The Forgotten Indies

edited February 2008 in Story Games
My girlfriend insists that she's not a geek and certainly - oh lordy no! - not a gamer.

So, she ran her first RPG a couple of evenings ago, I'm delighted to say, and did a smashing job. Despite inevitable nerves and uncertainty she kept everything running smoothly and the players had a thoroughly good time.

The game in question was The Secret Lives of Gingerbread Men, a nicely simple RPG which we spiced up nicely with the addition of decorate-your-own gingerbread men to use as character sheets (not that they lasted the whole session, of course...) and this led me to think that I haven't heard much about this particular game for a while. Nor quite a number of others. Of course the sheer number of games appearing in recent years, and the limited focus of some, means that we can't talk about every game all the time, but there seem to be a fair few excellent designs in danger of slipping through the cracks, so to speak, lost to newcomers because they aren't flavour of the month and put aside by the old guard even though they still have a lot to offer. Quite how to draw attention to some of these games was the problem, so I thought that a thread on a Popular Internet Forum might spark some discussion, recommendations or loud comments on what a dolt I am (this being the Internet, after all.)

Any favourites you feel are languishing in undeserved obscurity?
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Comments

  • "Languishing in undeserved obscurity" may be a bit perjorative! I always think of Dust Devils as a game that does not get the love it deserves, which is a lot.
  • It Was A Mutual Decision

    Seriously, this is one of those don't knock it 'till you try it games. It's awesome. I love it!

    Jesse
  • Posted By: Jason Morningstar"Languishing in undeserved obscurity" may be a bit perjorative!.
    Not intended to be, I assure you!

    Dust Devils was the first "Indy" game I ever bought; and also the first PDF, something of a leap of faith for me at the time. The recent revamp has been sitting on my "to buy" list for far longer than it deserves, come to think of it.
  • Revenged is very nice. Funny, Dust Devils was my first as well, on both counts.
  • Lets see...With Great Power deserves far more play and props than its gotten.

    Kayfabe never got the love it deserved, including from me who still hasn't managed to play even though I have both the original and the HC release.

    Most of the Sorcerer mini sups I don't think ever got full attention

    Great Ork Gods and Orx have both gotten short shrift
  • My list of games I personally under-appreciate, and that I also think are generally under-appreciated:

    With Great Power
    Conspiracy of Shadows
    Trollbabe
    a/state
    carry
  • I just got With Great Power and I can't wait to try it out. The only thing is that it's BIG! Trying it out will take a considerable period. :)
  • Hero's Banner feels like it is under-appreciated.

    I agree about Trollbabe.

    Nine Worlds doesn't seem to get a lot of love. (That being said, our group is firing up a run of Nine Worlds.)

    Elfs.

    Seth Ben-Ezra
    Great Wolf
  • edited February 2008
    Covenant doesn't get enough love. There are mechanics in there that everyone should be copying.

    Graham
  • JD, don't be fooled. WGP only looks big because Mike does a ton of very careful and very verbose explanation of the hows whys and wherefors...it actually is the game that inspired me to rewrite Universalis for the Revised edition, in order to better explain "how to play". If it were written in stripped down just-the-basics form...it would be 1/4 that size.
  • Fastlane and Unsung tick a lot of boxes for me.
  • Nice thread! I was looking for inspiration. Just picked up WGP and Dust Devils.

    p.
  • I think the ones most easily forgotten are those publishing outside of the Forge Diaspora, often stuff by the folks that we tried to recruit for the Indie Passport last year (and the folks we'll approach again this year):

    - Continuum
    - Nobilis
    - Obsidian
    - Underground
    - etc.
    - etc.
  • Elfs has far more player-controls-the-crunch than other games of recent memory, and for that it's got respect.

    Also, On The Ecology of the Mud Dragon is cuter and funner than almost any other light-hearted RPG out there. Hunt it down; it's a miniature masterpiece.
  • For me, It Was A Mutual Decision deserves a lot more love. I've played twice and really enjoyed it both times.

    With Great Power and Conspiracy of Shadows are both outstanding games. Although in NYC, With Great Power gets a decent amount of play as we push it really hard.
  • Carry and Covert Generation are two games that I think deserve more attention.
  • it's been said twice, but i want to say Carry again.
  • Great to hear, Valamir. I love all games with cards, so.
  • Lots of people talk about the Mountain Witch, but almost no one mentions Tim's reworking of Kwaidan, which is beautiful stuff, if not strictly an RPG on it's own.
  • I'd wouldn't be here if Jake Richmond hadn't turned me onto this game in the first place, but The Princess Game really is something special.
  • edited February 2008
    Some of the most fun I have had at the table is breaking out the Wuthering Heights RPG whenever certain players weren't able to show up for whatever game we had planned.

