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And it’s time for Fatal Frame 5: Second Drop! I have all my fingers, falanges, and fangs crossed that this chapter is a good one. So far, it’s been a bit of a slow burn. And while that’s not unusual for a Fatal Frame game, I’m so ready for the training wheels to come off!

Since there are so many character names, here’s a list of all relevant names this chapter:

  • Yuri Kozukata – Our play character this drop. She’s an orphan rescued from suicide by Hisoka, who can see “spirit traces”, like Hisoka. She’s in possession of the Camera Obscura, the camera that can combat ghosts. She also makes questionable decisions.
  • Hisoka Kurosawa – Yuri’s mentor who runs an antique shop. She also reads fortunes and finds missing items and people by following spirit traces.
  • Fuyuhi Himino – A new character who is looking for her missing friend on Mt. Hikami
  • Haruka Momose – Fuyuhi’s missing friend who was seen on Mt. Hikami.
  • Ren Hojo – An acquaintance of Hisoka who asked her to find a photobook in the abandoned inn.

A text card provides context about where the second drop starts:

A few days have passed since Yuri’s introduction to shadow reading at the abandoned inn…

Since then, Hisoka has gone off somewhere and hasn’t returned. Yuri worries for Hisoka, but isn’t sure how or where to start searching.


As she sits waiting at the antiques shop, a girl named Fuyuhi Himinio shows up, claiming to have enlisted Hisoka to help her find a missing person.”

Yuri, looking exceptionally bored, sits behind the counter of an antique shop drenched in sepia tones. It’s been days since she’s seen Hisoka, who left to research a client request. The antique shop is quiet and has been for quite some time.

But a bell chimes and Fuyuhi enters.

Fatal Frame 5 Second Drop, introduces Fuyuhi.
Love the bob.

Fuyuhi seems soft-spoken and gentle and incredibly sad, and I have nothing but bad feelings about her. She just feels like someone who has a tragic fate waiting for them.

Fuyuhi tells Yuri that she’s been waiting for Hisoka’s answer about whether or not Hisoka can find her missing friend, Haruka. But when Yuri doesn’t have the answer, Fuyuhi resolves to go to Mt. Hikami to find her friend… alone. Despite its reputation as a suicide destination.

Before Yuri can speak any sense into her, Fuyuhi is gone, determined to find Haruka herself. But Yuri’s moved by Fuyuhi’s case, and decides to investigate Hisoka’s room to see if there’s any clues about the missing Haruka.


Leaving the shop, we go into the back office. There, we find a book that provides a bit of lore about Mt. Hikami. And I can’t resist a nice bit of lore.

Mt. Hikami has always been a famed ghost spot and is also home to the “Maidens of Black Water”. Women who, if you see them, will surely lead you to your death. Those caught in the maidens’ gaze will never leave the mountain. And those who die on Mt. Hikami, but don’t die in accordance with “local practices” become cursed and are forced to relive their final moments for eternity.

If you see either a looping spirit or a Maiden of Black, you’ll desperately want to take your own life.

Or so the rumors go.

It doesn’t sound like a place you should go by yourself. Or maybe at all.


Upstairs, in Hisoka’s cozy room, Yuri finds a letter and an attached photo from Fuyuhi. In it, Fuyuhi and Haruka smile happily.

This is the token Yuri needs to find Haruka.

But why would see risk everything, after all Hisoka’s warnings, to chase after someone who’s likely been spirited away?

Mikomori Hot Springs

The sun sinks behind Mt. Hikami, but Yuri makes the walk to Mikomori Hot Springs on the mountain. She clasps the photo of Fuyuhi and Haruka, hopeful that it will lead her to Fuyuhi before things go terribly wrong.


She crosses the bridge beside the abandoned inn, and see the first trace of a spirit, climbing up moss covered stairs. It’s possible it’s Fuyuhi, but at the distance it’s hard to tell. She climbs up the stairs and sees the trace again.

It’s Fuyuhi! We’re on the right track, she definitely went this way. And yet I have nothing but feelings of foreboding.

