Welcome back to the “Role Playing Game PDF Spotlights” column, where we look at some of the PDFs that have been released in the past week that have piqued my interest. Hardboiled detectives, biker mice, superheroes, solo 80’s style cyberpunk, classic D&D reprints, and more…

All of the below were released in PDF between 29th-4th February 2022.

Hardboiled: Mystery, Mayhem, & the Macabre

Core Rulebook

By Fat Goblin Games

Not Every Knight Rides A Horse & Wears Armor

Using the vs. M Engine created by Phillip Reed!

Hardboiled is a roleplaying game of the 1930s–40s pulp detective action where you play regular folk who have decided to fight back against criminal elements running wild in your city. But there’s more to fighting for justice and safe streets than picking up your hat and gun to take on the kingpins and their thugs; you’ll need to beat your enemies at their own game because the rot reaches the corridors of power! 

Can you stay true to your principles, even when those you love and protect are threatened? Or will you spiral down into a nihilistic pit of bitterness and blood?

Hardboiled is a complete roleplaying game using the vs. M Engine, a rules-light and card-based system that is easy to learn and fast to play. Even novice gamers will have no problem creating interesting characters, learning the rules, and starting a game. All you need are two decks of regular playing cards and a few friends! This book contains everything to get you started:

  • Straightforward rules to get you in the game in a flash!
  • New rules to determine your character’s personal code.
  • A complete listing of archetypical criminals.
  • Easy rules to help you create your own underworld gangs.
  • Different styles of play: Classic (detective pulp), or Noir (gritty moral ambiguity).
  • Plenty of adventure hooks to get you cleaning up your city!

The Lazy DM’s Companion

5E Dungeons & Dragons Sourcebook

By SlyFlourish

The Lazy DM’s Companion is a 64 page book of guidelines and inspirational generators to help you build, prepare, and run awesome D&D games. Sitting alongside Return of the Lazy Dungeon Master and The Lazy DM’s Workbook, the Lazy DM’s Companion streamlines play and fires off your imagination to build awesome and unique worlds for you and your players to explore.

Each page of this 64-page book offers useful guidelines, an adventure or campaign generator, or a versatile map within which to build your own adventures. These include:

Lazy DM Guidelines

  • Tools for Improvisation
  • Quick Tricks for Lazy DMs
  • Building an RPG Group
  • RPG Safety Tools
  • Session Zero Checklist
  • One-on-One Guidelines
  • Playing RPGs Online
  • Running Single-Session Games
  • Teaching New Players
  • Strong Starts
  • Creating Secrets and Clues
  • Building Situations
  • Understanding Exploration
  • Spiral Campaigns
  • Revised Guidelines for Theater of the Mind
  • Zone-Based Combat
  • Point Crawls

5e Tools

  • Options for 1st-Level Play
  • Lazy Combat Encounters
  • Stress Effects
  • Monster Difficulty Dials
  • Elemental Monster Templates
  • Undead Templates
  • Improvised Legendary Monsters
  • Running Hordes
  • Lazy Treasure Generator

Campaign Tools

  • NPC Generator
  • Villain Generator
  • God Generator
  • Fallen Kingdoms
  • Cult Generator
  • Alien Worlds
  • Random Environmental Locations
  • Settlement Generator
  • Wilderness Exploration
  • Underground Exploration
  • Land of the Fey

Adventure Inspiration

  • Core Adventure Generator
  • Quest Templates
  • Dogs of War: Running Wars
  • Haunted Lairs
  • The Traitor
  • The Beast
  • Vengeance for Hire
  • Protect the Village
  • The Keep
  • Invaders
  • Hunt for the Artifact
  • The Heist


The Lazy DM’s Companion includes a number of maps drawn by Daniel Walthall built for the same kind of versatility, including overland maps, castle ruins, dungeons, and caverns. Each map is intended to serve multiple themes in multiple ways, working hand-in-hand with the adventure generators included in The Lazy DM’s Companion.

