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All images courtesy of Free League

Ahoy, ye landlubbers and aspiring pirates! Embarking on a journey with Pirate Borg, we dive headfirst into the treacherous waters of the Dark Caribbean, where sea monsters lurk and myths come alive. This pirate RPG, seeping with Lovecraftian horror and naval combat, is no ordinary roleplaying game—it’s an adventure set during the Golden Age of Piracy, promising dark, supernatural escapades.

Set your sails to explore dungeons deep below the taverns, navigate treacherous vessels, and face off against horrific sea monsters. Pirate Borg isn’t just a game; it’s a toolbox for crafting your own legends on the high seas, using the Mork Borg system to fuel tales of mystery, brutality (and rum!), and survival against all odds.

With its roots firmly planted in the Mörk Borg ruleset, Pirate Borg offers a unique blend of eerie tales and turbulent seas, compatible with both the award-winning MÖRK BORG RPG and easily hacked for any tabletop RPG. You don’t need to have played Mörk Borg before, but if you have played, you will see a few familiar mechanics, and some new spins on them. This game, designed for those who dare to sail the haunted seas, is a gateway to untold stories filled with undead mariners and cursed treasures, available for plunder from Free League Publishing.

Core Gameplay and Mechanics

Alright, mates, let’s dive right into the heart of Pirate Borg and talk gameplay and mechanics, the real meat of this pirate feast! Trust me, it’s as juicy as a seared steak on the open sea.

Character Creation: You’ve got a smorgasbord of character classes to pick from – think Brute, Buccaneer, or even a spooky Haunted Soul (more on Haunted Souls later!). Rolling for your pirate’s abilities is a breeze with just a few tables, and before you know it, you’re decked out with starting gear, a weapon, and maybe even a fancy hat. It’s quick, painless, and you’re ready to face death (which happens a lot) in no time.

I think this is a primary strength of Free League. You don’t get bogged down in creating your character like other systems (I’m looking at you AD&D 2nd edition!). This means if you die..well..take a sip and churn another sheet out. It also means you can start newbies with little prep time.

Simple yet vast, character creation is a breeze with random tables guiding ye through attributes, gear, and peculiar flaws. Takes but 10-15 minutes, yet every pirate emerges unique.


Haunted Souls in Pirate Borg

In the world of Pirate Borg, Haunted Souls are spectral entities that inhabit the game’s universe, each with its own unique backstory and abilities. Not only can you encounter Haunted Souls in the game, but you can be one! There are two basic methods for becoming a Haunted Soul:

  1. Create one directly as your first character (GM Willing). If you go this route not only do you pick (or random) your Haunted Soul type (Yes, there are multiple types!) but you also see what class they are. It’s a two-fer!
  2. Create one upon death (GM Willing). When you die, you can come back as the undead! This way will let character play without trying to introduce a whole new pirate to the mix. I see this as a clever mechanic to keep the game flowing and even add more spice into the mix!

In the Navy!!

This reminded me of the difference between versions of Assassin’s Creed. Some of the ship combat design is well thought yet straight forward. I like how the system can be used so you are on a ship (along with all piratey things) but you don’t need to go on a ship to have an adventure. Although, to play Pirate Borg without as much as stepping foot on a ship might end you up in Davey Jones’ locker (the Monkee will feast!)

Naval Combat & Exploration: Ahoy, the real treasure of Pirate Borg! With over a dozen ships at your disposal, you’re set to conquer the seas. Combat is a slick affair, with the captain steering the ship into glory while the crew hustles with their duties. And let’s not forget the thrill of exploring uncharted islands and deciphering treasure maps. The game’s sandbox nature means you’re in for a unique adventure every time you play.

Ship-to-ship combat is a beast of its own. Think miniatures game on the high seas, with hex grids for tracking and character sheets for ships. Aye, your vessel has stats and abilities, making naval encounters a thrilling affair.

