RPG Catch-Up, Part 4

And my quest to read through my rpg pdf collection continues! Four more games this time.

Fruit Hangs Heavy, by Matthijs Holter

A short, simple, rules-light story-telling rpg. The characters are all teenagers that each represent a specific trait of youth, like maybe naivete or self-assurance. There’s a bit of collaborative world-building & character-building and then players take turn creating scenes.

One interesting thing is there are cards that are used as inspiration for scenes. It’s not explicit, but my assumption is that scenes continue until all the cards are used up.

That’s pretty much it. I’d say it’s a little light for my tastes, or maybe it’s the premise, but it just doesn’t really grab me. I’m sure it appeals to others, though.

Fuck Armageddon, by David A. Hill Jr.

The genre of Fuck Armageddon seems best described as “punk-apocalypse”. So, an apocalypse, with monsters & demons and whatnot. And punks, which are the players. The game basically revolves around punks confronting monsters and shit-kicking them to death.

Mechanics are nice and simple with you rolling a pool of various-sized dice. If any of them come up as a 1, 2, or 3, you win!  Otherwise, you lose. And in a fun twist if any die comes up with its maximum value “you’re fucked”. You still win or lose, but, basically, a complication of some sort happens that has to be dealt with right now. It’s a fun way to keep introducing new elements to keep the story moving. Note that this means you’re more likely to win with smaller sized dice, but it also means you’re more likely to get the max number and introduce a complication.

Fighting a monster is slightly more drawn-out as monsters have a sort of HP mechanic that you have to wear down, but it still uses the above mechanic.

There are some rules on advancement and NPCs. And even on turning NPCs into PCs in the case of a PC death. And in the back of the book are some sample monsters to use.

That’s pretty much it. Fun premise & simple mechanics.

Also, I really dig the writing (seriously go check it out, the pdf is free).  Sort of a very casual I don’t give a fuck style of writing. Though you probably shouldn’t read the pdf if you don’t like a lot of vulgar language.

Definitely one it’d be fun to give a try sometime.

Geasa, by Jonathan Lavalee

Geasa is a GM-less storytelling game about people trying to achieve their dreams/desires and the Faeries who play with their lives — getting in their way, maybe helping achieve those dreams, etc. The game really puts an emphasis on Fae being alien & inscrutable, which is fun.

So, in the game every player will create a character and a Fae. Each has things they want, of course, and during character creation deals get made between characters & Fae, but never between a single player’s character and their Fae.

Geasa uses a pretty interesting bidding mechanic. Every player will have some dice arrayed in front of them, with like numbers grouped. When it comes time for a conflict they’ll pull from that pool and either bid dice above or below a target number, depending on the type of conflict, which determines the stat to use as a target number. You bid below (or equal to) the number for success, and above for failure. So, this means you may be bidding for success but a Fae or another character may be bidding for you to fail.

Also, if any dice come up a 1, they immediately get passed to a Fae because of the deal you’ve made with them. Also, if you use a 6 it represents some magic ability the Fae has given you. It’s powerful and you’ll probably get your way, but that 6 now goes to the Fae. The Fae can use the dice they’ve collected to make a character they’ve made a deal with do what they want. The more dice they spend the more powerful the effect.

That’s the bulk of the game. The humans trying to fulfill their dreams & desires while the Fae try to use them for their own purposes. There’s definitely a lot of PVP aspects to the game, which may put some people off.

The book also includes a lot of great inspirational material, like ideas for settings as well as different folklores/mythologies about fae, which are all pretty useful in getting a game going.

I’m generally not a big fan of PVP-style games and this is really built around that sort of conflict, but the premise of the game is pretty neat and I really enjoy the bidding mechanic with the dice moving from player to Fae an back as the game moves on. I think closed pools of dice that move around like that are pretty interesting — Technoir has something slightly similar, which I’m a big fan of.

Grey Ranks, by Jason Morningstar

This is one I’ve been looking forward to for a while. I’ve heard good things about it and I’m a big fan of anything Jason/Bully Pulpit puts out.

It’s sort of a historical rpg in that it’s based around the Grey Ranks, which were pretty much child (teenage) soldiers during the German occupation of Poland and the failed Polish uprising to drive out the Germans during WWII.

That’s already a pretty compelling premise. Right out of the gate, you’re pretty much doomed to fail. We know the uprising won’t be successful, so this game is all about the journey. Not to mention what it might have been like being a teenager fighting in a war all while trying to figure out the normal teenager things like love, emotions, & your own body.

Like many of Jason’s games this is a GM-less game with a set scene structure. The game is meant to take place over 10 chapters (estimating 3 sessions of play). Each chapter (excluding 1 and 10 as those are slightly different) involve an overarching mission and then each character gets mission & personal scenes.

Through the course of the mission scenes dice are built up which will be used to roll against the current target, which is the chapter number multiplied by the number of players. As you can see the target number quickly gets up pretty high. There are ways that players can offer larger dice, but they usually come at a cost of some sort. Bringing in those higher dice is a limited resource, so you have to be careful about bringing them in.

Personal scenes are used to complete personal-sorts of goals. A lot of times these will come in the form of a flashback.

Making it even more interesting is that there’s a grid that tracks the emotional state of the players. One axis is Love & Hate, the other is Exhaustion & Enthusiasm. A character’s location on the grid determines a number of things and enough “bad” moves on the grid could mean your character dies. This gets interesting because success/failure in mission & personal scenes moves you along the grid in set ways. So there’s sometimes you may want to deliberately fail one of those to prevent yourself moving toward the edge of the grid where bad things might start to be happening. This ties in to the strategy of choosing when to use up your limited uses of larger die types.

So, like many of Jason’s games the mechanics are pretty simple & straightforward, but they have some interesting depth. The real game comes with the scene structure and the advancement of the chapters, which follow major events in the uprising that the players use as inspiration for missions and such.

I really look forward to playing it sometime. At least a one-shot, but a full game of it would be really fantastic to try sometime.


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