Escapist > Projects > Young Person's Adventure League > The Adventurer's Atlas Page 2

An Escapist project of introducing young people
to the exciting world of adventure games

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Factually Answered Queries - questions and answers

The Adventurer's Atlas - a list of suggested games for young people

The Dromedary's Dispatch - News and updates on the YPAL and adventure games

The Navigator's Notebook - play reports and reviews of adventure games

The Tinkerer's Toolbox - tips, tricks, and helpful hints

 

You have reached the second page of the Adventurer's Atlas, 
which includes Fantasy Realms and Hero City

FANTASY REALMS




Here you will find worlds of marvelous magic, fierce monsters, brave heroes, and dark dungeons!





ADVENTURES IN OZ

See the full listing in the FAMILIAR WORLDS entry.

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ARGYLE & CREW
COMPLEXITY:
Easy
DICE:
Diceless
or

Publisher: Troll in the Corner
Cover Price: $2.99 PDF - a free preview is available here.
Availability: Buy the PDF here at DriveThruRPG.
Summary: A simple storytelling game that uses sock puppets (or any other kind) as characters.
Complexity: Easy
Dice used:
Diceless (or 1d6 [?] )
Supplements:  Some scenario books - Differences: A Soppet's Guide to Anti-Bullying, The Scared Soppet, The Soppets Save Halloween - and even a soundtrack called Knock Your Socks Off.  All of these items are currently free of charge.

The Good: Great for very young players, excellent for teaching lessons like conflict resolution and respecting others. Very good for impromptu play.
The Bad: May be too freeform for older and/or experienced players.
Advisory: 
None.

Argyle & Crew is a charming little storytelling game  that uses sock puppets ("soppets"), paper bag puppets ("pabapets"), and flat paper puppets (flabbets") as both characters and character sheets. Players create characters by making a puppet and attaching or drawing Extras on them. These can be physical attributes such as wings or antennae, or worn or held items such as a hat, a computer, or money. Each Extra bestows a special ability to the soppet - wings allow them to fly, a wizard's hat lets them cast spells, a computer lets them look up facts online, and so on. Alternately, a player can also choose one Fact about their character (a benefit), and one Flaw (a disadvantage) and attempt to roleplay those character elements.

The players agree on which of them shall be the Guide of the story. This player chooses a Goal that the other players must achieve - this can be revealed to them or hidden - and the storytellng begins.

Argyle & Crew is a very basic set of guidelines for running storytelling games. Since there are no limits to what the Extras can accomplish, it can be very easy for the players to achieve the Goal very easily. It's up to the Guide to make sure that the story remains interesting for the other players, and this can be a real challenge.  The rules suggest a "There is only yes" guideline, in which the Guide attempts to answer all questions and requests with "Yes" as often as possible, except when it would involve short circuiting the story (such as letting the players jump directly to the Goal), hurting or being mean to others, or passing any boundaries or limitations that were previously agreed upon.

Personally, I would suggest using the "Yes, but..." method, which gives the gamemaster the option to put a restriction on the request. ("Yes, you can use your pogo stick to jump to the other side of the island to get to the Goal, but once you land there, you find that someone has moved it!")

Some advanced rules near the end of the book turn the game into something a bit more like traditional RPGs, with numbered stats and d6 rolls to determine results - these may make the game a bit more appealing to older players and Guides who would like to work with something a little more concrete.

The published scenarios for the game have a general theme of coping with social situations - bullying, for example - and it would be great to see more of these released.

Argyle & Crew is a great introductory storytelling game that will work well with younger players, and could have a lot of potential in teaching environments. The physical element of the puppets will draw lots of players in, no matter their age - who doesn't like playing with puppets, after all?

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AZAMAR
COMPLEXITY:
Medium
DICE:
x 10-12

Publisher: Wicked North Games
Cover Price: $5.00 PDF / $15.00 softcover / $25.00 hardcover
Availability: Buy the PDF here at DriveThruRPG.
Summary: A heroic fantasy RPG with some unique twists.
Complexity: Medium
Dice used:
d6 [?]
Supplements:  None as of this writing.

The Good: Quick character generation, lots of setting information in the core book.
The Bad: May be too grim for younger players.
Advisory: 
Cinematic violence, supernatural elements.

