Wednesday, 22 May 2019

PRE-ORDERS FOR FREE LEAGUE’S ALIEN RPG BEGIN ON MAY 25 WITH A SURPRISE DEBUT OF THEIR FIRST CINEMATIC MODULE

The ALIEN Roleplaying Game Pre-Order Bundle

LOS ANGELES, CA (May 22, 2019) – On May 25, 1979, Alien first graced the silver screen. Forty years after the Alien franchise first inspired and shocked the world, Free League Publishing has a xenomorphic surprise of their own in store. Quite literally.
Last month on Alien Day (4/26), Free League and 20th Century Fox Consumer Products announced their upcoming tabletop RPG series set within the Alien universe, which is set to release this holiday season. Yet for fans eager to explore that universe for themselves, they don’t need to wait any longer.
In celebration of the official 40th Anniversary this Saturday, Free League will offer a meaty 168-page Cinematic Starter Kit for their highly-anticipated Alien RPG – debuting their first Cinematic module Chariot of the Gods written by Alien RPG setting writer and sci-fi novelist Andrew E.C. Gaska – as a complimentary bonus gift for anyone who pre-orders the Alien RPG Core Rulebook at alien-rpg.com. The Cinematic Starter Kit will be available for download as soon as the pre-order purchase is confirmed.
Based upon Free League’s award-winning Year Zero game engine, the full Alien RPG Core Rulebookcontains 300+ pages of mythology, artwork, and custom mechanics for open-world campaigns and deep, diverse space explorations on the Frontier. While Campaign Mode provides the tools for long-term gameplay, Cinematic Mode challenges players to start and complete an accessible, authentic tabletop RPG experience in one game session with no prior preparation necessary. A streamlined version of the Year Zeroengine, Cinematics deliver only the most crucial game rules for each scenario with pre-generated characters, stories, and challenges – capturing the intense drama of an Alien film.
Free League has big plans for Alien and their new Cinematic mode, which is why they’re sharing the Starter Kit months ahead of the Core Rulebook.
“We’re trying something new and we want to know what people think,” says Free League co-founder and Alien RPG game director Tomas Härenstam. “In fact, anyone who pre-orders the Core Rulebook will receive exclusive access to our development process with opportunities to provide feedback and earn a play-tester credit in the final publication.”
The Starter Kit isn’t the last Cinematic module that fans can expect from Free League. “Chariot is the first in a trilogy of Cinematic modules from Andrew E.C. Gaska in the future,” shares Härenstam. Each Cinematic in the trilogy will explore a different style of gameplay, introducing a different perspective in the Alien universe and a different source of antagonism. Yet while each Cinematic module is designed as a stand-alone experience with new characters, settings, and challenges, the overarching narrative of the trilogy is connected – telling one complete, canonical story by the end.
“That’s what so liberating/challenging about designing and playing in Cinematic mode. You could be space truckers one session. Colonial Marines the next,” says Gaska. “The fun is figuring out how to work together, learn on the fly when the stakes are high, and try your best to survive the night. The constraints really make the whole experience feel more thrilling and terrifying. Like you’ve been dropped into your own Alien movie. And even if your character dies, the night is far from over for you as a player.”
As all characters aren’t likely to survive, Cinematics are engineered with death and replay value in mind, providing an ensemble cast of playable characters and branching narratives with multiple story paths and possible endings. “It’s rewarding to play and replay each Cinematic event, as you learn with experience, try new characters and creative solutions, and encounter new challenges over time,” shares Gaska.
Starting on May 25, Free League will accept pre-orders for the Alien tabletop RPG Core Rulebook and a variety of limited-edition 40th Anniversary goodies and gear exclusively at alien-rpg.com:
  • STANDARD EDITION includes the Alien RPG Core Rulebook in a hardcover format with approximately 300 full-color pages of beautiful artwork and complete game rules for both the Cinematic and long-term Campaign game modes. A PDF of the book is included. Price: $49.99
