Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Review - Rogueland

 

There is a lot to unpack in these 40 pages. Written by @CavernsofHeresy and filled out with an excellent roster of artists, this one beckons to be flipped through. Inspired by Knave and Ars Magica with nods to NetHack, Wizardry and Zork, this is a fantasy system with player-facing, roll high, d20 mechanics. It attempts to add some dynamism to the Knave-inspired magic system and incorporates a wide array of tools for the mechanics of adventuring.

I want to mention visuals first; there is quite a bit here and of high quality. Herein you will find fantastic illustrations by:

@LF_OSR eschews typical line/hatch work for a textured pointillism to create a wonderful body of work that manages to be quite enigmatic and evocative – safe to say a favorite artist of many and several quality pieces on display herein.

See art: https://www.instagram.com/lf_osr/

@gnarledmonster is the creator of the recently released, highly praised Beyond the Borderlands, and also an artist with an energized cartoon style that is fluid and jumps off the page – apparently an inspired mind that never stops working!

See art: https://www.instagram.com/gnarledmonster/

@HodagRPG is perhaps the most traditional “old-school” artist on display. Their work here is an interesting aerial hex map view, like a bird flying past a region! Though not included in the book, I’m particularly fond of their action scenes – such great character and detail.

See art: https://www.instagram.com/hodagrpg/

@the.subterranean.ocean.survey has created some excellent maps and hex art for Rogueland. Their other work is stunning; whenever I see a new post of the obsessive, line-packed work, especially the raw notebook photos, I am instantly inspired!

See art: https://www.instagram.com/the.subterranean.ocean.survey/

@davidpglass has made the two dungeon maps included at the end of the book. I’m new to this artist’s work, but they are clean, well done, and display a great command of line. I particularly like the “rubble” and stippling in the second cavern map.

See art: https://www.instagram.com/adavidpglass/

What a team! Additionally, Caverns has shown their intuition with the cover. Just one of the best pieces of game art I know. It may be Domain, but yes, anyone seeing this cover is likely to be instantly hooked. Such a smart selection.

I realize that was a lot of potentially divergent material, but really, artists convey these things in their packaged state, and Caverns has put together an all-star cast here. This is what I love about the small gaming scene. Weird, unique and quality art is so often used, and it inspires my imagination.

Make a character 

3d6 across the traditional five Abilities with modifiers ( +0 up to +4 )

HP: d8 + Con, 

Armor Class: DEX  

Inventory: 8 + CON

Next is “Pack Your Own Bag.” I suppose previously I hadn’t quite registered the freedom implicit in this part of character creation. I always see Starting Gear tables to roll on as if “that’s the rule” but when I read this header in Rogueland, I thought: “Hmmm, I am an adventurer in a gear shed with all this stuff strewn about, ready to head out for some crazy new life. What do I throw in my duffle?” Even though structured as d20 random tables the tagline just opened up the role-playing mindset. Obvious and trivial? Yes, but some readers may be new to gaming and I just wanted to mention this small touch. Speaking of new players, Rogueland has a nice selection of pre-packaged characters to rush things along.

Traits: roll d20 on 10 different tables describing physical to psychological traits. Things we’ve seen before. I do like the layout of this though. They are aligned columns of text, so rolling across facilitates creation of a Tag Phrase quite easily for your character. Roll each column and read across for Vice, Virtue, Misery, Past. Some of my examples:

Bitter old man who was Humble(d) by his Exile(d). Will use Tracker skills to find the vile beast that ruined the local shrine in attempts to regain community standing…

Prejudiced fool and Loyal follower of a notorious crime boss but now only the Demoted Burglar looking to strike out and make a new life earning wealth for myself only…

Art by LF_OSR
Some Rules

Rolling a d20 plus or minus bonuses, trying to exceed difficulty level. Same for combat with Ascending Armor. The game utilizes a universal Usage Die mechanic. Torches, spikes, and arrows all use the same supply chain. Start with Ud20 and no matter if oil or arrows was used, roll UD. Acquire a bundle of something, increase UD by one link. I quite like this as it keeps the drama of UD resource management without the bookkeeping of numerous Usage for each item.

Rogueland lays out some nice Advancement rules, including gaining XP through donation to worthy causes. There is a neat rule for paying to upgrade your weapon damage die; finding a good weaponsmith can turn your d6 dagger into a 2d6 dagger!