The Dread of Ship Combat: Here’s where the rubber meets the road, or rather, where the cannonball meets the ship. Combat is a high-stakes game of rolling d20s for attacks and defenses, with a hefty dose of strategy thrown in during naval battles. Expect to lose a few mates along the way, as character mortality is as common as finding rum at a pirate’s lair. But hey, that’s the life of a pirate, right? High risk, high reward! By the way, there is a modifier used for PC vs Ship, meaning if a player character takes a gun and shoots a ship, not a lot of damage is done. However, if a ship shoots a cannon at a character, well…

We’re out of Rum?! NOOOOO!!!

  • Alchemy, Sea Shanties, and Devil’s Luck (oh my!):
    • Alchemy ain’t just for landlubber wizards; Pirate Borg introduces an alchemy system for concocting potions or maybe even poisons, or even better–Grog n Rum!
    • Sea shanties offer more than a morale boost; they provide mechanical benefits, proving once again that a pirate’s best weapon might just be their voice. Like seriously–there are sea shanties that you have to sing to provide boosts or banes!
    • Lastly, the Devil’s Luck mechanic allows for re-rolling dice, dealing max damage, or dodging critical hits, proving that sometimes, the sea gods do favor the bold (or the lucky).

So, batten down the hatches and prepare for a game that’s as unforgiving as the sea itself but rewarding for those daring enough to embrace its chaos. With Pirate Borg, ye aren’t just playing a game; ye’re living the pirate life, risks and all!

The Sandbox and the Random Gens

Stepping into the world of Pirate Borg, you’re not just dipping your toes into some lukewarm kiddie pool of pirate adventures; oh no, you’re plunging headfirst into the chilling depths of the Dark Caribbean. This ain’t your grandma’s pirate tale, folks. We’re talking a setting so grim, even the bravest of souls might think twice before setting sail. Imagine a world where the Golden Age of Piracy meets a nightmare buffet of undead sailors, cursed riches, and eldritch horrors that would make even Davy Jones lock his locker and throw away the key.

  • The Curse of Skeleton Point & Black Coral Bay Adventures: These aren’t just any old treasure hunts. “The Curse of Skeleton Point” is like the ultimate pirate sandbox, offering nearly 40 pages of challenges, memorable NPCs, and a vibe so hardcore it’ll have you checking under your bed for zombie sailors. And “Black Coral Bay”? Picture this: supernatural beasts, mysterious temples, and an open-world tropical island that’s as inviting as it is deadly. Both adventures serve up a full plate of high-seas hijinks and horror, perfect for both newbies and seasoned pirate RPG veterans.
  • Random Generators Galore: Ever wanted to captain a ship named “The Scurvy Seadog” or find yourself hauling a cargo of, I don’t know, haunted coconuts? Pirate Borg’s got you covered with random generators for vessel class and names, mundane and special cargo, and even plot twists that’ll make M. Night Shyamalan nod in approval. It’s like the game’s saying, “Hey, why settle for a mundane adventure when you can have an epic one?” Plus, with the theater of the mind gameplay, your imagination’s the limit. So, grab your hat, polish your hook, and get ready to face off against hordes of zombie sailors and eldritch terrors in search of Ash, the ultimate pirate prize.

Conclusion and Final Thoughts

Diving into Pirate Borg is akin to setting sail on choppy, monster-infested waters; it’s a whirlwind of high stakes and lurking dangers, blended with a hefty dose of supernatural intrigue. From the riveting character creation to the adrenaline-pumping naval combat and dark, haunting visuals, the game carves out a niche in the RPG realm that’s unmistakably thrilling. It embodies the perilous allure of piracy while wrapping players in a cloak of shadowy tales and cursed treasure. Through every cannon blast and eerie encounter, the game reinforces the grim, yet electric atmosphere of the Dark Caribbean, ensuring that players remain glued to their seats, eyes wide with anticipation.

Did I mention you can grind the bones of the dead and get down with your inner Keith Richards?

What makes Pirate Borg not just an RPG but an immersive experience is its ability to balance the brutality of pirate life with the captivating essence of dark fantasy. The game invites players to not just witness, but partake in a world where every choice could lead to riches or ruin.

In the end, by the powers of the Elder Gods, Pirate Borg does more than just carry the torch from Mörk Borg; it lights up the cannon for a whole new adventure. With its more detailed mechanics and captivating themes, it’s a treasure trove waiting to be explored. So, grab yer compass and set sail into the unknown, for Pirate Borg promises a voyage like no other. Of course, I might be biased since our logo and ratings system would fit right in the game. 4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)



Munchkin Big Box hitting Backerkit!