An item lies on the ground beside a small creek, and we reach to pick it up. But the moment we do a hand grabs us, forcing us to violently struggle out of its grip. Even though these grabby hands are a staple of Fatal Frame, it’s a jump scare that absolutely got me. I’m more nervous than I’d like to be to finally be on this mountain.

Yuri breaks free and claims the item — a tourist brochure of Mt. Hikami, which includes a map. How useful! It turns out we’re on our way to the Pool of Purification, and if we continue onward we’ll reach the Unfathomable Forest.

What a… charming name for a tourist spot.


As we pass close to a waterfall, we get a little wet, and we’re introduced to the “wetness meter” aspect of the game. The wetter we are, the easier a target we’ll be for malevolent spirits. That makes sense, when you consider how spirits and water are often tied together in Japanese folklore.

Above us a woman screams, and we see a dark shadow fall as she plunges down the waterfall. Yuri scarcely reacts – did she even see it?

At the end of the path, we find a pool of water, roped off. No doubt this is the Pool of Purification. It’s clearly a ceremonial place. But within it we find Hisoka’s camera obscura. That’s not a good sign.

It was swept her by the currents and caught in the shallows of the pool. So, Hisoka must be here on this mountain, alone and unarmed.

Two spirits lumber out of the pool before we can contemplate the severity of the sitation. They’re much more aggressive than the spirit in the inn. But they go down easily enough, and Yuri is left standing with the camera in her hands.


Hisoka is here, but so is Fuyuhi. We need to find her first.

We reach the top of the cliff, where the waterfall begins, and see the spirit of a woman standing atop it. She screams – the exact same scream we heard below, and leaps, plunging to her death in the waters below.

Fatal Frame 5 Second Drop, the woman in white, just before she plunges off the cliff.
Her scream sounds so terrified.

Is this one of the looping spirits written about in Hisoka’s book about Mt. Hikami? A spirit cursed to repeat its final moments for all eternity? What a terrible way to go.

We turn and reach a fork in the path, indicating that we’re close to the unfathomable forest. We turn left and see a spirit trace of Fuyuhi. On the ground is a note she’s left behind. Has Haruka been spirited away, Fuyuhi wonders?

At this point, yes. I think it’s safe to say she has been.

We follow the trace deeper into the woods. Stone lanterns have been lit, but instead of being comforting, the flames only add to the feeling that we’re somewhere we shouldn’t be. Who lit all these lanterns in a place that is supposedly abandoned?


We delve deeper into the woods and find a crumpled note. The writer states that he’s seen the same girl hang herself over and over. But whenever he tries stop running he winds up right back where he started. Then, he stated he start to mimic her, hanging himself. But that death took a long time to come. And yet when he awakes, it all starts again.

A looping spirit watching a looping spirit. But it’s interesting that ghosts can write notes.

We find Fuyuhi again, her back to us like always. But her trace ends here.

But where she was standing is a note – and it’s one written with desperation, love, and a more than a smidge of darkness. Fuyuhi states that she wishes she was the one that disappeared. That Haruka is irreplaceable to her. And that she has a secret she wishes she’d told her before Haruka vanished, and that she wishes they could end things together.

Is this letter influenced by Mt. Hikami, which seems to drive people to self-destruction? Or does this truly reflect Fuyuhi’s heart? It’s hard to tell.

Fatal Frame 5 Second Drop, chasing Fuyuhi through the Unfathomable Forest.
Fuyuhi is looking… particularly ghostly here.

Yuri uses the note to try and pick up Fuyuhi’s trace again, but the moment she glances up a hanged woman is staring down at her. The hanged woman vanishes, and Yuri’s set upon by a gang of ghostly men.

They’re dispatched easily enough.

A little deeper into the woods and we find an old, abandoned tent, with a note peeking out of its entrance. The tent belongs to a man who came to the woods to die. It feels right, he says, and he isn’t lonely. There are plenty of people here who are already dead.

But one woman is watching him. A woman in white. And he knows that one day she’ll come for him.

It’s worth it to stray off the beaten path to find spots like these. The lore is what makes the Fatal Frame series so rich, and there’s so many items to find. It’s better to find them during the drop then spend your hard-earned points on them!  

