Game Spotlights

Published: May 6, 2024

Adam Knight

Goodman Games does RPGs Right

In part one of this two-part article series, we will do a deep dive into all things Goodman Games. While Goodman Games is known for its rich history with DCC and MCC, we want to start by exploring the 5e side of Goodman Games. Next time, we will cover the rest of the Goodman Games empire.

Goodman Games dives into 5e with enthusiasm, bringing fantastic quests to your tabletop for characters of all levels, even those most sinister of fantasy adventurers: the dastardly gnomes.

Alternative RPGs and the 5E Framework

Before we dive into the awesome adventures Goodman Games delivers, it’s worth taking a minute to look at a term that appears all over Goodman’s RPGs like Dark Tower (along with Pathfinder, among others): 5E. That number and letter combo refer to Dungeons and Dragons’ fifth edition, and its open gaming license (OGL). In short, stamping your RPG with the 5E label states the general mode of play, meaning combat, skill checks, etc. follows the rules laid out by Dungeons and Dragons, and the fifth edition specifically.

Why does that matter?

Because it means anyone who’s played around with Dungeons and Dragons can jump into these RPG settings, with their unique classes, stories, and adventures, cmg55551.jpg (600×776)without needing to re-learn a whole slew of new rules. We’re talking as smooth an on-ramp as exists for experienced tabletop role-playing game (TTRPG) players, while also using a common foundation with plenty of resources to bring new adventurers up to speed.

I’m not going to do a deeper dive on that here—there are tons of resources for further details on the OGL and how it works an Internet search away—but as Goodman Games leverages the 5E framework across its RPGs, it’s good to know what that means, and how it makes picking up a new TTRPG easier.

With that said, on to the games!

Classics Adventure Modules Re-imagined

The Temple of Elemental Evil. If you’ve been around Dungeons and Dragons for more than a hot minute, you’ve likely seen or heard the name. A cursed temple, with a waiting horror at its heart, and the many malevolent marauders hoping to see the evil released for their own nefarious ends. A quaint nearby town beset by those same fiends, and, of course, your adventurers gearing up to stop doom in its tracks.

That tasty setup is part of Goodman Games’ Original Adventures Reincarnated series. Here, you’re getting classic stories and settings updated to fifth edition,Goodman Games where they can be squeezed into your existing campaigns or used to kick off an exciting new journey. For older DMs and players who already braved these wilds once in decades past, bringing these gorgeous new editions into modern rules sets gives a chance to revisit fond memories (and get rematches against ancient foes). For new players, it’s a chance to engage with Dungeons and Dragons history while digging into mammoth dungeons steeped in gnarled lore and dire enemies.

The presentation goes beyond tables and maps, with the newest entry in the series, The Dark Tower, including essays on the adventure’s construction, additional wilderness encounters, and further story details to help you integrate the tale into your own setting. Deep, dangerous, and engrossing, Goodman Games goes the extra distance with these editions to give your adventuring party the story they deserve.

Which is, really, the ethos at play here. Goodman Games doesn’t tie itself to a particular setting, instead delivering remastered adventures and new quests ready to plug into your ongoing story as you see fit. These can be the longer, involved journeys noted above, or one-off experiences like those found in the Compendium of Dungeon Crawls.

Targeted for specific levels, these smaller modules can help bridge your party between larger adventures, ensuring, say, that levels and gear are positioned to handle the big threat you’ve been brewing, or to provide a launchpad for a bunch of squishy level one gnomes. If you’re a Dungeon Master, keeping your party on pace is enjoyable work, and having these adventures handy for a session or two can keep things comfortable.

As a player, finding compelling stories you’d like to play can make your DM’s life easier. As a DM, ready-made awesomeness saves both time and allows you to focus your creative efforts on what you like most, either giving you more time to craft the next dungeon, or dedicate your devious mastery to spicing up an existing story.

Goodman Games is your RPG partner in all these elements, an aid to be used as much or as little as you need, and sure to look good on your shelf.

The Zero Level Game

Beginning any Tabletop RPG is a messy combination of excitement and paperwork. The possibilities are wide open, from classes to species to alignment—chaotic evil is the best time—and it can be a hard sell to get your gaming group to assemble for several hours of stat rolls, reading tables, and arguing about how rolling a Gnome Fighter for the third straight campaign is a sign of a problem.

Goodman GamesGoodman Games has a solution to these daunting starts with the somewhat hilarious, and free, Dungeon Crawl Classics Quick Start Rules (found here). Beyond a simple set of D&D dice, you can take these rules, a few simplified character sheets, and spin up some class-less peasants to throw to the (literal) wolves. Rather than making up your character’s back story, debating class combos, and so on, you’ll chuck a few dice and get to adventuring. With this system, you’ll create several level 0 peasants right at the start per player, as most of them likely won’t make it out of those goblin-infested caves alive.

The ones that do? Those are the real heroes.

From this swift start, you can either port the surviving characters into another fantasy tabletop setting with minimal effort or keep going within the Dungeon Crawl Classics system, an oft-ridiculous, fast-playing, fun-oriented ruleset based on classic adventures from the early days of tabletop RPGs.

The Dungeon Crawl Classics universe is chock full of great, inexpensive resources to continue your adventures too, with pre-generated characters to round out parties, hundreds and hundreds of unique quests, and an open invitation to publish your own DCC adventures.

If you’re curious about tabletop RPGs or want a new system designed for streamlined, fun adventure, DCC is absolutely worth a look.

To Tabletop RPG or Not to Tabletop RPG

If you’ve read through this piece and never yet tried a tabletop RPG, whether that’s Dungeons and Dragons, the DCC system above, or any of the countless other options out there, it might be worth outlining what makes them so popular, at least in brief:

  • Freedom, both in your choices, as either player or game master, to inhabit one or more characters and explore a universe without many constraints. You might fight a dragon, romance a prince or princess, and find yourself turned into a vampire within the same story – few traditional board games could offer that experience without tome-like rule books.
  • Endless, unique adventures are everywhere. Goodman Games alone offers tales by the dozen for only a few dollars a pop, letting you immerse yourself into grand battles, dungeon delves, and more with your friends for less than the cost of a burrito.
  • A collaborative story that brings your gaming group together in a shared experience. There’s no heads-down puzzle solving or downtime until your turn comes back around. Instead, everyone’s wondering if the rogue’s going to steal the goblet from the goblin king, or if the wizard’s fireball will blastgmg5114.jpg (600×776) the paladin along with the kobold swarm. Memories will be made, and shared, with every session.

If the above sounds like fun (and it absolutely is), but your pals aren’t interested, or if you want to make new friends with fellow adventurers, consider checking your local game store for RPG nights. Noble Knight itself offers D&D on Mondays, Open roleplaying on Tuesdays, and Shadowrun and Pathfinder every other Thursday. Most are welcome to new players, and offer a great chance to see what tabletop role-playing is all about.

A Home For New And Classic Modules

Goodman Games is a portal to adventure, both through re-imagined classics and new, designed-for-maximum-fun systems like Dungeon Crawl Classics. If you’re looking for your first tabletop RPG experience or want to switch things up with a visit to the Dark Tower, then they’re a publisher worth your time.

Just remember, when it comes time to create your character, chaotic evil Gnome Fighters are the best way to play.