For many people, Dungeons & Dragons is their gateway to a lifelong love of tabletop games. However, if I’m teaching someone new, chances are I’ll release a game that uses the Powered By The Apocalypse system. It has many of the same benefits as D&D, such as wide character types and easy center resolution, but with a more manageable narrative flow and less paperwork to fill out at the start.
I covered some of the most prominent games using the system in a previous article. This one includes games that have come out since then, games that have pushed the boundaries of core design, and even a game that skips the two six-sided dice for something more brutal.
This Kickstarter blockbuster currently exists in PDF only thanks to ongoing shipping and supply chain issues. avatar captions lets players enter the world of the beloved Nickelodeon animated series to fight with fists and feelings. The book covers several different eras around the world, including the novels, the comics, and the two shows periods. Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra.
Players choose playbooks balanced between two dramatic poles that push and pull on the character, such as the Icon’s desire to live up to their role versus the freedom to do whatever they want. Characters choose a combat technique from the various items that can be bent or normal weapons and gadgets. The game features a more robust combat system than most games of its type, though it still plays simpler than many tactical tabletop rules.
The great romantic epics of wuxia films reached their peak in the West with the 2000s Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. Audiences and critics alike couldn’t get enough of the film’s unspoken love, graceful fights, and mythical storytelling. Wulin Hearts embraces this film as well as dozens of other genre media to allow players to tell similar stories.
The game defines its characters through their elements and, in an unusual move, lets players choose their elemental approach to each action instead of specifying specific moves. Players can use their best element of anything, but if they fail, that element is blocked. The characters are also built to be locked in a kind of love triangle, whether as competing suitors, trapped between love and duty and, according to the band, both.
Sword Thirsty Lesbians
In case the title wasn’t revealing enough, Sword Thirsty Lesbians is a celebration of flirtation, feelings and fights. This is an opportunity to claim a queer space in tabletop games but also to welcome people who do not identify with any part of the title. The object of the game is to mix sharp blades with sharp wits to tackle one of the trickiest aspects of RPGs: romance.
The game does this by encouraging open communication between everyone about the relationships between their characters. There’s also an in-depth discussion of security tools and allowing players to adjust content as they play. Ech playbook also has a central question that brings the drama: when the characters decide to get involved, they have to decide how they could each mess up the relationship.
Boxes are having a moment in the RPG space. Dungeons & Dragons has two excellent box sets (with a third on the way) and many other games have followed suit. zombie world came out a few years ago, but it’s a great example of a very tight system and framework.
Players set up their ideal place of resistance for the zombie apocalypse by picking a location while setting up the good stuff and the glitches with their choice. A random event kicks off the drama as survivors fight each other and zombies wait outside. Each time they act against the undead horde, players draw against a Bite Deck that does not reshuffle until someone draws the card that infects them.
Even if you don’t know what a cozy mystery is, you’ve seen them. These are amateur sleuth shows featuring unlikely sleuths with a collection of quirky characters. Brindlewood Bay sets players up as a circle of old ladies solving these mysteries with a darker, long-term goal: to root out the secret occult conspiracy buried in their quiet little seaside town.
This game does a great job switching from The golden girls bicker in style X-files spooky and back. Each character has a central move based on an old-time TV detective, but the real innovation is the mechanic used to solve the mystery of the week. Players collect clues, spend time theorizing, and then roll, with how the throw determines if they were absolutely right, missed something, or completely off the track.