Surreal tabletop RPGs as breathtaking as Death Stranding

Many tabletop RPGs stand out from the basic fantasy themes of the classic Dungeons & Dragons with unconventional settings and more storytelling-oriented rule sets, and then there are tabletop RPGs that are just, totally weird. The bizarre world-building style of Death stranding and the powers and phenomena of distortion of reality Silent Hill 2 are staples of the RPGs below. These surreal tabletop RPGs, in their own way, push the boundaries of what role-playing games can be and the stories they can tell.

Dungeons & Dragons is often considered the default model for fantasy role-playing. It’s a system that players can use when they want to conduct campaigns in standard medieval worlds, with goblins and dragons to fight. There is, however, a lot of weird stuff cooked in the D&D brand – the product of its many fictional inspirations and over 50 years of development. D&D has dungeon mods with crashed alien spaceships, weird monsters like spirit flayers and gelatinous cubes, campaign settings like Planescape, where belief and philosophy can reshape reality, and so on.


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Seen in this light, the following experimental RPGs may just be evolutions of the role-playing entertainment pioneered by Dungeons & Dragons, rather than a complete rejection of the D&D model. These games are simply fascinating offshoots that challenge and shake up long-standing traits of classic role-playing games, like creating character sheets, exploring dungeons, randomly generated events, and rolling the dice.

Surreal Tabletop RPGs – The Walls Will Swallow You Up

Explicitly inspired by the non-linear novel House of Leaves, The walls will swallow you up is an RPG about exploring a menacing labyrinthine house with constantly changing and changing rooms, much like a roguelike video game. During a session of The walls will swallow you up, the players roll the dice and draw playing cards from a deck for “reveal“new parts of the bubbling house, new discoveries and new supernatural evils to face or to flee.

Surreal Tabletop RPGs – Delver 2e

Surreal tabletop RPGs Delver Second Edition

2nd diver is, on paper, a classic fantasy RPG like Dungeons & Dragons, where a group of adventurers explore an underground space filled with strange magic. In the world of Diver, however, this “Dungeon“is a surreal, perhaps conscious space that changes like a dream, absorbing memories of the world above and using them to generate new coins, treasures, and perils. The shape and form of the dungeon is collaboratively generated by the players, who take turns describing individual aspects of the maze during certain phases of the game. 2nd diver Player characters can enter the dungeon by falling asleep in the branches of a tree or opening the wrong door in the right building, and they can choose to brave the dungeon for reasons ranging from the pursuit of power to memory. of what has been lost.

Surreal Tabletop RPGs – Glitch

Mind-blowing tabletop RPG glitch

Problem, a tabletop RPG from Jenna Katerin Moran, is a spin-off from her previous role-playing game Nobilis, a phantasmagoric, Sand seller-esque RPG about divine nobles who personify the fundamental concepts of reality. Problem, by contrast, is an RPG where players take on the role of metaphysical abominations, bitter enemies of the Nobles of Nobilis striving to shatter reality and end the world … Until, to quote the Problem Home Page, “they realized it was stupid. “

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Each Problem role play session essentially concerns creatures of emptiness and paradox who have given up their ambitions to destroy reality in favor of just living their lives – solving mysteries, doing cool things with their supernatural powers, learning to appreciate creation and existence, etc. . Problem, a little like Nobilis, does not involve the use of any dice. Player characters have abilities that allow them to modify, shape, or distort reality. If an ability is at a certain strength level, a player can perform certain tasks automatically, or he can summon certain “Costs“in order to accomplish tasks beyond their limits.

Surreal Tabletop RPGs – Don’t Rest Your Head

Neil Gaiman-style RPGs don't rest your head

Don’t rest your head, one of the first Evil Hat Productions posts, is the feverish dream of an RPG that mixes up Neil Gaiman’s game Never nowhere, Alice in Wonderland, and London fallen (even if London fallen came later). Player characters suffer from severe cases of insomnia and have been drawn into the Mad City, a supernatural world – or maybe just another layer of normal reality – filled with weird nightmare creatures straight out of a painting. by Salvador Dali. To survive the dangers of this crazy city, the player characters must, at all costs, avoid falling asleep and not losing their minds; however, each time players use a Trivia Ability or Supernatural Ability, they respectively increase their Exhaustion or Madness score, bringing them closer to doom.

Surreal tabletop RPGs – Normality

Surreal tabletop RPGs Normality

Free tabletop RPG Normality, often compared to House of Leaves, takes place in a 21st century America as broken and upset as the setting of Death stranding, where everyone was driven to madness by a war waged with experimental psychic superweapons. To reflect this inconsistency, the text of the Normality playbook resembles the scribbles of a paranoid conspiracy theorist. There are sentences that are faded, misaligned, backwards or erased with a marker; character sheets where players have to fill in traits for narrative aspects such as “Sex, “”Medications,” and “Rock & Roll“; and hard-to-analyze fictional snippets with empty spaces are encouraged to fill with their own imaginations.

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About Johanna Gooding

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