Dragonmeet Hoard: Rifts

One of the cornerstones of Dragonmeet is the bring-and-buy sale, and on the sale stall this time for the deliciously small price of £5 was a much-battered, clearly extensively used in play copy of 1st edition Rifts.

Rifts is pretty infamous, as is its author Kevin Siembieda and his publishing company Palladium Books, but that infamy seems to me to be a bit patchy. I’ve always had the impression that Palladium fandom was the sort of thing which was very regionally concentrated; you had tight clusters of Palladium fans here and there where their games had taken off, and outside of those bubbles you had numerous gamers who either write them off entirely as juvenile nonsense or haven’t heard of them.

To be fair, in the intervening years since Rifts came out Palladium have done their reputation few favours. Former employees and freelancers have talked of how difficult it can be to work with Siembieda, with this RPG.net post from Bill Coffin being a particularly evocative example. The company’s public-facing communications are usually heavily focused on making a sale to you – which arguably is the case for most PR statements issued by any company, but Palladium’s sales pitch comes across as particularly strident, artless, and nakedly hucksterish; a bit too much like a used car salesperson desperately trying to close a deal, and in a way which can put people’s back up.

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Dragonmeet Hoard: Ryuutama

What the hell is “Natural Fantasy”? Atsuhiro Okada’s Ryuutama bills itself as a “natural fantasy” roleplaying game, but it doesn’t really give much of an overt definition of that. So far as I can tell, the general aim of the game is to provide an experience reminiscent of the Dragon Quest or early Final Fantasy games in terms of having a charmingly wholesome atmosphere, a lot of travel, slimes as a low-level adversary in combat, and adorable artwork. There’s also a certain emphasis in the setting background on the idea that the world is a natural, interconnected system which people are just as much a part of as anything else, with various natural terrains being inhabited by dragons of various sorts reflecting those zones and descended from the dragons that created the world.

The dragons are also how one of the game’s quirkier angles creeps in: you see, this is the game where the referee has their own character, who levels up as the referee runs game sessions and the player characters progress. Specifically, this character is a Ryuujin – a sort of dragon spirit whose job it is to create travelogues detailing the journeys of travelling adventurers (said stories acting as delicious food for the dragon your Ryuujin serves).

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Dragonmeet Hoard: Nibiru Quickstart

This past weekend was the Dragonmeet annual RPG convention in London, which I had a pleasant time at catching up with friends and purchasing a fat stack of loot. One of the bits I picked up from there was the Nibiru Quickstart Guide – a taster of the rules and a brief adventure for Nibiru, a new RPG currently being Kickstarted. (If you want a PDF of the Quickstart it’s up on DriveThruRPG for free.)

I’m not going to go too deep into a critique of the rules here because the Quickstart admits that it’s an abbreviated version of the system that’s intended to get the general idea across. Nor am I going to delve too much into the sample adventure (it’s so linear the map for it is literally a corridor), since it’s largely meant to be a taster to let you sample the core game mechanic rather than anything more involved or deeper than that.

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