The Very Beginning of the Story in Roll Player Adventures
Travel through Nalos in an extensive connected storyline where decisions have lasting effects in Roll Player Adventures.
My usual tradition has been to complete a lengthy campaign-style solo board game at the end of every year. I fell a little behind this time, but Roll Player Adventures called to me! This enormous game box surprised me and I was so excited to explore what the world could offer my character. All the choices awaited as I prepared to enter the world of Ulos!
The following includes general storyline ideas and images from Adventure 1: Battle at Blacklake. Most is vague enough not to provide too many details, but please keep this in mind if you’re planning to play! This is more of a discussion about the overall mechanics, yet if you haven’t started the adventure yet, I might recommend skipping this post.
Game Name: Roll Player Adventures
Publication Year: 2021
Designers: Keith Matejka, P. A. Ryan, and J. W. Ryan
Artists: Ariosa, Fei, Fedorova, Mammoliti, Petter, Ribeiro
Publisher: Thunderworks Games
Solo Mode: Included in the Base Game
This is a combination of a connected narrative through various chapters, dice manipulation, and card play. It weaves a tale where 1-4 characters make decisions that may come back to impact later adverntures. It’s hard to say too much, owing to the exciting story discoveries!
December 27, 2021
January 1, 2022
46" x 32"
Off to Adventure!
Although it’s possible to import a character created from Roll Player, I was a little impatient and decided to go with a pre-generated character. So many to choose from!
Salka Moonbender, a Wrathborn psionic, called to me. I also used the expansion to create a dual-backstory for her.
Wasting no time, I was already into the first adventure before I knew it. Each has its own lengthy storybook, along with a unique map filled with so many little details.
A shared encounter book provides even more possibilities. I was in awe of the sheer amount of text. So much story!
Story & Game Aspects
Story-based experiences are often relegated to the RPG realm, while adding game mechanics can be very tricky. To craft an engaging narrative as a board game is difficult!
I’m a player who prefers to get immersed in a narrative. All of the rules gave me pause at first. Too much?
It also dawned on me afterwards that dice manipulation is a slippery slope for me. I love it in this universe, but I had a bad time playing One Deck Dungeon back in the day.
All this is to make it clear where this meandering post may go, and why! To get back on track… To Blacklake!
A Party Journal
A key element, as with nearly every campaign-style game, is a way to keep track of the important statistics.
With the included party journal, all sorts of figures could be tracked. Any leftover experience or gold could be carried over, while I had clear indications of limits.
Progress was tracked by marking each chapter and specific upgrades, all to make it easy to advance!
The favor tracks between the different groups grabbed my attention, though. Who were they? What would my interactions with them come to? Exciting!
Manipulating the Dice
My starting hand of cards consisted of armor, weapons, skills, and more. Each provided a unique way to interact with the dice, for the dice are a central element!
Combat and skill checks all call for dice. These can be chosen by spending stamina from the same row color, or they might be drawn randomly and then changed up.
I had ways to alter values or even treat some dice as different colors. It was a neat sort of puzzle!
Yet there were some questions about how this might work for me… It was bringing back memories I couldn’t place.
From Character Flaws to Strict Requirements
I figured it out! There were actually a couple of things going on. The idea of placing a die of a specific color and of a set value brought me back to One Deck Dungeon. This is a game about dice manipulation that involves some comparable ideas. It had some bright spots for me, yet I felt utterly helpless to bad luck at just the wrong time.
While I didn’t like it, this is a good example of why it’s important to try new games and figure out your personal preferences. Had I loved it, the dice manipulation here might have been fantastic! Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy it.
Another important element was the specificity. In Roll Player, missed targets mean lower victory points, yet I always like to think of that character’s flaws. It’s an imperfect final assortment of dice, yet a little mini-store always develops! Maybe a trait, like greed, was just a little too much and interfered with that character’s quest to be lawful good.
Although these dice checks could be failed in a way that still pushed the story forward with no sudden loss, it all felt somewhat rigid in a storyline that could take different paths. I wasn’t entirely sure how I would like all of the dice rolls.
The first adventure is designed to be more of a tutorial than a deep story, yet it surprised me with its offerings! I had some choices to make… And even a quick combat!
I’ve always loved the artwork and graphic design in this series, but it started to lose me with the dice outlines.
Take the blue die here. It’s a little hard to see, but the “blue” outline is actually almost purple. I even mixed up black and white when I saw a medium grey outline.
Maybe it was just me, but this visual confusion started to pull me out of the immersion in the story and world.
Then, I experienced a really neat mechanic! I figured the starting map included all of the areas and that was that.
Yet as the story progresses, specific cards are drawn from the discovery deck. These might be items relevant to the area that can unlock doors or lead to more discoveries.
There are even entirely new map locations! A grid system provides a simple way to place each one correctly.
I love anything that gives me a sense of discovery. This was so cool! To be able to uncover new areas on the map and then head off to explore them was simply awesome.
Play Number: 1
Expansion: Roll Player Adventures: Nefras’s Judgement
Solo Mode: Included in the Base Game
Play Details: Adventure 1
This may have been more of an introduction to the system, yet I found myself thrust into the story. The backstories I chose from the expansion also gave me a little connection to one of my first rare items. Aside from my issues with some of the dice-based mechanics, this looked to be an interesting campaign with a great story!
Price & Value
Challenges & Mechanics
Design & Theme
Components & Rules
Achievement & Enjoyment
Distinctness & Randomness
+ Pros (Positives)
- There are decisions to make within the story that affect not just the current adventure, but the whole story arc.
- All of the artwork for the maps, cards, and storybooks is amazing and helps bring the unique world to life.
- Being able to make discoveries through play adds an element of excitement as each new card is flipped over.
- The writing is interesting and interspersed with bits of humor at the right moments to introduce some laughs.
- Multiple options to spend earned experience provide ways to raise card and dice limits, or enhance attributes.
- Everything fits neatly in an organized game box that’s heavy and enormous, yet also very functional for storage.
– Cons (Negatives)
- Combat and skill checks require a lot of work to find the right dice combination, and also take up a lot of time.
- It’s very easy to confuse the color of required dice since black is represented by grey, and blue is more of a purple.
- Writing and erasing keywords from adventure to adventure is a bit tedious, and not as fun as collecting titles.
- The play area can get a bit large and messy with the cards, dice, map, player board, storybook, and more laid out.
Complete the Adventure
- Overall Goal Progress 100% 100%
Goals and Milestones
Complete Adventures 1-10.
Complete the Adventure Finale.
Complete Sidequest 1.
Continue the Conversation
Have you played Roll Player Adventures? What are your favorite things about it? I’m very excited to continue on with my character and see where the story goes with the rest of the storybooks! There appears to be something of a novel here, and being able to experience it with lasting decisions seems awesome. I know what I’ll be playing for the moment!