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/#/
It’s easy to picture some literary characters slotting right into your next D&D campaign. For starters, you could fill up a party with adventurers plucked right out of Middle-earth, from Gimli the dwarven fighter to the mysterious ranger Strider, a grim stranger whose weatherbeaten looks hide the noble bloodline of an incognito king.
But you don’t have to limit yourself to Lord of the Rings, which feels almost like cheating. After all, its role in shaping high fantasy as a whole makes it a not-so-distant ancestor to D&D. To really stretch your creative muscles, why not swap out Tolkien for Cervantes, turning Don Quixote into an ardent, windmill-tilting paladin? Or, try building out Odysseus, the “man of twist and turns,” as a rogue who’s ten steps ahead of everyone else on the map.
If you’re the kind of bookworm who longs to slip between the pages of your favorite classic, the tabletop is the closest you’ll get living out those portal fantasy dreams. Just think: roleplaying is all about storytelling, so why not let some of the best storytellers in literary history join you on your next campaign?
And if you don’t feel up to homebrewing a whole setting in homage to your preferred literary masterpiece? Don’t let that stop you. Here are four games that make classic literature playable right out of the box, whether you’re in the mood for axe-shattering adventures or white-gloved courtship.
Released within a decade of the original D&D, this minimalist offering from Fantasy Games Unlimited is ancient among RPGs. Of course, it’s got nothing on its epic source material. The 1980s might have been the greatest decade, but the eighth century BCE was the greatest century. Or so you probably believe, if you’re tempted by the sound of a Homeric adventure game.
No matter what your feelings on the Odyssey-versus-Iliad debate, Odysseus has you covered. Contrary to its name, it’s an equal-opportunity Homeric game engine. In other words, you can use it to relive the Trojan War or to fight your way back home to Ithaca after its conclusion. In fact, because the rulebook focuses so heavily on combat (hand-to-hand and, in a true Homeric fashion, ship-to-ship) it might actually be better suited for running an Iliad game than an Odyssey one.
Either way, Odysseus makes it easy to get an ambrosial taste of life as a Homeric hero, complete with high-stakes battles and prying patron gods. As for whether to outwit a Cyclops or to stoke the rage of Achilles, that part’s up to you. May I suggest you kick off your gameplay with an invocation of the muse?
Speaking of “epic,” here’s an option for aspiring heroes whose tastes lean more Geat than Greek. Like Odysseus, Handiwork Games’ Beowulf claims descent from the western epic tradition, broadly speaking. But this is a very different game.
Created last year for D&D’s 5th Edition, Beowulf has a relationship to its source material that’s far more playful and meta, if no less reverent. Rest assured: this is a more sophisticated adaptation than that Angelina Jolie movie from 2007. For one thing, Grendel’s mom won’t be wearing built-in stilettos.
Beowulf provides a particular boon to those of us who are a little crunched for time: it’s optimized for duet play. The rules will stretch to accommodate a more traditional party, but all you really need to run it? A hero and a gamesmaster. That way, you’ll be able to play even if you only manage to rustle up a single friend who shares your enthusiasm for aiding the Spear-Danes against the monster Grendel.
Whether you’re the player or the GM, you’ll have need of song and good cheer before the evening’s done. Just make sure one of you remembers to bring the mead!
3) The Play’s The Thing
Imagine having the Bard of Avon as your GM. Mistaken identity and ill-timed suicides, donkey transformations and exiting pursued by a bear…. He’d have plenty of plot twists to throw at your unsuspecting party. But of course, you wouldn’t be unsuspecting, not if you’re a Shakespeare fan. Ophelia drowns, Romeo drinks the poison, Lady Macbeth goes mad from the stain of murder on her hands. You can see the tragic endings coming from a mile away.
Luckily, this playful offering from Magpie Games gives you a chance to mix things up (or to save your favorite character from their grisly, scripted fate). This open-ended storytelling game lets you play as, well, a player: a member of a theater troupe putting on a Shakespearean drama.
But you and your fellow actors quickly throw off the Playwright’s attempts to railroad you (which, in this case, means “get you to perform the play as it’s written”).
This isn’t a number-cruncher’s game: if you prefer minmaxing to melodrama, The Play’s the Thing may not be for you. But for armchair thespians and wannabe dramaturges, it provides the perfect stage for acting out Shakespearean what-ifs to your heart’s content. If you’ve ever wanted Juliet to run off with Rosaline instead of Romeo, now’s your chance. Now ask for your robe and crown, because your immortal longings are about to be fulfilled!
4) Good Society
This lavishly produced jewel of a game ranks among the best that indie RPG has to offer. If you didn’t think Jane Austen would translate well to the tabletop, the folks at Storybrewers Roleplaying are here to prove you wrong.
With its focus on romance, reputation, rumor-mongering, and social events, the game boasts social mechanics sophisticated enough to put many combat systems to shame. But the game’s narrativist (sense and) sensibility means you won’t be rolling dice to “win” the social season. (In fact, there aren’t any dice at all!) Instead, you’ll be fleshing out your character’s relationships and motivations to tell a compelling, collaborative, Austen-worthy tale.
To keep your DIY regency romance coherent, Good Society comes pre-stocked with tonal playsets: Farce, Romantic Comedy, and Drama. That way, you’re free to channel Emma with light-hearted social satire, or to go full-on swoon-worthy with a Pride and Prejudice remake.
Maybe you’re a diehard bibliomane whose Penguin editions share shelf-space with your rulebooks, or maybe you want to relieve your AP English glory days. Either way, there are plenty of games that can bring some literary flair to your time around the tabletop. It might make you see a hoary old classic in a playful new light.
Lucia is a writer with Reedsy, a marketplace that connects authors with the industry’s best editors, designers, and book marketers in self-publishing. In Lucia’s spare time, she enjoys drinking coffee and trying to shoehorn a character from an interwar comedy of manners into a medieval fantasy campaign.
Picture Reference: https://www.magpiegames.com/our-games/theplay/
All blog materials created and developed by the staff here at High Level Games