Free RPG Day Reviews, Part 2

In Part 1 of my Free RPG Day Reviews, I looked at my three favourite small press offerings.  Today I want to look at what the big publishers brought to the table. If you are sitting comfortably, and even if you’re not, we’ll begin.

Star Wars Edge of the Empire RPG Quickstart/Shadows of a Black Sun – (Shadows of a Black Sun is an adventure set in Fantasy Flight Games’ Edge of the Empire RPG. Edge of the Empire, as the name suggests, focuses on characters and role-playing on the outskirts: the thieves, the scoundrels, the down-but-not-quite-out. And the FRPGD adventure backs that up by throwing the supplied pre-gens (not a Jedi or Sith in sight) against the scum and villainy of the Star Wars universe. To my mind it’s an approach long overdue, and I can’t wait to see other adventures in the same gritty style.

But what intrigued me the most were the mechanics presented in the Quickstart rules.  For ease of play you will need to buy the special dice especially for the game, though there is a chart for converting from regular polyhedral rolls to the new symbols if strange new dice don’t do it for you.  Whatever dice you use, every important action is resolved as a challenge rolled using the player’s pool of dice against the game master’s.  Certain things cancel each other out and the end result tells you not only success, but degree of success and whether there are consequences regardless of success. At first glance it seemed complicated, but after I tried a few practice rolls it became pretty intuitive.

You did your job, Shadows of a Black Sun: I’m picking up this game.

We Be Goblins Too!We Be Goblins Too! is the sequel to Paizo’s amazingly popular We Be Goblins! adventure module from FRPGD 2010, and all the feedback around the web says this one will be just as popular. Written for the Pathfinder RPG, the adventure focuses on the literal trials and self-inflicted tribulations of the four goblin characters supplied with the adventure. Having lost their tribe to filthy adventurers, the four buff goblins (level 3, practically heroic for goblins) seek to join a new tribe. And a new tribe wants them, but wants one of them to be chief as well. Hilarity ensues!

Honestly, there is nothing not to love about this adventure. Another chance to play the barely lovable, fire-flinging sociopaths of the Pathfinder universe? Yes, please! Loads of fun for gamers new and old, and a great way to get new players into the game (though maybe start with We Be Goblins! to get the full goblin experience). Seriously, you’re playing goblins, so knowing the rules is secondary; goblins are as ignorant of how things work as new players often are, so it’s a perfect fit for newbies. And I can’t say this enough, you get to play goblins! Goblins!

Okay, I sort of tricked you. There were three in my last post, you had every right to expect three in this post. But I wanted to talk for a moment about a big publisher I was disappointed wasn’t there this year: Wizard’s of the Coast.

Given how hard at work they must be on D&D Next, one could maybe understand why they’d want to take a year off from FRPGD. Except that WotC scheduled their World Wide D&D Game Day for June 15. Why yes, that is the same date as Free RPG Day. So not only did they decline to take part in an established and successful community-building event, but they pulled the super douche move of running a competing event on the same day. I have no idea how popular an event it was elsewhere, but to the best of my knowledge no local stores ran a WWD&DD event at all so I’m unsure what this was meant to accomplish.

I don’t want to turn this into WotC bashing. I’m excited about D&D Next and some of the stuff I’ve seen in the open playtest. But I do think this was a missed opportunity on their part, and a serious misstep with the gaming community. I’m not privy to the details of their production schedule, but they could have pushed their thing back a week. Heck, running an event the week after a successful FRPGD could have brought them more players. Instead they chose to fracture the gaming community with pointless competition. I’d understand if they were launching a new game that day, but D&D Next isn’t even going to be available for Gen Con this year. So why the pointless big brother bully tactics?

Okay, that’s enough from me. If you have a favourite FRPGD find or any thoughts on my post, leave them in the comments below. And if you hit up World Wide D&D Game Day, tell me about it, I’d be interested to hear how it was for you. Next time, dice talk!

 

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