Open Play 49: The Sundered Land, Bacchanal, Hollowpoint

11 Jul

6pm – 10pm

Tuesday, July 16th

Guardian Games

303 SE 3rd Ave at Pine St

Welcome, again, to Ready, Set, Game PDX Open Play!

Ready, Set, Game PDX is an easy story gaming event. All you have to do is show up and play a game. You don’t need to bring anything other than the desire to play and the willingness to try something new. Absolutely everybody is welcome! No experience necessary! You are free to invite anybody and everybody; just make sure you RSVP. That helps us make sure everybody has a good time.

A story game is a game where the players create a narrative as a product of play. You might recognize a few things from other tabletop games, but the difference here is that you spontaneously make a collaborative story with the other players. There are always several different ones to choose from, so odds are good there will be one that’s just right. A description of each of the scheduled games will be posted as comments, so check ’em out!

At 6:00 we kind of loosely gather in the “Blue Area” of Guardian Games and socialize for a bit. Please, just relax and chat! At 6:15 we all come together as a group and the facilitators introduce their games. At that point players sign up for whichever game they want and get down to business.

Technically we have the space until 10:00, but we try to get games wrapped up around 9:30 or so. After the games, all who wish to do so go out for drinks and banter at a nearby establishment. As usual, everybody is welcome!

Here is what we have this week!
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The Sundered Land:
The Sundered Land is a series of 5 single-page games plus 2 supplements set in the Sword & Sorcery ruins of the future. And we are going to play as many as we can!

The games are mutually compatible and overlapping, but self-contained. Each game plays in 20-60 minutes. You can play them in whatever order you like. You can bring the character from one game into the next, or create a new character whenever you like. Each of the games has a GM, but you should take turns from game to game to game.

In Caravan Guards, you’re guarding a caravan on the Burnt Road, and the Hazard player creates monsters and other dangers to try to destroy it.

In Night Watch, you’re passing the night by telling your comrades stories from your past.

In At Ends, you’re down to your ambition and your wits, trying to make your way on the streets of a city of intrigue.

In Warriors, you’re meeting your enemies in battle.

http://nightskygames.com/welcome/game/TheSunderedLand
hollowpoint-title
Hollowpoint:
Hollowpoint is a role-playing game that uses a novel engine to generate fast on-the-fly violent action at the drop of a hat, brought to you by the award-winning developers of Diaspora. It’s ideally suited to a single evening’s play and encourages regular character death because, hey, this shit’s dangerous. Hollowpoint has been nominated in three categories for the 2012 ENnie awards: best rules, best game, and product of the year.

http://www.vsca.ca/Hollowpoint/
bacchanal-pen-sm
Bacchanal:
It is late summer in Puteoli, south of Rome, 61 A.D., when the city finds itself playing unexpected host to the god Bacchus. Caught up in the madness of wine, the citizens throw off their togas and mingle as equals with slaves and foreigners in a debased fervor. And your own plans for a hasty departure are lost to this decadence which separates you from the companion with whom you would travel.

Bacchanal is a sensual game of debauchery for players both mature and courageous.

http://www.halfmeme.com/bacchanal.html

Ready, Set, Game PDX is brought to you by Play Out Loud. Play Out Loud serves Portland with spontaneous shared storytelling activities featuring non-mainstream games. Learn more athttp://www.facebook.com/playoutloudpdx.

Open Play 48: Crossroads, Into the Odd, Pickets & Blinds, Bhaloidam

30 Jun

6pm – 10pm

Tuesday, July 2nd

Guardian Games

303 SE 3rd Ave at Pine St

The drill:
6:00pm – Chit chat, socialize, make merry.
6:15pm – Introduce the games and facilitators, facilitators will have the sign up sheets. Then, game on!
9:30pm – Drinks at …? Where should we go guys?

And for the games!

crossroads

Crossroads:
There’s a man at the Crossroads Cafe who can give people what they want, if they do something specific in return. You are going to visit him. This is a ready-to-play story game for up to four players and a facilitator.

http://www.lulu.com/shop/per-fischer/crossroads/paperback/product-18789509.html

IntotheOdd
Into the Odd:
The world is too large for anyone to fully map and too old for academics to accurately record. Explorers return from every direction with tales of bizarre places, wondrous and horrific.