  • STANDARD BUNDLE includes the standard Alien RPG Core Rulebook, along with a deluxe Gamemaster Screen, two sets of custom dice (one set of 10 Base Dice and one set of 10 Stress Dice), a set of 50 custom cards (for initiative, weapons, and NPCs), and a set of useful maps and markers. A PDF of the book is included. Price: $99.99 ($50 discount on the total retail price)
  • 40th ANNIVERSARY LIMITED-EDITION offers the Alien RPG Core Rulebook with a special commemorative book cover. Exclusive to this pre-order campaign, the 40th Anniversary Limited-Edition will never be printed again. A PDF of the book is included. Price: $89.99
  • 40th ANNIVERSARY BUNDLE includes the Alien RPG 40th Anniversary Limited-Edition Core Rulebook, along with the deluxe gamemaster screen, two sets of custom dice (one set of 10 Base Dice and one set of 10 Stress Dice), a set of 50 custom cards (for initiative, weapons, and NPCs), and a set of useful maps and markers. A PDF of the book is included. Price: $139.99
  • THE COMPANY SPECIAL EDITION includes everything from the 40th Anniversary Limited-Edition Bundle, as well as signatures from the Free League team on both the commemorative cover and a Limited-Edition 27” X 40” poster of the Alien RPG cover art by Martin Grip. Price: $249.99
Fans can also customize their own package with individually priced add-ons.
The 40th Anniversary Edition of the Alien RPG Core Rulebook is exclusive to the Free League store and its 40th Anniversary Pre-Order Event, which begins 5/25/19 at 9am EST and ends 8/4/2019 at 11:59pm EST. Official retail solicitations for the Standard Edition will begin in July, but retailers are encouraged to contact Free League with any questions to welcome them into the 40th Anniversary fun as well.
For more news and previews on the Alien RPG series, visit alien-rpg.com. Then follow Free League Publishing on Twitter and Facebook, where fans can discover art and gameplay development ahead of the game’s release.
ABOUT 20TH CENTURY FOX CONSUMER PRODUCTS
20th Century Fox Consumer Products licenses and markets properties worldwide on behalf of 20th Century Fox Film, 20th Century Fox Television and FX Networks, as well as third party lines. The division is aligned with 20th Century Fox Television, the flagship studio leading the industry in supplying award-winning and blockbuster primetime television programming and entertainment content and 20th Century Fox Film, one of the world’s largest producers and distributors of motion pictures throughout the world. For more information on all Alien products and activities, go to www.AlienUniverse.com.
ABOUT FREE LEAGUE PUBLISHING
Free League is a critically acclaimed Swedish publisher of speculative fiction, dedicated to publishing award-winning tabletop role-playing games, board games, and art books set in strange and wondrous worlds. Our best-selling RPG Tales from the Loop swept the 2017 ENnie Awards, winning five Gold ENnies for Best Setting, Best Writing, Best Art, Best Game, and Product of the Year. The game is inspired by a series of iconic art books published by Free League – Tales from the Loop, Things from the Flood, and The Electric State – exploring artist Simon Stålenhag’s original sci-fi universe soon to be realized in the upcoming TV series from Amazon Studios. Most recently, our fantasy RPG Forbidden Lands became the 3rd most successful RPG Kickstarter of 2017 and dubbed one of the best RPGs of 2018. Other tabletop work includes the post-apocalyptic RPG Mutant: Year Zero, the sci-fi RPG Coriolis – The Third Horizon, the fantasy RPG Symbaroum, and the Crusader Kings board game. To learn more, visit freeleaguepublishing.com.
ABOUT GENUINE ENTERTAINMENT
Genuine Entertainment is an award-winning producer and paladin in genre entertainment, specializing in strategic licensing for entertainment franchises and fandoms that demand quality and authenticity in equal measure. It’s our mission to build brands by building worlds and fan communities, making meaningful contributions with premium content and consumer products that extend brands into new markets and genuinely connect with fans across multiple categories. Recent collaborations include such genre greats as Alien, Altered Carbon, Avengers: Infinity War, Blade Runner 2049, Dune, Game of Thrones, and World of Darkness. To learn more, visit: www.genuineent.com.

Friday, 3 May 2019

I always come back to the D6 System

Whenever I toy with a new setting I always go over a few systems to see what fits. Do I create my own? Keep it simple? Use an existing one? Have a look at OGL systems?

