Indie RPGs Push Boundaries

Indie style RPGs have really piqued my interest as of late. I recently picked up a copy of InSpectre, Dungeon World and I continue to get tremulus add-ons from the Kickstarter. Why have they captured my interest lately? It’s not he “newness” of the system., but more the mechanics and non-traditional themes. We can all play a vanilla fantasy RPG that is based on a d20 mechanic, but playing a member of a ghost hunting team that is heavy on the story telling mechanic is more interesting.

We should, as players and game masters alike, be part of creating the narrative not just simply responding to the narrative the game master lays before us. Though that does have a more traditional place in older fantasy RPGs. Please don’t misinterpret my words to mean that players are not part of the narrative in older fantasy RPGs, they’re part of it to a lesser extent. Indie RPGs do not fit into one mold, in fact there are some many games that fit into this generic moniker that the mold in broken in a sense. The amount of games out there is so immense and the mechanics are as varied as there are systems and the themes are just as varied. There is something for everyone!

I love my old school fantasy games, don’t get me wrong, but there is something exciting about stepping off the beaten path and exploring something new and different and becoming more of an integral part of the gaming experience than just being along for the ride as a passenger.

Tell me, tell the world, what indie or non-mainstream games have tried and what do you like or dislike about those the games!

Psst… If you’re reading this on Google or Twitter, head over to the blog itself!

~ Modoc

2 Comments Add yours

  1. I think you’d be hard pressed to find someone who disagreed with the sentiment that great stories can happen even in games where the rules don’t address or drive the storytelling side.

    So there’s no need to lean on apologetic language – point out the places in other RPGs where they were on the right trail, then highlight where powered-by-the-apocalypse & other games took it in a direction you liked.

    What is it you feel that InSpectres does best to power storytelling? How about DW, or the differences beween DW vs tremulus?

    Great post – thanks Modoc


  2. modoc31 says:


    Thanks for the reply and thoughtful comments. Let me start out by saying, all RPGs are designed to create a story among the players and Gm (if there is one). I wanted to point out that that the “indie revolution” of games is opening up the creativity within the RPG genre of games. To me, the new newer, non-traditional thinking that is captured in games like InSpectre or any of the Apocalypse World derived games breaks barriers.

    A game that draws players in with a compelling story is paramount to all other things. Following a compelling story, game mechanics that keep a player involved in the game and allowing them to help shape the story as the game progresses are the next important thing. If a game can do these two things regardless if they are more mainstream games or a small press indie games that is what is important, the gaming experience!

    Taking a look at any of the Apocalypse World derived games, The concept of players rolling all the dice to determine every outcome even if the situation would have been one that a GM would have traditionally rolled for to determine said outcome. Once the dice are rolled, depending on the roll, the player or the GM has input into the outcome and/or resolution of the situation. That is a revolutionary concept when compared to traditional games like D&D, T&T, VtM, Pathfinder et al. I find the new array of game mechanics in today’s newer, non-mainstream games, revolutionary in concept and scope. I find the designs inspiring and I believe they will help the genre continue to grow and provide gamers a wider array of games to choose from.

    With regards to storytelling, I like what DW and tremulus have done with regards to empowering the players to really get involved in the outcome of situations. In more traditional games, a player will declare what the character is doing, roll dice and the GM conveys the outcome to all at the table. With a game like DW, the player decides the type of outcome based on the “action” performed and the die roll. The die roll is compared to the possible outcomes and in some cases the player gets to help define the outcome. That is what I like about the Apocalypse World derived games. They embody what I call “total player involvement”.

    ~ Modoc


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.