You are an Explorer, braving the unknown in search of riches, fame, knowledge or power.

Academics know that searching in places too dark or distant would show things too foul to be recorded. Even the most comprehensive references of wildlife are filled with apocryphal entries. Those that seek out monsters to slay will find death before long.

The setting of Into the Odd, by Chris McDowell, is filled with normality. Sure, there are revolutions, terrorists, murders and wars, but this is all very mundane stuff. The Odd is out there to be found, buried beneath the surface. Battles may be fought with guns instead of swords, power may be held by politicians instead of wizards, but down under it all, there is something terrible, something unknowable…something Odd.
This will be a variant of Into the Odd, set in more modern times. That will be all you will need to know…or all that you will EVER know…

http://soogagames.blogspot.com/2012/10/why-into-odd-is-horror-game.html

picketsblinds
Pickets & Blinds:
This is a game. It’s you against the other players. There will be winners and losers, but everyone is going to have to live with what they’ve done.

Some games have you move little metal dogs and race cars across a board. Other games make you throw dice, or run around, or make difficult strategic or diplomatic decisions. This game has none of that. This game is all about telling stories: stories about how normal people in normal American towns end up killing each other.

Every player is going to tell his own story. Each story will be a separate and unique tale of a murder in the suburbs. The stories are told one scene at a time as everyone takes turns. Every time your turn comes up, you tell a little more of your main character’s story, picking up where you left off, describing another scene. The stories are not scripted, and there’s no right or wrong way to go about it. You are trying to keep everyone else at the table entertained.

As you tell your story, you’ll try to include particularly
exciting moments (called Triggers). Once you work a
Trigger into your story, you get to play a simple, Memory- style card game, the goal of which is to capture pairs. As pairs are made, they are removed from play. Collecting these pairs earns you points, and when the cards run out, the player with the most points wins.

Successfully collecting pairs also allows you to mess with the other players’ stories, making things trickier for their characters, and generally heightening the tension. This leads to even more exciting stories.
But it’s not all that cut and dry. There is another factor
at play: which card that can’t be paired up? If at any time you’re able to guess what card is without its match, you greatly increase your chances of winning. Guess wrong, and you’ll lose the game. There’s a reason that odd card is called “The Downfall.”

http://www.picketsandblinds.com/

bhaloidam-logo-med
Bhaloidam “Super Dysfunctional”:
You’re a team of superheroes with a contract to protect Megaopolis. Sadly – between sky-high insurance premiums, inflated contractor budgets for repairing damages done by the team, and ever-increasing support-staff salaries – this highly-coveted contract barely covers operational expenses, let alone pays the supers a living wage. So, you’re forced to seek endorsements in order to live the lifestyle to which you’ve become accustomed. Unfortunately, in order to land the good endorsements, you must stand out as an exceptional member of your team.

So now, with Megaopolis under threat, you must balance working _with_ your team to fulfill your contract, while making sure you grab enough of the limelight to pay your mortgage next month.

http://www.bhaloidam.com/

Ready, Set, Game PDX is brought to you by Play Out Loud. Play Out Loud serves Portland with spontaneous shared storytelling activities featuring non-mainstream games. Learn more at http://www.facebook.com/playoutloudpdx.

XP: Kagematsu

29 Jun

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Sorry it’s been a while since the last XP. I played Monsterhearts that week, and I’d already written about it, and I didn’t have anything to add. But I’ll make up for it now with a huge review of Kagematsu!

Kagematsu is a romance game set in feudal Japan. The most interesting thing about Kagematsu is not it’s subject matter, but rather the highly gendered lens through which that subject matter is viewed.

There isn’t much to say about the game’s mechanics, and there is a lot to say about the game’s process, so let’s get this out of the way. The mechanics are clear, coherent and simple. They do exactly what they mean to and nothing more. Even the slightest glance at the meaning of their implementation shows thematic insight (such as Charm vs. Innocence – as you lose Innocence you gain Charm, which is a statement about gender and sexuality). Elegant and practical! Moving on.