However, I always seem to come back to the D6 System, especially for science fiction, as it seems to have everything I need. AntiPaladin Games' Mini Six is a favourite version of mine, mainly because I don't have to write the rules and gamers can get the them free.

I guess that's because I played the WEG D6 Star Wars game from 1987 to the early 2000s, and created a huge campaign setting to adventure in, so the system is properly impressed on me. The system itself is so malleable it can be used for all kinds of things, from high adventure to dark and brooding, and the cinematic feel the rules have give plenty of scope and freedom top the GM. I always loved the Star Wars first edition rules because of their simplicity, and the Rules Companion added a bit of flavour to that. Subsequent editions made changes that I felt uneccessarily complicated things, so I always went back to basics.

I always come back to the D6 System. AntiPaladin Games definitely produced the best version of it, for my tastes.

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

Interview - Brian Fitzpatrick of Moebius Adventures


I've been having fun with 'Aliens & Asteroids', a game 'written to evoke the terror of being on a spaceship in the middle of nowhere being stalked by creatures only wanting to survive and thrive', so I thought I'd reshare an  interview I did with Brian Fitzpatrick of Moebius Adventures in January 2018.


Hello, Brian, and welcome to Farsight Blogger! Tell us something about yourself and how you ended up wandering the wonderful worlds of roleplaying games.

Thanks for having me!

As far as my entry to the wonderful world of role-playing games, I was lucky enough to be a geeky kid in the early 1980s and managed to find a group of like-minded individuals who were playing AD&D. I think the first time I played was 1982 and I was hooked from that moment on. And my geeky nature worked to stoke the fires of my imagination, tapping into my love of reading where I discovered the Lord of the Rings, Robert Heinlein, Piers Anthony, and many many others, not to mention my fascination with myths and legends from around the world. Maybe not as exciting as the 80s setting of Stranger Things, but just as awesome!

Though there were a few lean years for RPGs in high school, I found them again in college and have never looked back. I've lost track of the number of RPGs we've played, from D&D and Palladium Fantasy to Ninjas & Superspies, Vampire, Heavy Gear, Battletech, Call of Cthulhu, and many others. And after college in the mid-1990s, I teamed up with a buddy of mine and we started Moebius Adventures. We've been tinkering in one way or another for a very long time!

These days, I still play some D&D 4e and 5e fairly regularly, but most of my time is devoted to working on our OSR game Mazes & Perils or our latest science fiction offering, Aliens & Asteroids.

Aliens & Asteroids sounds like my cup of tea; the darkness of space and the horrors that dwell there? Yes, please. What do you think this game brings to the science fiction roleplaying experience that’s different?

Glad to hear you're excited! I know I am! We've been having a great time playing at my FLGS with a fun group, romping around the universe, battling aliens, and trying to save humanity from the awful Dread (our big baddies)!

Originally I wanted A&A to be an OSR-inspired game of space marines and battles on alien worlds, but the system we developed felt very forced and clunky. Thankfully my friend Alan Bahr (Gallant Knight Games) chimed in with the ideas that became the Inverse20 system, so we came up with a very light system that is VERY easy to learn and yet has adapted to everything we've thrown at it so far. Keeping the system light has allowed us to explore more fast and furious adventures along the lines of Aliens, Predator, The Expanse, Firefly, Babylon-5, and more -- letting us focus on the story and using simple mechanics rather than bringing in a lot of overhead we didn't need.

The universe of A&A is a bit like the Expanse mixed with Aliens and a little Call of Cthulhu. If you've ever played the video game X-COM 2, we've gone for a very squad-level feel that still allows for gonzo heroics and a bit of the panic that sets in when you're facing creatures of unknown origin simply shrugging off any weapons fire and are definitely not of any world you've ever seen.

And when you pull in the Dread, things go from bad to worse. The Dread are on a mission to devour the life energy of the universe and something tells me Earth would be a really tasty morsel!


What was the attraction to the darker side of science fiction? Is it something you’ve always been interested in?

Honestly, I've always loved Lovecraft's ideas surrounding alien forces and intelligences that we simply cannot fathom. The Universe is a big place and I see a bright future once humanity hops to the moon, Mars, and beyond. But I also think that when we head into the dark, there will be things waiting for us we won't be ready for. It's true that humanity already has a pretty dark streak and is capable of beauty and horror in equal amounts, but when we work together against a common enemy we can do some simply amazing things. We'll just have to see what happens when we get that far.