    Oh and I'd be remiss to not mention Nicotine Girls. It was the first indie game I ever played.
  • Posted By: zoatebixI'd wouldn't be here if Jake Richmond hadn't turned me onto this game in the first place, butThe Princess Gamereally is something special.
    I did something! I really love the Princess Game. I've only played it once, but I think it's fantastic. I need to add that to the list of games I'm running at GameStorm this year.
  • Thanks for responding, everyone. I'll admit that Paladin and On the Ecology of the Mud Dragon are completely new to me, so I'll be taking a look at those. The Wuthering Heights RPG is one I recall looking at a little while ago and putting aside; perhaps it deserves a more thorough reading.
  • Conspiracy of Shadows, definitely deserves more love. Trollbabe too.
  • The Riddle of Steel was basically ignored after The Burning Wheel came about, despite the fact that they are not particularly similar games, for pretty much the same hype and genre-driven reasons one finds in any sector of the hobby.

    Small indie games = free supplement treadmill support for big indie games.
  • I think people turned away from TROS right around the time Jake sold it to a company that didn't know how to promote it very well. Luke, on the other hand, promotes his game like a fiend. Whatever positive attention BW gets, Luke &co worked very hard to get it, both before and after the game came off the press.

    but of not-enough-loved games that come to mind, probably Nine Worlds.
  • Ah, Malcolm... your rants are so wonderfully factless. Someday, you will disappear from the internets, ascending to the invisible choir as the paragon of the self-righteous internet poster.

    Kayfabe is a game I have always wanted to pay more attention to. I learned recently that people here don't know about it! It's awesome. It's a pro-wrestling RPG that includes staging and off-stage planning.

    I feel like Panty Explosion doesn't see enough love for the right reasons. The name is what gets everyone going. But the game itself is really, really sharp.

    yrs--
    --Ben
  • I like Riddle of Steel. It's one of my favorite games, and I've been playing in one campaign or another of it ever since I found it. I rather strongly dislike how Driftwood Press has handled the game line ever since Jake sold it, which is quite a different matters.

    Malcolm, saying that poor exposure for a game which has been promoted poorly or not at all in the indie community after its creator sold it to a third party is somehow the fault of Burning Wheel, whose creator supports and develops the product line as his full-time career is more than a touch disingenious.

    James
  • I'll second Great Ork Gods--and I've been waiting for its publication since I helped inspire the Gods' names and some mechanical workings back during the design stages at The Forge.
  • Posted By: Ben LehmanAh, Malcolm... your rants are so wonderfully factless. Someday, you will disappear from the internets, ascending to the invisible choir as the paragon of the self-righteous internet poster.
    Just thought I'd remind everyone I <3 Ben Lehman.
  • Posted By: Ben LehmanAh, Malcolm... your rants are so wonderfully factless.
    God knows nobody's ever complained about indie sales at Gen Con being focused on a few titles, with the rest serving as booth dressing. That's never happened, right? Nobody ever, say, had zero sales and complained about this dynamic. Keith Senkowski never talked about it in his blog, for example. At http://bob-goat.livejournal.com/2006/08/21/ , he never said:

    "I'm stealing this one from Andy cause I agree with the notion. It almost seems like games that associate with the Forge are a part of a New Game Treadmill, which I wonder if it is sustainable. It is almost like the big dogs (BW, Sorcerer, DitV) are the "Players Handbooks", and the little dogs are the "supplements". After initial release the "supplements" drop in sales, the "player's handbooks" continue to sell steady, and the new "supplements" come out with a bang."

    Matt Snyder and Ron Edwards never responded by taking shots at games they felt were less worthy and should be thinned from the herd. The Ashcan Front was never organized to try a reduce the crowded virtual treadmill effect. The chocolate ration has been increased, not decreased.
  • Posted By: zoatebixI'd wouldn't be here if Jake Richmond hadn't turned me onto this game in the first place, butThe Princess Gamereally is something special.
    Aw, shucks. Thanks. :)

    I was pretty impressed with Full Light, Full Steam, especially the GM advice.
  • Posted By: blankshieldI like Riddle of Steel. It's one of my favorite games, and I've been playing in one campaign or another of it ever since I found it. I rather strongly dislike how Driftwood Press has handled the game line ever since Jake sold it, which is quite a different matters.

    Malcolm, saying that poor exposure for a game which has been promoted poorly or not at all in the indie community after its creator sold it to a third party is somehow the fault of Burning Wheel, whose creator supports and develops the product line as his full-time career is more than a touch disingenious.

