A Look At Story Brewers’ Free Downloads

Australian RPG developers Story Brewers are soon to release their Kickstarted smash hit Good Society: A Jane Austen RPG for general sale. We’ll be covering it when it’s available, but if you want to know right now if you think you’ll like it you’re in luck: Story Brewers offers some free games and game supplements just to spread the love and give you a taste of whether they can build a game or not. They are all written and made by the Story Brewers team, Hayley Gordon and Veronica Hendro, along with a couple of others on individual games. To celebrate their successful game launch, I’m having a look at what they’ve put out there; four full RPG games, ranging from beginner to a bit more experienced, plus some extras. None of the games need a Game Master, you may have to supply dice or tokens, and cut out cards, but these are all available for free download at StoryBrewersRoleplaying.com  > here <

To The Temple of Doom! To Defeat The Ancient Evil! is a 3-5 player game that should only take around an hour to play (depending on the number of players and how detailed they get). Each player creates an archaeologist character with different specialties and personalities, and each contributes to the make-up of the final boss, the Ancient Evil. Each player then takes a turn creating a room that the group must explore and face challenges in, to learn something about the Ancient Evil, until everyone has run a room and together face the final encounter, controlled by either a player whose character has died or whoever wants to the most. This is a fun game, and one that would be an excellent warm up or introduction to role-playing for newer players. The character set up still uses allocation of points and skills but remains simple, while the GM-less turn-taking gives everyone a taste of both being a player and controlling them, and encounters are planned much more freely (though suggestions are available). One of my players included an enthusiastic newbie who had a lot of big ideas for running their room but needed help in planning it out properly and keeping the setting consistent, which made it a good learning opportunity for future games. I won’t tell you how the Ancient Evil NPC is created according to the game rules, but I found the method very interesting and a great way of keeping it mysterious for everyone since no one person writes it up, and yet a coherent character is built.

 

StoryBrewersRoleplaying.com

 

The Very !mportant Task is another 3-5 player game, recreating the soul-crushing drudgery of office work. Each character has their position and department, and an Important Task – but you must deal with red-tape, other people’s problems as well as your own, managers, and on occasion the suspicions of the HR department about your work methods. Roll well and you might sail through, but roll badly, and prepare to face the consequences. Other players can help or hinder each other, and even get to play each other’s managers when needed, all while trying to be the first to tick off the last box of their Important Task. This one isn’t aimed at beginners, and I can see why – it absolutely works best when you can get into the role-playing, and beginner RPGers aren’t always the best at that (tending to rely on the rules to know what to do). However, if you’ve got a bit more experience with inhabiting a character and know what you’re doing, this is a great one-off game to do something different or challenge yourself to re-create Dilbert. If you’ve ever worked in an office before, you’ll probably have fun with this one.

 

StoryBrewersRoleplaying.com

 

The Great Long Dark is a very different beast indeed. While it uses cards and tokens, it can best be summed up as a storytelling prompt game in five acts, needing 2-5 players and a couple of hours, again depending on how detailed you choose to get. A fantasy setting in two timelines is given; a group of desperate people fleeing tyrannical rule, and a group of their children decades later making their way back to try and rescue others. Both groups must make the journey through labyrinthine ancient caverns and tunnels underneath the mountains to get to their destination, each travelling in a different direction in a different time: the Long Dark. Each player has two characters, one in each group, and must create and tell stories in character by answering questions on their character sheet or prompts on the cards. While no GM is needed as the players take turns, someone must be the reader of the supplied world-building. While the prompts and questions aren’t all doom and gloom, it is presented as very thematically dark. The game set-up specifically mentions preparing an X-card (used to help players navigate content that makes them uncomfortable or goes too far) and there’s a link to atmospheric music. This game should be a favourite with dedicated role-players, writers, or performers – put on some low lighting, stretch your imagination, and head deep into the darkness.

 

StoryBrewersRoleplaying.com

 

Dynasty: Who Will Rule The Empire? can be as serious or silly as you like (as long as you all agree beforehand), needing 4-6 players. Each player controls the rulers of a powerful group (yes, multiple characters at once), acting not just as the leaders but their group as a whole. It’s a very flexible game set-up; you can be rival modern restaurant chains, crime syndicates, or monarchies for example (my playing group went with bushranger gangs) as the ‘empire’ can be anything from an industry to a city to a country or indeed empire, and plenty of suggestions are given. Three main PCs are designed for each player as the ruling heads of the family/group, and players take turns to scheme by making deals, stabbing backs, or trying to co-operate. Dice are used to make bids on who might win by contributing part of your set number to someone else’s roll if desired. Each round a winner is crowned, but don’t expect each battle to last when you’re still at war. Last dynasty whose heads haven’t been deposed is the winner. This one also involves cards, though a cardless gameplay variant is included at the end. While the roleplaying was fun, this game involves strategy too; the dice bidding component was a great exercise in planning and faith (be warned, you need to start with 7d6 per player), though thinking out schemes and plans didn’t always need forward planning – one player decided their gang was wild and unorganised, and picked scheme cards at random. They did surprisingly well . . . for a bit.  A how-to-play video for Dynasty is available on the website, and watching it first did help ensure our game went a bit smoother.

 

StoryBrewersRoleplaying.com

 

In addition to these games, there’s two short game prompts that were designed for the 200 Word RPG Challenge, and if you want to stretch your roleplaying chops or work your imagination, you should check them out. Tales From The Lost Kitchen involves putting yourself  and your group in the minds of time travellers who have come back from the future, and each person in your group must ‘tell a tale of [their] ancestors’ about how and why they think various objects in your kitchen were used – you can disagree with others, or each use a separate item. All Things Grow is a more poignant look back at imagining your/a mother growing up, over the course of a flower growing, according to prompts and questions.  These obviously don’t have rules to follow but are up to the players to take on.

 

StoryBrewersRoleplaying.com

 

Finally, there are two RPG game supplements that can be incorporated into your current game. One is a villain profile, with set-ups for urban fantasy or fantasy: The Face Shifter. Someone who takes the face and memory of whoever they kill, able to infiltrate anywhere and take over anything, controlling the world around them. They are not given statistics (so it isn’t restricted to one game), but are given history, motivation, and how their powers came about. The second supplement is The Ghosts of NPCs Past, a simple one-page set up for the spirit of an NPC one (or more) of your group killed at some point previously in the campaign to possess the group’s bodies during a séance and tell its story. This can either be used to reveal important information to players, or as just a break to stretch the mind. A spooky cool idea that can take anywhere from ten minutes to an hour, depending on how deep you want to go.

 

StoryBrewersRoleplaying.com

 

I found these games to be entertaining and imaginative, and I greatly appreciate them being offered for free out of the love of RPGs. You’ll be expected to use your storytelling skills and imagination, and they’re lighter on rules than most RPGs – understandable for free games, and I’m guessing Good Society will be a lot more intensive. Check them out if you so desire and prepare to test your skills.

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