Four Role-Playing Games I Will Play in 2023

We’re approaching the New Year, a traditional time for resolutions. But frak that – December is my birthday month, and I’ve got some goals for my 51st year.

One of them is to play four new games, some of which have been on my gaming bookshelves for years because of the pandemic. Now that the viral hell is receding, I will find a way to play these games. I’m purposefully not saying “want” because that implies there’s a chance I won’t play them. After waiting this long, I want my mindset to be that I will play them

Cyberpunk RED

The latest edition of the Cyberpunk role-playing game updates and streamlines the rules. It’s role-playing in a dark future, with four simple rules (list the rules). This is the easiest one for me to queue up – the Lair of Secrets crew is already interested in playing, as is the Blackrazor Guild and my lunchtime crew. The latter two are starting with one-shots, but who knows where those will lead?


I backed this barebones horror RPG in 2021 as part of its Kickstarter campaign. Production delays pushed its release from November 2022 to sometime in 2023, but I’ve got the work-in-progress PDFs. As expected, the game looks fast and brutal, providing a mashed-up aesthetic of Alien, Dead Space, and just about every creature feature out there. It’s ideal for a convention one-shot.


Why stop at one creature feature when you can have two? I love all things Alien and throughout the pandemic, I kept adding to my Alien RPG collection without ever actually playing the game. Alien — with its brutal aesthetic and low survival odds — didn’t feel like the right game then (though there was a certain appeal to fighting back against a rampaging viral organism hell-bent on ruining life as we know it). With the pandemic easing, I’m in a better head space, and ready to finally take on a few Xenomorphs.

Mutant Crawl Classics

I’ve been in the mood for a good old-fashioned apocalypse for years. Never mind hyperbolic talk of the pandemic as an apocalypse – it was hugely disruptive, and in many cases tragic, but it didn’t lead to an exchange of nuclear weapons, the moon being shattered by a passing comet, the flash freezing of the biosphere, alien invasion or any of the other world-ending scenarios. Nor did it give rise to hyperintelligent carrots, sentient bipedal wolverines, or laser-sword-wielding barbarians.

Or at least, not yet.

Mutant Crawl Classics, the Dungeon Crawl Classics spin-off, is faithful to the spirit of the early Gamma World editions and avoids the gonzo excesses of the fun (but again, totally gonzo) D&D 4e-inspired edition. It’s got a good mix of humans, mutants, and classes, with god-like AIs and a smattering of high technology. It’s long been on my list of games to run and I’ve been slowly working on my “Beyond the Funnel” adventure. The name’s a bit of a joke; most of the DCC adventures I’ve played in have been funnels or low-level. I want to run a Mutant Crawl Classics adventure that purposefully avoids all that by giving players advanced (say, 5th-level) characters with a fun suite of abilities and some throwbacks to those doom-filled funnel quests that are such a prominent part of the MCC/DCC landscape.

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