Azamar is a fantasy RPG that gives a few interesting twists to the traditional fantasy tropes. A good portion of the setting is typical fantasy fare – the history, for example, features a long history of war and a tyrannical leader of the dark forces bent on world domination. The details of the setting diverge from the norm, however – full-blooded humans are rare rather than dominant (so rare that a limit of 1 per adventuring party is recommended by the rules). Some of the character races bear likenesses to familiar fantasy folk – the dwarflike Immyr and gnomish Enfri are two examples – while others are a bit more unique to the setting, such as the impish Shrave. Each of these races is presented with the typical attitudes that they may have towards members of the other races.

The world of Azamar is interconnected with many others through a metaphysical barrier called the Fabric. Magic users can manipulate this barrier to create magical effects, and can even travel through mentally, spiritually, and physically into another realm called the Blur.

The system uses a modified version of West End's versatile d6 system – players who want their characters to attempt an action roll a number of d6s equal to the appropriate attribute or skill number, and try to beat an assigned target number. One die in every roll is designated as a wild die that “explodes” on a 6 (that is, it's added to the total and rolled again as a bonus) and indicates a fumble on a 1 if the target number isn't reached

Character generation is a point-buy system – dice are assigned to attributes and skills, and a pool of points is spent on Character Features. An optional table allows players to roll a random background for their character. Magic users can choose a faction to align with – Asceromancers, Elementals, Zamaranth, Tatuaxe, Weavers, and The Order – and each bestows special abilities to the spellcaster.

As with many RPGs, Azamar contains a “brownie point” system – rewards for creativity, roleplaying, defeating enemies, etc. In this case, it's been named Cinema Points, and any that are earned can be used to improve die rolls, activate Character Features, or improve character aspects during downtime. One of my favorite elements of this game is in the Cinema Point mechanics – a series of multipliers are given that are to be applied to any CPs that the GM gives out for defeating opponents, which results in better rewards for outwitting, capturing, and even converting opponents over killing them. It's a great little touch that encourages roleplaying over brute force.

The book is rounded out with a ton of Azamar lore – strange deities, calendar and cultural holidays, locations, a bestiary of some very unusual and alien creatures, an extensive section on GMCs, a brief sample adventure (Road to Azamar), and 22 character sheets (several for the different races, and one blank sheet).

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BLUE ROSE
COMPLEXITY:
Medium
DICE:

Publisher: Green Ronin (Blue Rose's website)
Cover Price: $29.95, $16.00 PDF - a free 'fastplay' game is available here.
Availability: Buy the PDF here at DriveThruRPG. For print copies, see Amazon or your local game store.
Summary: Sword and sorcery using a simplified version of the Dungeons & Dragons rules, but with a more romantic fantasy theme.
Complexity: Medium
Dice used:
d20  [?]
Supplements:  Blue Rose CompanionNarrator's Journal. and World of Aldea. Conversion rules make the large amount of Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition material useable with this game.

The Good: Simplified version of the d20 rules used in the third editions of Dungeons & Dragons. D&D 3e material is compatible with this game.
The Bad: It really should have been a full-color book.
Advisory:
Fantasy magic, some subtle adult themes (see below).

Blue Rose is described as a 'romantic fantasy' role-playing game, modeled after the works of authors like Mercedes Lackey, Diane Duane, and Tamora Pierce. Romantic fantasy, as defined in the introduction of this book, deals with characters who are seeking to belong - either to a single companion, a group of friends, or a community. Stories of romantic fantasy rarely include demihuman characters such as dwarves and elves, but often include intelligent animals. Stories will also frequently include themes of nature/environmental issues and gender equality.

Blue Rose is an incredible book - beautifully illustrated, with a very simple rule system, and tons of cultural and historical background. The rules are a drastically pared-down version of the d20 rules that are now being marketed by Green Ronin as the True20 System - they make an excellent introduction to simple d20 roleplaying.

A handful of creatures are included as adversaries, and a conversion guide in the back of the book allows you to quickly and easily convert any monster, feat, or spell from most any d20 supplement to the Blue Rose version of the rules, which makes a large amount of material available for use with this game.

Parents and guardians should be aware that the book makes very brief mention of same-sex relationships, but not in a graphic manner. If you wish to avoid this issue altogether, it could be left out of the game seamlessly, with no change in the setting whatsoever.

Don't forget that a free 'fastplay' version of the game is available, with pre-made characters and a short adventure so that you can try the game before you buy it.

(See also: Castles & Crusades)

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BROADSWORD
COMPLEXITY:
Medium
DICE:

Publisher: Deep7
Cover Price: $3.95
Availability: Available at Deep7's website, deep7.com
Summary: A heroic fantasy mini-RPG.
Complexity: Medium
Dice used: d6s  [?]
Supplements: World of Broadsword.

