Highlights of Witchstarter 2023


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06 October 2023
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Our Roundup of Kickstarter's magically-minded games live in October

Following on from last year's successful inaugural 'Witchstarter' season, Kickstarter have kicked off their second open call celebrating all projects tangentially related to Magic and Divination projects.

Whilst a lot of these projects fall into the category of crafts and literature, many game designers have seized this opportunity to cast a light on their more spooky/spiritually minded projects.

We've had a perusal at this year's offerings and have picked five wonders to whet your witchy appetite!

The Hidden Isle

Front Image for Tarot-driven RPG The Hidden Isle

As described in their press release, "The Hidden Isle is a pen and paper RPG that utilizes Tarot cards in place of dice, set in the enigmatic 16th-century island of Dioscoria. Emphasizing roleplaying and collaborative storytelling, the game immerses players in swashbuckling adventures across Europe and the Middle East: from pilfering forbidden texts and safeguarding outcasts using ancient magic to challenging and overthrowing oppressive empires."

The system is inspired by Blades in the Dark and not only incorporates Tarot as the means of skill checks (done as a mini trick-taking game using the Minor Arcana deck) but also incorporates Tarot readings and spiritualism to advance the narrative and embrace the core concepts of change integral to Tarot.

Funding in a rapid 14 minutes, Causa Creations have also incorporated their previous successful Kickstarters for the custom-tarot deck Sefirot and board game of the same name, letting players who want to dive deep into the gaming potential of Tarot explore it in a variety of different mediums. For those who want a sneak peek, the playtest for The Hidden Isle are currently available to download on their itch.io page.

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Vagrantsong: Encore

Box art and contents for Vagrantsong Encore, an expansion to a 2022 haunted miniatures boss battle game

Following on from last year's successful release of the classic cartoon inspired Vagrantsong, Wyrd Miniatures are back with the game's first post-launch expansion: Vagrantsong: Encore.

Building on the original's premise of heroes who find themselves on a haunted train, having to battle increasingly more demanding bosses (known as 'Haints') in order to escape. Whilst they might have been able to find a way of the Silver Ferryman ghost train before, new Haints who have been trapped about the train need help to find their humanity, relying on you and your fellow players to save the day once more.

Encore box comes with six new Haints to face, tons of new cards and features to revamp your playing experience and a bunch of other cool ways to shake up your games and stretch a little more life out of this ghostly game.

With a week left to go and the Off the Rails box also available (which increases the difficulty of all the original Haints and incorporates new features from Encore), fans of the original will likely want to keep an eye out for this game when it releases in 2024.

The Crooked Moon

Page samples from the Folk Horror adventure guide 'The Crooked Moon,' compatible with D&D 5th edition

Looks like Critical Role aren't the only actual-play RPG stream around who can make a highly popular book of fun and freaky additions for your next Dungeons and Dragons session. 

The first ever book produced by the creators of 'Legends of Avantris,' a D&D-focused stream group who have been broadcasting their homebrew worlds for over six years, The Crooked Moon is a 400+ tome compatible with D&D 5th Edition that lets players indulge in Folk Horror-inspired adventures.

The team have gone all out on this book, creating rules for sinister subclasses, Halloween-themed races, a massive bestiary that also includes over 11 'Multiphase' bosses to really challenge your party and so much more. The book also includes a full adventure you can run for characters from level 1-13 and they've even commissioned a spooky soundtrack to play in the background of your ghoulish game nights.

The Kickstarter has been a roaring success, raising over £1.3 million at time of writing and with plenty of time left in the month. If you've been looking for a horror setting that doesn't involve visiting a vampire, The Crooked Moon might be worth investigating.

Defenders of the Wild

Top down view of the co-operative critters versus machines game Defenders of the Wild

A new take on the 'Nature versus Industry' co-operative theme that Spirit Island has had great success with, Defenders of the Wild is an up to four player game of controlling members of various magical animal communities who seek to halt the grinding gears of 'The Machines' from destroying their natural home, with the help of fireball-hurling leopards, rocket launcher frogs and a wider menagerie of menacing animals.

Designed by Henry Audubon (who made the award-winning PARKS) and T.L Simons (the brain behind Bloc by Bloc), the game has successfully funded on Kickstarter already, with plenty of time to still get your pledge in now, as well as an estimated wider release in Summer 2024. 

The Shivers: Triple Terror

Last but no means least is another game from 2022 that's back for more, The Shivers caught the attention of many with its blend of immersive roleplay and charming pop-up sets that encouraged players to interact directly with the scenes to uncover clues and create solutions to the various mysteries they faced.

This year's expansion includes three new rooms to explore, including a medieval torture chamber, an abandoned luxurious observatory and a large museum wing complete with (totally not animated) dinosaur skeleton. The Triple Terror pack also comes with a massive pop-up façade of the titular Fogmoor Manor, festooned with its own mysteries and hidden details to discover.

For families trying out roleplaying games for the first time or groups who just love spectacle, The Shivers offers an exciting alternative to other systems that takes a literal hands-on approach.

 

And that's our list! Were there any Witchstarter games we've missed that you feel are worth crowing about? Are you excited by any of the magical games we've listed above? Let us know on social media!

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