Not too far from the tent we find a series of small Jizo statues arranged around an air hole. A low howl of wind comes from the hole. This, Yuri infers, is a place of some significance. Perhaps later on we’ll find out what that significance is. But Fuyuhi is waiting, and we leave this mossy nook to find her.


We cross a bridge, and arrive at a shrine. There again we catch the trace of Fuyuhi.

But I hate this shrine. I hate everything about it.

Fatal Frame 5: Second Drop, the doll shrine.
Why are there so many??

It’s a shrine dedicated to dolls.

Why would anyone come here? Seriously, why?

And don’t they look a little TOO similar to the one in the abandoned inn? The one who turned to stare at us?

Another note of Fuyuhi’s has been discarded here. In it, she reminisces about Haruka. I really think she must be in love with her. But the moment we drop the note we’re treated to a child ghost. The Girl Watching from Behind.

Fatal Frame 5: Second Drop, A child ghost watches from the front of the shrine.
I didn’t even notice the other two ghosts initially.

She’s undoubtedly connected to this doll shrine. She and her staring companions don’t do anything but stare, and I’m grateful for that. I hate ghost children.

But as we try and recatch Fuyuhi’s trace, we’re beset by another spirit. He’s alone and easy enough to take down.

Yuri searches a little farther and sees a woman plunge to her death from a cliff, hitting the ground. Snapping her photo is tough, but when we grab it, we see that it says “Pushed Woman”. A note beside where her body fell is titled “Apparent Suicide Note” and says: I can die alone here. I can take things slowly. A peaceful, dignified death.

Someone thought she was taking a little too long, I suppose.

But just a bit beyond that is Fuyuhi. The real Fuyuhi. Yuri calls to her, but she seems to be on a trance. She murmurs that she’s certain Haruka is here on this mountain. But when Yuri lays a hand on Fuyuhi’s shoulder her mind is flooded with a vision.

Five school girls, standing hand-in-hand in a pond, wading deeper into it, as if they mean to drown. Then, only Haruka and Fuyuhi, lying in the ponds shallows. They were the only two to survive a group suicide attempt.

They’re the only two who survive. This is a really suicide-heavy game.

The vision ends, and Yuri understands the deep connection the two girls share. She promises Fuyuhi that she’ll find Haruka. Fuyuhi, placated for now, follows her.

We find another note on the ground from a person who says they felt compelled to come to this mountain before sunset, and sink into its waters, where a woman calls for them. But they have to sink before sunset. And they have to write. It didn’t matter what they wrote – only that they did it.

It’s nice to have a reason for the absolute scrapbook of notes we’re finding everywhere.

But who’s calling these people, and for what reason? Is this woman the reason why Mt. Hikami has a reputation for spiriting people away?

Another writer of a different note seems to have encountered the same woman. But he seems to think she was a shrine maiden, and he was happy she was there to watch his final moments.

A little farther and we’re attacked by a ghost who seems unlike the others. She’s almost… familiar. She wears a dress, and she seems lost, maybe confused? We exorcise her, but the moment Yuri touches her, we’re faced with the woman’s memory.


She was in the woods and saw someone jump from a cliff. But the broken body got up and chased her until she reached the cliff overlooking the waterfall. And it was there that the terrifying, broken ghost pushed her. The confused woman was the very first ghost we saw here – and now she’s cursed to run and fall off that waterfall forever.

We draw back towards the doll shrine, and the children are here. Now they want to play, but every time they lay hands on you, you take damage. They’re mischievous, fast, and utterly annoying.

We exorcise and touch The Girl Watching from Behind and see her memory. She and the other children were lured by a girl with white hair further into the mountain. The same girl in Ren Hojo’s dream, who was stabbed in the back and pushed into the black box.

Once the fight is done, we find Hisoka’s pendant by the river. Touching it, we see a vision of Hisoka fighting in the water, only to be pulled under by a ghostly woman. The camera obscura floats away, and Hisoka is nowhere to be seen.

