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Stewpot’s melancholy RPG about finding calm after a life of adventure gets a hardcover book

Swords to plowshares…and ladles, mugs and brooms.

Screenshot from Stewpot RPG's Backerkit video
Image credit: Evil Hat Productions

Every adventure must come to and end, and thus so too must every adventurer. Instead of imagining a valiant death on the battlefield or sacrificing their life to save the innocent, upcoming tabletop RPG Stewpot: Tales from a Fantasy Tavern imagines a smaller, quieter end to their days delving in dungeons. And now, Takuma Okada’s cozy, sad-in-a-good-way creation will enjoy a hardcover book release.

Stewpot’s physical book is currently crowdfunding on Backerkit in partnership with Evil Hat Productions, the company behind Blades in the Dark and the upcoming Tomb Raider tabletop RPG. Okada first released a digital version back in 2020 - which is still available in - but this tome comes filled to bursting with original art from a wagon full of illustrators, along with fresh layout and editing.

Players embody a team of adventurers, soldiers, thrillseekers and dungeoneers who have decided to settle down, doff their robe and wizard hat and open a tavern in a humble village. Throughout a series of minigames derived from the Bakers’ Mobile Frame Zero: Firebrands, each member will gradually trade their violent skills for ones better suited for tending bar, growing crops and finding a place to grow old and grey.

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Most of these slice-of-life vignettes have fairly low stakes - break up a tavern brawl, attempt to impress a travelling gourmand, or simply wipe an already clean glass and listen as a heavy heart pours out its burdens on the oaken counter. The group collectively strives to upgrade several aspects of their tavern over the course of many seasons, all the while integrating into their new community and shedding parts of themselves that no longer fit - a task easier said than done, perhaps.

Some minigames call for a deck of standard playing cards, while others might require dice or a coin flip. All are designed to prompt a roleplay scene that surfaces the difficulties and joys of laying down their weapons and choosing a new way of life. Okada’s writing and use of the minigames evokes a bittersweet yearning that anyone on the cusp of a fundamental change can appreciate it.

Screenshot from Stewpot RPG's Backerkit video
Image credit: Evil Hat Productions

The Backerkit campaign for Stewpot: Tales from a Fantasy Tavern will run through May 16th and has already hit its initial goal to produce both a physical and digital version of the final hardcover book. A free demo PDF can be downloaded through Evil Hat’s DriveThruRPG page, and a fully playable draft is immediately available to backers. The publisher expects books to arrive in backers’ hands starting March 2025.

Okada and the Evil Hat team are joined by sensitivity reader Basil Wright, editor Jacky Leung, proofreader Jenn Martin and art director Lucia Versprille. Illustrations were provided by Daniel Hernandez, Linden Medina, Franz Michael A. Bautista, Rhie Cueva, Kelsey Phillips, Lorne Colt, Elemi, Oddesque, Arthur Cabezas and Jasprismatic. Meguey and D. Vincent Baker consulted on the system development.

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