2nd of December: Adventures on Danger Planet


2 Metzger-AdventuresOnDungeonPlanet

Science Fantasy Dungeon World on a weird planet.

Author/Designer: Johnstone Metzger
From: The Indie Cornucopia Bundle

For the second instalment of my Advent Calendar, I’m looking at the book Adventures on Dungeon Planet, a sourcebook for Dungeon World. I got it in the Indie Cornucopia bundle, a bundle that also held the main Dungeon World book, The Planarch Codex (another reskin of Dungeon World), Apocalypse World, some Fiasco playsets and a number of smaller games.

This book takes Dungeon World and adds a Science Fantasy layer to it. It has a tone to it that reminds me of Jack Vance, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon. The game tells what is essentially a Heroic Fantasy narrative, dressed up with weird aliens, clangy metallic robots and weird, nefarious overlords (possibly played by Max von Sydow).

The game comes with new playbooks, including the Earthling, lost far from home, and the Engine of Destruction, a robot built to kill. It also adds new Dangers for the GM to use, three new races to use as adversaries or PC’s (Android, Alien and White Ape), stats for space ships and rules for creating a planet. At the end there is a bunch of Science Fantasy monsters to use in adventures.

My impression: I like many of the things that Dungeon World does with the apocalypse engine, but the standard Fantasy classes seem too bland to work as PbtA playbooks. Transposing the whole thing to a strange new planet and adding the new character options to the mix changes that to a large extent. It seems to me that the new classes in this document has a lot to play on, and I would love to play a game in this setting.

The book has a pretty nice layout, and the illustrations really underline the mood and setting of the book. Some of the monster stats in particular are not the most nuanced, but that is not a big deal. All in all, a rather nice basis for a (slightly silly, over the top) game.

How would I use this: I could definitely see myself bringing this game to the table, maybe for a one-shot, maybe for a short campaign. I don’t know that I would want to do a long campaign in this, but that is perfectly OK – I can be satisfied with less.

1st of December: Legacy: Life among the Ruins

A Powered by the Apocalypse game about families surviving in the generations after the Fall.

Author/Designer: James Iles

From: Apocalypse Engine Bundle

Legacy is the illegitimate love-child of Apocalypse World and Microscope: A game about families surviving in the generations following a great apocalypse, laying the old, advanced society in ruins, and leaving people to make their way in the mess that’s left behind, digging out old technology when they can. The game is intended to take place over a series of ages. Throughout the ages, each player will control a family as it develops, creating a particular family member to play in each age.

My impression: The first thing jumping out at you when leafing through the book is the wealth of full-colour, very evocative images that saturate the book. They are not strictly necessary, and they would make it more difficult to print out the text for use at the table (a print-friendly version of the pdf might have been nice), but they definitely make the idea of the game come alive. Particularly the images of the different Family- and Character playbooks really communicates what each is all about.

I bought this bundle, not least because I was really curious about the concept of the family playbook. It is a way to do a powered by the Apocalypse (PbtA) game that I haven’t seen elsewhere, and it sounds like a really interesting adaptation of the system. As it stands, the families clearly provide the flavouring of the game, the Character playbooks being much more about providing a certain function for the family. I like this concept, and I quite like the different Family playbooks, as well. The Character playbooks seem a bit more bland to me, but that’s OK; they are not the main focus of the game.

Unfortunately, it feels like the game has negated this part of the game a little too much. I have only skimmed the game book, and as such, I may easily have missed something. Still, I have a difficult time telling you precisely what you’ll be doing with the character and why. Encountering threats to the family? Sure. But where do they come from? And why are all these characters going at it together? What if one family has a radically different objective to the others this age? Do we then tell two parallel stories, bearing in mind that an age is supposed to take 2-5 sessions? I lack some more guidance to help me – either as player or as GM – kick off the action of the age.

That’s a pity, because the rest of the book indicates a careful attention to making the book accessible to beginners, particularly to GM’ing PbtA games. The game is complex, but I think the mental barrier to entry is lower than for, say, Apocalypse World itself.

How would I use this book: I do like this game, and I would not mind trying it. Unfortunately, it seems like the kind of game that needs a good number of sessions for it to really fly, and that is not likely to happen any time soon. And if I got the chance, I have other things I would probably prioritise: Apocalypse World if I wanted a post apocalyptic game, Kingdom if I wanted to tell a story of a community, Microscope if I wanted to tell a story spanning long stretches of history.

As such, I am most likely to only ever use the book as inspiration, stealing the concept of the Family Playbooks to use in another game, whether PbtA or something else.