The Good: Inexpensive. Great for one-shot adventures
The Bad:
S
Advisory: Cinematic violence.

1PG games are a series of role-playing games with one page of rules, a character sheet, and a handful of scenarios, all at a very affordable price. The games are rules-lite - in fact, the entire rule set fits on a single page.

Broadsword is a heroic fantasy RPG and would be a great alternative to more complex fantasy RPGs like Dungeons & Dragons.

Find out more about these mini-RPGs at the 1PG atlas entry. 

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CASTLES & CRUSADES
COMPLEXITY:
Complex
DICE:


Publisher: Troll Lord Games (C&C's webpage)
Cover Price: $19.95
Availability: Buy the PDF here at DriveThruRPG
Summary: Sword and sorcery using a lighter set of the Dungeons & Dragons rules, in a nostalgic format.
Complexity: Complex
Dice used:
Full set of polyhedrals - d4, d6, d8, d10, d12, & d20  [?]
Supplements: Monsters & Treasure ($19.95), plus several adventure modules

The Good: Simplified version of the d20 rules used in the latest editions of Dungeons & Dragons. D&D material is compatible with this game.
The Bad: Core book does not contain monsters or very much setting material - like D&D, other corebooks are needed if you want that material
Advisory: Fantasy Magic, swashbuckling violence.

Castles & Crusades is a simplified version of Dungeons & Dragons, aimed at capturing the look and feel of the original Basic D&D game. The subject matter is mostly identical to that of D&D - pseudo-medieval high fantasy with lots of monsters and magic items - but here, some of the rules are simplified and some of the more complex options are taken away, all in the name of making a simple fantasy game like the one so many of us old codgers played when we were young.

If you'd like to run a simple D&D game for young people and you feel that the latest version of the rules is too complex. Castles & Crusades may be what you're looking for.

(See also: Blue Rose)

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CHANGELING: THE DREAMING
COMPLEXITY:
Medium
DICE:
x 10-12

Publisher: White Wolf Studios
Cover Price: $15.00 - $20.00 (used), $9.00 PDF
Availability: Out of print - PDF edition is available on DriveThruRPG - for a print copy, check your local game store, Amazon, or eBay
Summary: Urban fantasy - a hidden world of changelings and other magical creatures exists parallel to our own, and it is threatened by the banality of our modern existence.
Complexity: Medium
Dice used: d10s, and lots of them - 10-12 ought to cover it  [?]
Supplements: Many, some of which are available as downloadable PDFs.

The Good: Kids love to play teens (which are an option in this game)
The Bad: Some supplements may contain mature themes.
Advisory: Fantasy magic, supernatural themes, swashbuckling violence

Changeling is set in our own world, but with a hidden world behind it where creatures of legend still live and thrive. It is part of the World of Darkness series, which includes many other games based around legendary people and creatures as characters - Vampire: The Masquerade, Werewolf: The Apocalypse, Mage: The Ascension (modern-day wizards), and Wraith: The Oblivion (ghosts). Much of this material is for mature gamers, and would not be suitable for anyone who is not in their teens yet.

Changeling, on the other hand, is the bright side of the World of Darkness. Players take on the roles of fae - magical spirits that are trapped in the mortal world, bonded to mortal bodies and living day-to-day among the other mortals who rarely see their true nature. Players can choose from several types of fae - from stocky Trolls to creepy Sluagh, prankster Pooka to inventive Nockers, and many more.

Changeling has been out of print for some time now, so a print copy may be difficult to obtain - but a PDF edition can be found online (see link, above).

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DO: PILGRIMS OF THE FLYING TEMPLE
COMPLEXITY:
?
DICE:
?

Publisher: Evil Hat Games
Cover Price: $10.00 PDF
Availability: Available at RPGNow
Supplements: Book of Letters ($5.00)

Review coming soon!

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DRAGON
COMPLEXITY:
Easy
DICE:
?

Publisher: Wicked Dead Brewing Company
Cover Price: $.99
Availability: Available as a PDF at John Wick's website
Summary: Dragons fight each other for loot, survival, and sweet, delicious socks.
Complexity: Easy
Dice used: d  [?]
Supplements: None as of this writing

Review coming soon!

