Free RPG Day 2016–Game Depot Tempe, AZ

Free RPG Day 2016 ran worldwide, but my local venue was Game Depot in Tempe, Arizona. There was much free swag to be had. Behold!


Game Depot bought the “Large” Free RPG Day kit, so there was plenty to go around.  Most of the offerings were introductory game kits for less well-known games (eg. The Dark Eye). Though some companies provided short modules for games with existing fan bases (eg Pathfinder). Go to the Free RPG Day link above for a complete list.

Six tables of RPGs went off. Including Pathfinder, Tremulus, The Dark Eye and The Strange among others. The tables were full!



The Monte Cook Games demo team ran a table of “The Strange” and I was impressed with the character sheets.



Since the point of  “The Strange” is to move between worlds there were two cards. One for base earth  and one for a fantasy universe.  Made it very easy for new players to get up and running.

I know Free RPG day is a way to get new gamers into the hobby, but I also use it as a way to try out games that I wanted to try out before investing. For me, it was “The Dark Eye.”

Long a staple of the German RPG scene (30+ years), a Kickstarter brought a translated version to America.  This is not a review because we were playing the Quickstart rules, more of a first impression.

I sat down and we played a quick “save the cute kid from Orc slavers” scenario.  Standard fantasy environment with a thief, dwarven fighter in full plate, archer, etc.  After taking the plot hook we moved into tracking the orcs through a forest.  Time for a tracking skill check.  No problem, we were all new to the game, even the GM, so we looked how to resolve a skill.  To say this RPG is “crunchy”  is an understatement. I will summarize the skill resolution mechanic below.

Each skill has a number assigned to it that represents you talent in that skill. Additionally, each skill is linked to a “pool” of three statistics.

Skill: Tracking (6)

Statistic Pool:

Courage  10

Agility  14

Constitution   8

To do a skill check, roll a d20 for each linked statistic and succeed if the dice roll is under the statistic.  You have to be under for all three statistics.  The rank in tracking (6) can be used to adjust the rolls, distributed as you like. So you basically have 6 points to put into the three rolls to succeed.  Your skill points reset after the attempt, so you can use them immediately if you need to make another tracking roll.

I know you can get used to anything, but this system is so complicated and clunky. I have to track three different dice rolls against three different statistics and a separate pool of points to adjust them.  I prefer a less complex system, so I am unlikely to play this system again.

We got through the scenario (which was fun, system aside) and saved the child.  Hurray!

Free RPG Day was a good time and much swag was claimed. If you did not come, you missed out.

See you next year!


Trask, The Last Tyromancer











Trask is a long-time gamer, world traveler and history buff. He hopes that his scribblings will both inform and advance gaming as a hobby.