Unloved Games – RPGs that could use a little more attention – Part 3

Here’s the third (and probably last) part of my list of RPGs that could use a little more love – Rockalypse, Pew Pew!, and Cavaliers of Mars


I was lucky enough to playtest this one at a Metatopia (NJ playtesting con) a few years back and have liked it ever since. This is a FATE-based post-apocalypse game by Eric Simon. It’s designed to replicate things like Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, or Six String Samurai.

One of the most interesting bits of Rockalypse is that there’s no violent conflict. Conflicts are always handed through battle-of-the-bands style music competitions. The Fight, Shoot, and Provoke skills have been removed. They’ve added Harmony, Melody, Rhythm, and Rhyme. All conflicts are referred to as songs. Bands, both PC and NPC, have their own aspects.

GM and players collaborate to build a world together. There are number of settings provided, each with their own aspects. They can be mixed and matched to create your own custom settings. Rock and Roll High School and RagnaRöck are my current favorites.

This can be run using either Fate Core or Accelerated rules.

Pew Pew!

I just recently discovered this one and ran a quick one-shot of this just last week. It’s a fun action space opera game by Mike Lafferty designed to play Star Wars/The Mandolorian style sci-fi adventures. It’s a great game with a terrible title.

The rules are simple – the players roll a number of D6s, determined by their skills, equipment, and drives. For every 4,5, or 6 they roll they get a success. The GM rolls for the opposition. Higher number of successes wins.

Fun Rules

You Owe Me One – If a player fails, a second player can say out loud “You Owe Me One!”, and the first player can re-roll. Each player can grant this “You Owe Me One” boon twice per game.

The Chaos Factor – GMs have a pool of dice that they can use to add to the rolls of the opposition. The size of the pool depends on the environment. For example, a quiet farm planet would have a factor of 2. The Death Star would have a factor of 6. Through the player’s actions (starting a firefight, tripping an alarm), the chaos factor can increase.

Repair Droids – When you are in a space battle, your ship can take damage. Normally, you have to spend a turn fixing it yourself, but if you have a repair droid (think R2D2), it can do it for you.

There are a couple of pregens, a series of antagonists, and a vague setting. I’m not sure you could play a long-term campaign of this game, but it’s great for one-shots or quick pick-up games. I especially loved the little detail of the character sheet design, which looks like the back of a 1980s action figure package. 

There seem to be two versions of this game – Bounty Hunters in Space and For a Few Credits More. They both have the same complete rules, but FoFCM has an adventure. Lists of enemies and spaceships are provided by both.

Cavaliers of Mars

That cover is exactly the correct tone of this game.

I’m a sucker for any Planetary Romance/ Barsoom-inspired game. I’ve posted about them in the past. I’ve become a particular fan of Cavaliers of Mars by Rose Bailey. It’s a lovely little swashbuckling adventure game set on an ancient, dying version of Mars. 

There’s a pretty extensive gazetteer section, with all of the various regions and city-states. Plot hooks are provided for every place described. It’s full of fun, atmospheric, and most importantly, gameable stuff.

It uses a dice pool system. Every player has a number of traits, each with their own die type. For an action, they roll all of the applicable Traits, and keep the two highest numbers. GMs roll for the opposition. Highest total wins.

It’s got a really interesting little method for sword fights. Each combatant gets a number of 10 sided dice they can divide between Strikes, Parry, and Stunts. The players roll the dice, and counting down from ten, each combatant gets to go when their Strike and Stunt dice numbers are called. Parry dice can be used to block attacks. There are also a number of combat maneuvers to keep things interesting. It looks like it’ll need a lot of d10s. There are also rules for running combat on a map, along with scenery dice – to replicate swinging on ropes, cutting down chandeliers, and other swashbuckler-type nonsense.

The multiple types of dice make this game difficult to play online, so I haven’t actually had a chance to run this one yet. Looking forward to running it in person.

There’s a cheaper jumpstart version of the rules available as well.

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