in the last remaining archipelagos, after a world-destroying invasion of monsters from beyond), Fragged Aeternum (a gothic setting, set in an impossibly huge city, that seems to span the world, besieged by monsters from the deepest nightmares), and Fragged Kingdom (a fantasy setting, set many years after a magical conflict has destroyed most of the world). All of these new backgrounds need the original Fragged Empire corebook, as they are simply expansions.
Possibly one of the aspects that I found the most attractive is that the rules make it absolutely clear that, albeit the background is there to be used and adapted, players are positively encouraged to make their own races, weapons, ships, locations, and so on. This flexibility and adaptability have sold this system to me.
Yes, Fragged Empires is more complex than the systems I usually play. Still, it is adaptable and streamlined enough that I’m pretty sure I’m going to go to town on it.
Rui is a Portuguese scientist that, after ten years doing strange things in labs, decided to become a teacher. Then, three years ago, like he was bit by a radioactive D20, RPG’s came into his life, and he’s now juggling teaching, playing and GMing quite happily. He lives in the UK with his partner Joana, an ungodly number of potted plants, 4 to 5 RPG’s at various stages of completion (and across as many rule systems), and maps, cursed idols, evil necklaces, and any other props he can get his hands on. He’s been writing for HLG for a few months, and is one of the resident vloggers. He can be reached at @Atomic_RPG.
Picture Reference: http://fraggedempire.com/
All blog materials created and developed by the staff here at High Level Games