The killer app of Kagematsu is that the text asks a woman player to take the role of Kagematsu and everybody else to take the role of a Townswoman. The Kagematsu Player is “Scene Manager” and has the first and final say on scene framing, but can also delegate a portion of scene framing ability to the other players if they choose. Kagematsu can even frame the Townswomen into scenes, saying what they are doing and where they are doing it. On the flip side, the Townswomen may never speak for Kagematsu. Even if the Kagematsu player allows a Townswoman Player to set the scene, it is still up to the Kagematsu to enter that scene how he will. Finally, my reading of the texts suggests that it is not in the spirit of the game for Townswomen Players to offer suggestions on scene ideas until the Kagematsu Player asks for their input.

However, the Townswomen decide which affection they are going for, which is resolved by a die roll. Which means that Kagematsu has no say over that – only how it comes to pass (if it does) and what he thinks of it after.

There are a number of observations one can take from those data points.

First of all, it is a very gendered statement. Kagematsu has all the narrative power, and the Townswomen just have to fit it however they can. However, Kagematsu also has the responsibility to frame scenes. Let me tell you, Kagematsu is looking at framing probably forty to fifty scenes. Half that would be exhausting. Which means, that despite the asymmetry of power distribution between the genders here, actually it sucks for everybody. This is a play critique of gender inequality and how, by performing this form of oppression as a culture (which we certainly do) we do harm to the whole of our culture.

Second, it is also interesting to note that for all of his narrative power, Kagematsu does not have control over his fate. It’s dice rolls all the way down for him, and his success or failures are blind to his input. He may color his actions, but ultimately he will be ushered through his destiny with no choice and no voice. Even the Townswomen get to choose whether or not they die, but not Kagematsu.

The Townswomen, however, ultimately succeed not based on the die rolls, but based on Kagematsu’s Love for them, which is completely independant of the Townswomen’s success at the die rolls.

In fact, winning an Affection Roll has two mechanical effects, lowering Fear (which helps Kagematsu, not the Townswomen) and Acts of Desperation (which, if used to win a roll, are somewhat more likely to each Pity instead of Love for the Townswomen, and actually work against her), and neither directly help the Townswomen. The only was a success on a die roll helps a Townswoman is if the fiction described after changes the tone of the scene so that the Kagematsu Player chooses Love over Pity. But, since Kagematsu gets to say how that transpires, Kagematsu would be leading the conversation in which he convinces himself that he loves this woman. So I am going to maintain that the outcome of die rolls has only a small effect on the overall success for a Townswoman.

Which means that the Townswoman finds her success in her fictional actions and the actual roleplay by the player. Which means that her actions in game do have a direct impact on her success. For not having any voice in other parts of the game process, the Townswomen have the only voice here! This “judgement mechanic” that weds the fiction to the eventual outcome is super slick. That it is also used in the inverse of the rest of the mechanics to complete this gendered statement is quite remarkable.

I have only one gripe about this game – for a one shot, it takes quite a while to play through to it’s natural conclusion. if you hunker down for a full play, expect 6-ish hours. This is one of the rare cases where I think the constraints of the RSG event actually improved play. We effectively added a rule that at 9:25 Kagematsu abandons the town. This really encouraged the players to frame strong scenes and play right to the point. It was very tight and had more energy that the full “natural” play I was in a few nights later. It’s not exactly to the spirit of the game, but it did focus our play to a very beneficial end.

I would highly recommend this game. There is a reason Kagematsu has a legacy f influence in the story game world. This one is definitely staying in my bag as a go to game from here on out!

You can find information on Kagematsu here.

 

Open Play 47: Kagematsu, Hollowpoint, Wushu Open, Bhaloidam

17 Jun

6pm – 10pm

Tuesday, June 18

Guardian Games

303 SE 3rd Ave at Pine St

 

I am sad to say that a long time member of our Community, Mark Wyler, will be leaving Portland at the end of this month. So, we are sending him off with style after the game. Even more reason to join us!