Magic

Anyone can cast magic. If a player has a wand, spellbook, rune, etc., it can be used once a day, and those magical items take up inventory slots. If using level-based spells from external game sources, a character can only cast a spell less than or equal to their level. Rogueland includes a list of 100 level-less spells.

However, there is Rogue Magic, which I take is the implied natural form in the world. There are magical scrolls that hold free-form power which differs from traditional magic. When a scroll is found, this unpredictable power is “detected” randomly from a 2d12 table of “Actions” performed on “Objects.” Magic is cast directly from a scroll as the detected effect or can be used as pure energy for direct damage or healing. Once used for any of these options, the scroll is destroyed.

Rogue Magicians (not a technical class, but an identity) may choose the practice of “Attuning” items with a scroll’s effects. This action requires a WIS test, and if successful, the scroll burns up and transfers its power to your chosen item. On a failed test, the scroll burns up and causes the magician damage. Unlike the scroll’s automatic destruction upon use, an attuned item only has a 1-in-6 chance of losing its attunement and being destroyed.

This was one of those things that is so simple it seemed complicated at first. It’s actually an elegant mechanic that allows for some interesting game narrative. The first thing that comes to mind is playing a character who collects the elusive scroll magic and creates rare “arcane objects” to sell. There does not seem to be rules about limitations in stacking attunements. I am sure this will get hacked with future tables of effects, and Rogue Magicians will become prevalent members of the world, vying for those perfectly combined scroll effects, and constructing wildly powerful objects.

As cool as it is, it seems slightly superficial as written. I think a penalty for detection, much like attunement, would have been appropriate, making these wild and mysterious papers almost always hazardous. It’s likely just me, but it seems for all the attuning and rolling effects and risky damage and scrolls burning away, the powers are not so different from other Traditional Magic. They cause effects to objects, and some results may be quirky or narratively awkward, but not damaging in many ways. I wonder if Rogue Magicians could go one step further and modify the attunement, perhaps picking and choosing effects and objects (at a high cost of course.) A GM can tune this however they choose. I have not played this yet and these initial impressions are just that – thinking aloud. Even as I write, my mind is wrapping and warping around the potential for Rogue Magicians and how it could all be rather dangerous…

The Rogue Magic table lends itself to some potentially strange and fun moments. Here are some results for magical effects:

Shield from – food/medicine

Destroy/disappear – self/ability/characteristic

Conceal – armor

Adventure Tables

Monster Die-drop Table

Excellent material here! Rogueland contains something not too many small games include – mechanics and tables for generative hex exploration. Broken down into clear steps and actions, travel play can easily be facilitated. There are rules for Mishaps, Events, Hunting, Food/water. There is a page of tables devoted to Open World discovery and a page of mechanics for closer detailed discovery, including an “unknown” room generator. Things I have seen on crawling/exploring are often dense with tables, percentages, and many minutiae. In contrast, this section of Rogueland is so clear and mechanically simple to follow, that I wish I had this game when I first started playing. I often see posts online of players asking how to properly hex crawl, explore and so on. I have seen tables and tables of narrative options in small books, but not too much with these basic core elements to gaming. Additionally, these kinds of tools built into a rules-lite system makes it an excellent choice for solitaire gaming. With this booklet, and a good oracle system, much GM-less play can happen. Very cool!

Adventures 

Art by HodagRPG
The book ends with a series of six locales and two dungeons. The adventure sites have evocative single paragraphs, and each are accompanied by an illustrated hex map. A player could print out a copy of the large map at the front of the book, which has full geography and small icons representing various “sites,” though unlabeled, and begin play by populating it with these pre-generated locations. The “Roguelands” therefore become different for each table, and though I have not tried it yet, some color pencils may further customize the map. There are also two dungeons with descriptions, encounter tables and traps. Again, this is the author trying to give as much momentum to players as possible within a small format.

The final pages are condensed reference pages with exploration rules, which printed out and laminated would make nice additions to a game tools binder.

With all the great visuals on display, I find myself wishing the character sheet were a little more evocative. It is practical and clear but perhaps could have been a final flourish to further increase setting vibes and close out its tasteful artistic direction – this being completely subjective, others may prefer the stock sheet for its user friendliness and lack of pretention.

