The Bloody Forks of the Ohio is a tabletop indie RPG set in the Ohio Country in 1754 -- a moment of historically vital importance. What happened there was the proximate cause of the Seven Years War, a minor fight in the woods between a few hundred men producing a global conflagration that involved all of Europe's Great Powers and warfare over three continents -- North America (where it was known as the French and Indian War), Europe, and India (where France still contended with Britain for control of the subcontinent).
The history is this: three powers -- the Iroquois, the French, and the British -- all claimed the region. The Iroquois had survived mainly by playing the British and French against one another, but their hold over the region was tenuous; the Delaware and Shawnee who settled it owed ostensible allegiance to the Six Nations, but were not themselves members of the Iroquois confederacy, and not inclined to take orders from Onondaga (the Iroquois capital). The previous year, soldiers dispatched by the governor of Virginia had built a small fort at the confluence of the Ohio, Monongahela, and Allegheny rivers (a place we now call "Pittsburgh"), but the French, discovering this intrusion into what they considered a part of New France, set them packing, and built Fort Duquesne, a considerably more robust fortification.
A very young Major George Washington was dispatched, with a wholly inadequate force, with the twin goals of building a road from Virginia territory to the rich valley of the Ohio -- and of driving the French from the river junction. At Jumonville's Glen, Washington encountered a small French force. His reports claim that a sharp battle was fought, resulting in victory; other witnesses claim that what happened was very different. The French approached under flag of truce, and "Half King" Tanacharison, a Seneca allied to the British forces, murdered their officer, washing his hands in the Frenchman's brains. Tanacharison's Senecas, under the Virginians' appalled gaze, then massacred most of the rest of the French. Washington, lying like a bastard (despite his supposed reputation for probity), covered it up. (For more, see Fred Anderson's Crucible of War.)
An attack on Fort Duquesne was repulsed, bloodily, and Washington retreated back to Virginia, tail between legs. The result was war.
So much for the history; in Bloody Forks of the Ohio, twelve players take the roles of historical or invented characters, including Washington, Tanacharison, and Captain Louis Coulon de Villiers, the French commander of Fort Duquesne. One interesting point is that unlike a conventional RPG, the players are, by nature, at odds from the inception -- some committed to French victory, some to British, and some with different loyalties. Consequently, cooperation is not feasible, except to limited degrees.
Also interestingly, a conventional game on the subject might approach it as a military simulation; Bloody Forks does not. Instead, it uses a typical "indie RPG" system of dice pools and die rolls to resolve conflicts, with the number of dice players roll dependent largely on which of their 'talents' and 'keys' (printed on supplied character sheets) they can bring to bear. In short, it is very much a game of improvisational roleplay, with a gamemaster to shape the experience toward a coherent narrative.
Morningstar has also purposefully injected pulp elements to create more narrative interest; one of the characters is Captain de Villier's wife, Marie-Amable Proudhomme de Villiers, who is estranged from her husband, in love with George Washington, and desired by virtually all the other male characters. Similarly, one of the British characters is Benjamin Franklin, who was actually safe at home in Philadelphia throughout the encounter, who moreover has invented a "lightning gun" that stores electricity in enormous Leyden jars and "projects electrical fluid." To balance things, a French scientist character has "the secret of electrical ice," which seems to involve turning electrical fluid into an unstable paste, i.e., an explosive. Oui, monsieur, fantastic 18th century superscience. Alternative "gonzo" character sheets, usable at the GM's option, are also provided that give two characters "Indian magic."
The Bloody Forks of the Ohio is not a complete RPG; it's a free download, and a quick write-up that a GM would need to flesh out considerably to run. While the characters are well realized and fresh, and the conflict resolution system of a well-established style and entirely workable, there is only the most minimal stab at establishing setting, obstacles, motifs, and story elements. There is an interesting bit of GM advice; Morningstar urges the GM less to shape the story and more to question things the players say to encourage the story to move forward. And there are a handful of "obstacle" ideas the GM can throw into the story (an ambush, a ford crossing, negotiations with the local Delaware); but it would take an inventive GM, preferably one with some knowledge of the history, to run this well.
Still, it's interesting for several reasons: Its tie to history, something quite rare in RPGs; the speed and freshness with which it establishes the player characters; the conflicts it builds among the PCs; and its freeform willingness to go anywhere the players want with the story.