 

The drill:
6:00pm – Chit chat, socialize, make merry.
6:15pm – Introduce the games and facilitators, facilitators will have the sign up sheets. Then, game on!
9:30pm – Drinks at Belmont Station, one last hurrah for Mark.

 

And for the games!

kagematsu_cover_jsh3

Kagematsu:
Kagematsu takes place in Japan, 1472, in and around a small unnamed village. This period was known as the Onin no Ran, and it was a time of internal strife. Most of the village’s men have gone off to war, leaving the women, children, elderly, and infirm to fend for themselves. Now a dangerous threat casts its shadow over the village, and without a defender, its people are almost certainly doomed.

Enter Kagematsu, a wayward samurai fleeing a troubled past. Here is a defender, if only he can be swayed from his course. So it is that several young women conspire among themselves to win his affections…

One player (a woman, by the text’s demands) will portray Kagematsu, and the remainder will play the women who seek Kagematsu’s attentions.

http://kagematsu.wordpress.com/
hollowpoint-title
Hollowpoint:
Hollowpoint is a role-playing game that uses a novel engine to generate fast on-the-fly violent action at the drop of a hat, brought to you by the award-winning developers of Diaspora. It’s ideally suited to a single evening’s play and encourages regular character death because, hey, this shit’s dangerous.

http://www.vsca.ca/Hollowpoint/
wushu_1024_jsh
Wushu Open:
Wushu Open is a game that would not take it anymore. A game that stood up against all these negative modifiers, penalty dice, fumbles and fun-killing limits. Here is a game that stood up. Wushu Open is not only able to cope with the wild over-the-top action of modern action movies, it encourages such stuff in a mechanical way. In this, Wushu Open is a rather generic game and rules set. You can as well apply it to western action as eastern action, military action, cartoon action, space action or whatever action.

Wushu Open is not about gear, character advancement, combat rounds, strategy, weapons, tactics, rules-lawyering, experience points, power-gaming, wound levels or fingernail-biting outcomes, that depend on a single die roll. And most of all it is not about emulating »realism« in role-playing games. Wushu Open doesn’t care about encumbrance, frost burn or falling damage, it deals with »realism« in the only way it knows, with reckless action. So really, it is about the fast moving action, man. It’s all about the action.

http://danielbayn.com/wushu/
bhaloidam-logo-med
Bhaloidam “Super Dysfunctional”:
You’re a team of superheroes with a contract to protect Megaopolis. Sadly – between sky-high insurance premiums, inflated contractor budgets for repairing damages done by the team, and ever-increasing support-staff salaries – this highly-coveted contract barely covers operational expenses, let alone pays the supers a living wage. So, you’re forced to seek endorsements in order to live the lifestyle to which you’ve become accustomed. Unfortunately, in order to land the good endorsements, you must stand out as an exceptional member of your team.

So now, with Megaopolis under threat, you must balance working _with_ your team to fulfill your contract, while making sure you grab enough of the limelight to pay your mortgage next month.

http://www.bhaloidam.com/

Ready, Set, Game PDX is brought to you by Play Out Loud. Play Out Loud serves Portland with spontaneous shared storytelling activities featuring non-mainstream games. Learn more athttp://www.facebook.com/playoutloudpdx.

Open Play 46: Nicotine Girls, Kobolds Ate My Baby, Out of the Blue

1 Jun

6pm – 10pm

Tuesday, June 4

Guardian Games

303 SE 3rd Ave at Pine St

The drill:
6:00pm – Chit chat, socialize, make merry.
6:15pm – Introduce the games and facilitators, facilitators will have the sign up sheets. Then, game on!
10:00pm – Any and and all who wish go out for drinks and/or banter, at one of the nearby establishments. Let’s talk about it.

And for the games! We are expecting one or two more games, but so far we have…

nicotinegirlslogo
Nicotine Girls:
Plain and simple, nicotine girls is a roleplaying game of teenage, lower-income girls looking for happiness. Each of you will play a girl with hopes, dreams, problems and fears. This will be a game about their chaotic and at times fair, but often totally unfair, lives.

