XP: Getting Caught Up

2 Sep

Wow – the last few months have been quite an exciting time.


I never really meant to quit posting XPs of the games we have been playing. Lately RSGpdx events have been blowing up, with 12-18 people each event and two or three games being played each time. It has been truly rewarding to share this experience with faces new and old. In addition to that, there has been word of re-structuring some of the greater community events in order to bring all of the cool activities closer together. There has been a lot to think about.


So real quickly, I’m going to share my thoughts of all of the games I have played in at RSGpdx that I neglected to write about in more detail.



Monsterhearts is another game powered by the still beating heart of Apocalypse World. This is the only one that has improved on the formula. It is a lighter, sleeker design which lends an ultra tight, ultra sharp focus to the game. The theming elements (strings, the darkest self and the maturity moves) are so beautiful I want to cry. Very powerful. But for some reason, this game burned me out very quickly. I have a tough time actually sitting down to MC a game of Monsterhearts. Maybe that is totally subjective, but it unfortunately taints the experience of the game for me. A pity, too, being that this is one outstanding piece of work. Find an MC who is hot for this game, drop whatever you are doing, and play it right now.


Dread is really cool. The Jenga tower adds a pace to the story and tension to every moment of play. But there are two blemishes. First of all, there is simply no place for player elimination in a game these days. I get that characters die in horror games, but a player should never be left out. Take a page from Zombie Cinema and have the player move from the protagonist side to the threat side. Do anything but remove the player from play. Second, when it got down to tough conflicts, we were just playing Jenga. The use of that tower is almost to grabby and distracting. Lastly, the horror medium has had a difficult time translating to table-top gaming. This might be the best example of a horror game out there, but it still relies upon a very traditional GM role and information control. I would be very excited to see a horror game without either. Totally play it once, but be sure you have the right atmosphere for a tense horror/survival game.


What an excellent commentary on the practice of role-playing. The details here are so finely coordinated – the sensory attributes, the shared meal/snacks, the playing a character who is playing a character – it all speaks to great inspiration. I kid you not; A Thousand and One Nights is a sublime experience. I have only one complaint, and it does not compromise the play in any fashion. The game wants you to pursue your character’s ambitions and play out their envies and admirations. But it doesn’t provide any incentive to do so – the game is totally neutral on that count. Super excited for the new edition. Keep this game in your regular rotation of one shots. A great reminder of what it’s all about. Mandatory!


Where Monsterhearts did everything right, Monster of the Week missed the mark. The general design is bulky where it is different from Apocalypse World at all (yup, another AW hack). The playbooks were very poorly laid out, the damage and luck mechanics seemed broken and un-playtested, the moves in general, while clever, lacked the interconnectivity that made things in Apocalypse World and Monsterhearts pop and pop. I think this game could shine with about a year of more development, but as it is, I just can’t recommend it. Play Monsterhearts instead.


The Mountain Witch is a delicious story game classic. The trust, dark fate and resolution mechanics work so well that this functions as a treatise of thematic design. You really don’t need to do a damn thing but sit back and watch, occasionally pushing if the action lulls. This game has a long-standing reputation and it has earned it. This possibly ranks as one of my top five favorite games ever. Download the pdf and schedule a game.


Lots of stupid crazy fun. Never have so many Pembertonians met their demise by whale song and tuba bludgeoning. I will play this game again soon, but you have to be aware of two things. First, the texts is not the finest example of a streamlined coherent text. The Roach sounds like a Fiasco, but it’s not. Second, playing all six events makes for a looooong game. Consider cutting two of them out (we cut our event two and five, and that’s probably what I’d do again). I had way more fun than I expected. If you get a chance to try the Roach, do it.


I will try to be more on top of this in the future. As RSGpdx moves into its second year expect to see many exciting developments! Stay tuned!


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