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Vagabond // Pulp Fantasy Roleplaying Game - Quickstart
Publisher: Land of the Blind
by Will [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/15/2024 20:54:31

I've been a 5e player since 2017, but I grew increasingly tired of parsing the paragraphs of text in every character feature, and all the idiosyncratic and illogical rules. At one point I wanted to DM, but I found all the lore implications of 5e's rules to be suffocating—and it didn't help that 5e's lack of support for DMs makes running the game a chore. When the OGL crisis hit, I started looking for systems that would be more fun to run and would be more neutral to my world's lore. Once I stumbled across Indestructoboy's development livestreams, I was hooked on the premise of a lean-and-mean system that distills rules down to the bare necessities, without sacrificing interesting complexity (as I feel many "rules-light" systems do). Vagabond executes this premise fantastically. I've followed development from the beginning, I have GMed several sessions with multiple groups, and I recently joined a group as a player. Vagabond deserves high praise on several aspects:

  1. Mechanical design. I'm super impressed with how the rules never get in the way of play. Everything feels natural. In particular, I love the design philosophy of GMs never needing to roll—the players' active defenses (rolling to dodge or parry) feel great as both a player and GM. I'm also a huge fan of the magic system, which is so much deeper and more flexible than the "vancian" magic of many games.
  2. Visual design. The book is beautiful, owing to Taron Pounds's experience as a graphic designer and his involvement of talented artists like Maxwell Polikoff.
  3. Overall design philosophy. I think it's worth noting how much effort has been put in to ensure that GMs have everything they would need in the core rulebook, and nothing extraneous. The ability to play solo is pretty cool too—even though I probably won't use it myself, the philosophy around designing for solo compatibility has clearly shaped the rest of the game in a good way, like the hexcrawl generator. While no game is perfect, Vagabond is pretty damn close for me. My only gripe with the system is how Perks are somewhat cumbersome in their current form, but I understand why they need to be organized as they are for print. Hopefully this will be addressed with some sort of web tool, if the Gamefound campaign goes well! Though I'm unfamiliar with Basic/Expert and other old-school-style games which influenced Vagabond, I feel that this system is truly innovative and ideal as my long-term go-to system to run games. Indie games like this definitely deserve more attention.


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Vagabond // Pulp Fantasy Roleplaying Game - Quickstart
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