Welcome to Tombpunk! A Look At Alan Bahr's Lo-fi RPG System

by Christopher Helton, Outland Entertainment's Games Director

Welcome to Tombpunk, a fantasy role-playing game published by Outland Entertainment, created by game designer Alan Bahr and illustrated by Nicolás R. Giacondino.

What is Tombpunk, you might be asking? It is billed as “lo-fi roleplaying,” which is a way of saying two things: 1) it is a dirtier kind of fantasy where the characters deal with dark magic and darker creatures in an oppressive world, and 2) it leans heavily into a DIY sensibility where the game’s rules are light and rely on rulings made by the narrator during play to shape the experiences of the game.

You’re probably saying “I still don’t really understand what that means.” So, let’s break things down a bit.

A “dirtier kind of fantasy” is probably subjective, but it is in a style similar to fantasy fiction like Glen Cook’s Black Company, work by Anna Smith Sparks, or Robert E. Howard’s Conan stories which feature dark and dangerous worlds of conflict. But it is also “dirtier” than what you will find in some other fantasy role-playing games because it lives up to the “punk” part of the name by featuring mechanics for oppressive economic factors that take your character’s money and keep them down.

In Tombpunk, staying alive has a cost. It costs your character coin for the privilege of being an adventurer and for the chance to make money from their dungeon delves. Then it costs your character to support the local lord. And then you have to feed, clothe, and house yourself. All of this comes out of your coin, sometimes before you even have the chance to get money from dungeon plunders or other activities.

This might almost be a little too real.

Tombpunk uses a fairly simple mechanic to determine if your character succeeds when they try to do something. Roll a twelve-sided die (1d12) and compare it to the relevant attribute for the task at hand. If the roll succeeds, the character’s action succeeds. These rolls can be modified by having you roll them at advantage or disadvantage. Of course, the actual rulebook goes into greater detail on this.

This is also where the DIY aspect of the game comes into play. Tombpunk is just a hair over 100 pages, in a smaller page sized format. This means that there aren’t a lot of rules to this game. The narrator of the game is encouraged to make ruling on the spot for situations that aren’t covered by the game and to modify the rules to fit their home game better. This can mean new classes for the world in which their group is playing, scarier creatures than what are in the core book (which are pretty scary), or even entirely new sub-systems, like different ways to handle magic. Tombpunk is a canvas that lets your group fill in the empty spaces on the art.

In shorter form, Tombpunk is influenced by older fantasy role-playing games but uses more contemporary mechanical approaches to do the things that a game’s system does during play. If this sounds like the sort of role-playing game that you have been looking for then all you need to do is check out the game or join our Discord and read through some of the #Tombpunk chat.

Outland Entertainment also uses the Tombpunk system as a way to let people explore the worlds they publish. Rogues adds options for thieving characters, and the worlds that they live in, to your Tombpunk games, while Hopeless, Maine allows your characters to explore the world of the popular Hopeless, Maine webcomics and books published by Outland Entertainment. There are other expansions and settings to explore planned for the game as well.

Get your own copy of Tombpunk now. And if you'd like to be kept up to date on upcoming Tombpunk RPGs and other Outland news, join our newsletter below!

For more information about Tombpunk, check out:
Outland Entertainment Acquires Alan Bahr's Tabletop RPG Rules System Tombpunk
Nightfell Tombpunk Kickstarter
Rogue's Tombpunk Kickstarter

Explore a multitude of dark fantasy worlds with the Tombpunk role-playing game by Alan Bahr with one of these games, now available!

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