Fuyuhi vanishes and there’s someone singing nearby. But a strange, off-kilter song.


“Play with me forever. I will always remember you. I know I’ll remember you. Forever and ever—”

We follow it to find Fuyuhi, standing across the river, a blade in hand. As she sings, she raises the blade to her own neck and the song abruptly cuts off. When Yuri brings herself to look again Fuyuhi is gone.

No, she’s not gone.

She’s right behind her.

This is one of the most famous images of the game! I saw this image and knew I was definitely going to buy Fatal Frame 5.

Her neck is scarlet, as is the front of her dress. And her head lolls in a strange, disjointed way. She lunges, and here comes the boss fight.

You exorcise her and she turns to her unbloodied self, collapsing to the ground. Yuri touches her, and again Fuyuhi’s memories flood into her.


Fuyuhi sees a blade on the ground and picks it up. A few yards away, she sees a spirit cutting its own throat.

As if her hand is being controlled by someone else, Fuyuhi puts the blade against her own neck, mimicking the spirit, and she struggles desperately against it. Behind her, we see the spirit that had cut its own throat with a vice on Fuyuhi’s hand, trying to force the blade against Fuyuhi’s skin.

Fatal Frame 5: Second Drop, Fuyuhi struggles against a spirit
So not everyone here chooses to die. It’s forced on them.

In the mist Fuyuhi sees Haruka — or what she thinks is Haruka. And in her surprise her resolve loosens and the spirit takes control, forcing Fuyuhi to cut her own throat. But the spirit that was watching her wasn’t Haruka at all. Rather, a woman wearing a veil. The woman, perhaps, described in so many notes. This woman watches Fuyuhi die.

The memory fades but the woman who watched Fuyuhi die doesn’t. And now she has her sights set on Yuri.  

Fatal Frame 5: Second Drop, A black maiden!!
“You’ve seen too much. You can’t leave the mountain. You will dissolve into nothing.”

This woman, a spirit, is our tutorial in being “tainted”. Some ghost attacks can leave us tainted by the Black Water. While tainted our health continuously decreases. Only by purifying ourselves or defeating all present ghosts can we cure this status effect.

This fight is challenging because of the status effect, but we defeat her. She kneels, and we perform the fatal glance, glimpsing her memories.


A man flees a woman who seems intent on killing him. Is this mad woman the woman we exorcised? No matter who it is, Yuri is certain that she’s the one who brought Fuyuhi here. The one who made her kill herself.

Where does that leave us? Empty-handed, traumatized, without our only mentor and friend. Yuri can only retreat to the antique shop and try to regroup.


Well! Fatal Frame 5 Second Drop is certainly the best part of the game so far. The atmosphere is spot on. Fatal Frame is a series that has always prided itself in grounding its games in Japanese environments and it’s done so perfectly with this drop.

It’s also done a much better job introducing us to new mechanics while also allowing us to practice the basics. I never felt too overwhelmed with fights, either in number or difficulty.

The only true critique I can give is that the level felt flat at times. While it’s great that they created an in-game rationale for why there are so many notes, it sometimes felt too much. But I enjoyed the ability to see the backstory of some the more memorable ghosts.


Overall I had a great time. I’m glad I stuck through it.  

4 out of 5 Cthulhu heads! Not a perfect score, but pretty gosh darn good!

Completion Time: 2 hours, approximately


Into the Odd Remastered: an Ethereal Steampunk TTRPG



“Fallen cities are adorned with statues of star-beings, cultists manifest their fervour into reality, and belligerent unions prepare for a cosmic invasion. Familiar landscapes are overrun by strange weeds, corrosive mists creep in from the sea, and jet black mountains watch from the horizon. This odd world has been affected by beings stranger than we can imagine.” -pg 4, INto the odd remastered: introduction

Into the Odd Remastered is an update of the 2014 role-playing game of the same name. Written by Chris McDowall and sold by Free League Publishing, the rules-lite tabletop roleplaying game asks you to place yourself in a world long ago ravaged by cosmic horrors. The general atmosphere comes across as dark steampunk though there is room for plenty of genres to intermingle.

