I’m on a study project to improve my understanding of roleplaying games. To this end, I already have two reading projects, A Game Per Year and An Adventure Per Year. This is the third, with the goal of reading or playing 52 games made in the last few years. Originally I considered making this “A New RPG Per Week” and that’s where the number 52 comes from, even though a weekly schedule is probably not within my abilities.
Terror of the Stratosfiend is a scifi fantasy roleplaying game supplement published in zine format. The version I read was compatible with the OSR game Troika!, but there’s also another version for Dungeon Crawl Classics.
The quick, snappy format is welcome after reading so many “big book” roleplaying games. There’s nothing extraneous in Terror of the Stratosfiend. It’s essentially a setting hack using an existing game as a base. It presents a scifi setting in which portals drop a bunch of fiends on unsuspecting humanity.
Following its minimalist OSR presentation, the zine focuses on the essentials: It has new character types (Stratosfiend Magistrate Gladiatrix), items (Twitching Carapace) and creatures (Goliath Birth-Engine). It doesn’t really tell you what to do with any of these. I’m assuming that knowledge comes from the play culture the zine is from.
In style, Terror of the Stratosfiend follows the OSR trend of coupling simple, traditional mechanics with bizarre concepts and rhetoric. Troika! is a good match because of the OSR games I’ve red, it definitely goes furthest in flat out surrealism. Although Terror of the Stratosfiend has a different feel to it, Troika!’s chaotic style fits its content.
As a physical item, Terror of the Stratosfiend is quite pleasing. Its plentifully illustrated, using visuals to convey a lot of mood and atmosphere.