You can find the complete rules through the link below.

http://www.halfmeme.com/nicotinegirls.html

512luylInEL._SL500_SS500_
Kobolds Ate My Baby:
It’s not your fault that Kobolds are gourmets. It’s not you fault that King Torg (All Hail King Torg!) is hungry. It’s not your fault that the tastiest thing a Kobold has ever eaten is sweet baby! And it’s defineatly, not your fault that Kobolds are the most incompetent, reckless, and accident prone race to ever crawl out of a cave. But it is your problem…

King Torg (All Hail King Torg!) needs you – yes, you – to go out to the nearby human town and bring back the freshest, tastiest, plumpest human babies you can find – or, the King will be eating you (and Kobold’s pretty darn tasty.)

Kobolds Ate My Baby! Super Deluxx Edition is the all new Beer and Pretzels Role-Playing Game! You and your friends take on the roles of Kobolds (short, furry cannon fodder with a penchant for gluttony and mayhem). Your mission is to raid towns and villages in search of the most delectable of Kobold treats – Babies! Along the way, you will learn forbidden magicks, face fearsome chickens, worship the Big Red God, die Random Horrible Deaths, and cook your friends for dinner!

http://www.koboldsatemybaby.com/

buddy cop
Out of the Blue:
‘Out of The Blue’ is a game designed for three players, designed to emulate a classic “buddy cop” movie. One player takes on the role of the Veteran, another plays the Rogue, while the third takes on the role of the city and its people: The Beat. The cops have one week to solve the case and prove the Rogue’s capabilities, while making sure that the Veteran survives long enough to retire.

Ready, Set, Game PDX is brought to you by Play Out Loud. Play Out Loud serves Portland with spontaneous shared storytelling activities featuring non-mainstream games. Learn more at http://www.facebook.com/playoutloudpdx.

XP: Spione

27 May

IMAG0410
Having read nothing more than the woefully inadequate blub by the designer on the game’s website, I really had no idea what to expect from Spione.

I get the sense that the game text supplies a lot of context and background information that I, personally, would have been glad to have. I haven’t played in many spy fiction games, and part of the reason for that is that I struggle with the genre. I just don’t know what to say or how to say it sometimes. I would be happy to play Spione again, and probably in more than one session, but I’d like to read that book first and soak up as much detail as possible.

One of the neatest features of the game is the way scenes are handled. Players may chose to continue and old scene or begin a new one for their principal character (if they have one) or for another player’s principal. This cycle is interrupted by Flashpoint, which is essentially the conflict resolution system for when interests conflict.

This paces out the story in a very organic manner. You cut back and forth with the interests of the group and bring all stories to a boil at the same time. It’s very cinematic and its super easy to follow.

Flashpoint uses a deck of cards to determine who gets to say what when and how far they can go with it when there are competing elements in the story. Just like the scene cycle, this is a very transparent way of doing business.

The strengths of this game are in being simple, clean and flexible. The weaknesses in this game are when the game is not those things.

When developing the principal characters, who are spies, a player must sort through what felt like dozens of sheets of identities and organizations, and then whip up a connecting tissue of background data.

Those sheets were extremely hard to follow. I never did get how to read the organization sheet (a flowchart of concentric boxes with no instructions on how to read the diagram), and the identity sheets were very poorly laid out for such simple information. I felt like I needed to do something with all of that information, but had no idea what it meant, nor any inkling of how or even why I should use it. Starting the game was very disorienting and I think this could have been avoided if this information was presented in a readable and non-overwhelming way. It would be an easy fix.

Worth a look see!

XP: Love in the Time of Sied

25 May

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Love in the Time of Sied is a gentle refocusing of Archipelago for a Nordic/Viking epic saga. My infatuation for Archipelago is, by this point, well documented, and frankly, LitToS makes no improvement on Archipelago. The text includes some odd statements and presentation at points, which was a little perplexing. But, it comes with a ready to play scenario that is reasonable easy to jump into. So, if you are looking for Archipelago without needing to do quite as much set up, this would be a fantastic choice.