The rules are relatively simple. Characters have four stats; Strength, Will, Dexterity, and HP. Strength, Will, and Dexterity start as a value between 3 and 18, as determined by rolling 3d6. During the game, players roll a D20 versus their stats, attempting to roll lower than the value in order to succeed. Many effects damage the stats as well as the HP value. Additionally, all attacks always hit, with rolls being used just to determine damage.

The rules can fit on a single page as evidenced by the handy Into the Odd cheat sheet made by garkia19. As a note, this cheat sheet has some minor typos. For example, characters don’t have a Charisma score. However, I found it incredibly helpful to use as a reference while I played Into the Odd. Another great resource was Søren Nøhr Ryborg’s The Odd Generator, which auto generates characters for Into the Odd. Since we were just trying out the system, both these resources made it really easy to jump in without my players needing to read the whole rule book.

A screenshot from the Into the Odd character generator by Søren Nøhr Ryborg (LINK).

A general shoutout to Owlbear Rodeo, a free virtual tabletop software, David Wilson’s 2-minute tabletop token library, and Kenku FM for their role in creating an immersive gaming environment.

The Player Experience

The Into the Odd rulebook, in addition to rules, also contains a sample dungeon. It was this dungeon that I ran for a party of three adventurers. They found the system to be easy to understand, however, coming from more rules heavy systems they often felt like they weren’t doing enough. For example, they wanted to roll dice more often. However, they still had fun crafting a narrative and working with each other.


The Gamemaster Experience

I was in love with the idea of Into the Odd. An accessible, low barrier RPG with a splash of steampunk and cosmic horror. What’s not to love? But I found the Into the Odd system left a little to be desired. In particular, combat doesn’t feel particularly difficult or interesting. Since players always go first and everyone always does damage, it meant my party of three people were able to dispatch any enemy before it could hurt them. Skill checks felt like they had the opposite problem. None of my players could succeed in a skill check because their stats were so low. This meant that the tension was removed from both combat and skill checks. Playing the dungeon and rules as written, I didn’t feel as if I had the mechanical or narrative tools to rectify either issue.

The dungeon itself was a bit drab. I loved the art and ideas behind it, but there wasn’t much content. A smaller, more detailed dungeon would have been easier to run and better received by my players than a large, sparse dungeon. I also wished for far more traps. While I recognize I could have populated the dungeon myself, I often don’t expect to finish a dungeon myself when given one to run.

Into the Odd Rulebook Sample Dungeon (page 75)

Outside of the sample dungeon, there is not much content for the gamemaster to work with. If I wanted to start running my own Into the Odd games there are very few monster, trap, and loot examples so I would have to come up with everything myself. This is not the end of the world, however, I personally like to have more content than what was provided to start doing my own adaptations. If I were to try this system again, I would want to use it for a heist narrative over a dungeon crawl. 


The Into the Odd rulebook provides the skeleton for a rules-lite RPG adventure, however it fails to add any meat to the bones. The result is an RPG that requires far more work for a gamemaster than the rules-lite exterior would indicate. This is not inherently negative, however could be surprising given the game’s pitch. If you are looking for a new system to tinker around with, this could be a great next purchase! 3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)

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Disco Elysium – A Reflection




Disco Elysium is a role-playing video game released in 2019. It was developed and published by ZA/UM under the lead of Robert Kurvitz. The Final Cut was released in 2020 featuring full voice acting and new content. It is available to play on PC and console.

The game cover for Disco Elysium The Final Cut. It shows two men standing next to each other. One holds a flashlight and the other holds a gun.
Cover art for Disco Elysium: The Final Cut

Disco Elysium is a weird game. I have been playing video games, especially RPGs, for most of my life and I can confidently say this game is an outlier. Instead of a focus on combat, the game is written almost entirely around skill checks and dialogue trees. While that alone isn’t enough to make the game a stand-out, it is the fact that a vast majority of the dialogue trees occur as your own internal monologue which sets it apart.

Who Are You?

A screengrab from Disco Elysium. It is a blurry watercolor image showing the faint hint of a man's face with a red nose.
No really, *who* are you?