    James
    It would be, if I hadn't read a bunch of "The Burning Wheel has replaced TRoS for me" testimonials, specious comparisons and so forth.
  • Posted By: Colin_FredericksI was pretty impressed withFull Light, Full Steam, especially the GM advice.
    I'll second FLFS as being under appreciated.
  • Oh, no, you could totally cite facts for your rant. You just chose not to. That what matters: Most people just settle for being indignant on the internet. You seem to take special care to not get basic things like dates in order.

    (Let me clue you in: Burning Wheel and The Riddle of Steel were published in the same year: 2002.)

    yrs--
    --Ben
  • It would be, if I hadn't read a bunch of "The Burning Wheel has replaced TRoS for me" testimonials, specious comparisons and so forth.
    I liked TRoS but the layout made my eyes bleed and the skill system' wasn't satisfying to me. BW scratched many of the same itches, only better.

    With Great Power... and The Pool are both games that I've been meaning to play for a while now and just haven't had the right moment.
  • Posted By: Ben LehmanOh, no, you could totally cite facts for your rant. You just chose not to. That what matters: Most people just settle for being indignant on the internet. You seem to take special care to not get basic things like dates in order.

    (Let me clue you in: Burning Wheel and The Riddle of Steel were published in the same year: 2002.)

    yrs--
    --Ben
    One was demoed at Gen Con and hit prominence a year before the other. I think you know this.

    In case you're suffering a case of will-enhanced forgetfulness, I'll note that BW first gets mentioned on April 05, 2003 on the Forge -- about a year after the first Forge TROS forum post.
  • I think Burning Wheel doesn't get enough attention.

    Also, PTA.

    (As long as we're threadcrapping, might as well have fun.)
  • Legends of Alyria.
  • Posted By: MarhaultLegends of Alyria.
    Some bastard bought the only copy of that IPR had at dreamation before I could. I shake a fist.

    -Rob D.
  • With Great Power & Nine Worlds are two I think are completely under appreciated. They are both tremendous games and deserve more online displays of play.

    It is nice to have your rants cited...
  • Posted By: Malcolm SheppardMatt Snyder and Ron Edwards never responded by taking shots at games they felt were less worthy and should be thinned from the herd. The Ashcan Front was never organized to try a reduce the crowded virtual treadmill effect. The chocolate ration has been increased, not decreased.
    Credit where credit is due.

    I almost feel like GURPS doesn't get any credit post-4th edition, in all honesty; and my interactions with Steve definitely give me a "Hey, I'm just an indie guy with a nice website" feel to all that he does. It's pretty much the opposite of Rules-Lite, but still taught me everything I knew, and gave me a strong base upon which to build almost-ruleless game systems.
  • edited February 2008
    Posted By: ValamirLets see...With Great Power deserves far more play and props than its gotten.

    Great Ork Gods and Orx have both gotten short shrift
    Orx I agree with.

    But Great Ork Gods? No, it's had an absolutely stonking ride. People were running at it GenCon for Christ's sake! I've never been to GenCon. My game, that I've never even finished, and haven't done any promotion for at least two years is getting run at cons by people I've never even met. That's seriously Wow! to me. The amount of play, interest and discussion that Great Ork Gods has got and continues to get is out of all proportion to the amount of effort I've put in to it.
  • Posted By: Keith SenkowskiIt is nice to have your rants cited...
    Look for my exciting new thread, The Forgotten Indie Rants, coming soon!
  • I don't think Double-J Prince's Piledrivers & Powerbombs gets enough love. Contenders gets a ton of attention, but P&P is a fantastic party game.
  • I'll weigh in on the case of Kayfabe (the BEST way to run an eFed is using Kayfabe) and FLFS (which is slowly moving to the top of my 'To Be Ran Until It Bleeds' Pile)

    Neil
  • edited February 2008
    Malcolm, why do you have to poo all over everything? Couldn't you have just stayed on-topic and said, "I don't hear much about TROS any more. I really liked that game." :(

    I remember TROS getting metric tonnes of love on RPG.net. I don't remember BW being seen as a "replacement" that much until BWR came out, and TROS as a game line had atrophied significantly at that point. I'd love to see a TROS revision (with a less eye-bleeding layout), but the current owners don't seem to be doing much of anything.

    And isn't it possible that BWR is just, well, really good? That, and actively promoted?
  • I've neither read nor played it, but I used to hear lots of cool stuff about Donjon.
  • Mark,

    if you've never at least read it, you're doing yourself a disservice. First, because the game is available for free:

    http://open.crngames.com/src/donjon.html

    (Note to Clinton, the link from this page: http://crngames.com/donjon/links, is broken. It redirects to open.crngames.comdonjon)

    Second, because the game is absolutely brill. It's the game that got me back into RPGs after a four or five year hiatus.
  • RIGHT! Donjon FTW! I'd buy a digest-sized softcover of it--hell, I just bought Mechaton, so I guess I'd buy just about any size game....
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