Staff Picks | Respect for Indie Game Designers
In recent years, tabletop gaming has seen a meteoric rise. Not only are people playing more games, but new games are coming out every day, featuring a wide array of eclectic themes, introducing innovative new mechanics, and constantly reinventing ways to play and have fun.
Much of this board game renaissance can be credited to the passionate indie game designers working to expand the world of games! In June, we celebrate the concept of Respect, so we’re kicking it off by paying our respect to some of those local, indie designers and their amazing games.
Richard Ruane of R. Rook Games | Barrowkeep Den of Spies
Richard has been an active participant in the indie roleplaying game scene for years, and he’s one of the pillars of the Twenty Sided community. Perhaps you have had him as a Dungeon Master during an event with us, or have enjoyed one of the many adventures he’s written. Either way, you know that Richard brings a unique perspective to the games he creates and runs, often focusing deeply on interesting relationship dynamics while maintaining a low barrier to entry for new gamers!
We’re so excited to feature his micro-setting Barrow Keep Den of Spies, as the first installment in a whole series of simple setting guides! In Den of Spies, you play as adventurous young people uncovering mysteries, fighting systems, and navigating intricate webs of relationships. As a micro-setting, Den of Spies can be dropped into an existing game or used to kick off your adventures!
Sara Farber & Bryan Wilson of Galactic Sneeze | Schmovie & Spank the Yeti
The team at Galactic Sneeze are true artists! Beyond inventing amazing games, Sarah has worked as a television writer for Netflix, a comedic writer on YouTube and various podcasts, and has worked with Sesame Street, Fisher-Price/Mattel, and more! Bryan’s work as a creative director has seen him work with industry giants such as Disney, Marvel, DreamWorks, Mad Magazine, and his work has been featured in the Smithsonian and the Museum of Modern Art! These two creative powerhouses now create some of our favorite party games!
Spank the Yeti is a Would You Rather / Kiss Marry Kill style party game that will have your friends answering whether or not they’d make out with a coked out unicorn or joust a robot that wants to feel feelings. In Schmovie, you’ll roll dice and draw cards to determine a prompt for a movie title. Can you think of a title for an action movie about a Monster Hamburger? Or a romance about an Angry Planet? Both of these games are incredibly easy to learn, fast to play, and absurdly hilarious!
Lucian Khan | Dead Friend & Visigoths Vs Mall Goths
Lucian is another Twenty Sided regular, a powerhouse of creativity and humor that always creates games that become our new favorites! Lucian’s roleplaying games tend to focus on identity, relationships, and the connection between people, pushing for higher visibility of LGBTQ+ with greater representation through games! Two of Lucian’s roleplaying games, Dead Friend A Game of Necromancy and Visigoths Vs Mall Goths are consistent best sellers on our shelves!
Dead Friend A Game of Necromancy is the rare two player roleplaying game - though less rare these days, thanks to the works of creative indie designers! One player uses cards to perform a necromancy ritual that brings the other player back to life, and together you will discover your relationship, conflicts, and seek closure. Visigoths Vs Mall Goths is a dating simulation set in a 1996 shopping mall that has been taken over by Visigoths, easy to play and perfect for virtual games!
Sunny Atema | Animal Medicine
Sunny Atema is a California based artist and musician. With her work, Sunny likes to explore interconnectivity and perception, and has explored these mediums through music, painting, tarot, and art installations all over the country. Many of her art installations are interactive, meant to ask existential questions of her viewers that help them connect to the world around them.
Her Animal Medicine cards fit into this artistic vision, as a twenty-eight card oracle deck that connects you to the wisdom animals can provide. The deck features images of animals from her original hand-painted and hand-carved on wood card deck. Pick up a card to reflect upon the wisdom each creature can offer as a way to connect not just with the world around you, but your inner self.
Nick Forker | RPG Theory
Nick Forker has spent nearly twenty years in New York, and during that time he’s been a freelancer, comic creator, teacher, and more! His art is eclectic, exploring different ideas in vastly different styles, from life size images of astronauts drawn in ballpoint pens, to colorful and darkly thematic comics. As he says, “Style is a like language, would you limit yourself to only speaking one if you could speak many?”
His comic RPG Theory invites readers to imagine their lives as a roleplaying game. An uplifting and light-hearted comic, RPG Theory suggests that when life seems unmanageable or negative, it helps to imagine yourself as the hero at the center of an adventure game. Broke? Adventurers usually are, it means you have freedom! Facing an unexpected challenge? Consider it a side quest! When life gets hard, it can be freeing to review your inventory, remind yourself of your skills and special abilities, and charge back into the thick of the adventure.
Krista Martocci | The Kingdom of Grimsby Snow White
Not long ago, Krista Martocci struck up a conversation with Lauren Bilanko, one of the owners at Twenty Sided, and mentioned that she was considering creating a Grimm fairy tale inspired one shot. Lauren said “Yes! That sounds so cool!” Now, that one shot has grown into the first of a series of adventure modules inspired by the classic stories of the Brother Grimm! Besides publishing her first adventure through her own publishing company, Krista is a data engineer who makes stained glass art.
The Kingdom of Grimsby Snow White is an adventure compatible with the Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition system. You play as members of a dwarven mining company caught between the conflict of three hags and the Kingdom of Grimsby, desperate to save your missing friend. This adventure is great for Game Masters of any level looking to take on a classic fairy tale story!
Justin & Dave of Coozie Games | Buy the Vote
Coozie Games is the story of a family affair. Born from the love a tight-knit group of cousins shared for games, Coozie Games first began to encourage the environment in which it was born, to make games for people to bond over. Justin was the driving force behind the board game love of these eight cousins (they called themselves the “Coozies”) and he soon had the idea to make his own game for his family. Dave, the more “business minded” cousin, decided to answer Justin’s call to make his game a reality!
Buy the Vote is a fast, fun, frantic game of electoral bidding! Created to make politics fun for all ages, Buy the Vote only takes three minutes to learn and each game is a cool fifteen minutes.
Bill Roundy | Floradora
Bill Roundy is a Brooklyn cartoonist - you might have seen his cartoons in the Brooklyn Paper! His cartoons cover a multitude of topics: living in New York, gay romance, Dungeons & Dragons stories, Brooklyn bars, and more! Bill’s artwork has been featured on T-shirts, books, and posters at Twenty Sided!
Floradora explores the origins of Floradora, a gin-based cocktail inspired by the showgirls of early Broadway stardom! Read about the play that inspired the name, the showgirls that made the drink popular, and follow along with an easy recipe to make your own!
Gil Hova of Formal Ferret Games | Wordsy & Networks
Gil Hova is the definition of a professional, with games published through established companies, Kickstarter, and his own publishing company, Formal Ferret Games. His games are all different and unique, from silly party games to clever word games to competitive strategy, but all fit into his core philosophy of game design: make the game fun.
Wordsy solves the problem many word games have, which typically inspire the utilization of short words to rack up points. Instead, Wordsy encourages players to create longer words, as you are not limited just to the letters on the board - these are the only letters, however, that score any points. The Networks puts players in the position of television executives, where each will vie for the best shows, stars, and ads to become the king of prime time! Both games are easy to learn but strategic enough for repeated gameplay!