There are 24 different skills split across the four categories of intellect, psyche, physique and motorics. You of course have the more traditional skills such as Logic, Empathy, Endurance and Perception. But there’s also more elusive skills, like Esprit de Corps which determines how connected to your home police precinct you are.

After all, you are a police officer in town to solve a murder. It’d certainly help things if you hadn’t drank so much that you absolutely ruined your memory (among several relationships in town). “What kind of cop are you?” the tagline reads. You get to decide because you cannot remember who you once were.

This isn’t a review about Disco Elysium in the traditional sense. Because Disco Elysium ended up being far more than just a game to me. I found myself relating to the main character (whose name in and of itself is a spoiler) far more than I ever should have. He doesn’t know how to be human – and for the most part neither do I.

What Makes You?

A screengrab from Disco Elysium showing internal dialogue and skill checks.
An example of internal dialogue and skill checks in Disco Elysium

As you play through the surrealist dream that is the setting of Revachol, interactions with the townspeople can be tedious processes. The entire time, you are in constant dialogue with yourself trying to figure out the right thing to say. Logic makes some good points, but Electro-Chemistry says I should forget about all of this and go get wasted because Empathy just chimed in and told me I hurt this woman’s feelings with my failed attempt at Rhetoric.

The first time I played Disco Elysium felt like an awakening. No game has ever so accurately managed to tap into the types of conversations I have with myself daily. No game has ever so accurately managed to tap into the sheer shame and self-degradation I endure when I mess up a social situation.


Luckily, in video games there is this neat trick called save scumming. It is when you save the game before important decision making, and if things don’t go the way you’d like you simply re-load the save and try again. There is seemingly nothing better than doing something over differently and a new part of your brain chiming in to say, “Damn, that felt *good*. Your heart is pounding nicely. You should tell people to fuck off more often.”

What Breaks You?

A screengrab from Disco Elysium showing a bombed-out city statue.
The environment is almost as much of a mess as you.

In real life, there is no save scumming. There is no going back in time to give yourself a do-over. I think that is why RPGs speak to me so strongly in general. I can slip into the skin of a new character and failure never has to be an option. The sinking pit of shame only has to last as long as the game takes to reload.

Disco Elysium feels like a game built on shame, guilt and redemption. Probably because it is a game built on shame, guilt and redemption. My entire life has felt like a game built on shame, guilt and redemption. I’ve gone through like the protagonist – bumbling and trying so hard to pick the correct option in the dialogue tree and only realizing moments too late that I chose the wrong one. My only reward, like his, is a stream of insults hurled at me by my own brain.

Of course, I learned nearly two years after my first play-through that I am autistic. It turns out, most people do not constantly have dialogue trees of pre-scripted responses popping up in their head when they speak to others. They can just… have conversation? With my diagnosis came a lot of soul searching and an equivalent amount of therapy.

What Heals You?

A screengrab from Disco Elysium depicting two men sitting on a swing set in a snowy environment.
The protagonist takes a respite with his partner.

However, it turns out, my diagnosis and the resulting psychology bills shifted the way I play RPGs in a way I didn’t realize until I picked Disco Elysium back up for another playthrough. As I load into the opening scene hotel, I walk away from the first skill check knowing I won’t pass it. The first time I played, I probably re-did that skill check ten times alone before I got the result I wanted.

As I exit the hotel room to encounter the next character, I’m open and honest with them about the fact I cannot remember anything. I previously ran through that conversation five times trying to convince them that I was normal and that everything was fine with me (despite the obvious indications otherwise).

It took me an embarrassingly long time to realize I wasn’t save scumming. Something inside of me had clicked into place. It was a new feeling replacing the insane urge to “get it right.” I stopped focusing on how to play correctly and realized that there is no way to play correctly.


I have my skills and I can use what skills I have to solve the problem, even if it isn’t the conventional or correct way. There is no sense in trying to shove a square solution into a circular problem.

What is Next?

A screengrab from Disco Elysium showing the protagonist's revealed face.
Don’t be too afraid to look in the mirror.

