S02E14 – RPG WTF

Today’s episode of Save Vs. Rant is brought to you by all the designers who choose to take risks and create something truly unusual and unique. Where’s the Fruit? Who’s the Foreman? What the Fudge? Why the Face?

Dark Heresy

Set in the wildly popular grimdark distant-future world of Warhammer 40,000, Dark Heresy puts the player characters in the roles of Inquisitors within the Empire of Mankind, stomping out heresy wherever they might find it. The game is over-the-top ultraviolent grimdark fantasy sci-fi, and definitely not a run of the mill gaming experience.

Cthulhutech

Basically Pacific Rim before Pacific Rim, in Cthulhutech you battle elder horrors and eldritch beings from beyond the stars using state of the art warmechs and one of the strangest basic resolution mechanics in any game I’ve ever played. Also, because it’s the Call of Cthulhu, there are investigators.

Gamma World

Gamma World is your standard-issue Saturday morning cartoon series interpretation of a post-apocalyptic world, reminiscent of the modern classic Adventure Time. It features, magic, supertech and bizarre radiation effects, and despite its sense of surreal whimsy, it is possible to run a very serious Gamma World Campaign.

In this episode, we also mention the trading rules aspect of Gamma World, which was a bold move by Wizards of the Coast. Frankly, it was a terrible idea, and the inevitability of this approach has been a perennial joke in the RPG community.

Engine Heart

How do you find purpose in a post-organic world, when you were created for the service of organic life? That’s the primary philosophical question of Engine Heart, but, of course, that’s not what you have to explore with your game of Engine Heart. Like any good RPG, the setting has some versatility to it and a variety of stories are possible.

Underground

Underground is a grim-and-gritty superhero game involving surgically enhanced supersoldiers and supercorporations that control the world. It’s a game of underground resistance, vicious struggle and trans/posthuman angst. Since this is an old-school game, expect chunky rules and a steep learning curve.

Puppetland

Ah, there’s nothing like a wholesome bedtime story… and this is nothing like a wholesome bedtime story. Puppetland is a game in the style of a bedtime story – a session is played in 30 realtime minutes, and at the end, everyone goes to sleep no matter what is happening, the player characters are all puppets. Also, the game is played in a constrained style where the players describe the action by speaking in character, while the DM is expected to tell the story in an active, depersonalized voice.

Tales from the Loop

It strikes us here at Save Vs. Rant as kind of weird that it took until the 80’s revival heralded by Stranger Things to see an RPG in the style of an 80’s science fiction mystery movie. Although the World of Darkness featured a book called Innocents that featured rules for playing as children in the World of Darkness (which inevitably implies such stories), the approach of Tales from the Loop is decidedly more Stand by Me / E.T. / Stranger Things than the World of Darkness’s more strongly implied It style of horror.

Nobilis

Wow. Wow wow wow. There is nothing quite like Nobilis. Thank God. The world only ever needs one Nobilis. To call Nobilis “unique” doesn’t do it justice. To call it “original” might be a bit of an understatement. To call it “strange” only begins to scratch the surface. It’s worth noting, also, that all the Nobilis quotes from this episode are from the 3rd edition of the rulebooks. That’s right – this is the result of TWO full revision cycles of the game.

But, for real – the world is better for having Nobilis in it. Somewhere out there, someone had a Nobilis shaped hole in their heart that this game fills perfectly. The game has the misfit beauty of an early 2000’s deviantart diva who refuses to believe that their art is terrible. It’s the fanfic writer who ignores the haters and chooses to accept the ironic adoration of their “fans” without a shred of irony. In short, I love it not because it’s a great game, but because it’s a throwback to the absurd culture of the early internet, and I can love it forever for that.

Deadlands

Or “How the West was weird” – Deadlands is an alternate history game set in an American Wild West motif. Think Jonah Hex. Think Wild Wild West. Think Preacher‘s Saint of Killers. Think Hard West. Think mad scientists, demons, cowboys and hucksters. Think poker hands, chips and dice.

Don’t Rest Your Head

Wanna play a game about terminal insomniacs trying everything they possibly can to not succumb to the sleep that will drag them into the insanity of a living death? No?! Too bad. We’re playing Don’t Rest Your Head tonight! A game where you have a superpower that’s going to destroy you.

Bliss Stage

Bliss Stage has fascinated me since I first read it. Of course, it’s not for everyone. I’ll wager it’s not for most people. To be honest, I’ve found exactly 0 people who were enthusiastic about playing it, and all of 2 that seemed open to it at all, and, honestly, I can’t blame anyone for feeling that way. From the designers website:
Bliss Stage has sex in it. If you’re skeeved out by the idea of sex in a role-playing game, don’t play Bliss Stage.
Fair enough. That’s pretty much all most people need to know to be completely turned off (pun intended?) to the game. It’s a unique experience, though, and definitely qualifies as RPG WTF.

Fiasco

Play your own Cohen Bros. film! The Big Lebowski! No Country for Old Men! A Serious Man! Whatever terrible sequence of awful events you want to play out is yours to explore in this RPG of bad things happening for (sometimes) absolutely no reason.

The Cloud Dungeon

LOOK AT THE PICTURES AND VIDEO! LOOK AT THE GAME! LOOK AT IT!
Honestly, isn’t it incredible? Doesn’t it look amazing?
No, I have no idea how it’s played. I don’t know the rules. I don’t want a single spoiler. I want to go into it knowing only that there are some bizarre-ass pictures of people playing the game.
There is a very close to 100% chance that we will do an episode on The Cloud Dungeon.

Next episode is going to be Board Games WTF, which is going to be a grab bag of bizarre tabletop games.

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