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THE DUNGEON ADVENTURE
COMPLEXITY:
Easy
DICE:

Publisher: Ben Garvey
Cover Price: $5.99
Availability:
Available at kidsdungeonadventure.com
Summary: A simple dungeon crawl game for very young adventurers.
Complexity: Very simple
Dice used: d6  [?]
Supplements: None

The Good: Simple rules, uses toys and homemade props.
The Bad: Nothing. It's all good.
Advisory: Contains character death (but see below)

The Dungeon Adventure is a set of guidelines for simple dungeon crawl games. Adults build a dungeon floorplan out of building blocks and stock it with monster and treasure cards, and the young adventurers choose their favorite toys to send into the dungeon to complete the quest. Combat is very simple - there are no attack rolls, players and monsters just roll 1d6 for damage. When a monster runs out of hit points, it's dead, and you can help yourself to the treasure it was guarding.

The PDF set includes a 6-page rulebook, a sheet for tracking heroes and monsters hit points, and a set of monster cards. The monster cards are one of my favorite parts - rather than illustrations, the cards feature colorful pictures of toys (spiders, snakes, dragons, etc.) that kids will love.

My only issue with the game is that, as written, characters can die. This could be troublesome for some young children if they become attached to their heroes. It is easily remedied by allowing the players to drag any mortally wounded heroes back to the "hotel" and heal them there (possibly for a substantial fee).

It's a great little PDF package that can be used as a starting point for many grand adventures, and a good base to build a simple role-playing game on. What happens when the heroes venture into the wilderness? Can they use their accumulated treasure to build a stronghold? What if the monsters surrender and want to join the side of the good guys? The answers to these questions aren't found in The Dungeon Adventure, because the real fun is coming up with them on your own.

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DUNGEONS & DRAGONS

Publisher: Wizards of the Coast / Hasbro / TSR
Cover Price: $35.00 each of three core books
Availability: In print, easily found in major chain bookstores
Summary: Good old-fashioned sword-and-sorcery, Tolkien-inspired fantasy.
Complexity: Complex
Dice used: Full set of polyhedrals - d4, d6, d8, d10, d12, & d20  [?]
Supplements: More than you will ever need

The Good: Over thirty years of supplements and supporting material (most of it from earlier editions, but can be converted easily). Easy to find others to play with, or who can help teach the game to you. Uses the d20 rule system, which is used in many other role-playing games.
The Bad: Most games require three $30 core books. Somewhat complex rule system. The name has acquired a bad reputation that hasn't completely faded yet.
Advisory: Fantasy magic, swashbuckling violence

 

The old, tried-and-true standby. Dungeons & Dragons has been in print in one form or another since it first appeared in 1974. Everybody who role-plays knows D&D, and most of those have played it at least once.

As a game, it can be complex, with lots of modifiers to die rolls, and an involved character creation process. It can be an expensive game to play, as three corebooks (the Player's Handbook, Monster Manual, and Dungeon Master's Guide) are necessary for most games, and each of those will set a person back $30US each. On top of all of that, the name Dungeons & Dragons has acquired a negative reputation with many who believe that role-playing games aren't safe for young people to play (for more information on how that isn't true, click here) - so much so that the game is still banned in some schools, libraries, and other meeting places. In some of these cases, you may be permitted to play any other role-playing game at all, as long as it isn't called D&D.

But with all of the negatives aside, consider the positives. The rules are easily simplified to accommodate younger players (see also Blue Rose and Castles and Crusades, below). The heroic fantasy theme of the game is a popular once again, especially with the release of the Lord of the Rings films (and others that are looking to capitalize on that trend). Lots of people know how to play, and in almost any meeting of gamers (at a store, club, or a convention), you will find many who are interested in playing, and possibly even a few willing to teach the game to a newcomer.

You can play the game with only the Player's Handbook, if you're looking to play a low-magic fantasy game with no monsters (the spells for wizards and clerics are in the Handbook, but all magic items and weapons are in the Dungeon Master's Guide). Or you could make do with just the Player's Handbook and Monster Manual, if you've really got your heart set on monsters. You'll miss out on the magic items and other campaign-building information in the Dungeon Master's Guide, but it can be done if you're working with a budget.

As for supporting material, it would be hard to find another game with more published material. The latest edition (4e) has new material published every month. The previous editions and versions (Basic D&D, Advanced D&D first edition, AD&D second edition, D&D third edition/3.5) all have a huge amount of published material, and while all of it is not fully compatible with the latest version of the rules, all of it is easy to convert once you're familiar with how the rules work. Best of all - many of the old adventures and sourcebooks are available for cheap on eBay, and some of them are even offered absolutely free on Wizards of the Coast's website.