Hey, Munchkin Maniacs! Ready to level up your game nights? Dive into the ultimate Munchkin experience with the Munchkin Big Box! This collector’s bounty is packed to the brim with over 600 cards decked out in John Kovalic’s iconic art, not to mention the rad new gameboards, standees, and more surprises than you can shake a +1 Sword at!

Here’s the rundown:

  • Playable with 3-6 Players
  • Epic game time of 1-2 Hours
  • Perfect for ages 14+
  • BackerKit steal of $125
Picture courtesy of Steve Jackson Games – Disclaimer: Images Not Final and may change before game release

What you’re getting:

  • A mind-blowing 650+ cards including all your faves and new exclusives
  • A killer box that can hold over 2,000 cards and gear
  • Swanky card separators and dual gameboards for ultimate play
  • Six colorful dice, two Kill-O-Meters, and an updated rulebook to keep things spicy
  • 12 Standies in various colors, standie bases, and a playable bookmark because why not?
  • The cherry on top? A Limited Edition Spyke Enamel Pin and exclusive Munchkin decals!

Since its epic launch in 2001, Munchkin has been slaying at game nights worldwide. Now’s your chance to be part of the legend. Get ready to take a one-way ticket to Munchkin glory, and you need to do is click on to BackerKit and help this bad-boy come alive!

Picture courtesy of Steve Jackson Games – Disclaimer: Images Not Final and may change before game release

So, what are you waiting for? Summon your crew, back ’em on BackerKit, and let’s make the Munchkin Big Box a reality. Your adventure begins now – don’t miss out on the loot, the laughs, and the ultimate betrayal. Back it, unpack it, and start the munchkin madness cuz you KNOW HauntedMTL is up and ready to back!

Picture courtesy of Steve Jackson Games – Disclaimer: Images Not Final and may change before game release

Join the adventure on BackerKit and let’s slay this beast together! 🐉🗡️✨

Click here to back the Munchkin Big Box on BackerKit!

Don’t just play the game, BE the game. Let’s do this, Munchkinheads!


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Let’s! Revolution! @ PAX: Minesweeping Madness



Continuing with video games I got to try out at PAX East, I was delighted to demo Let’s! Revolution! the debut game by developer and publisher BUCK. BUCK has historically been an animation and design studio, notably having worked on Into the Spiderverse and Love, Death, & Robots. Let’s! Revolution! marks their first foray into the world of video game development. I found this so interesting, I spoke to the Creative Director for Let’s! Revolution! on his career and how BUCK navigated that transition (find it here).

Let’s! Revolution! is a roguelike puzzle game inspired by the classic game Minesweeper. In it, you play as one of six heroes fighting their way along the dangerous roads to the capital city. Once there, you can defeat the tyrannical king and save the kingdom from his reign. Released in July of 2023, the game has been met with high praise. Unsurprisingly, this includes the game’s artistic and musical direction (by the team at Antfood), which is both stylistic and beautiful.

Watch the console reveal trailer here for a taste of the delightful animation and music:

I had the opportunity to play a 20 minute demo of Let’s! Revolution! on the PAX East show floor. I played alongside the Creative Director and other people who worked on the game. It’s important to note that this wasn’t long enough to get a feel for all the characters or the replayability of the game. But, it was definitely long enough to be enchanted by the game and the passion of the people who made it. 


The core mechanics are inspired by Minesweeper. The player must use the power of deduction to uncover procedurally generated maze pathways to the exit. However, enemies are hidden along the way and can defeat the player before they reach their goal. Each character has their own special abilities that can help. Items and general abilities can also be bought or discovered to make your hero more powerful. All of these are limited in some way either by energy (your action currency) or limited uses per run.

A screenshot of gameplay from Let’s! Revolution!

From what I played, the gameplay is relatively simple with a mix of chance and strategy. I liked the cozy atmosphere, especially when combined with the ‘high stakes’ mechanics associated with Minesweeper. The UI was easy to understand and interact with while still being cohesive with the storytelling. And of course, the character design is exquisite and narratively driven, with many of the characters presenting as queer. 