Beyond Thunder City

Heavy Metal Thunder Mouse Supplement

By Shoreless Skies Publishing

Take your gangs of mice rockin’ through the past, racing through outer space, and beyond in this anthology for Heavy Metal Thunder Mouse, the award winning RPG of mice and their motorcycle clubs. Included are five new settings for your games:

  • Take a blast to the past in Rock n Roll Sock Hop Mouse by Craig Campbell
  • Fight against the Golden Horde in the deeps of space with Metal Mouse Furry Trail by Elizabeth Chaipraditkul 
  • Protect the mice of the wasteland in Salvation by Todd Crapper
  • Tear through the streets of a near-future Tokyo in Neo Nezumi by Steve Radabaugh
  • Help the poor and suffering in Call the Midmouse by Jonathan Lavallee

Neon Road: An 80s Style Solo Game

Core Rulebook

By Micro RPG

It’s 1985. But a very different 1985.

In 1976, the Cold War turned hot as nuclear bombs fell from the sky on cities around the world. New York, London, Hong Kong, Seoul, Washington D.C. and many more major metropolitan cities vanished in a flash of flames, screams, and melted flesh.

While much of the world went untouched by flame all the survivors still felt the effects of the fallout. Entire landscapes became nuclear wastelands crawling with flesh-eating zombies and mutant monsters. Surviving cities rose up in the wake, becoming thriving metropolises that worship greed, capitalism, and pleasure. Malls, bowling alleys, arcades, movie theaters, and more are the religious chapels of the new world. However, crime, bigotry, systematic oppression, and tyranny reign in the shadows here.  

Other untouched wilderness areas became the open wilds where animals, scavengers, farmers, ranchers, and more people made their lives. Those who live here call it a refuge from the horrors of the wastelands and the crime and decadence of the cities. Many of these folks cling to the “old religions.”

Now, in a post-apocalyptic 1980s dystopia, you are seeking to make your own way in the world. 

Neon Road is an ultra-simple solo tabletop roleplaying  with themes focused on inspirations from grindhouse 70s and 80s sci-fi, cyberpunk, apocalypse, and horror films. Using the popular Micro RPG System, this short 40 page core rulebook creates the foundation for many mini “chapbook” expansions to come.

Beowulf Annual 2022

Beowulf: Age of Heroes 5E Supplement

By Handiwork Games

The BEOWULF Annual 2022 collects all the beautifully illustrated, written material from BEOWULF Digital Packs One to Eight into one mighty hoard of treasures!

Inside you’ll find:

• Detailed inspiration for making BEOWULF characters

• New material for Voyages

• New magic items appropriate to the Age of Heroes

• New magic weapons 

• New Followers with new Gifts

• New Monsters

• A beautiful map for the Three Ogre Brothers adventure

And more!

The BEOWULF Annual 2022 is a must have for all players and GMs of BEOWULF Age of Adventures.

Legendary Adventures: Epic Depths

5E Dungeons & Dragons Adventure

By Legendary Games

Doom Doom Below!

Merlin summons the party to his tower for a dire task – find where important figures from across the globe have gone and free them from captivity. Of course once the adventurers discover what’s really going on it’s a whole lot bigger of a problem than some kingly kidnappings and missing empresses. Indeed the entire world will be affected by what the PCs learn about beneath the waves!

Note: This adventure uses rules for PCs past 20th level from the Legendary Adventurers: Epic 5E core rulebook.

What’s inside Epic Depths:

  • A subterranean and underwater adventure for characters of 21st level.
  • Statistics for the joristenz and porosi monsters, as well as the dreaded Marwolaeth.
  • Beautiful isometric cartography by Tommi Salama.
  • Pregenerated adventurers of 21st level for every class.
  • A printer-friendly black and white file in addition to the regular PDF.

Plus the epic adventuring continues in the upcoming Heart of War module for parties of 22nd level!

Ptolus: Return of the Ebon Hand

5E Dungeons & Dragons/Cypher System Adventure

By Monte Cook Games

The Cult of the Ebon hand, an evil group that worships deformity and mutation, has been rooted out and destroyed. Now, in Ptolus, even bearing a symbol of the Ebon Hand is a crime. There may be other chaos cults operating in the city, but the Ebon Hand, one of the worst, has been closed down.

Or so it was thought.

