Note: This preview uses pre-release components and rules. What you see here may be different from the final, published game.
Gizmo Turnkey and Lyxer Kamodie stood at a proverbial crossroad. Do the Construct Cleric and Elven Hunter go look for the assailant of the recent attacks at the festival or go talk to the wounded? There’s probably not time to do both and there’s a feeling that the decision will have a large impact in the future. There’s bloody gore with pain and suffering one way and the other the monster that inflicted those horrific injuries. They steel themselves for the dangers that lie before them. To them, the decision was easy. They start towards the festival as besides a path leading to almost certain danger; there’s probably also funnel cake there.
My 2021 Game of the Year was Roll Player Adventures so I was super excited when Thunderworks Games asked if I would like to preview its first expansion. And when I mean super excited, I mean I squeaked out loud and quickly typed “hell yeah!” before calming down and trying to act like a professional. Which only seems appropriate since characters can now have professions.
For a basic overview of how to play, you can check out my review but there are a few changes that I think improve an already great game.
The first change is bailing the rest token and replacing it with limited rests per adventure. Starting with the party’s fourth rest during an adventure, one player must take one card from their hand, discard, or spent piles and return it to its deck. Especially early game before your deck resembles a pocket phone book, this makes for a tense decision that may push you to do multiple encounters between rests.
A second change, and only in Legendary mode, to combat the players collecting all the cards is a hard limit on the total number of cards the party can have. This limit can be increased by spending gold during the advancement phase.
Some other changes to legendary mode include adding stamina from the supply to each player’s fatigue box after each failed skill up to the limit that would exhaust a player.
Besides new stories, the expansion also comes with new professions that give each player one or more little perks. There will be a little more on this later as I talk about the experience.
Game Impressions with the Expansion:
The prototype came with two adventures and I’ve played each adventure twice and while the overarching story was the same, I felt like I had some varied experiences that made each play out differently. One of the things that added some extra pop was the professions as, probably much like Nefra’s Judgement (which I haven’t played) adds extra experiences where your character reads or does something extra. So far, each profession I played had a different introduction that helped set up the character’s background and possible motivation. And if you want to use that background as a further role-playing cue, it might lead you down some different paths in the story.
I really liked the twists these professions added as it adds new content to the game that will spice up subsequent playthroughs assuming you use different professions. It’s subtle but adding replayability to story-based games is always a plus.
The Expansion takes place two thousand years before the original game, so you’ll be starting with a new character telling a new story. The story through the first two adventures is excellent and easily on par with the base game. Something I really liked about the first adventure was when there was a choice, you had to choose between two things instead of choosing between which area you’d visit first. The second adventure followed that A then B or B then A pathing but specific choices and whether I passed or failed specific tests still influenced how the story played out.
Something that I noticed was I didn’t feel like I was acquiring cards very quickly so the skill checks and combats were tense, and I think I prefer that as opposed to having a rolodex full of cards where you can find exactly what you need like you’re pausing the battle to go into your wagon and re-equip yourself. But with only two stories under my belt, I don’t know how that might change over the subsequent ones. But this also pairs nicely with having limited rests. Can I make it through another skill check missing some of my best cards before resting? It forces players to make tougher decisions on when to rest and what’s worth sacrificing on that fourth rest and beyond.
Overall, I want to gush about what I’ve experienced but I don’t want to spoil the story, especially as it may play out differently for you based on your choices and ability to pass various skill checks. According to the prototype rulebook, there will be seven storybooks, four double-sided adventure maps, an explorer’s guide, an epilogue book, and Gulpax’s journal. And there’s more Discovery (61), Title (82), Rare (73), Enemies (51), and pregenerated characters (18) to bolster the content of the base game. As someone who frequently complains about a lack of shelf space, I’m hopeful that I can squeeze this expansion into the base box. That’s not something the publisher has promised or even hinted at but we all have dreams and mine is to have an expansion fit in a base game box so let me live my dream.
If you liked Roll Player Adventures for the adventure and dice puzzles this seems like an automatic back/buy based on what I’ve seen as far as it’s more content in that well done system. If you thought it was too easy, the changes to Legendary Mode might address your concerns. For me, this will be an easy back/buy followed by the long wait for it to arrive on my doorstep.