That said, A&A presents a dark future with a lot of hope. At my own game table I've seen people band together to save complete strangers from horrors that make even the brave men and women of the space marines tremble in their boots. I think there are some great opportunities for amazing stories to be told to light the darkness for a long time.

Can you explain a little more about the Inverse20 system? How does it work?

Inverse20 is based on a few basic concepts. Each character has a set of attribute values like Toughness and Education that can be used to quantify their strengths and weaknesses. Each character takes traits to help define what they're good at, such as Guns or Medicine. And based on those two ideas plus the difficulty of a task, a player gets to roll one d20 or two d20s to determine success or failure. If you are shooting a gun but don't have the Guns trait, it's your Accuracy attribute. If you roll your Accuracy score or less, you hit! If not, you fail. If you roll a 1 or right on the attribute value, that's a Critical Hit. And if you roll a natural 20, that's a Critical Fail.

If the task is easy or you have a trait that makes it easier (like the Guns trait when shooting weapons), the roll is at an Advantage. That means you roll two d20s and take the most advantageous result (either the lowest or the die that's right on the score you're aiming for). If it's a particularly difficult task, it may be at a Disadvantage. In that case, you roll two d20s and take the highest number. And with No Advantage, it's just a single d20.

This task resolution system keeps things simple at the table and moving quickly as a result. We dig it and I hope to develop a few other variations on it, including a fantasy version I've been tinkering with.

The Kickstarter was successful and the game is due soon. Once the initial core book has been sent out, what kind of support can the game expect in the future in the form of scenarios and supplements?

Yes! I'm very excited for us to get the A&A core book out in February, but that's just the beginning!

We have a long list of projects on the horizon, from new professions and traits, to setting books describing different locations in the A&A universe, to adventures on alien worlds! Though we had a few stretch goals we didn't get to see realized during the Kickstarter, all of the folks willing to write for us then are on the hook to provide some great stuff for us through the rest of 2018 and beyond. I'm very excited to see what they come up with and I think we have plenty of ideas to keep us busy for a good long while!

What else does Moebius Adventures have planned for the future?

Though A&A has been our main focus over the last 6 months, we have some fun things planned for our Mazes & Perils line as well as some collections of older titles that may finally see the light of day. Beyond that, I really want to explore some older ideas from the Moebius back catalog in the cyberpunk and fantasy realms to keep things hopping. Our new partnership with Gallant Knight Games has provided a great springboard for some fun projects to come!

Art from Outland Entertainment and Jason Adams
Art from Outland Entertainment and Jason Adams

Sunday, 28 April 2019

Taskmaster's Tower - a new Advanced Fighting Fantasy adventure available now!

'Welcome to Wherwest! This is a town full of opportunities at every corner, adventure through every door and danger at every turn. Glory and gold awaits! That is, if you can get past your first night here!

This adventure details the town and the tower of Markas Taskmaster, lord and wizard. It is suitable for novice or experienced players.'

Available from DrivethruRPG now!

Saturday, 27 April 2019

An ALIEN roleplaying game coming from Fria Ligan/Free League

An ALIEN roleplaying game?

Okay, so... I'm extremely excited about this. I have a favourite film in the whole wide world and that movie is ALIEN, and the thought of gaming in that world is exciting.

I did try through other games and even had a copy of the ALIENS Adventure Game which I didn't get on with at all, but the quality of Fria Ligan's work is excellent and I'm finding it hard to imagine the game in anyone else's hands, especially after their amazing work on Coriolis and the visuals and atmosphere that evoked.

I'd play this in the vein of the original movie; I love ALIENS and some of the material that came after, but changing the movie style from a Lovecraftian horror to an action packed thriller/gorefest was interesting but diluted the original film, and I prefer the stark horror of the original.
I'm really excited. Like, really really excited.


I'm going to be talking about the ALIEN RPG a lot. I know I've pretty much 'retired' from interviewing RPG peeps, but I've spoken to the great guys at Fria Ligan before and I really want to do it again. However, I know the limitations of talking about licences so I'm not sure what they'll be able to tell me.


