A Decade of Indie Roleplaying: 2019

The grand finale! Maybe not so grand, but I think you’ll agree the twenty-teens have been a heck of a strong year for small-press roleplaying.

Here’s a list of all the entries in the series. I’ll list all the games mentioned in the series at the end. Hope my lists provoked some good gaming memories of the previous decade. What were the most important games of the decade to you?

Have a fun and sane 2020, y’all, and thanks to everyone who backed my Patreon my first month: the first draft of this series was January’s backer-only post!

The Series

2010 | 2011| 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015 | 2016 | 2017 | 2018 | 2019

Zombie World

Not my favorite genre, not my favorite PbtA, but gosh I’ve ended up playing an awful lot of it. Probably the most accessible PbtA game on the market!

Available at Roll20.

2019: Zombie World

Because I live in the southwest, one state over from Magpie Games I’ve played a heck of a lot of Zombie World during its playtesting. It’s a card-based version of PbtA (which Magpie downplays in its marketing blurbs, since they’re trying to expand their audience) and it does precisely what it says on the tin: a group of survivors (built from three cards) deal with zombies and each other in some thematically appropriate setting: a mall, a hospital, whatever. Every time I’ve played I’ve gotten a very satisfying, genre-appropriate tale of (usually) awful people in the midst of an existential crisis. It’s great to see it live in the world!

2019 Runners-up

Band of Blades

Available in PDF from DriveThruRPG, or hardback from Evil Hat Productions.

I ran the campaign of Band of Blades this year. I wrote a lot about it. Despite taking up a notably big chunk of my gaming schedule (nine sessions, which is a lot for me), it wasn’t the most important game of my year. The game is Forged in the Dark, featuring fantasy soldiers beating a hasty retreat before the implacable zombie hordes of the Cinder King. There are some interesting remixes on the FitD model, particularly the shared enterprise of the Legion and the downtime phase you might normally expect. We ended up having fun with it but I learned a lot about why FitD games will never be my favorite.


We also played a good long run of Godbound in 2019. This is Sine Nomine’s OSR game of divine beings wielding the Words of Creation to reshape a world broken by magic and hubris. It’s sold as a love letter to White Wolf’s Exalted but I feel like the underlying themes of the game play out quite differently. It’s only OSR-adjacent in my mind, as well: most of the game’s mechanisms are tied up in how Words are wielded and how the characters build up their divine power over time. Read more about this game!

Sources: Wikipedia, Indie RPG Awards, DriveThruRPG, my poor bookshelves

All The Games

This is a complete list of every game highlighted in the series. Wondering where and how to learn more about small-press gaming? You could do worse than browse this list.

If you’re thinking about picking any of them up, please consider doing so through these links. I may make a few extra cents on affiliate sales, and every bit counts. Thank you!

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