Having released on consoles earlier this month (April 2024), Let’s! Revolution! is even easier to access than ever. Let’s! Revolution! is a perfect game for those who love cozy roguelites and beautiful (queer) aesthetics. I definitely recommend it for fans of roguelites looking to try something fresh. Look for it anywhere you game!

4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

Check out my other PAX posts here!

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Interview with Creative Director Michael Highland: Let’s! Revolution! @ PAX



Another game I had the chance to play at PAX East was, Let’s! Revolution!, a Minesweeper-inspired roguelite puzzle game by animation (and now game) studio, BUCK. I talk more about the game itself in another post. Here, I wanted to highlight the conversation I had with Michael Highland, the Creative Director for Let’s! Revolution! and his journey through video game development.

How did you become involved in video game development?

I studied digital media design in college; this was before there were many programs dedicated to game development. After graduating, I self-published a mobile game called Hipster City Cycle with friends. Over the next few years, I slowly got more freelance work as a game designer, and eventually landed a full-time role at thatgamecompany working on the follow-up to their 2012 GOTY Journey. I worked my way up there and was eventually the Lead Designer on Sky: Children of the Light. Working at thatgamecompany opened a lot of doors professionally. I eventually wound up at BUCK, where I saw the opportunity to help establish a new game studio within a very vibrant existing creative culture.

What has been the most challenging aspect of the development process?


Each studio has its own unique issues based on the people involved. There are commonalities like the need to fight feature creep and building consensus around ideas early in the process when all you have is an abstract grey box prototype to react to. At BUCK the biggest challenge has been channeling the abundance of creative energy and talent into a shippable product. There’s a ton of enthusiasm for games within the company, and without clear product-centric goals (who is the target audience, what platform are we releasing on, what’s the marketing strategy), projects have the tendency to spiral out of scope. Another challenge has been building credibility with publishers. BUCK has an amazing pedigree for animation and design, maybe the best in the world, but when we initially pitched ideas to publishers, they all said the same thing: looks great, but until you’ve shipped a game, you’re too high-risk. That’s what led to us self-publishing Let’s! Revolution! Now that we have a well-reviewed game out in the wild, I feel confident we’ll have more luck with publishers. 

BUCK primarily has its roots in animation, what led the decision to start branching into video game development?

It started with a general excitement about the medium and a desire among the staff to work on a game. Leadership at BUCK is all about providing the staff with exciting creative opportunities, and getting to work on a game, is, for some, a creative dream come true. And putting BUCK content out in the world is a point of pride and a boost to morale. From a business perspective, the fact we can staff out game projects with the top animation and design talent in the world is a huge advantage. We’re already starting to see new opportunities for the service side of the business based on the success of Let’s! Revolution! 

The art, unsurprisingly, is delightful. What were some of the priorities during the character design process and how did those influence the final hero designs?

Our Art Director Emily Suvanvej really led the charge on the look of the game. There are obvious influences like Studio Ghibli, Moebius, and Steven Universe. My shared goal with Emily was to make something together that reflected the diversity of the team’s artistic and lived experiences. The artists put so much love into the character designs and animation, it really shows. 


Some of the primary game mechanics take inspiration from Minesweeper, what was the process like to create your own interpretation of those classic mechanics?

This article goes into depth on this topic. The TLDR is that we took a very iterative approach, at each stage trying to identify what was working about the prototype and lean into that. The initial game concept came together relatively quickly in part because our goal for this project was just to finish a game. We just focused on what was good and kept building on it. I wouldn’t say the final game is “perfect” – but we wound up with a much bigger and higher quality experience than I expected by not letting perfectionism get in the way of making good better. 

Is there anything else you would like to plug or that you think is important for people to know about Let’s! Revolution! or other upcoming projects?

The music and sound design for the game is stellar. We worked with a creative audio company called Antfood and they knocked it out of the park. The audio got an honorable mention from IGF, which I think is extra impressive because most of the other games were audio-centric titles with some unusual hook to the sound design. For the OST, Antfood reworked all of the music from the game into a continuous flow, like a concept album. It’s so good. I love working with them.

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