Pull Some Indie Roleplaying Treasures Out Of The New Bundle Of Holding

By Christopher Helton

For one week only you can reach into the Bundle of Holding for a treasure trove of indie RPGs that run a gamut of play styles and genres. As always, a portion of the money raised by the Bundle of Holding will go to the charities of Heifer International and War Child International.

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For those unfamiliar with the term, "indie" has a different meaning in the world of tabletop games than it does in other places. For the indie, or storygame, tabletop community, they've taken the definition to mean those games where mechanics and play are tightly integrated, and the mechanics of the game highlight what is important not only to what you want to accomplish within the game but also what is important to your character within the game. Mechanics of these games will often focus around creating a certain type of narrative structure or telling a particular type of story. This focus means a different style of play from "traditional" roleplaying games where the mechanics are there more for doing what is done in a game.

As always, the Bundle of Holding is broken into the Core Collection and the Bonus Collection. For a minimum of $7.95 you can get the DRM-free PDFs of Annalise, The Agency, Dust Devils, God-King and Mars Colony. If you pay over the threshold (just over $18 dollars at the time of this writing) you also receives the bonus DRM-free PDFs of 3:16 – Carnage Amongst the Stars, Dog Eat Dog, Heroine, Our Last Best Hope and the annotated edition of Sorcerer. If purchased alone, the core collection PDFs would cost almost $50, but in the Bundle of Holding that cost is less than $8. The bonus collection would cost over $60, but can be bought for a fraction of that.

In the core collection you are going to find games that cover a variety of genres from Swinging 60s spy stories to Westerns to science fiction to gothic stories of vampires.


Annalise is a no-prep, GM-less tabletop RPG for 2-4 players. Each player is a protagonist in a Gothic horror story. A Vampire — literal or metaphorical — is the central pivot around which your characters revolve. The game rules guide you in discovering its nature and eventually confronting it. The mystery of the Vampire is resolved entirely through the events of the game, with no single player taking on the role of the creature.

The core of the game is the Moment system, wherein you collaboratively create a number of possible paths for the story to go. Then the path followed (and at what cost) is determined by the characters' core values, commitment to their agendas, and the secrets they hold most dear.

Dust Devils is an homage to the American West, particularly to the Old West as it is portrayed in film and fiction. This game is much more about legend than history, more about story than fact. Players portray the figures of that era, the figures we all know and love and sometimes hate: gunfighters, vaqueros, cavalrymen, settlers, sheriffs, outlaws, Comanches, Sioux, saloon girls, prospectors, and more.


In a rugged, lawless land, these characters wrestle with their Devils — the dark secrets, troubled pasts, and basest vices that haunt their existence. Will these characters redeem their seedy pasts? What will happen to the other people in their lives? Is violence the only way to survive in the West? By playing the game and crafting a story together, players answer these tough questions.


God-King is a storygame for 3-5 players (best with five) and a Narrator. Each player has a distinct role integral to the survival of the group: Scholar, Warrior, Healer, Navigator, and Mystic. Everyone must work together to succeed. Things are complicated, though, because each characters has a specific secret Truth — a reason for joining the journey — that will put them at odds with the others. It uses an ordinary deck of playing cards, including jokers. "In the Empire's archives the Scholar discovers a tattered map of a place he believed to have been only a fairy tale: Otugari. Despite the Scholar's best efforts to convince him otherwise, the Emperor, unwilling to spare any resource during a time of war, has forbidden any and all expeditions to this 'mythical' land. Against the orders of the Emperor, the Scholar, tired of the country's war, assembles a ragtag group of adventurers and sets off across the sea in search of the lost continent. The Otugari they discover, however, is not what they expected. This is the story of their journey."


Mars Colony is a two-player RPG. One player takes the role of the colony's appointed "savior," Kelly Perkins; the other creates problems that plague the citizens of Mars. As the game progresses, Perkins faces a constant struggle between competence and failure, honesty and deception. Mars Colony explores the cult of personality in modern-day politics, yet it's playable in the time it takes to watch a long movie.


