TTRPGS that are Not DnD we'll be Highlighting in February

Not DnD is a weekly show discussing tabletop roleplaying games. Each week EN Publishing’s @tabletopjess interviews the creators behind different tabletop roleplaying games that aren’t D&D!

You can watch the live recording every Monday at 5pm ET / 10pm GMT on YouTube or Twitch, or catch up with the podcast platform of your choice by searching 'Not DnD'.

Here's what we have planned for February!

Against the Darkmaster - 12th February​

Against the Darkmaster is a tabletop Epic Fantasy roleplaying game of high adventure, heroic action, and heavy metal combat. The game has a simple resolution mechanic using d100s and a flexible magic system. The passion & drive system encourages players to roleplay their characters motivations and goals.

Lethe - 19th February​

Lethe is a TTRPG that uses a unique mechanic for collaborative storytelling; rather than players building their character in advance, the GM builds each player character. Players start with a blank character sheet that they fill in as they perform certain actions. Eventually the player’s abilities become better known and they start to uncover their missing memories. As the game progresses, players will have to decide if their memories line up with who they want to be.

The Magus - 26th February​

The Magus is a solo RPG about “pathos, calamity, and the infinite loneliness of power”. The narrative mechanics inspire players to aspire for ultimate power, while being forced to sacrifice who they love. And features an oracle deck for inspiration. The game will be available in English language print following the Kickstarter campaign.

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Against the Darkmaster is a valiant effort to resuscitate the D100/RoleMaster rpg engine.

Especially if you're an older roleplayer you will have heard of D100 and, relevant here, the Middle-Earth Role-Playing (MERP) game.

Just be aware that these older games offer only two kinds of ready-made adventures:
  • RoleMaster adventures. These I am sorry to say I found to be godawful. And I think I looked at everything. They are on par with early 1st edition D&D adventures, filled with randomness, inconsistencies, and truly stupendous amounts of unbalanced loot. There appears to be zero insight in the RM community that the only way D100 will ever reappear on the scene is with decent adventure material that can actually compete with modern 3rd and 5th edition D&D scenarios such as the ones at DM's Guild. Perhaps the Against the Darkmaster people will have understood this, while the RM people are locked into a completely unnecessary civil war between different tastes of RoleMaster rules... Sigh.
  • MERP adventures. MERP has a reputation for great production values (for the time), but neither the game nor its adventures capture the Tolkien look and feel very well. They are detail-obsessed and lack grandeur and the overarching humanistic vision we all love Prof Tolkien for. (The One Ring's adventure supplements stand heads* and shoulders above MERPs offerings thematically). While MERP can and will send you on a quest that even World of Warcrafters would mock you for (hint: Tolkien heroes don't want to be paid money to kill bears or hunt bandits), The One Ring really tries to evoke feelings of camaraderie and dread; continuing the near-hopeless fight against a formless overpowering shadow. MERP and RM, on the other hand, happily reveals Galadriel is a level 60 killer... Imagine an old-school D&D gamer's take on The Lord of the Rings and you get MERP.

All this to say: once you run out of Against the Darkmaster's adventure material, you're pretty much all on your own. I found none of the existing D100 material usable in any way shape or form. This meant that once we were done enjoying Shadow over Northern Woods, we had to move on to another system. I briefly considered using The One Ring material, but then I asked myself: "in that case, why not use TOR rules?" I really wanted to run more adventures using the D100 engine, but there just is nothing even remotely useable.

If you have the time and energy to write everything from scratch, your mileage might differ.

Against the Darkmaster is a valiant effort worth a look, but don't go into it expecting D100 to be a game engine with loads of useful adventures just because it's one of the granddaddies of fantasy roleplaying, like I did.

PS. If you're one of those that get upset Orcs get -2 INT while Elves get +2 DEX in D&D, and start howling about discrimination and prejudice, please don't read the Against the Darkmaster material. You will only get upset. DS.

*) yes, multiple ones
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Staff member
PS. If you're one of those that get upset Orcs get -2 INT while Elves get +2 DEX in D&D, and start howling about discrimination and prejudice, please don't read the Against the Darkmaster material. You will only get upset. DS.
Mod Note:

Not only was this postscript unnecessary, it also grossly distorts the conversations had here (and elsewhere) about negative stereotyping in RPGs.

Do not post like this again.


I have no idea what the animus against Rolemaster is (note it is Rolemaster, not RoleMaster).

The new edition of Rolemaster just came out. In fact one of the books, Treasure Law, just released on DriveThruRpg literally today:

The Rolemaster community (at least the one on the official forums and the Discord channels) is in no way 'locked into a completely unnecessary civil war between different tastes of RoleMaster rules.' There are different editions (the main ones being RM1/2, RMSS/FRP, and now RMU). But the communities are nowhere near as split as DnD communties were by 4e (no one did a Pathfinder on Rolemaster), and I honestly can't even remember the last time there was anything like an edition war on the ICE forums.

So I honestly don't know where those comments were coming from? Some of the Rolemaster adventures are 30 years old now, so yes, they are showing their age. But the Middle Earth adventures (which were statted first and foremost for Rolemaster back when ICE had the Tolkien license) are still very expensive on Ebay and coveted as treasures crafted with love by absolute Tolkien geeks.

All of which is just to say: maybe next month do Rolemaster?

The new edition has now released most of its main books (Core Law, Spell Law, and Treasure Law, with Creature Law nearing completion as well). If anyone is interested, I can easily get you in touch with Colin (the ICE marketing guru) or Jonathan Dale (the line editor).
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