Final Thoughts

Rogueland is a great package. We have seen this essential system before, but this work is advancing the conversation in yet another slight way; the heart of osr hacking! What sets this book apart is the whole approach, starting with the aesthetics. Though a booklet and “rules-lite,” the author made sure to put seriousness and gravity behind the project by using some of the finest artists working. Coupled with a clean and easy layout, it is relatively substantial. I much prefer tactile, so I anxiously await my physical copy to see how this translates to hand. The book enhances this ambition to be taken seriously by giving players useable tools and mechanics for travel & exploration gameplay. I would suggest to new players curious about getting into “osr style” gaming that this would make an excellent entry point. You can have a nicely made product for a good price that also manages to be easy to use while expanding play rules beyond attributes, combat, and spellcasting. Speaking of which, Rogueland seeks to add a new angle on simple magic systems with “Attunements” and an alternative approach to free-form magic use. I see this being a lot of fun, trying to make whatever strange combination a scroll may reveal applicable in a desperate situation! I’m excited to work more with this book and as with some of the other great indie products, I await the interesting takes and additions that bolster Rogueland.

Find out more about Rogueland at: https://www.cavernsofheresy.com/ and https://cavernsofheresy.itch.io/rogueland

Find CavernsofHeresy at: https://www.instagram.com/cavernsofheresy/

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Solo Session - 2400 Cosmic Highway / Space Aces

Backstory/Setup: Interesting for context and considerations as a solo player, acts as a loose review or write of the systems too. Lengthy yes. Worthy, perhaps. If interested in session only, skip ahead to Play Report section below.

The 2400 system is something of a new play experience for me. It eschews stat blocks, Hit Points, and overly specific mechanics. It relies on particular dice levels for task/skill accomplishment within a difficulty grade scale: Disaster, Setback, Success. Combat is largely abstracted, with Harm being damage based on the narrative context and defense can be enhance with “breaking” items in order to reduce/alter incoming damage. In short, there’s much filling in that needs to happen, which contrasts with the traditional systems of rolling to hit and subtracting numbers etc. There are no rules for light source usage, travel times, NPC reactions, inventory is quite abstract (common sense) and Advancement is simply increase a dice level for a skill. Initially I struggled with these loose, narrative-based play elements. But I may have found a way – more on that in a moment.

 

As this is not a review of the games herein, but a play report, I will just briefly say, the 2400 Series (multiple single sheet pamphlets) by Jason Tocci is an exceptional tactile/visual experience! They are slim, elegant “lo-fi sci-fi” based systems, each pamphlet its own individual module that may cross over into another. As of writing, I printed out seven. They all use perfectly suited cover art by BEEPLE. They use a clean and simple d20 tables to generate jobs, twists, locations, NPCs. They are perfect for solo play! But as mentioned before, my first session struggled with loose vs. crunch, narrative vs. numbers. I just wasn’t sure how to handle a bar fight against 5 NPCs that didn’t really deal or take damage and sacrificing items to “deflect” damage was odd to me. (My recent discovery of the Free Kriegsspiele Revolution – games of heavy narrative exchange vs. stats is one reason I checked out 2400. I know almost nothing about FKR yet, so, discovered but not explored.)

However, after some tips and consultation with the creator and others, I was led to another recent excellent sci fi game: Space Aces by P0rthos47. This is another multiple module affair, with so many built in world generators, including a solo play oracle, that it’s hard to not be fascinated.

Spaces Aces includes many plug-and-play rules, but here are some that ported well into this session.

1) Gumption – Hit Points (sorry 2400, this just helps me play) Max of 6

2) Cost/Benefit Roll – When resolving a roll action, roll additional d6 to yield a Cost, Nothing, or Benefit. This is just excellent built in story driving mechanics

3) Grit – After a failed save/test, take 1 Grit – spend 5 Grit to change a fail into a success

4) Heat – Whenever you roll a Suffer Cost on the d6, increase Heat, which narratively causes Costs to become more severe!

5) Sheer number of Adventure, Adversary, Snag, Objective tables (all plugged into a neat worksheet) create so many routes for play

Okay, so I decide to use 2400 character generation + SA Gumption, Grit, Cost, Heat, Generators.

2400 uses a simple task resolution scale: 1-2 Disaster; 3-4 Setback; 5+ Success. I use this slowly at first as  get used to the mechanics, but intend to fully use the parameters after settling in.

 

Play Report

The beauty of 2400 is its diversity of modules, all of which are related but fun and unique in their own way. I chose Cosmic Highway: You’ve got a ship and crew. Now pay for your space trucker/smuggler life.