For the most part, the strengths of LoiToS are the same as Archipelago. The game gets out of your way and gives you only the tools you need to tell an awesome story in a functional way. It’s easy to shoot from the hip and get awesome results each time. The weakness of the text are generally non-existant once you get to actually playing.

We had kind of a situation on our hands when we started: we had only three players instead of five. This is not ideal, and required some careful juggling of the other roles in order to optimize our results (King, Knight and Siedkona is what we went with and it worked sooo well). We opted to take some time to a history building and Key Phrase introduction exercise since we had so few players. I was a little unsure of this at first (feeling that the one reason I would play LitToS is so we didn’t have to do this), but we had time, so why not?

This included one player asking another a kind of leading questions about this history of the realm. While the player answered we used the Key Phrases to fine tune it to  our tastes. This was done in a kind of narration style and not a role-playing style. We ended up with a synopsis of the history and an outline of their mythology.

And the way it intersected with our play was brilliant. It was so easy to make intuitive and consequential moves in the narrative. Our game only lasted six scenes, but they were super tight, brought major developments each time, and honored the previously established fiction so thoroughly that we were surprised again and again how beautifully interwoven or story was. It was a peak experience and possibly the most satisfying game I’ve played at RSG ever.

It’s really tough to pinoint what makes these peak experiences happen. The game was flexible and builds in calibration of tone and expectations. All three of us were on our game as storytellers and gamers. It was noisy. We started pretty late and had a long break. We were down two players. The text is weird. Only one of us was any kind of familiar with the culture in question.

I’m inclined to say that a light dusting of complication as we had helped to keep us alert, on our toes and focused on making it a good experience. When you have to take every opening in the story in order to make it a good experience, well, you keep a better eye out for those openings, and you take them. Whatever it was, we had a simply amazing game.

XP: Dirty Secrets

23 May

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I was really skeptical of being able to have a positive gaming experience with Dirty Secrets.

I had to read the text three times just to be able to order all of the information in my brain. There is so much paraphernalia. The mechanics are anything but transparent.

But, despite all that, the game rocked.

Many of the procedural conventions which may seem a little arcane at first dove tail quite nicely into the other mechanics and this in turn helps to establish a sense of genre. In particular, I’m thinking of the first person narration and the witness grid (though, the witness grid will be hard to work with if you neglect the first person narration).

The liars dice resolution system is a very fun was to emulate the experience of solving a crime, and it lends strongly to the feel of the game, but the players will need to be prepped on how to play that effectively. Also, the Advisors have got to be contributing to the fiction – the Investigator and their opponent will have their hands full with statistics and trying to bluff and call bluffs.

One of the strength of this game, which takes just a little bit of faith, is the function of the witness grid. The witness grid ultimately determines the pacing and conclusion to the story. But, in the meanwhile, the events get very convoluted as it asks you to connect dots farther and farther apart. But this is a great boon, even if its not clear from the get go; we would not have had a story about the stolen remains of a mass grave any other way. Every player gets to have the experience of discovering the details of the mystery as the game progresses. This is not often so well achieved in a table-top game.

I find that I have less to say about my positive gaming experiences. All of the game components are much more invisible when they aren’t clashing with each other, the fiction or the players. In any case, Dirty Secrets is definatley worth your time if you enjoy the crime genre at all.

Open Play 45: Spione, NanoWorld, Microscope, Monsterhearts

20 May

6pm – 10pm

Tuesday, May 21

Guardian Games

303 SE 3rd Ave at Pine St

The Breakdown

6:00pm – Chit chat, socialize, make merry.
6:10pm – Introduce the games and facilitators, facilitators will have the sign up sheets.
6:15pm – Game on!
10:00pm – Any and and all who wish go out for drinks and/or banter, at one of the nearby establishments. Let’s talk about it.

And for the games!

spinoe
Spione:
It’s pronounced “shpee-OH-nuh” and means “spies” in German. It’s a book about spies in Berlin during the Cold War. It also presents Story Now, a new way to author and enjoy spy-fiction.

http://spione.adept-press.com/

clones
NanoWorld:
NanoWorld is a game about clones on the day things go wrong.

