Surveying the Vaults of Vaarn

In case you aren’t keyed into the broader tabletop RPG universe, there’s something of an Old-School Revival or Renaissance (henceforth OSR) going on. Many RPG gamers are looking towards the past, to the RPG heydays of the 70s and 80s, to draw inspiration for the future of tabletop games. And what, exactly, does this imply? Well, the members of the OSR aren’t always sure themselves, but it’s typically a broader focus on player agency and dungeon crawling, increased risk of character death, and reduced focus on pre-written plots. The gamemaster of an OSR game is once again an impartial referee, whose role is to simply mediate the world that the players explore in a sandbox style. “Rulings, not rules” is a common refrain – instead of having granular rulesets that explore every possible corner-case, OSR games prefer lighter and simpler rules, giving the gamemaster the final say on what is and isn’t permissible. 

But what I like about the OSR scene is the incredible bulk of content for it. There’s a lot, and I mean a lot, of really fantastic OSR blogs, zines, and books out in the world filled to the brim with imaginative and wild settings. One of these settings is Vaults of Vaarn, a pay-what-you-want zine by author Leo Hunt A.K.A. graculusdroog on itch.io.

I downloaded Vaults of Vaarn on a lark, looking for more interesting RPG content to consume, and found myself blown away. Hunt emphasizes strongly his influences, naming Dune, Hyperion, and The Book of the New Sun, as well as the art of Moebius. He says it’s fine if you’re not familiar with these works, because it’ll “make his theft seem original.” Well, I’m not familiar with any of these works (aside from the art of Moebius), and Vaarn seems pretty damn original to me. So original, in fact, I thought I’d do a little review of it, just because it’s got me so jazzed.

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The best part of The Elder Scrolls is reading books – ranked

The Elder Scrolls is probably one of the deepest and most involved video games in history when it comes to terms of scope. With five games in the main series, a bevvy of side-games, and a full-fledged MMO, it’s hard to imagine a similar series coming out that would have so much content. But the best part of The Elder Scrolls isn’t just the games themselves; it’s the incredibly rich lore the game’s setting provides. The fandom of The Elder Scrolls have debated for decades over the lore of this series, coming up with hundreds of outlandish theories, some of them even supported by the devs themselves in the long run.

One of the best features of The Elder Scrolls, in our opinion, is the massive quantity of in-game books that are available to read. Yes, you can read full-fledged books in The Elder Scrolls, just for fun! Some of them have tangible in-game benefits (primarily leveling up your skills, as the story of the book might include a scene relevant to combat or adventuring), but a huge number of them simply exist to be read. These books provide the bulk of the game’s inexhaustible lore, going over minor details of the cosmology, small scenes from history, or in-game works of fiction designed to entertain the imaginary inhabitants of Tamriel.

In our time as fans of The Elder Scrolls, we’ve collected our personal top five books inside The Elder Scrolls. We’re ranking these by personal preference alone, by how entertaining and readable each one is, and how engrossing we found its story. There’s much richer lore to be found in many other books, but if you want a good read, we think these top five are a great way to get into the universe of Elder Scrolls fiction.

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We rank every Rainbow Road from every Mario Kart game

When a person thinks of Mario Kart, it’s very likely the first course they think of is Rainbow Road. Every Mario Kart game has come with Rainbow Road, the most difficult track at the very end of the final cup of the game. The Rainbow Road in each game is always a memorable track, but not all Rainbow Roads are created equal.

We’re taking it upon ourselves to rank all eight Rainbow Roads from worst to best, as according to our whims. The following rank is our opinion, and we don’t expect you to agree with it, but just know that we’re always right about everything. So hit the jump, and ride the rainbow road with us…

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We deem Hylics 2 the weirdest game of 2020

Hylics 2 is a JRPG-style game made by Mason Lindroth and released on June 22, 2020.

Hylics 2 was probably our most-anticipated game in many, many years. The first Hylics is one of our top games of all time, and the announcement that there would be a sequel in 2018 lit a fire under us. Mason Lindroth had been posting teasers since 2016, assuredly having begun work on Hylics 2 shortly after the first game was finished, but being able to piece together that his new work was for a greater purpose showed that Hylics 2 was going to be something massive.

The game was initially given a Summer 2019 release date – a date that Mason admitted was overly optimistic – and the wait continued on. Now it’s Summer 2020, and Hylics 2 is finally in our hands. 

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