In Support of BLM- A Review of Dissident Whispers

Dissident Whispers

Author: Whisper Collective
Publisher: Tuesday Knight Games
Page Count: 136
Available Formats: PDF & Print
PDF (DTRPG) – $20
Print – Prices vary on the collector market

Dissident Whispers is a massive anthology of 58 original roleplaying game adventures for ten game systems and system agnostic. All were created by a diverse, international collective of creators in support of the Black Live Matter movement with its proceeds going towards bail funds.

As of this review, the physical book is sold out, and you will have to turn to the collector market, which still offers fair prices. Inquiries were made, and it appears that there are no plans for a reprint at this time.

Pulling together a massive anthology of scenarios for various systems, all written and illustrated by different people, is a major undertaking during the best of times. On the other hand, this one was imagined, developed, and published with an accelerated timeline. Tuesday Knight Games, publisher of Mothership RPG, appears to not only be the publisher but may also have played the role of the project manager in wrangling the 90+ creatives that came together to make this anthology a reality.

While it’s impractical to give readers a rundown of every scenario contained within Dissident Whispers, I will highlight a few scenarios that excited me, in addition to providing an outline of what’s contained within.

Billed as a zine, this is no ordinary zine! The first thing readers will encounter is its large format and perfect binding. The cover art is not only evocative, but it also makes a clear and defiant statement about the social situation that prompted the book’s creation. Beyond its physical, outward appearance, readers are greeted with scenarios that have been arranged in groupings and a lengthy table of contents that supports the book’s arrangement.

  • System Agnostic Adventures
  • Adventures for Mothership RPG
  • Adventures for Mörk Borg
  • Adventures for Basic / Expert Rules
  • Adventures for Other Systems

Each scenario spans two facing pages so that when the book is laid flat on the table, the entirety of the scenario is accessible to the game’s moderator. This is convenient and helps to minimize excessive wear and tear on the spine and pages. As readers will quickly find, Dissident Whispers does not have any overarching or persistent themes to the scenarios—they are as varied as the creators and artists themselves.

The twenty-four system-agnostic adventures are just that, system-less, and can be easily incorporated into your favorite game system with little effort. Themes here range from whimsical ponies to Sci-Fi to fantastical dungeon crawls. Three system-agnostic scenarios stood out to me. Each is a short dungeon crawl, but each’s premise is one that adventurers are likely to get hooked into easily. Therefore, making them easy to drop into an existing game. These are; “Necropolis of Pashtep,” written by Ford T. Miller, “The Temple of the Blessed Twins,” written by Dave Sokolowski, and “Thorn’s Barrow” written by Ed Lynden-Bell.

The collection of Mothership RPG scenarios are by far the largest single system grouping within the book, which makes sense since the publisher of Dissident Whispers also publishes Mothership RPG. Eleven scenarios, all in full color, with layouts fans of Mothership will appreciate. Each of these scenarios is good in its own right, but depending on your level of interest in Mothership, you will find some more to your liking than others. For me, being new to Mothership RPG, I got the opportunity to not only read “Incident at Muto Station,” written by Brian Stauffer but to also play the scenario recently. I found it to be fun and challenging. While our crew of five didn’t survive its mission to Muto Station, I can see the scenario’s premise is solid, even if it’s a little contrived.

There are six Mörk Borg scenarios to torture your players with. For those who play Mörk Borg, like me, I think you’re in for a treat with these scenarios. Each fully embodies the damned and doomed feel of Mörk Borg while providing players with different themes to explore. The weakest thematically for me was “A Good, Old-Fashioned Murder Dungeon,” written by Madeleine Ember, but… it embodies a classic dungeon crawl vibe that looks like it’s going to be fun to pit my players against. The Scenario that was totally unhinged and I’m most excited about (discussed lots within my gaming circles) is “Flails Akimbo,” written by Pablo Dapena. This one is just crazy! Who wouldn’t want to wake up with a pair of weapons nailed to their hands?

There are four scenarios for use with Basic / Expert systems; all four are adaptable to any of the systems within the OSR (original or retro-clones) spectrum. With OSR scenarios heavily dependent on the character’s levels for the balance of play, only one of the four scenarios indicates that it is written for low-level characters. As for the remaining three, it’s unclear. “The Tomb of the Last Tyrant,” written by Benjamin Wenham, looks the most interesting and should provide a fun challenge for a group of adventurers of about 3rd level.

The last section of the book has thirteen scenarios; 1 for Dungeon Crawl Classics, 2 for Electic Banstionland, 3 for 5th edition D&D, 1 for Mausritter, 1 for The Black Hack, 2 for Troika!, 2 for Trophy Gold, and 1 for Ultraviolet Grasslands. Given the variety of systems supported by these scenarios, your mileage may vary depending on what games you play. After reading through the scenarios, I now want to try two of the systems I have yet to play—Trophy Gold and Troika!. The Mausritter scenario, “The Crumbling Carmine Ruins,” written by David Lombardo, looks like it’ll fun despite its hard to read map.

The overall presentation of the book is fairly nice and, as mentioned, full-color. Given that every scenario has a different artist and layout team, there is no consistency in how scenarios are laid out and presented. While this may add to the charm of some, it does detract from others by making some of the copy hard to read or maps difficult to interpret. The binding quality is a little suspect. My copy arrived from the secondhand market, with the lower 2.5 inches of the spine coming unglued. I have spoken to a number of other owners who do not report have this problem. Aside from that one issue, which may be localized to my copy, there is a sense of durability to the book. The pages are thick with a semi-gloss finish that makes the colors pop. The covers have a matte finish that appears to be fingerprint-resistant.

All-in-all, this is one hell of a collection of scenarios by a diverse pool of creators and artists! As I mentioned above, your mileage will vary depending on which systems you play, but maybe, like me, you’ll be inspired to check out new systems.

~ Modoc

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