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ELDRITCH HIGH
COMPLEXITY:
Easy
DICE:
None
(uses 1 deck of playing cards per player)

Publisher: John Wick Presents
Cover Price: $5.00 PDF
Availability: Buy the PDF here at DriveThruRPG
Summary: A high school for magically gifted teens
Complexity: Easy
Dice used: None - this game uses one deck of standard playing cards (Jokers included) for each player and the gamemaster.
Supplements: None as of this writing.

The Good: Lite rules system. Kids love to play teenagers.
The Bad: Nothing bad here. It's all good.
Advisory:
Supernatural themes (magic, supernatural creatures)

Eldritch High puts players into the roles of students at the Alexander Circe Academy for the Study of the Esoteric and Eldritch Arts - a four year high school that locates teens that have magical powers, shelters them, and aims to direct them on the proper path.

A ton of roleplaying potential is packed into this little 39-page RPG, which is played with a deck of standard playing cards for each player and the headmaster (GM).

Characters are created by answering questions about their background - Where are you from?, What do you look like?, What is your stereotype?, etc. - and then choosing their class schedule and electives. Players choose a class that their character is a Prodigy, select Gifts (Elven Blood, Teacher's Pet, etc.), and choose one of the five dorms for their character to take up residence. All of these items are filled out on a character sheet that resembles a class schedule form.

Each of these details grants them bonuses in potential Risks, those moments when a character attempts an action. A Risk involves pulling cards from the deck - one card for freshman, two for sophomores, and so on - plus any bonus cards from Gifts, Dorm, and so on. Drawing 10 or more value in cards allows the player to take narrative control of the story, and any unused cards can be saved for additional opportunities to add details to the story.

The game is formatted to model the high school experience - game sessions represent a week of a semester, players choose how much of their character's downtime is spent on studying, practicing, and goofing off - each with potential benefits for the character. An extensive Headmaster section that covers metaplots, dating (including brief rules for character romance), exploration, and more.

If all of this seems somewhat familiar, and you're wondering if this RPG could be stripped down and refitted to play in the world of a very popular series of fantasy school novels - the simple answer is yes. But the setting presented here is intriguing enough to encourage running it as is.

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FAERY'S TALE
COMPLEXITY:
Easy
DICE:
x 6-10

Publisher: Firefly Games
Cover Price: $10.00 PDF / $19.95 print
Availability: Buy the PDF here at DriveThruRPG, or visit www.firefly-games.com
Summary: Adventures in the realms of the little people - pixies, sprites, boggans, and pooka, and the evil, twisted goblins that oppose them.
Complexity: Easy
Dice used: d6s - preferably 6-10 of them. Stones or other tokens would also be handy to use as Essence counters.  [?]
Supplements: PDF adventures - some of them free - available on their website. Arion Games publishes a set of paper miniatures for Faery's Tale that you can purchase on RPGNow.

The Good: Lite rules system. No character death. Contains diceless and LARP options. Flexible system allows for creative character building and storytelling.
The Bad: Nothing bad here. It's all good.
Advisory:
Supernatural themes (magic, supernatural creatures)

Faery's Tale is an RPG designed specifically for introducing young people to role-playing. It uses a simple rule system that young children can grasp easily.

Characters can choose between Brownies, Pixies, Pooka, and Sprites for their characters. To attempt an action (called a Challenge in the rules), a player rolls a number of dice equal to the character's appropriate ability - either Body, Mind, or Spirit. Every even number that comes up is a success, and the character must meet or beat the Challenge Level of the action being performed - 1 is easy, 2 is tricky, 3 is hard, and so on. The good news is, each 6 rolled on the dice not only counts as a success, but can be rerolled to possibly add even more successes.

Faery characters use Essence to power their special abilities and track their health. Players must monitor their Essence carefully - a faery who runs out falls into a deep sleep on the spot, and doesn't awake until the Narrator says that she may.

Players can also spend Essence on other story elements, such as creating a Plot Twist, or "catching a clue" when they get stuck on what to do next. The Narrator can give rewards of Essence points for acting bravely, or suggesting complications to the story that make it more challenging for them.

Faery's Tale is an excellent RPG for young players, with plenty of simple mechanics to allow them to control the story and even challenge themselves.