Skills scale from d6 – d12

Characters

Dallas – Captain – Downsider

Skills: Persuasion d8, Intimidation d8, Piloting d10, Deception d8

Commlink, pistol, vest

 

Joshi – Engineer – Spacer

Skills: Electronics d10, Engines d8, Spacewalking d8, Hacking d8, Sleight of Hand d8

Commlink, repair tools, welding gun

 

(Glyph) – (Heavy) – Downsider   (taken from another module – ALT)

Skills: Hand to hand d8, Shooting d8, Stealth d8, Explosives d8, Climbing d8

Commlink, rifle, battle armor


Ship: Silver Blaze – Navy Peacoat attire – Gumption 6 (again borrowing SA idea)

 

Mission 

Transport vials of hallucinogens (rolled up from 2400 d20 list) hired by Stellar Alliance – bring to a Deep Space City archivist – there has been an invasion which is sowing chaos

Episode Opens: Difficulty 10 (learning how to utilize this still) – Endangered (in future may just roll this flavor table to color the opening of the scene)

 

The crew of the Silver Blaze was hastily charged by one of their corrupt contacts within the Stellar Alliance government to transport the highly secretive package of vials to a safe location. The city (neither game contains name lists, so quick look in Stars Without Number, and HARTUM) is under sudden attack. The city is being blasted from space by an old enemy (yea, I loved the Battlestar Galactica reboot…), ships are zooming over the cities herding citizens to some unknown location. After receiving the silver case containing the precious cargo (its nature still unknown), the crew finds the Silver Blaze docked at the edge of town. Unable to fully supply at their apartment, they only carry the few things with them. Charging up the thrusters, they lift off. But soon into their ascent, they are endangered.

 

D4 (3) enemy ships suddenly surround the Silver Blaze, attempting to prevent it leaving the atmosphere.

Dallas attempts to escape

Piloting Test d10 + 1 for Maneuvering Thruster acquired during creation phase (!)

On Fail – take 1 Harm

On Success – evade 1 enemy

D10 (9) + 1 = 10 – Success

The old man has a few moves yet! Dip and dodge, zipping around, one of the enemy pilots just can’t keep up.

Two enemy ships remain.

Glyph attempts to use defense turret gun to blast one of the small ships.

Shooting Test d8

On fail – take 1 Harm

On Success – do 1 Harm (destroy small ship)

D8 (8) – Success

Glyph fires the turret, striking it just! It smokes as the pilot attempts to navigate it back to base.

One enemy remains.

Third ship sprays lasers at the ship, superficial fire, but still…

Dallas will try to evade

Piloting Test d10

** realized here that I have forgotten to also roll Space Aces “cost” die – will begin rolling d6 with each test/save

On fail – take 1 Harm

On Success – evade 1 enemy

D10 (1) – Fail - ship Gumption takes 1 Harm (down to 5. Silver Blaze has 1 Armor, which I can choose to “break” per 2400 rules to defend against 1 Harm – Dallas decides to hold out)

Dallas receives 1 Grit

 d6 (2) – Suffer Cost – roll d6 on cost table: 1 = Social Cost

The crew, still high from the confrontation and arrogance, tease their captain for his slow-man flying skills – a hit to pride, nothing else

Increase Heat: 1

Dallas tries to use the window after being struck to make a few old-school moves to escape the remaining enemy. He will show them!

Piloting Test d10

D10 (2) + 1 (thrusters) – Fail

The Blaze takes another shot, this time jolting the crew about the deck. The captain was too slow to enhance the Armor Shields, so Blaze Gumption down to 4.

Dallas receives 1 Grit

D6 (3) – Standard Outcome

Glyph attempts to use defense turret gun to blast the remaining small ship.

Shooting Test d8

On Fail – take 1 Harm

On Success – do 1 Harm (destroy small ship)

D8 (7) – Success

Glyph has had enough. She whips the turret around and lines up the shot. Wait, wait, now! Though quite weak, if aimed correctly, the turret gun can disable an enemy enough. Striking the thrusters, the enemy ship rockets to the ground, ending in a plume of spark and black dust.

D6 (1) – Suffer Cost: Emotional

Though she maintains a reputation for immense destructive potential, in reality Glyph tries to act in defense only, she sees herself as a protector. Whenever she takes a life, there is a deep pang of guilt buried somewhere in her psyche.

