Play Plot: Tabletop Games for Your Favorite Fantasy Book
A group of friends lean forward; this is the final battle, the end of an epic campaign, years of preparation. The only thing that stands between them and the ultimate triumph of good over evil is the roll of a single dice …
Well that’s how it is Dungeons and Dragons does, anyway. But genre games are as diverse as genre fiction, and most don’t require the time or monetary investment that a thick, rule-laden D&D campaign often demands. The stories told around the table (or on Zoom!) With your group of adventurers can rival great works of fiction, and were often cited as inspiration. But with the advent of experimental word games, journaling prompts, and new systems of mechanics, including the use of tarot cards, betting structures, or even a Jenga tower, genre table games no. have never been more diverse or more exciting.
In honor of this glorious and gorgeous multitude of games just begging to be played, I’ve put together a few tabletop RPGs with new pieces of genre fiction. I have tried to choose games that were written recently, and none are from the 70s! Take a look and maybe support a game or two. We’ll start with Fantasy, diving straight into games and books that range from epic to short, historical to urban, so take a deep breath and let’s dive in.
The unspoken name by AK Larkwood
The unspoken name landed on my doorstep earlier this year and while I might have mistaken the novel for a doorstop, I quickly devoured this fantastic, epic, queer first film. Larkwood’s prose is sharp, the world-building expansive, and the villains vile. It uses many fantastic tropes, but never in the same iteration, and while many people might suggest a classic swords and sorcery RPG, we challenge ourselves to go deeper, think in the details and the details. main features.
There is a lot of movement through the magic portals in The unspoken name, and so to start, I recommend What’s so cool about magic portals? by Chris Bisette, a game to choose from full of prompts to guide you on your journey through the magic portal after portal after portal… well, you get it. Then, if you like discovering ancient magical heirlooms, create your own with Artifact, by Jack Harrison, a wonderfully well-crafted game about creating a story for an object, as well as its ultimate fate. After creating your magic item, you will need to keep it. It’s there that Sentinel, by Meghan Cross, will help you through the long lonely years of guarding an object, or culture, or ruin, of great and terrible power. Finally, for Not saiddarling lesbians who are really bad in relationships, and slightly tragic, I suggest the short, lyrical and devastating You are going to destroy something beautiful, of the day of Samatha. You are the Beauty or the Destroyer, and no matter how you play, you’ll end up broken, sad, and desperate for a sequel.
The order of the pure moon reflected in the water is a lovely, compact and fast-paced, full of Chinese and Malaysian fantasy world builds, queer characters, and a loosely wuxia-inspired storyline. Against a backdrop of revolution and resistance, the book explores the ways in which you can never truly escape your past or hide your true nature. If you want to play out these fantastic tropes of wuxia, with romance and family found, check out Hearts of Wulin, a playable version of which is currently available as game test—An unfinished preview of the game, which I hope will inspire you to pre-order the full book!
Now, because a tropical mythical island vibe resonates everywhere Pure moon, which is teeming with jungles, shrines, spies, and references to Malaysian history, let’s dive into a Malaysian game to help fill the forms of cultural understanding for many. Keris and the dream by Nana, a small one-person game on a symbol and a sacred object is perfect for Pure moon, who also trades in sacred things. When dealing with colonialism, one of the ways to both understand it and to dismantle it is to look at maps. Borders are invented things, and this is never clearer than in a country bounded by borders drawn abroad. Orichalcum is a card-making game by Justin Quirit where the Empire was destroyed by its own madness in a country that is not their own. You play as Exiles and work to remake the map in the image of you and your ancestors. Another card making game, this one on homosexuality, safety and travel, is Through this desert with you, by Diwata ng Manila and Pamela Punzalan, two pillars of the #RPGSEA community (Role Playing Games of South East Asia). This two-person game is about gay lovers striving to reach The Safe Place, and paired up with the bandits, nuns, and the surroundings of Pure moon, this is the game you play after you finish the novel and want to know what happens next.