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KIDS, CASTLES, & CAVES
COMPLEXITY:
Easy
DICE:

Publisher: Brave Halfling Publishing
Cover Price: $5.00
Availability: Buy the PDF here at DriveThruRPG
Summary: A simplified fantasy RPG for young people.
Complexity: Easy
Dice used: 1d6  [?]
Supplements: None as of this writing.

The Good: Great for kids who have been bugging you to play "that dragon game." A good introduction to more complex RPG rules.
The Bad: No setting material (but see below).
Advisory: Fantasy violence, fantasy magic

Kids, Castles, & Caves is a simple fantasy RPG that bears a striking resemblance to early editions of basic D&D. Players can choose from Cleric, Dwarf, Elf, Fairy, Halfling, Knight, or Wizard for their characters, and acquire "Play Points" by defeating monsters -  enough of these points will allow them to go up in level (all the way up to Level 3!).

Players (and monsters) roll 1d6, and add their level modifier to attempt to beat their opponent's Defense score. If they do, they roll again (with the same modifier) to do damage. Rather than having to choose from long lists of spells, Wizards get to cast Magic Blast as often as they wish, while Clerics can cast Healing (and Bring Back To Life, at 3rd level).

KC&C is all combat - there are no rules for skills, or guidelines for roleplaying characters. No setting material is provided, but the purpose of this game is to allow a parent or guardian gamemaster to convert some of their favorite D&D material so that their young adventurers can give it a go. Three sample dungeons, are included, along with 21 different monsters and a handful of magic items, to get you started.

KC&C could be what you're looking for if you are interested in a very basic introduction to Dungeons & Dragons.

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LASHINGS OF GINGER BEER
COMPLEXITY:
?
DICE:
x 5-6

Publisher: Beyond Belief Games
Cover Price: $2.50
Availability: Buy the PDF here at DriveThruRPG

Review coming soon!

This RPG is available in a bundle with two other kid-friendly RPGs -It's a Dog's Life and Tales From the Wood - a very good deal for the price!

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MAZES & MINOTAURS
COMPLEXITY:
Medium
DICE:

Publisher: Legendary Games Studios
Cover Price: Free
Availability: Available for free at http://storygame.free.fr/MAZES.htm
Summary: A fantasy RPG from a parallel world, inspired by Greek mythology and Harryhausen movies.
Complexity: Easy
Dice used: d6s and d20s (as far as I've read, anyway...)  [?]
Supplements: Maze Master's Guide, Creature Compendium, and M&M Companion, all available for free on the site.

The Good: FREE! Can be used to teach mythology and ancient culture.
The Bad: Rules are somewhat archaic, due to it being a re-creation of early RPGs.
Advisory: Fantasy violence and magic. 

Review coming soon!

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THE PRINCE'S KINGDOM
COMPLEXITY:
Medium
DICE:
x 10
x 20
x 10

Publisher: CRN Games
Cover Price: $9.99 PDF / $24.99 PDF & print
Availability: In print - www.crngames.com
Summary: The overworked king of an archipelago nation sends his sons and daughters out to solve the problems of his people.
Complexity: Medium

Dice used: d4s, d6s, and d8s - LOTS of them. The rules recommend at least twenty d6s, and ten each of d4s and d8s.  [?]
Supplements: None as of this writing.

The Good: Game concept is based around morality - strong moral themes, encourages nonviolent conflict and "talking it out." Open character design allows players to be very creative with their characters and the setting as a whole.
The Bad: Lots of dice required - but most veteran gamers will have enough in their stockpiles. Bidding system may be too complex of a concept for younger children.
Advisory:
Possible cinematic violence and supernatural themes (but only if the Guide allows it).

The Prince's Kingdom is an RPG using a rule system based off of the popular indie RPG Dogs in the Vineyard. Each of the characters in The Prince's Kingdom is the son or daughter of the king of a nation of many islands. There are so many islands, in fact, that the king has been having problems keeping things in order, so he has begun sending his sons and daughters out to travel among the kingdom and set things right.

Players create characters by listing strong and troublesome qualities about them, and describing any special possessions that they may have. When any sort of struggle ensues - be it anything from an exchange of words to an exchange of blows - the player rolls a number of six-sided dice equal to the age of their character, plus any extra dice from appropriate qualities and possessions. The Guide (GM) rolls a fixed set of dice as well, and the two being a bidding session, using the die results as bids to match or exceed the bids of the other, and describing the actions that their characters are taking. Matching a previous bid with one die is excellent - "reversing the blow", two dice is a "block or dodge", and three or more dice is a bad result, called "taking the blow," which generates Fallout. Fallout is used after a struggle to determine the good and bad things that happen to a character as a result of the struggle.

