Just the Gist: Two Interesting Roleplaying Games to Check Out

Are you looking for a game to try that’s a bit different from the typical Dungeons & Dragons or Pathfinder? Maybe you want to run a one-shot or a short campaign, or you are looking for something brand new to play for a longer spell.

While I haven’t played the games below yet, I’ve read through the books and am excited about the possibilities they can offer. Instead of providing a deep and in-depth review, I figured that I would give you just the gist of what the basics of the setting and core mechanic are like to see if you might be interested. I will do these types of posts with games that I find and like every once in a while.

Of course, if enough people would like to know more about the games, let me know, and I could do a full review. Until then, here are two cool games that you might want to consider. You can find these on places like Amazon and DriveThruRPG.com. The links I’ve included are affiliate links, and they help out the site.

Colonial Gothic

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I find something really fricking cool about the Colonial-era aesthetic, especially when paired with the supernatural. Imagine a dark and fog-shrouded forest. It is the middle of the night, damp and desolate. A woman wearing a tricorn hat and long coat, sword in one hand, a pistol in the other. Fog swirls around her as howls grow closer and closer. Now, this might seem like it’s part and parcel of fantasy fare. However, now imagine that she’s a spy for George Washington and she’s carrying a message to the general, while a pack of ravenous werewolves attacks her on the road. Are they merely hungry or are they working for the British?

The system is simple enough with the core mechanic revolving around 2d12 for all actions. You roll the 2d12 and add modifiers to hit the target number. If it hits the target or is higher, it succeeds. It is a nice and simple system. Lots of story possibilities with this setting, and it could be fun to draw on real history, meet historical characters, and take on all manner of supernatural foes.

It has magic, monsters, and more, including a lot of historical info to help GMs and players nail the setting. I’d say it’s worth checking out. There are options for Kindle, as well as PDF and print options. Those who have Kindle Unlimited will be able to read this book and a range of the supplementary books with their subscription, which is nice. I’d love the print, but I will probably wait a bit to order it through DriveThruRPG.com until I can find more people who want to play.

Kids on Bikes

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Over the past few years, there have been a number of games that have been influenced by Stranger Things and many novels, films, and television shows from the 1980s (Dark Places & Demogorgons, Tales from the Loop). Kids on Bikes has a very similar feel in terms of the tone and the setting. The stories take place in any small town prior to things like cellphones and other bits of modern technology.

Players can create trope characters like the Popular Kid, the Scout, or the Young Provider. It’s a fast and easy way to get up and running. Of course, players who don’t want to use one of the tropes can work with the GM to come up with something unique. If you have the time, I suggest doing this to have just the character you want. Maybe you want a smart jock, for example. Also, while the focus of the game does tend to be on kids and teens, there are options to play as adults, with the trope of the Overprotective Parent, as an example.

A jock, for example, might have a d20 in Brawn and a d12 in Fight, but only a d6 in brains. The GM comes up with the difficulty number, which is from 1 to 20, with 20 being the highest. If the player rolls the highest number on their die, such as a 4 on a 1d4, the dice “explodes” and they roll again. The die can keep exploding up until they hit the target number. Of course, there are other game elements that can come into play, but that’s the basics of the core mechanic.

The rules are simple, which is good, at least to a certain point. It has the potential to become problematic. They are bare bones, which means it will require good judgment for making decisions on the fly on the part of the GM. They need to make sure that their rulings are consistent, as well. While I haven’t played yet, I imagine that it wouldn’t really be much of an issue with a good group with a fair GM.

There aren’t hit points in the game, but there is a table that can help the GM come up with narrative results for combat. This is a rules-light game that works best when there is a good back and forth between the players and the GM to come up with the world and to narrate what happens.

One element that makes Kids on Bikes a bit different is the addition of a powered character. Think Eleven from Stranger Things. However, this character is not played by just one player. The responsibility of the powered character is shared among the players at the table. Each player controls different aspects of that character.

I believe that there is some great potential with this game, but I haven’t played it yet. I’d like to run something similar to Stephen King’s It, where we start out with the kids are young and dealing with some type of horror, and then run again when they are adults. Stats and even character types could change as the kids grow up and become adults. For a game like this, I might even scrap the idea of a powered character.

There is the regular print and PDF versions of the game, as well as a version that’s free and contains the ashcan rules for the game, so you can give it a shot without spending money. You can also head to Renegade Games and pick up the deluxe hardcover, which is what I did.

Anyway, that’s just the gist of two roleplaying games that I think look like a lot of fun and that I’d love to play or run at some point. What other great games are out there?