You too can shuffle up and deal an RPG adventure

We here at Knapsack are big fans of games in of all types. Eurogames, family games, role-playing games, you name it, we like something in the genre. RPGs hold an interesting place for most of the staff here, and it’s definitely something that has had a resurgence as of late (there are a lot of great real-play RPG podcasts out there). Planning for those games can take a lot of effort – and if you want to take it easy for a session or two, well, the Nor Cal Mythos Mission Decks can help you out.

They’ve actually got two versions of the Missions Decks available – one for their new RPG system called Carbyne Jungle and one for those of us in the 5th Edition D&D world. Regardless of the setting you go for, you’ll have these types of cards showing up:

  • Map cards – randomly building out the map of your adventure with descriptive text on one side, and the pictures on the reverse
  • Encounter/conflict cards – these build in challenges; some are specific to the scenario, and others are more generic allowing for reuse
  • Monster/target cards – sure, RPGs are for role playing, but they’re also for smashing monsters!
  • Loot cards – just don’t stop to think about where the critter was carrying that gold
  • Boss cards – these are templates that stack onto a monster card and make for the big bad that you’re fighting
  • NPC cards – these are the non-player characters that add substance to the story – who knows who you’ll meet?

Interestingly, NorCal Mythos has build in different challenge levels into the decks. Speaking in D&D terms, you can have a deck for levels 1-4, 5-10, or 11-16. So, you can start with these at the level that’s appropriate for your party (or if you want, back the tier that’s all the levels).

The hook in these Mission Decks is that there’s supposed to be a good level or replayability in that you need several times through to get the bits of the story uncovered. As to whether or not your table will want to run through the same thing over and over, that’s something you need to figure out.

In thinking about the NorCal Mythos Mission Decks, these feels like a twist on the pre-built modules. I’ve used modules, and you have a script you can follow and sort of mold and adapt it to what the party does. Here, with these decks, you’re a little more constrained by what randomly flips over when you build out, but you also don’t have to have someone in charge running the game, and figuring out how to reel the party back in after they chase after a nonsensical goose that you didn’t plan for.

The Kickstarter campaign for the NorCal Mythos Mission decks is live now, and the pricing covers a wide, wide range. You can get a digital download of one deck for $8, a printable pdf plus physical deck for $20, two decks for $45, or three for $65. All of these tiers also come with access to their Mission Decks app, which is a digital companion that ties into all of this and can be used at the table.

I’m not quite sure how I’d work this into what I’m running for my party, and replayability is something that could be a concern (would want to see some reviewers takes on that who’ve handled it) when you’re dropping $20 (or more) on what is a physical, random pre-gen module. That all said, it looks like a cool idea, and I’m hoping NorCal Mythos has a solid success when the campaign closes out in mid-March. /

Patrick Kansa

A big data developer and leader with a penchant for gadgets, books, watches and beverages. You can find my work on WristWatchReview, Knapsack.News, and Slushpile. If you're on Twitter and/or Instagram, you'll find me there as @PatrickWatches.

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