A player who wins any struggle is permitted to add a new quality to their character - something that they have proven about themselves. A character who outruns a hungry wolf can add "I have proven that I am an excellent runner" to their qualities, for example.

It's an innovative system for dramatic roleplaying with a strong angle towards character development. The only downside seems to be that younger players could be confused by the bidding system - though this may vary from player to player.

As an added plus - all proceeds from the sale of The Prince's Kingdom go to the American Friends Service Committee - so your purchase goes to a cause that runs parallel to the nature of the game.

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REDHURST ACADEMY OF MAGIC
COMPLEXITY:
Complex
DICE:


Publisher: Human Head Studios (Redhurst's website)
Cover Price: $29.99
Availability: Out of print - check your local game store
Summary: A school for young magic-users that can be transplanted into almost any fantasy setting.
Complexity: Complex (depending on system used)
Dice used:
Full set of polyhedrals - d4, d6, d8, d10, d12, & d20 - or if the setting is converted to a different system, then the dice for that system will be used.  [?]
Supplements: None to date, but you can download scenarios at Human Head's website.

The Good: Kids love to play teenagers. Contents are mostly setting material, so it can be used easily with systems other than d20.
The Bad: Lengthwise-bound book doesn't fit in most bookshelves very well
Advisory: Fantasy magic, swashbuckling violence

Redhurst Academy of Magic is truly a work of art - a roleplaying setting book written like a guide for a huge, dimension-hopping school for magic students. It even has wisecracking notes scrawled in the margins by a previous owner.

Note that no rule system is presented in this book - it is meant to be used with third edition Dungeons & Dragons, and the characters, items, spells, and monsters contain within are described in D&D statistics. However, the majority of the book is descriptive text - setting, background, history, and such - and because of that, it would not be difficult to use it with any other role-playing system.

Redhurst is high fantasy's closest answer to a Harry Potter roleplaying game. It is set in a school for young magic-users - a school that jumps from world to world every day, which can be the perfect springboard for getting existing characters involved in some adventures at the school or with its students and faculty. The book contains maps, characters, monsters, spells, and a wealth of information on the classes, programs, and events that happen at the school.

(For something closer to the actual Harry Potter setting, see Broomstix, listed below.)

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RPGKIDS
COMPLEXITY:
?
DICE:


Publisher: Highmoon Games
Cover Price: $2.99
Availability: Buy the PDF here at DriveThruRPG
Dice used: 2d6 and 2d12 per player  [?]
Supplements: None as of this writing.

Review coming soon!

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SWORDS & WIZARDRY QUICK START
COMPLEXITY:
?
DICE:


Publisher: Legendary Games Studios
Cover Price: Free
Availability: Available for free here.

Review coming soon!




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WITCH GIRLS ADVENTURES
COMPLEXITY:
?
DICE:
?

Publisher: Channel M
Cover Price: $19.99
Availability: Buy the PDF here at DriveThruRPG

Review coming soon!

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WOODLAND WARRIORS

See the full review in the ANTHROPOMORPHIA section.

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THE ZANTABULOUS ZORCERER OF ZO
COMPLEXITY:
Easy
DICE:

Publisher: Atomic Sock Money Press
Cover Price: $30.00 print / $15.00 PDF
Availability: Buy it here at DriveThruRPG
Summary: Fairy tale adventures in the vein of Wizard of Oz, Chronicles of Narnia, Peter Pan, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and others.
Complexity: Easy
Dice used: 2d6  [?]
Supplements: None as of this writing.

The Good: Story-driven rules help develop an interesting plot. Many opportunities for players to help build the story.
The Bad: The rules, though not very complex, may be over the heads of some younger gamers.
Advisory: Supernatural elements - fairy tale magic, talking animals, etc.

ZoZ (for short) is a fairy tale RPG that uses the PDQ System, the same set of rules used in Truth & Justice, but "slimmed-down" a bit for easier play. Players create characters with general qualities, such as Athletic or Knight, and rate them on a scale that runs from Poor to Master. These qualities can help them succeed automatically in certain simple situations, and give them a bonus (or penalty) to a die roll for complicated situations.

Characters take "damage" to these ranks when they fail at certain tasks, such as combat or other dangerous situations. The player may choose which quality takes the damage, and that quality works at a lower level until it can be recovered later. Taking this sort of 'damage' - or downshift, as it is called in the rules - can generate Story Hooks that are respective to the quality that took the downshift. So a character who takes a downshift in his Knight quality may later find his honor questioned at a later time, or be assigned to an undesirable mission by the King.