Echoes of transformative chaos have been leaching into the Guildsman District. Among the effects is the appearance of the Reborn, a gang of long-dead criminals now brought back to a twisted form of life. The Reborn are settling old grudges by attacking prominent citizens of Ptolus. Ending their depredations—and the reemerging cult itself—will take the PCs deep into the shadowed depths of Ghul’s Labyrinth and to the borders of insanity itself.

Return of the Ebon Hand is a hefty standalone adventure set in Ptolus. It assumes that the original cult’s activities, as described in Ptolus, Monte Cook’s City by the Spire, have been brought to an end—and if the PCs were the ones who did so, it works well as a sequel to those events. It can also be run without PC involvement in the prior destruction of the cult. The adventure is suitable for 5e characters of roughly 6th level, or Cypher System characters of roughly third tier, and can be easily adjusted upward or downward in difficulty.

Your purchase of Return of the Ebon Hand includes the bonus adventure Grip of the Ebon Hand. This scenario builds a short one-shot adventure from material about the Ebon Hand in Ptolus: Monte Cook’s City by the Spire. It was originally created for use at Gen Con 2006, and was the first-ever Ptolus scenario run at a public event. It’s included in this product, updated for 5e and Cypher System.

Astonishing Super Heroes Book 1: Basic Rulebook

Core Rulebook

By Tim Bannock

It’s your turn to be the hero!

Astonishing Super Heroes is a roleplaying game of superpowered action and drama. Streamlining the classic FASERIP system from the ground up via the OGL, Astonishing Super Heroes plays faster and adds dramatic roleplay mechanics to better represent the variety of challenges superheroes face in the comics, shows, and movies we love so much.

The Basic Rulebook includes:

  • Everything you need to emulate superpowered characters from any comic, TV show, or movie universe you’re already familiar with.
  • A revamped Karma system inspired by modern narrative RPGs and customized to your superhero’s identity: play an inspiring moral paragon, a clever mystic willing to deal with dark powers, a violent antihero, or a reformed villain.
  • Rules that promote teamwork and that can be as tactical or freeform as you want.
  • New rules for challenging social interactions using a stress and resolve mechanic, as well as leveraging money and resources against your foes.
  • 30 pages devoted to building custom super powers and gear, with over 100 fully-built powers as examples.

The Basic Rulebook also features great character sheets and comprehensive reference sheets, making it a breeze to run! Plus, it’s fully compatible with other FASERIP games, and broadly compatible with most four color supers games.

The Basic Rulebook is Book 1 of 2 for the Astonishing Super Heroes RPG. Look for Book 2: Spectacular Origins, coming soon!

Warlock! Mother’s Brood

OSR Supplement

By Fire Ruby Designs

A supplement for Warlock!, the old-school roleplaying game inspired by early British tabletop gaming.

Welcome to the Under Kingdom!

They say you’re never too far from a rat. But in the Kingdom, there are worse things than rats…

You’ve heard the stories. Your brother’s best friend’s uncle’s servant’s niece saw a ratman once. It was dressed in a ragged cloak, naked tail bobbing behind it as it ran, hunched over, clutching something close to its chest. The niece, though terrified, ran after it; watched it as it pulled up the sewer grate and jumped, feet first, into the muck below. Of course, nobody else was around. Nobody else saw this happen. Can’t be true.

Can it..?

Poor Wizard’s Almanac

Dungeons & Dragons 1st Edition Supplement

By Wizards of the Coast

This is the first of the Almanac series, and covers events immediatley following the “Wrath of the Immortals” storyline. The map included shows the remains of the Alphatian Empire, following the “Wrath” adventure.

For the year 1010 A

Super Powered Legends: The Slender Man

Mutants & Masterminds Supplement

By Rogue Genius Games

It doesn’t matter if you believe in it…

It believes in you…

Appearing only in the corner of the eye … in slightly blurred photographs … hidden in shadows just out of view … is the Slender Man.

Super Powered Legends. Because sometimes you a need a character everyone recognizes, even when meeting them for the first time.

Designed and Illustrated by Jacob Blackmon, Super Powered by M&M!

Please note:  Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links”. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item the author of this post will receive an affiliate commission.

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