You are one among Nano’s vast workforce. You are a clone; will you discover yourself in the dystopian world of Nano?

NanoWorld is one of the new wave of nano ga-es and is based upon the Apocalypse World game system.

www.finemessgames.com

microscope
Microscope:
Humanity spreads to the stars and forges a galactic civilization…

Fledgling nations arise from the ruins of the empire…

An ancient line of dragon-kings dies out as magic fades from the realm…

These are all examples of Microscope games. Want to explore an epic history of your own creation, hundreds or thousands of years long, all in an afternoon? That’s Microscope.

You won’t play the game in chronological order. You can defy the limits of time and space, jumping backward or forward to explore the parts of the history that interest you. Want to leap a thousand years into the future and see how an institution shaped society? Want to jump back to the childhood of the king you just saw assassinated and find out what made him such a hated ruler? That’s normal in Microscope.

You have vast power to create… and to destroy. Build beautiful, tranquil jewels of civilization and then consume them with nuclear fire. Zoom out to watch the majestic tide of history wash across empires, then zoom in and explore the lives of the people who endured it.

Mock chronological order.
Defy time and space.
Build worlds and destroy them.

www.lamemage.com

MH
Monsterhearts:
Monsterhearts lets you and your friends create stories about sexy monsters, teenage angst, personal horror, and secret love triangles. When you play, you explore the terror and confusion that comes both with growing up and feeling like a monster.

Based on the Apocalypse World engine, this is a game with emergent story, messy relationships, a structured MC role, and a focus on hard choices.

It’s designed to evoke stories like True Blood, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Ginger Snaps or The Twilight Saga. If you like supernatural romances, or stories of monstrosity and personal horror, or if you just like watching sexy people ruin their lives, then you’ll love this game.

http://buriedwithoutceremony.com/monsterhearts/

Ready, Set, Game PDX is brought to you by Play Out Loud. Play Out Loud serves Portland with spontaneous shared storytelling activities featuring non-mainstream games. Learn more at http://www.facebook.com/playoutloudpdx.

XP: They Became Flesh

9 May

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I have very mixed feeling and experiences about this game. And you guys are probably getting the feeling that the majority of our gaming experiences at RSG are disappointing. I swear this isn’t the case!

 

I had an awesome play of this game with Elizabeth Sampat at Gamestorm. And it felt intuitive and obvious and it clicked and sang. I went away feeling like I knew exactly how it worked.

 

Then I read the text. And it almost seemed like a different game. And our play felt like a different game.

 

Alright, I gotta get some things off my chest.

 

Elizabeth, WHY are the online character sheets a kickstarter backer only resource? What the crackling hell is that about?

 

Why aren’t Revelations explained in the text? A reader could almost miss that, but it’s one of God’s main tools. Not to mention, any advise on how to use them effectively. Or any advise on how any of the players do anything effectively.

 

This text lacks a discussion on play style and approach. It appears to assume that a certain style is obvious. This kind of assumption is a cardinal sin of game texts. And seriously, the game is only thirty pages long. It would have been no issue to add in even five pages of discussion on this.

 

Every role needs more assistance from the text in terms of how they apply pressure and how that influences the other players. Every players needs more guidance in regards to how the conversation and story is built.

 

As a result, our game played out backwards. In retrospect, it began with the climax and moved towards the opposition. Even after having an excellent model from my own experience to draw on, at the table I felt powerless to mediate the relationship between the players, the game and the fiction. This was one of the most unusual experiences I’ve had at the game table.

 

Further, because the game is so open ended to various approaches, it suffers from a certain kind of incoherence as players all pull in different directions. The social atmosphere became somewhat polluted.

 

I really want to like They Became Flesh. I think I love the game it means to be. But this text is woefully incomplete and fails to do justice to the absolutely stellar concepts within. Much like many older story games, this game will not be widely accessible until there is some public wisdom about how one actually plays this game.