Increase Heat: 2

Whew! Wow! The crew realizes they are against some long odds. And likely marked for being hunted, due to these violent escapades.

Asking the SA oracle: Does the crew run into any further trouble? Likely: d20 (8) Yes – modifier d6 (3) None.

 

End of episode 1!

I’m really encouraged by all these results. I realize this report is more statistical than narrative, but thought it was interesting how things fit together mechanically. Fusing these two systems generated an exciting first session. It was somewhat short but felt active. I would rather play this kind of shorter scene with movement and direction rather than long ambling sessions. I will be relying on SA and narrative to figure out the next destination. I may pull from Stars Without Number for some detail but prefer light toolkit. I did roll a twist from Cosmic Highway and got:

Stowaway (annoying, possibly lovable)

Ok, so I have managed to play some Battlestar and maybe a little Firefly! Looking forward to session 2. Still working through mechanics, so should be smoother next time. A lot of potential here.

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Review - Cairn

An Adventure Game inspired by the likes of Into the Odd & Knave. Explore a mysterious woodland filled with all manner of creatures fae and fell. Pillage ancient barrows, steal powerful spellbooks, and slay horrid beasts.


This rear panel text highlights wonderfully the full front panel art by German artist Wilhelm Jordan. A wild vortex of thorny vines engulfs barely discernible hands and obscures all but the upper reaches of a village – someone of royalty in distress, says the quaint crown also being submerged. What a great piece! Could even be your first hook – go investigate the clearly magical disappearance of the regional scion. Coupled with the contrasting title box, Cosmic Orrery has created a striking cover composition.

Yochai Gal’s Cairn is a lean system that offers the direct simplicity of Into the Odd’s combat and the inventory-based spell system of Knave. It also uses a tactile inventory system seen in games like Mausritter in which printed out “cards” are actually placed in appropriate slots.

It can be a deadly game with only 1d6 starting Hit Protection and direct damage combat instead of “roll-to-hit.” It does utilize Armor Score, a defense attribute on armor which is subtracted from incoming damage; I really like these kind of straightforward combat mechanics. Battle can be messy, almost always damaging, but acquiring armor feels like a truly valuable proposition. However, the balance of wearing armor in your few available inventory slots, coupled with either a weapon or spellbook is fun and gamey, tactical. These components put creative problem solving always front and center for the player. It makes for quick and nimble play where narration between players and the Warden can be fluid and always evolving.

Upon opening the front cover, the reader is met with brief text of credits and influences, followed by eight summarizing points of game play: Choice, Death, No Classes, Objectives, Principles, Growth, Neutrality, Difficulty. This is followed by a full page of Warden specific “Principles” and continues onto a page of “Principles” for players. Wide spanning advice such as on offer here is great for those new to gaming. It can help get mindsets around some of the core ideas as to how tabletop roleplaying can be approached. Experienced gamers may find three pages (out of nineteen) containing advice a little much, but it is certainly well intended and indicative of the indie gaming movement’s openness to new members!

Make a character

3d6 across Strength, Dexterity, and Willpower gets your character going. Followed by numerous Trait & Background & Gear tables, character creation is quick and streamlined, even to the point of including numerous Pre-made packages. Characters are defined by what they carry but the premade options are labeled as specific classes and races to help players that want a particular kind of style. It is a thoughtful design choice with inclusivity and ease in mind. I really like the sheer number of tools and gear available. Whereas in previous reviews I disparaged some extensive lists, these items feel very useable, applicable to the business of common play. They are pertinent to the character right out the gate in a very ground level way. A list of 100 spellbooks is available for those characters that roll this option from the bonus item table. 


Some Rules

This is a d20 equal or under system. Cairn includes rules for Fatigue, Healing, Armor, Hirelings, and Relics.

Fatigue directly impacts play, actually occupying inventory slots. Too worn out, drop that tent or spellbook! More tactical stuff. This kind of mechanic makes the character sheet a very real part of play.

