A quick primer on tabletop RPGs that are Powered by the Apocalypse or Forged in the Dark!


After we wrapped up our Invisible Sun campaign in October 2019, the Irregulars took a short break from our regular tabletop schedule. I'm happy to say we're back in to the swing of things, with Katherine taking over as MC in our new Blades in the Dark campaign!

Blades is part of a new wave of tabletop role-playing games that started back in 2010 with Apocalypse World, all of which emphasize collaborative storytelling. Games built on top of Apocalypse World's rules are Powered by the Apocalypse, while ones based on Blades in the Dark are Forged in the Dark. There are mechanical differences between the two, but both systems share some guiding principles:

  1. Play to find out what happens. Rather than the game master or MC coming up with an entire adventure on their own, they start with a loose "skeleton" and the players help fill in the blanks as everyone plays.
  2. Don't overplan. In Blades, players can have flashbacks to explain why they know things or have certain pieces of equipment (it just costs a bit of Stress, a renewable resource that measures characters are). In The Sprawl (a cyberpunk RPG that uses the Powered by the Apocalypse system), players get gear and intel for their missions that "become" items or information when the players need it!
  3. Don't say what you're rolling for – say what you're doing! Not only is it more interesting, it allows everyone at the table to be more creative. These Moves are the way players and their characters do things. You explain what you're trying to do, find the appropriate Move, then roll to see how well things work out:

    - You do what you set out to accomplish
    - You succeed, but only partially or at a cost
    - Something goes terribly wrong

Every "failure" is a chance for the GM/MC to complicate things for the players, and as we've quickly learned as we've jumped in to these games, complications are fun!

If any of this sounds interesting, there's something for almost everyone out there regardless of genre or theme. Here are some of our favorites:

  • Blades in the Dark, if you've ever wanted to run a thieves guild. The game that all Forged in the Dark games are based on.
  • The Sprawl, if you love classic cyberpunk fiction. This one's Powered by the Apocalypse.
  • Dungeon World, if you like Dungeons and Dragons. Also Powered by the Apocalypse.
  • Beam Saber, if you like mecha and giant robots in general. This one's Forged in the Dark!
  • Scum and Villiany, if you like Firefly-esque science fiction. Forged in the Dark!
  • The Veil and its sequel-expansion Cascade, if you want some post-cyberpunk introspective roleplaying (it's weird, but in a good way!).

Finally, here's a quick introduction to our latest venture!

The Shattered Isles

A Blades in the Dark campaign

The proprietors of Moonlight Salvage can get you almost anything for the right price. Set in the city of Duskwall where the ghost field keeps legions of spirits at bay, our ragtag crew of smugglers attempts to claw their way to the top of the underworld. Our cast includes:

  • Katt Bedell as our Master of Ceremonies
  • Scott Duchesneau as Oliver Boden, ex-guard and pit fighter
  • Hannah Maguire as Zahra Dagher, resident tinkerer and Hull specialist
  • Tim Maguire as Martin O'Malley, former Skovlan scout and sharpshooter
  • Ryan Bedell as Opal Hawthorne, operations planner and scion of a ruined noble house
  • Kyle Bedell as Pax Adelai, arcanist and priest of the Unbroken Sun