Look at this amazing thing.

Look at this amazing thing.

Look at this amazing thing. Some interesting systems and great ideas from various PbtA games, polished to a high gloss. 190-page free preview!

Originally shared by Shawn Tomkin

Interested in trying a gritty-ish, PbtA-inspired fantasy RPG that supports GM-less play?

Ironsworn began as a PbtA reskin, but it’s evolved into something I would say is more PbtA-adjacent. I call it “Inspired by and borrowing liberally from the Apocalypse” (IbaBLftA?). It’s built on moves, but leverages ala carte character creation with printable asset cards instead of playbooks. It’s also got it’s own flavor of dice mechanics and some resource tracking mechanisms. Finally, it’s built from the ground up to support solo and co-op GM-less campaigns.

The preview edition is a complete, free game. I’d love to hear what people think.


7 thoughts on “Look at this amazing thing.”

  1. On first reading it appears rather engrossing; The Photography is cool and evokes the cold Iron Age theme, I love the Johnstone Metzger class warfare inspiration to chargen, the nods to AW Dark Ages Rites and Rituals, the lovely mix of Jason Lutes Perilous Wilds Exploration and Jeremy Strandberg’s focus on Steadings with Stonetop.

    But I want the Blades in the Dark ‘clock’ obstacle mechanic given a little more narrative weight. There is an awful lot of move results that mechanically add (or subtract) to the various tracks, But what does that narratively mean? What happens in the story?

    I may just be a PbtA snob, but I far prefer moves that have narrative choices rather than mechanical plusses or minuses.Or at the very least a discourse on how to fuel the narrative in interesting ways with progress on the various tracks.

  2. Thanks for the share, Jason Lutes!

    Nathan Roberts. Really appreciate you giving it a look! Ironsworn, overall, leans a bit more mechanical than most PbtA games. There’s a method to my madness, in that the mechanical bits gives the solo/co-op experience a bit of gamey heft that I enjoy.

    The progress tracks for vows are a pacing mechanism that encourages players to put narrative obstacles and goals in their path in order to move forward in their quests. It’s a gameplay loop of swearing a vow, overcoming enough obstacles to fulfill the vow (ticking progress as you go), and getting experience. Embedded in that loop are the progress tracks for journeys and fights.

    However, I would totally agree that some bits (particularly the progress tracks) tip the balance perhaps too far into mechanical, and I really appreciate you calling it out. I do have an additional chapter coming which will include some examples and best-practices on quests and progress tracks which hopefully will buttress a narrative-first philosophy.

    I will also give Blades in the Dark a look!

  3. Shawn Tomkin, Blades is well worth your attention if you enjoy crunchy bits in your PbtA. I has a very satisfying 3-part “play cycle” wherein the mechanics specific to each part tie into the others.

    I have too many new games in my “to play” pile right now, but the presentation and thinking behind Ironsworn have moved it to the top of my list. I am eager to see your systems in play.

  4. Shawn Tomkin, Don’t get me wrong mate, I like your game (and ideas) a LOT!

    The Asset cards in particular are a great (usable!) re-skin of WHFRP 3e. Speaking of which, I think a good idea would be to place that beautiful location art onto index cards with the three question prompts for Truths on the back and laminated. (like the Location cards in WHFRP 3e).

    That way you can have them on the table referencing Locations in play as sort of a larger R-map between Characters and Locations.

    I especially dig the dice mechanic. Great idea!

    Its got me thinking about other ways to approach that idea of antagonism embedded in the roll. Instead of modifiers, you could add subtract dice to a pool… Harder Opposition? More d10s. Greater skill? More d6s, or even ‘upgrade them’ to d8s or d10s. Plenty of ways to muck around.

    I’ll give the game a crack RAW solo, cause that seems like a fun way to play, and I’ll post the AP and feedback for you to peruse.

    Thanks for all your time and effort and gentlemanly correspondence. Great start to a great game!

  5. Wow! Thanks for sharing this. I don’t think I would have crossed paths with this game if you hadn’t. Looking forward to following its development.

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