The Agency draws inspiration from period TV shows like The Avengers, The Saint, The Persuaders, and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. — from the early James Bonds, Matt Helm, and In Like Flint — and, added to the mix, the weird supernatural vibe of Hammer horror. 1960s London: a world of Beatles, Bobbies, Bentleys — Union Jack waistcoats, velvet jackets, bowler hats, miniskirts — Carnaby Street, Abbey Road, and the Cold War — all filmed at strange angles and in far too many primary colors. Spies can be famous, an umbrella is a deadly weapon, and this message will self-destruct in…. The game works best with 3-5 players; you'll need some dice, paper, some counters, and a few hours to play.

Then, if you pay over the threshold amount (which goes up as more people pay for the Bundle) you will also get the games of the bonus collection.


Fight to protect Terra by killing every living thing in the Universe. Revel in the kill-happy machismo of a campaign of Carnage Amongst The Stars. See where your tour of duty takes you in the elite 3:16th Expeditionary Force (the 16th Brigade of the 3rd Army). In this high-octane far-future science fiction RPG, your Space Troopers kill bugs all across the cosmos. You advance in rank, improve your weapons, destroy civilization after civilization, and, through an innovative "Flashback" game mechanic, find out who you are.


Dog Eat Dog is a game of colonialism and its consequences. As a group you work together to describe one of the hundreds of small islands in the Pacific Ocean, defining the customs of the natives and the mores of the outsiders arriving to claim it. One player then assumes the role of the Occupation force, playing their capable military, their quisling government, and whatever jaded tourists and shrewd businessmen are interested in a not-quite-pacified territory. All the others play individual Natives, each trying in different ways to come to terms with the new regime. The game begins when the war ends. Through a series of scenes, you play out the conflicted relationship between the two parties, deciding what the colonizers do to maintain control, which natives assimilate and which run amok, and who ends up owning the island.

Dog Eat Dog's system is light and easy to learn, designed for play with people who may not have seen or heard of roleplaying games — but with a token economy that eventually reverberates through every action your character takes, charging every choice with the possibility of death or assimilation. At the end of each scene, the Occupation judges the Natives according to a set of Rules that describe the relationship between the two parties, fining them or paying out tokens; the Natives, in turn, determine how the Rules change according to the events that happen in play.

The setting is defined during play, and the starting conditions can easily be hacked to make Dog Eat Dog a game about any sort of unequal power dynamic or colonial situation — occupied WWII Italy, first contact on an alien planet, or superheroes conquering Earth.


Heroine is a storytelling game that helps you and your friends tell tales of a young girl with an unusual chance to be heroic in another world. Inspired by movies like Labyrinth and The Wizard of Oz, and by books like Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and The Chronicles of Narnia, this game creates stories about protagonists who are not powerful killers or well-educated spies. Rather, they are young women from the real world who find themselves somewhere strange. One player plays the Heroine; another starts as the Narrator. The other players play as Companions, but can become Narrator later. Each time you play, the Heroine meets new Companions, faces terrible dangers and a fierce antagonist, and struggles to overcome heroic challenges.


Our Last Best Hope is about heroic sacrifice in the face of an impossible burden. During the game, you confront a disaster like those in Sunshine, Deep Impact, The Day After Tomorrow, or Armageddon — and your characters are the stars. You play soldiers, doctors, engineers, and scientists who have ventured out into space or deep into the Earth's core to keep our species alive. As the noose tightens, you and your team struggle against Threats that can derail the Mission, the increasingly stressful burden you have taken on, and the crisis itself, always looming at the edge of your minds. Not all of you will live. Not all of you will succeed. But each and every one of you has the potential to rise to greatness while the fate of Humanity is on the line.

While playing Our Last Best Hope, you might: launch into space to stop a meteor from destroying all life on Earth, drill to the center of the Earth to restart its molten core, navigate zombie-filled cities to stop a nuclear holocaust.