ZoZ handles failure very well, something very important in a game for young people, by including Hero Points and Learning Points. Hero Points are earned for acting heroically, or when anything bad happens (to help ease the pain!) - these can be spent on various in-game perks, such as asking for help from a Fairy Godmother, cashing in a favor from a someone the character helped in the past, or much more. Learning Points are gained whenever the character fails at a task, and can be spent on improving the character's qualities at a later time.

(Added bonus - our own Agents A and N appear as illustrations in the book, on pages 90 and 120, respectively!)

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HERO CITY

If you've always dreamed of being a superhero, you really should try one of these RPGs - but make it quick. There are dastardly villians to defeat, and only one hero can possibly save the day!







CARTOON ACTION HOUR

Please see the entry in the TOONOPIA section.

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HERO FORCE
COMPLEXITY:
Easy
DICE:

Publisher: Deep7
Cover Price: $3.95
Availability: Available at Deep7's website, deep7.com
Summary: A mini-RPG about classic comic superheroes.
Complexity: Easy
Dice used: d6s  [?]
Supplements: None.

The Good: Inexpensive. Great for one-shot adventures
The Bad:
Character death is easy (though this could easily be changed)
Advisory: Cartoon violence.

1PG games are a series of role-playing games with one page of rules, a character sheet, and a handful of scenarios, all at a very affordable price. The games are rules-lite - in fact, the entire rule set fits on a single page.

Hero Force is an RPG about classic comic book superheroes, and would be a great match for any young people who enjoy superheroes in comics and movies.

Find out more about these mini-RPGs at the 1PG atlas entry. 

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MARVEL SUPER HEROES

Please see the full entry on the FAMILIAR WORLDS page.

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SUPERPETS
COMPLEXITY:
Easy
DICE:
Any

Publisher: Zak Arntson
Cover Price: FREE!
Availability: Harlekin-Maus website.
Summary: A very silly RPG about superhero pets
Complexity: Easy
Dice used:
One die of a different color (but same type) for each player.  [?]
Supplements: None

Review coming soon!

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TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES AND OTHER STRANGENESS

Please see the full listing on the FAMILIAR WORLDS page.

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TRUTH & JUSTICE
COMPLEXITY:
Easy
DICE:

Publisher: Atomic Sock Money Press
Cover Price: $13.00 PDF - $20.00 print
Availability: Buy it here at DriveThruRPG.
Summary: A superhero RPG with story-driven rules
Complexity: Easy
Dice used:
Two d6s  [?]
Supplements: Product page is here

The Good: Story-driven rules help develop an interesting plot. Many opportunities for players to help build the story.
The Bad: The rules, though not very complex, may be over the heads of some younger gamers.
Advisory: Comic book violence. Some uses of a minor expletive ("bad___", "lame___"), in one case as an alternate name for a rule.

Truth & Justice was heavily influenced by other RPGs such as Risus and Marvel Super Heroes, and it shows - the best elements of those games have been borrowed to form the game core, and souped up into a story-driven superhero RPG that has gained a loyal following.

Story-driven means that the rules of the game help to create the story. Rather than acting as a background engine to determine hits and damage, the rules in Truth & Justice reward good roleplaying, and generate story possibilities as the game is played. For example:

~ Players choose a Motivation when creating their character, something like "heal the sick" or "protect the innocent." If an incident occurs that 'triggers' that motivation, the player can either drop everything and react to it, gaining 1-6 Hero Points as a reward, or spend a Hero Point to not react to it.

~ Rather than take damage through a Hit Point or other wound system, characters lose levels (or take a 'Downshift') in their qualities or powers, which makes it more difficult to use those abilities. This is very much like the system in Risus, but T&J does it one better - when a character chooses an ability to lose a level in, it triggers a Plot Hook, which can complicate the story at any future time. This happens the first time a hero takes damage, and (optionally) whenever a hero "zeroes out," or loses all of their levels in an ability. If a hero took a Downshift in their Chemist quality, for example, they may later discover their chemistry lab ransacked or sabotaged by their arch enemy's henchmen.

Truth & Justice is not only a fantastic example of how to design rules around a setting (instead of the other way around), but it's also a fantastic example of ripping the best parts out of different RPGs and fitting them together into something that is much more than the sum of those parts.

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