Sheets and Inventory

Which leads me to make a note on the included sheets. The zine is nicely laid out with sparingly used but good public domain art. The character sheets are hand drawn in a different style and it jars with the overall aesthetic. The sheet of inventory icons is useful, but as a unique feature that draws attention to itself, I would prefer cleaner drawings, and not have the 2-slot icons divided by a line. Now this is absolutely subjective, and some players will find the character sheet and item art more than adequate. Cosmic Orrery's creative contributions are serviceable, gritty, and appealing in their simplicity and small size; they tap into an old school sensibility widely appreciated. However, there does not appear to be icons for Fatigue. As a major part of inventory, this seems to be an oversight, or I have misunderstood. The icon sheet has a number of blanks for players to write or draw their other items such as tools on, so maybe writing “fatigue” on these is a fine solution. Beyond this, there are “spellbook” icons to place in inventory slots, but they are unlabeled and without room to write. The CHAR SHEET has a notes section on the reverse side to notate what spell you have, but it means flipping over to read, erase, etc. Though novel, this kind of system risks becoming frustrating with all the little cutouts of paper. I will need a little pocket or something to carry my game pieces in. This is not only with Cairn, but other games that rely on these kinds of print-and-play components. Digitally, such inventory management is fun, like Tetris, but on the table, all these one-inch icons risk falling all over the place. As a solitaire player who sometimes manages 3 – 4 PCs, shuffling all that paper around looms as tedious. I recommend laminating the icons sheet for durability, heft, and dry erase capability.  ** I have not played Cairn or Mausritter yet, so such statements regarding practical application deserves to be taken lightly **

There is a section on Relics. These are items containing a single spell. A few examples are given but there is no list of “relics.” I really like this feature. Make your own item using the included spells or some other element you and the Warden discuss. A game like Artefact comes to mind. Start a session with your Artefact generated item and incorporate it into your Cairn campaign.

Rules for Combat

These are pretty straightforward rules, again to facilitate ease and swift play. Easy rules for retreat (DEX save and safe location); attacking is simple damage roll; attacks can be impaired or enhanced; there is also a “Scars” table for 0 Hit Protection. Combat is fairly simple, and I suspect narration will be just as important as mechanics. With the many rules-lite/ narrative based play, Cairn sits nicely between the two, offering players a little of each style.

Monsters

Cairn comes with a small list of six monsters to get started with; they are fleshed out enough with full stats and several details to plug them into a variety of settings. There is a small Creating Monsters section to allow the Warden to easily populate the world. With a clean and simple template, this can be done on the fly, though some OSR conversion principles are included. Generally, it recommends 1 HP per HD, which is a quick way to proceed. Cairn also has Wardens ask a few questions to help facilitate the conversion and port over more dynamic creatures.


Spells

The book ends with a list of 100 spells, a list quite similar to other Knave-based systems. You’ll find within:

Gate; Haste; Smoke Form; Summon Cube; Telekinesis, Time Control, and X-Ray Vision.

Anyone can cast a spell in Cairn, as long as they hold the book in two hands. This means that as long as there is room in one’s inventory (1 slot) a spell can be part of a player’s arsenal. Carry a sword and a found tome from a dungeon and you are a dynamic force. The caveat being each time a spell is cast, you add 1 Fatigue to the inventory. This will require players to do some feeling around before striking the balance between caster and basher and looter! Good stuff here. Yes, consideration is necessary for efficient play, but players need not feel stuck in any particular role.

Final Thoughts

All together, I really like Cairn. It is agile, easy, and maintains enough volume to support longer play sessions. It is slim and lacks much generative content, but for the generous price of free or donation, you really can’t go wrong. Grab your favorite resource materials and construct a dark woodland world to deploy these characters into. I am on the fence with the inventory system. I appreciate the idea of the physicality, but I think it could become more trouble than it is worth. That being said, simply write the item into the blank slots and forego the cutouts, no big deal. Additionally, there is a window of potential fun in creating your own little inventory icons specific to your game! The main issue for players is to decide on the d20 roll under or d20 + modifier roll over system. Do you prefer quick deadly combat, or more traditional AC/try to hit combat? Cairn takes the traditional fantasy setting of Knave and adds the Into the Odd system. I think if someone is looking to get into simple fantasy gaming, Cairn is a fun and affordable way to do it, and if your table wants to truly explore character backgrounds and relics, than it has serious potential for deeper play. Cairn is a generous offering to the osr/indie gaming scene, and is easily hacked for personal modifications. Flexibility is the name of the game. And yes, the well-chosen cover art is great. 

*The game has been updated with a One-Page character sheet. Keep an eye on the game's page (link below) for more updates

* images taken from the creator's game page - follow link below for more game images

* this review based on reading and not actual play   

Find Cairn at https://yochaigal.itch.io/cairn