By force alone by Lavie Tidhar
Imagine if you take the Arthurian legends we know (and love to rehash) and make them dark, dirty, and maybe even a little dirty. By force alone reinvents King Arthur and his Round Table, as bastard gangsters, fighting for the broken strands of power left behind when Rome abandoned Britania. You can see it makes great games. With razor-sharp steel and sharper tongues, the mob boss and his henchmen take control, even as the world desperately searches for heroes. The big daddy of the scummy crowd skirmishes must be Blades in the dark, by John Harper, who will probably let you play By force alone beat for beat. The great thing about BitD is the mechanism that allows you to step back in time and “prepare” for a fight, then return to fight, equipped with a sharp blade and an eye for blood.
To echo some of the scrabbles for the throne, I recommend The sword, the crown, the unspeakable power, which turns the game towards ascension and makes it easier to play with magic. Although you can change the setting, in every part of SCUP there is always a Power– a god, a demon, a well of magic, a sword of kings – and those who try to control it. Finally, since we already know Blades in the dark, and want to stick with thwarted kings, I suggest Rebel crown– all the fun you want, plus a courteous intrigue and a set of rules that surround the alleged regent who was ousted, betrayed and robbed. Play as allies and knights and see your suitor rise to the throne, or take it yourself.
Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse
Rebecca Roanhorse entered the fantasy spotlight with the Sixth World books, Lightning trail and Locust storm, a pair of futuristic dystopian fantasy novels with deep ties to his Dine legacy. Now Roanhorse is back, and this time with second world fantasy, Black Sun, a broad pre-colonial interpretation of Native American mythology and history. With magic and love in every corner of this book, it’s a deeply Indigenous story, given as a gift to the rest of us. In keeping with Roanhorse’s legacy, I strove to find games based on and written by indigenous people.
The first game, which is still in development, but soon on Kickstarter, is Coyote and Crow, a game set in an alternate future where Columbus never landed on Guanahani. Second, for those who enjoy intricate and intimate games with a conflict resolution based on spirituality and Indigenous understandings and not on combat, Ehdrighor (Allen Turner) is the perfect vehicle for long campaigns. To tell the stories of the characters in Black Sun, we need solitude, individual separations, and a deep understanding of fate. Beth LaPensee is a prolific writer, and her acting, Survival, is about storytelling and survival. It is the perfect puzzle game after finishing a book like Black Sun, which gives you everything you want and leaves you breathless.
Kingdom of liars by Nick Martell
When I realized that the magic in Kingdom of liars memory of costs I had immediate flashbacks to Advanced D&D and had to lay down (this rule is on page 40, if you want to dig in). However, the magical system of this book is radical and eerie, and it takes on tremendous importance as the moon rains on the trough, the court begins its marriage court, and the town of Hollow takes on a character of its own. First of all, check Reign of the night, by Oli Jeffries. You play as the guards of the recently fallen royal family, a perfect appearance for our “hero” Michael Kingman. If you want something super light and easy to pick up, but still be able to adapt to a city full of raging wizards and beasts, I recommend Covenants & Blades by Lucas Rolim. While the full book is 40 pages, the set of playable rules fit on one page. Super simple, accessible and expansive.
Finally, let’s focus on the construction of Hollow with Dawn by Adam Vass. Of all the games, this is perhaps the best one to play without being at the table with your friends. It has the added bonus of using the courier as a mechanic, so if you want to save the post office, choose this game! You create an oracle game using different parts of a mailing address and later interpret the signs of other players. You create a common deck, then use it to create a city, its problems, and its people. Dawn is incredibly ingenious and a fantastic game, perfect for Kingdom of liars and you.
Linda H. Codega is an avid reader, writer and fan. They specialize in media criticism and fandom and are also a short story writer and game designer. Inspired by magical realism, comics, the big screen and social activism, their writing reflects an innate curiosity and a deep attention and investment in media, fandom and the intersection of social justice and pop culture. . Find them on twitter @_linfinn.