What I want to do is talk more about what I intend to do with this game. There is SO MUCH I want to do, and only ten percent of it has actual aliens in it. Exploration, treachery, company problems, industrial espionage, investigation, on-ship melodrama, the sheer danger of deep space work. And then alien killing machines.

This is an amazing coming together of three things I love - roleplaying games, ALIEN and Fria Ligan. I can't wait.

Wednesday, 24 April 2019

Free one-page RPG

I had a simple one-page game engine pop into my head last night while I was struggling to sleep, so I thought I'd quickly write it up and get it out there.

It's here if anyone wants it. Feel free to share far and wide!

Tuesday, 9 April 2019

Advanced Fighting Fantasy 2nd Edition RPG adventure 'The Vault of the Old Kingdom' is available now

I'm happy to announce that my new Advanced Fighting Fantasy 2nd Edition RPG adventure 'The Vault of the Old Kingdom' is available now from DrivethruRPG!

'Welcome, brave adventurers!

The tiny Kingdom of Cardigul in North Western Allansia clings to the edge of the Icefinger Mountains and scratches a living from mining, trapping and farming. But Cardigul hides the evidence of a much older and more mysterious Kingdom. What is the secret and why are the Heroes key to the survival of Cardigul?

This is The Vault of the Old Kingdom, an Advanced Fighting Fantasy 2nd Edition adventure for an experienced adventuring party, although it will be easy enough to adjust the statistics of the foes and dangers to suit any level of skill.'

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

Normal service might resume...

...at some point in the future.

Now that I'm writing material for other games - I'm working on new Advanced Fighting Fantasy 2nd Edition material and artwork for Arion Games and Aliens & Asteroids adventures for Moebius Adventures, as well as writing a complete RPG core rulebook due for publication in 2020 - I haven't had as much time for this blog as I used to. In fact, I have virtually no time at all as I have actual deadlines!

I still want to do work for Farsight Blogger and I may revisit the site at some point in the future, but I can't guarantee when that will be. If you're a regular reader then please keep checking back, or simply subscribe for alerts when a new article does drop.

Thank you for sticking with me for this amount of time. Farsight Blogger has been going for almost ten years, on and off, and there's still more I can do with it, I'm sure.

Bear with me.

Saturday, 23 February 2019

'Things from the Flood' on it's way

I've been previewing Free League's sequel to 'Tales from the Loop', a new roleplaying game for grown-up kids called 'Things from the Flood'.

Oh, boy.

Something that always struck me with 'Tales from the Loop' was what would happen to the kids once they'd grown up. This book answers those questions and also throws a couple of new problems; the world has changed... and now your characters can die.

Wow.

I'll be playing this in the near future and I can't wait. 'Tales from the Loop' was one of the best games I've played over the last few years and it seems that this sequel is going to give me the answers I was asked when my player's kids reach 16 - what happens to them now?

“It started on Christmas Day in 1994. Black water suddenly rose from the land, invading our homes and lives. They say it came from the depths inside the Loop. Whatever it was the Flood changed everything. Nothing would ever be the same again.”

Welcome back to the Loop. Things from the Flood are coming. The sequel to the multiple award-winning Tales from the Loop RPG, based on the wondrous worlds of Simon Stålenhag, is releasing in Q2 2019.

The Things from the Flood RPG thrusts the Tales universe into a grim alternate 1990s. Step into the shoes of a teenager growing up in a decade of change – and disaster. Still, your life goes on as before. You go to school, fall miserably in love and try to fend of boredom. But when teens start to go missing, you and your friends decide to solve the mystery.

Things from the Flood presents a darker version of Stålenhag’s hallmark retro sci-fi. Create new Teens or let your Kids from Tales from the Loop grow older. But remember - things are different now, this time you can die.

The critically acclaimed Tales from the Loop RPG, created by Free League Publishing, was released in 2017 and won no less than five Gold ENnies including Best Game and Product of the Year as well as three Golden Geek Awards including Best RPG.


