Skip to main content

Apocalypse World designer releases asymmetric RPG about foolishly unlocking powerful magic

The first in a series of connected zines.

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Learn the closely guarded secrets of an arcane tome in The Wizard’s Grimoire, an asymmetric tabletop roleplaying game from Apocalypse World co-designer D. Vincent Baker now on Kickstarter.

Through chance or destiny, an apprentice has come into possession of a wizard’s grimoire. The original owner of this store of knowledge seems to have disappeared, and the new one would very much like to learn some wicked spellcraft. Each section of the grimoire is represented in the 40-page zine, complete with the puzzles, traps and wards set by the original author. Seizing their power won’t be so easy.

The Wizard’s Grimoire requires one hungry student and two or three willing volunteers. The student will be the only player who knows and adjudicates the rules, leading to an odd asymmetrical relationship during sessions. Designer D. Vincent Baker - who co-created the widely influential Apocalypse World, along with The King is Dead and Dogs in the Vineyard - wants the apprentice to be the sole beneficiary of any success or catastrophic, cursed failure.

“In this way, the game upends the normal player-GM relationship. Instead of a GM saying, "hey, I have this game I'd like to run, who's in?" you say, "hey, I'm trying to get my wizard through this spellbook, do you have a minute?” Baker says in the Kickstarter description.

Watch on YouTube

Sessions are framed as attempts to study and learn, each time growing in experience as the apprentice unlocks - or fails to unlock - new, more complex spells. They will eventually garner enough skill to construct a workshop and start their own path towards signature spellcraft.

The game uses the dice pool and attributes from the Powered by the Apocalypse system to resolve various moves, though Baker admits the intentional imbalance between main player and bystander complicates the original design in interesting ways.

The Wizard’s Grimoire Kickstarter campaign, which runs through March 8th, funds a physical edition of a title originally released to Baker’s Patreon supporters in 2019, though the recent revisions make it “way better in play than the old version”, he said. Shipping is expected to begin in April of this year.

The 40-page zine, part of Zinequest 3, will be the first in a series of seven interconnected games he plans to publish. Future titles will include The Barbarian’s Bloody Quest - a story about revenge and its cost - and a warrior’s final journey in the land of the dead called The Last Adventure.

Read this next