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 ON DYSTOPIAN EARTH, only the rich and the famous can afford personal freedoms. And the only way to get famous is to put on the best show you can... or die trying

IN THE SPLINTER, everything is out to kill you. Even Fellow Avatars. And when you die in The Splinter, you die on Earth.

The Splinter is a fantasy/sci-fi tabletop RPG by End Transmission Games. The game's chief gimmick, as the blurb above suggests, is its dual nature: You play a citizen of a distopian earth who is in turn a Player in a massive virtual-reality fantasy RPG called The Game. The Game is one part fantasy RPG, one part Arcade Deathmatch, one part pro football, and one part soap opera. It is the pinnacle of entertainment, and what allows Games.Corp to maintain control of the Plebeian Masses.

On the other side of the equation is the Avatar, which the player's Player inhabits when playing the game. Avatars are shape-shifting demigods who inhabit The Realm, a universe composed entirely of an infinite, shape-shifting mega-dungeon. The Realm's history stretches back 100 billion years, including the rise and fall of thousands of Precursor civilizations that have all left relics of their technology behind for modern societies to discover. Recently, the citizens of the Realm have been under assault by the "outsiders", strange beings from beyond reality who possess Avatars and force them to participate in murderous games...

The Splinter is, essentially, a deconstruction of classic tabletop gaming, subverting many classic gaming tropes while remaining a true monster-slaying, trap-disabling, loot-collecting dungeon crawl.

The game's Web site can be found here:

The creator's blog can be found here:

Tropes included in the game:

  • Our Monsters Are Different: The monster designs take traditional fantasy monsters and make them strange, or take stock monsters from other genres and make them strage by virtue of the fact that they're in a fantasy dungeon crawl (like zeerust-y killer robots or lovecraftian spider-creatures). Overlaps with Our Monsters Are Weird.
    • Our Dragons Are Different: True Dragons are a non-playable Bloodline complete with a man, middle, and beast form. They do not strictly breathe fire; rather, their World-Breathing allows them to alter the very fabric of reality with their breath.
      • The Wyndlass, one of the playable bloodlines, are a race of shape-shifting silver drakes. Rather than a dragons signature breath weapon, they can wield weapons with their tail, and can detach their wings and use them as attack drones.
  • Our Monsters Are Weird: Lets see: clockwork, parasitic hummingbirds? check. Crystallin robot trees? Check. Giant wurms that spontaneously turn stone into water? check. Multi-limbed undead monstrosoties that spontaneously turn into 'other' monsters? check.
  • Schizo-Tech: The technology in The Splinter covers everything from early medieval weapons to impossibly advanced, essentially magical devices. The core rulebook includes repeating crossbows, monofillament razor-wire launchers, steampunk Gatling guns, automatic shotguns, advanced underwater laser pistols, heavy insanity rays, blade-wands, disentegrator pistols, directional nukes, and about 50 types of old-fashiond medieval slaughtering tools.
  • Randomly Generated Levels: The Realm is a randomly generated universe, to a degree that the inhabitants of said universe are acutely aware of.
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