Independently Published Roleplaying Games for the Collector
The trick to collecting indie RPGs is figuring out the difference between mainstream games and true independent titles. There’s been a great deal of debate on the topic courtesy of online forums, with Internet geeks taking the opportunity to gnash their teeth, get snarky, and make plenty of comments that have nothing to do with the topic of discussion.
For many collectors and gamers, an indie RPG is one that’s self-published. For others, it must meet this qualification in addition to leaving the creator in total control of the design, distribution, and marketing. Indie RPGs have nowhere near the budget of the bigger name roleplaying games, so they need all the help they can get when it comes to sales. Most indie games are offered online in PDF format, but this article concentrates on those collectible indie RPGs that can be purchased in a more traditional format.
Ron Edwards Sorcerer RPG from Adept Press
Created by Ron Edwards for Adept Press, Sorcerer deals with magicians who manage to summon and bind powerful demons to do their bidding. Noble Knight carries several products for this collectible indie roleplaying game. The main rules sell for $20, while supplements like The Sorcerer’s Soul ($12.95) and Sorcerer & Sword ($10) are also available.
The name is French for “dungeon,” so it’s easy to figure out that this game is all about fantasy roleplaying. What makes it different is that players get to add facts as the game progresses, which often takes the proceedings in a whole new (and often silly) direction. I’ve played Donjon before, and it’s a great way to pass a Sunday night of gaming. A hard copy of the game wasn’t easy to find, but there was one mention on RPG.net of a print edition selling for $12.95.
First published in 2006, Shock is an innovative RPG about the effects of cultural change on the people within a society. Two updates have occurred so far, and version 1.2 can be purchased in print at glyphpress.com for $21.
My Life with Master
This indie RPG from Half Meme Press made its debut at the 2003 GenCon convention, casting players in the roles of minions for a Dr. Frankenstein-style mad scientist. Highly praised, My Life with Master won the 2003 Out of the Box Award for Indie Roleplaying Game of the Year, as well as the Diana Jones Award for roleplaying excellence. A hard copy can be purchased from the publisher’s official website at halfmeme.com for $17. Over at Alibris, you can also get a copy that collects My Life with Master, Sorcerer, Dead Inside, and Kobolds Ate My Baby! for a price of $104.95.
Dogs in the Vineyard
Dogs in the Vineyard is a unique title, as it’s based on the history of the Mormons and set in the Mormon State of Deseret prior to the creation of Utah. Published by Lumpley Games, Dogs in the Vineyard won Indie RPG of the Year at the 2004 Indie RPG Awards, as well as Most Innovative Game. It was also nominated for a Diana Jones Award for Excellence in Gaming in 2005. Noble Knight carries a copy of the rules for $19.95, or you can find a copy for sale at theunstore.com $22.
Kobolds Ate My Baby!
Also known as KAMB, this irreverent RPG from 9th Level Games throws players into the roles of kobolds, those evil pests so often used as fodder in D&D campaigns. Dork Storm Press also released a Super Deluxx Version, although it was still designed by the guys at 9th Level Games. Inquest Magazine named Kobolds Ate My Baby! one of the 50 funniest games ever made, and it finished as runner-up for the title of “Most Violent Game” in the pages of Games Unplugged. A first edition copy of the rules sell for $10 at Noble Knight. A number of supplements are available on eBay, including Burn Baby Burn ($19.95), More Things to Kill and Eat! ($14.95), The Warlock of the Extremely High Tower of Painful, Mystical Death! ($24.95), BLT: Baby, Lettuce, and Tomato ($29.95), and Farmageddon ($20).
Spirit of the Century
Set in the pulp era, Spirit of the Century from Evil Hat Productions allows gamers to roleplay in the spirit of The Shadow, The Phantom, and other heroes from the days of serials and radio programs. The game is the winner of the Silver Ennie Award for Best Rules, as well as the Indie RPG Award for Independent Game of the Year (2006). The main rulebook can be purchased for $22 to $25 on eBay, while a visit to evilhat.com will get you a print copy and a PDF version for $30.
Many older games, like Tunnels and Trolls, could also be considered indie RPGs. Roleplaying is a small hobby, so many of the earlier RPGs were creator owned and published.