I realized that it’s ok to get things wrong, it’s ok to admit you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s ok to ask your partner for help when you’re terrified they’re just going to laugh at you. More importantly, I learned that in Disco Elysium and life that it’s ok to walk away from things until you have the needed skills to go back. And you don’t need to feel guilty about it.

The first time I played – I immediately reloaded when Drama chimed in to tell me “This may have been a *grave* mistake, sire.” This current playthrough I sat firm in my decision and finally got to hear Volition’s response: “Maybe. Maybe not. Mercy is rarely a *complete* mistake.”

My rating for Disco Elysium: 5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

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Dune – Adventures in the Imperium: Gen Con Review



“A debt owed. A missing heir. A new cult rising in the desert. Trapped between an ageless prophecy and sensitive politics, a delicate path must be walked. What is the truth? With whom will you stand?” Introduction, Time Becomes A Narrow Door by Modiphius Entertainment

August 3rd through 6th I had the absolute delight of attending Gen Con, as they like to say,The Best Four Days in Gaming™. It is an enormous gaming convention, primarily focused on tabletop gaming and filled with vendors, events, workshops, and anything else you can think of. 

While at Gen Con, I was able to sit down and play Dune: Adventures in the Imperium by Modiphius Entertainment. Modiphius is known for their 2D20 RPGS such as Achtung! Cthulhu, Star Trek Adventures, and the Fallout RPG. They also carry some familiar items such as the Bladerunner RPG and the Tales From the Loop Board Game. As a well-regarded publisher with great titles, I was excited to check out how they made the Dune universe immersive.

Dune: Adventures in the Imperium, like many of Modiphius’s RPGs, utilizes the 2D20 system. Each character has Skills and Drives that are added together in a given situation to produce a target skill value. In order to succeed on a test, a player must roll below that skill value. Players roll 2d20 by default, but can spend a luck currency, called momentum, to add additional dice and/or activate their special abilities. More information about how to play can be found in the Modiphius-recommended video below.

‘World of Game Design’ Teaches how to play Dune: Adventures in the IMperium

Playing the Game

I played the scenario Time Becomes a Narrow Door, with a table full of players new to Modiphius’s system. We used the pre-generated characters available in the Dune Quickstart Guide, which is available for free on Modiphius’s website. I’ve included two sample pre-generated characters from the free Quickstart Guide for reference. All six re available through the official Quickstart Guide. Worth noting, the Quickstart Guide also includes the scenario Wormsign to help get you started, which we did not play. 


In Time Becomes a Narrow Door, we were members of a small house trying our best to garner favor, help our rivals, maintain our morals, and make sure we still came out on top. Our main task was to convince the son of another house to return from his spiritual journey. Our table had a lot of silly energy, so we named ourselves House Montana, with our patriarch being Lord Billy Ray Cyrus. Of course, bad southern accents abounded. We had a blast bouncing off each other and making the world our own. Big props to the person running the game for making it such an enjoyable and accessible experience. 

The system was a lot of fun! It was easy to build an environment where collaborative wins were rewarding. The system prioritizes collaborative storytelling as well as mutual success or destruction. Therefore, it was easy to treat everyone at the table’s rolls as meaningful and contributing to the betterment of the house. I also loved the mechanic of building our own house. We only did a small amount of this in our session, but by reskinning House Atreides to be our own small house, we felt a lot more ownership over the assets, favors, and enemies we were gaining.

An image from page 9 of the Dune: Adventures in the Imperium Quickstart Guide

My one caution is that we didn’t do a lot of combat. There was only one fight, and we let it be a duel. As this is a part of the game we didn’t experience much of, I can’t really speak on how robustly the system handles that kind of conflict. My initial impressions point towards combat lacking some mechanics. However, I only got a small introduction. 

If you are a fan of Dune, check out the Dune: Adventures in the Imperium Quickstart Guide! While I cannot rate the system as a whole, the experience was definitely worth its time! Try Time Becomes a Narrow Door yourself, or just check out the Quickstart Guide.

4.8 out of 5 stars (4.8 / 5)

Find more of my Gen Con 2023 shenanigans here.

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