Saturday, 2 February 2019

RPG Review - Forbidden Lands from Free League


Published by Free League/Modiphius Entertainment

by Tomas Härenstam (Lead Designer),  Erik Granström (Designer), Nils Gulliksson (Main Illustrator), Christian Granath (Writer), Nils Karlén (Writer), Kosta Kostulas (Writer)

‘Forbidden Lands is a new take on classic fantasy roleplaying. In this sandbox survival roleplaying game, you’re not heroes sent on missions dictated by others – instead, you are raiders and rogues bent on making your own mark on a cursed world. You will discover lost tombs, fight terrible monsters, wander the wild lands, and if you live long enough, build your own stronghold to defend.’


I like games that have their own personal style, their own charm and their own unique atmosphere. Games such as these have a special place on my shelf and get to spend time on my table.

Forbidden Lands is that charming it could wear a top hat and a monocle, hold the door open to a restaurant to allow you to enter first and hold a pleasant inoffensive conversation over a lunch that it paid for. It’s that charming.

With a heady mix of old-school charm and modern, story-driven rules this game is one of the best fantasy roleplaying games to hit the market in many a year. That’s quite a claim, but it sets out to do a job; to bring the old-school rogues and adventurers back to the fore. You’re not out there for the glory or the fame; you’re out there for the treasure and the rewards, and if it brings glory and fame, well, that’s a bonus.

In the sturdy box you will get two hardcover faux-leather books, a Player’s Guide for the players to create their characters and get a handle on their role in the game, and a Gamemaster’s Guide to help the GM fill out the world; A booklet called Legends and Adventurers which helps with fleshing out characters; and a full colour map and a sheet of stickers so that the group can track their progress across the world and add the stickers to mark where they’ve been and what they’ve done.

It’s incredibly well presented. The books are incredibly satisfying to crack open for the first time and the thick pages, excellent black-and-white interior art and 1980s-like layout is really, really nice. It might not be for everyone; I first got into RPGs in the 1980s so this is all familiar, even comfortable, territory for me but the simple layout may not be the tastes of those used to glossy, full-colour interiors. Personally, I think this adds to the atmosphere.


The lore of the game is well thought out and gives the players impetus to get out there and explore. With a world of danger mixed with a little bit of darkness, the setting is something that players who like a bit of grim in their games will enjoy, while not being so dark it borders on the nihilistic. There’s plenty of scope for adventure. I’ll let Free League explain;

‘The core game setting of Forbidden Lands is a vast and remote valley once known as Ravenland, conquered by the spellbinder Zygofer over three centuries ago. When faced by the savage orcs, he opened dark gates to seek the help of demons. That was his undoing. Zygofer was lost to the darkness and he placed himself on the throne of the Ravenland, his daughter Therania by his side.

To keep their vile corruption from spreading, the king in the south built a great wall across the mountain pass and forbade all to ever speak of what had happened. Since that day, the spellbinder’s domain is known as the Forbidden Lands. Zygofer's henchmen, the feared Rust Brothers, still haunt the land, but the spellbinder himself has not been seen for many years. Fearful whispers say he has transformed into a demonic creature called Zytera.

Today, the Forbidden Lands it is a lawless place where demons and dark creatures roam the countryside, while common folk barricade themselves in small villages. Only the brave and the foolish, the raiders and the rogues, dare venture out to seek treasure and glory in the ruins of old.

Written by acclaimed fantasy author Erik Granström, the Forbidden Lands setting is rich and detailed, on the surface based on classic fantasy but with many surprising twists and secrets to discover during play.’

Sounds like a great time, right? Well, it really is. The setting is solid enough to draw you into a huge meta-plot you can get plenty of inspiration from while at the same time giving you enough leeway to explore the world in your own way. The system, inspired as it is by the flexibility of older games, can easily be used for a GM’s own campaign setting. The setting you get with the game is great, but there’s nothing stopping you from using your own - or even an established – setting.

Players can use seven races; Human, Half-Elves, Dwarf, Halfling, Wolfkin, Orcs, and Goblins. They can then choose from eight professions; Druid, Fighter, Hunter, Minstrel, Peddler, Rider, Rogue, and Sorcerer.

They have four attributes; Strength, Agility, Wits, and Empathy. With sixteen skills to choose from it may seem the characters are a little thin on detail, but there is plenty of material such as Talents, which give a character advantages during play, and choices to make sure the PC is fleshed out enough to be unique and fun to play.