Each game is unique, as your group confronts a new crisis with a new set of characters and a new plan to save the Earth. Regardless of the crisis, you and your crew are our very last hope, and our best. Our Last Best Hope requires neither a GM nor prep time. It's for 3-5 players and takes about two hours to play. The rulebook includes three Mission playsets: Space, Snow, and Zombie Apocalypse.


In Sorcerer the characters are people, not mutants or monsters or elves. But these people are driven, willing to break the most fundamental laws of reality to achieve their goals. They know how to summon, bind, and command demons — dangerous, transgressive beings, who demand a Price for the power they lend. Your character commands unimaginable, horrific power that has a mind of its own. Can you handle it? How far will you go to get what you want?

Story creation: This is your instrument. Its rules are built specifically so you — the whole group — can create the most powerful, entertaining story possible.

No wasted motion: Conflicts are resolved with a fast, fun, and innovative dice system, well suited to all aspects of interaction, violence, and sorcery.

Flexibility and creativity: Full guidelines let you customize the premise to your own unique vision.

A standout in the history of roleplaying design, Sorcerer has set a high bar since its pioneering first appearance in 1996. This edition presents the original roleplaying game with new cover art by Thomas Denmark. The text is accompanied by extensive new annotations that discuss the rules' origins and applications based on years of dedicated play and dialogues. After 15 years of winning awards, breaking new ground, showcasing success in independent publishing, and setting standards for clear and effective design, Sorcerer remains the same as it was — a game for today.


The Play's the Thing is a storytelling game about actors who want to rewrite the Shakespearean roles they've been given. In The Play's the Thing, you and your friends tell the story of an acting troupe that is scheduled to perform a new play but has a lot of disagreements about how that play should go. One player takes on the role of the Playwright, the writer and director of the Play, and the rest of you portray Actors (Hams, Leads, Villains, and Ingenues) who are cast in roles. The Playwright might present you with a classic Shakespearean folio, but you'll use your imagination and wit to craft new events and excitement in old stories. As you work your way through the Acts of the Play, you'll suggest changes the Playwright must incorporate into the work, making The Bard's stories even better. Imagine: If Ophelia never drowned… and killed Claudius herself, If Othello figured out Iago was to blame… or secretly plotted to kill him first or If Romeo never met Juliet… but fell in love with Mercutio.

Includes nine scripts based on Shakespeare plays. Learn more and download free scripts at Magpie Games.

Welcome to The Ladykillers. You died before your time. At least for a while. Someone, somewhere gave you another chance. The woman you were has returned to the world. You're free from darkness. But it all comes with a heavy price. Call it justice. Call it God's wrath. Curse it if you want. Redemption is out there. Peace. You would kill for that. And you'll have to.


You take on the role of a woman returned from the grave as an assassin. Your ladykiller's job is to take out everyone on a hitlist. They are monsters. They probably deserve it. Other people along the way might get hurt. No one said it would be easy. This game uses a standard deck of playing cards. Get news and updates at Stories You Play.


It's a game about being Best Friends and all the little hatreds Best Friends have for each other. Oh, I know. You're gonna say y'all get along just peachy. Well, that's fine too. No one said any of this was true…. But, between you and me: It really is.

Anyway, you and some friends all play girlfriends and try to do stuff together, while secretly hating each other. And getting little frissons of excitement out of getting one up on your Best Friends. And it's going to be fun.

As always, this is a limited time offer. The Bundle of Holding closes Monday, April 28th to make room for the next bundle of roleplaying goodies.

Christopher Helton is a blogger, podcaster and tabletop RPG publisher who talks about games and other forms of geekery at the long-running Dorkland! blog. He is also the co-publisher at the ENnie Award winning Battlefield Press, Inc.  You can find him on Twitter at @dorkland and on G+ at https://plus.google.com/+ChristopherHelton/ where he will talk your ear off about gaming and comics.

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Hannah Means ShannonAbout Hannah Means Shannon

Editor-in-Chief at Bleeding Cool. Independent comics scholar and former English Professor. Writing books on magic in the works of Alan Moore and the early works of Neil Gaiman.
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