Trying out new tabletop roleplaying games or getting involved in TTRPGs as a new hobby can be a daunting task. It can be hard to figure out where to start, especially if you only experience with such games to date is limited to a small number of high fantasy titles.
The "Get into TTRPGs" bundle is trying to resolve just that. By providing a sample of games from a wide verity of genres and styles, we hope that players may be able to find a new niche that they and their groups can enjoy for a one-shot, a short story arc, or even a full campaign. With so many games to choose from, I thought it might be helpful to pull out a couple that you might want try out with your group of friends & players!
NOTE: In full disclosure, my game Sageuk! Roleplay in Joseon is in this bundle. As a result, I do make a small amount off of sales of the bundle. If you would like to learn more about that game, you can find spread a cross several posts here on the blog, starting here.
Let's start exploring the bundle's contents by taking a look at one of the many one-page or rules-lite TTRPGs. Intended for one-shots or short-format games for groups, Numbskulls is comedic take on necromancy based around the relationships and hi-jinks of a Necromancer (played by the Game-master) and their skeleton minions (played by the players).
The objectives and complicating effects for the session are set by the Necromancer GM though these can be randomly generated thanks to a set of tables provided. However, an important fact in any session of Numbskulls is that you reside in a world where necromancy is looked down upon and skeletons such as the players' characters are abominations to be destroyed. Therefore, you need to try to act as human as possible when in public to keep yourself and your master safe!
Maintaining the disguise is reflected in the dice mechanics in an interesting way. While most TTRPGs utilize either a "roll-over" or "roll-under" system, each of your skeleton's stats have a success range in the middle instead, which can be expanded in character creation. Rolling below your success range means you failed in a way that attracts attention to your true undead nature. Rolling above your range means that you failed in a way that makes you seem impressive or attrack unwanted attention to yourself. Let's say my objective is to pick up a heavy weight. If I fail a physical roll by rolling under, my bony arms might pop off at the elbow! If I fail over my success range, lifting it might be so easy I accidentally throw it up into the air!
This is a good game for a humorous break between campaigns, a quick and dirty one-shot to introduce new players to TTRPGS, and great for Halloween parties! While it discusses skeletons and necromancy, the game is themed to be accessible to a wide age range, as the action is intended to be slapstick as opposed to being gory or graphic.
Our next game is a Caltrop Core game built around the ideas of journalism, a profession dear to my heart. In a world full of superheros, villains, and other strange events, you are the ordinary reporters out their seeking the truth. Inspired by the Daily Bugle and Daily Planet from the comic books, your player will regularly be getting into harms way. However, your character can likely get away with some ridiculous things, as one is apt to do in the spreads of a comic.
The manual provides several suggested tones as well as a short blurb about the feeling, types of heroes & villains, and themes that you will likely find in the game set in each of the classic eras of comics. For example, in a game set in the Bronze Age (Mid 1970s-1989), many superheros faced not only the villains, but tried to address the social issues villains exploited for their power like economic and political corruption, substance abuse, and environmental damages that were impacting realistic communities. This is opposed to the heroes combating larger-than-life, world-ending crises of earlier villain plots.
One interesting factor in this game is that there is no set GM. Instead the roll of game master (here called the Pulizer) passes around the table each scene. The group also works together to create the hero, their villein(s) and locations around the city where things happen. Events themselves are randomized thanks to utilizing a deck of cards as an Oracle.
Another helpful element is the support that was put behind the character creation process. Each "class" is based around positions at the newspaper like Editor-in-Cheif, the Gossip Columnist, the Business Analyst, or the Photographer. The manual has helpful playbooks that give you that position's starting stats, a list of items and abilities to choose from, and rather uniquely some hooks that can help you flesh out the paper, your coworkers, and the hero you are all revolving around. For example, some of the the Sports Writer's hooks include "You’ve given [a coworker] access to your season tickets before. Why?" and What sport did you realize the hero must have played based on seeing them work?
This game could work as a one-shot, but I think it could also work as a short series, especially if you go a bit off script and interweave in multiple heroes and villains.
Of course, not all TTRPGs have to use dice for everything. Several games in the bundle take this approach. While 2 six-sided dice are used in the Salt Traders to randomly create the map your party will travel across from the salt mines back to your desert city home, the roleplay and journey itself does not use dice at all.
In each round of The Salt Traders, you go through a Rite of Journey, a Rite of Camp, and a Rite of Dream. One player will act as the Bearer (GM) for the round and then pass on the bearer's bag to the next player counterclockwise. In the Rite of Journey, the players discuss things their player saw on the day's travel. At the Rite of Camp, the characters then talk about how they help set up and prepare to end the day with small talk around the fire.
In the Rite of Dream, the Bearer for the round will lead the group in creating a dreamscape story using the seed the location they are now staying at has given them. It is the role of the other players to insert small changes like complications or roleplay minor characters in the dream similar to what you might expect when family or elders are swapping increasingly outlandish stories. Finally, at the last stop, you come to your home city and conduct the Rite of Ending. Each character will have a brief epilogue and decide if their character made further journeys across the sands or if this expedition would be their last on the salt road.
Paddy does suggest the possibility of utilize either the Route mode (making the map) or the Rites (the journey) independent of the other. The manual also includes suggestions on basic character personalities and curios that caravan members may be carrying with them. While this game has a desert feeling to its inspirations and setting, it would certainly be possible to transpose the basic idea into a new setting. In fact, one thing that came to mind when thinking about in the passing of the dream narrative from round to round and telling increasingly outlandish tales was Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, which was a partial inspiration for my own game Run Villein, Run!
The "Get into TTRPGs" bundle is still available for a little over a week. It contains 73 TTRPGs for only $25, saving you about 88% on the regular retail price of all the participating games! q``2qs