The rules are straightforward and players of Free Leagues other games will be in familiar territory; roll a number of D6s, and any die resulting in a 6 is a success with a 1 being detrimental to the roll. The rules are simple and straight forward and easy to get into, even for players new to the system. It was easier for me and my group as we had experience with other games such as ‘Coriolis’ and ‘Tales from the Loop’.

But my reviews of games are never about the rules or how well they work as that is always subjective. The real question is, how did we get on with the game?

The characters were easy to set up – my group’s experiences in the golden age fantasy roleplaying games helped and it was fun to see this game’s take on classic races and careers – and within an hour we were set up and ready to go. We had the advantage of having played ‘Coriolis’ and ‘Tales from the Loop’, so the system was nothing new to use and all we had to do was get used to the tweaks and new approaches to the game engine.

Straight away the players were invested in the game setting. The struggle against a dangerous foe in power, the idea of exploring a land lost to them and being able to play in a game where they could basically look out for themselves and not get too hung up about an overbearing world meta-plot gave them plenty of drive to get out there and explore, delve and fight. I created a simple dungeon and a local legend for the players to get embroiled in and sent them on their way.

In fact, this game seemed to be more action-orientated than the two previous titles we’d played, and even though the game system handled the combat in the game well it was quite dangerous, and sadly the Half-Elf Hunter dies a rather ignoble death in the first hour of the game. Within fifteen minutes the unfortunate player had created a new character and rejoined the fray. The combat system certainly gave my players a reason to pause, and every possible encounter was met with a degree of uncertainty; there are some games where the players can be heroes and throw themselves into the fight with gusto but this game did not feel like one of those games. It was frustrating as the group tried to cover every angle to give themselves the best chance of survival, but it added drama and tension which is something the setting cries out for.

The system was agile and fun and quite easy to use, with very little bookkeeping or page-flipping, and with the players knowing what to do and when to do it - without having to read tables or rely on charts - encounters were easy and a lot of fun.

In fact, it was so much fun we made plans to integrate it into a future ‘Tales from the Loop’ game. We’d joked about what the child characters in the kid-driven sci-fi game would play, and this is it. If we ever sit down to play Tales from the Loop and there are any scenes in which the kids play an RPG, we’ll crack open the Forbidden Lands books and run a quick encounter in the vein of over-excited teenagers. It promises to be a lot of fun.

The game was a joy to play as most of my group are old-school gamers with fond memories of a particular age of gaming. The old-school feel was pleasant but the setting and the new story-driven way to get involved in a game felt very new, and it’s this coming together of the old and the new that gives Forbidden Lands it’s charm. There’s something in here for players young and old.

But let’s not get hung up on the charm the game offers; a system or a setting cannot survive on nostalgia alone, and to rely on that nostalgia to please old gamers does not do much for newer gamers wanting a new experience. Is the system and the world of Forbidden Lands enough to attract and retain players? It’s hard to say. For me it’s yes, because I enjoy the system and I love the setting and for other, newer players there’s a whole new world to explore. But what’s here that will bring new experiences to the table for everyone? That remains to be seen, but new material that Free League has available and in the pipeline promises much.

All in all, Forbidden Lands is an excellent game, setting and overall product. It’s productions values live up to what we expect from Free League, the box is sturdy and the contents are a lot of fun and, even though the books may be laid out in an old-school style, it’s a really attractive package.

The setting is dark and forbidding, but there’s enough room to create your own take and the system is flexible enough to create your own worlds.

The nostalgia is heavy for us older gamers and the story-driven world is attractive to newer players, but the game cannot exist on nostalgia alone so it remains to be seen how the game is supported by following material.

There’s something in here for almost every type of player. Enjoy your dungeon bashes? Love your exploration? Like to get involved in deep narratives? Forbidden Lands has you covered on pretty much every approach.

Forbidden Lands is a heady mix of old-school adventure and grim, dangerous journeys. Players can create three-dimensional characters with plenty of choices to make them unique, and the GM has plenty of room to inject their own material into the mix. There really is something in here for everyone, and gaming groups old and new will get a lot of satisfying gaming out of it.