When discussing his design goals on Kickstarter, Ben Robbins characterised Follow as “the game I wanted to have in my bag” – a go-to game that’s simple, replayable, good for one-shots and friendly to new roleplayers. It’s a manifesto both modest and quietly revolutionary. Follow might not be my favourite RPG, but it could be my desert island pick if I only played one game for the rest of my life. As staggeringly adaptable as Microscope was purposefully specific, Robbins’ new entry deserves just as much praise as his landmark setting generation epic.
Devoid of setting, genre or a distinguishing mechanical hook, Follow is not an easy game to sell. It’s about teamwork, sacrifice and the ordeal of undertaking great quests, which sounds like a description of every roleplaying game ever made. What’s most unique about Follow is the excellent framework it provides to help a group of strangers with no ideas reliably generate a compelling narrative. The game’s 18 genre-neutral quests all come with gameable prompts for PCs (every player controls two), scene framing, and an ultimate goal, which focuses the mind splendidly. None of the analysis paralysis that characterises Microscope is present here.
A comparison with Becoming is perhaps useful. Both games concern themselves with the physical and psychological cost of undertaking the hero’s journey, and provide quest templates to structure that experience. The difference is that Becoming is about isolation, a biography of One Hero who is stripped of allies by the intensity of the adventurer’s crucible, and harnesses mechanics to struggle against their personal demons. Follow is about community, facilitating a larger cast through troupe play. Its core resolution mechanic, in which players contribute coloured stones to a bag to indicate approval or disapproval, then draw from it at random, tempers luck with democracy. I like both games, but I’d argue that Follow is a better fit for the medium of cooperative storytelling.
Follow is a masterpiece of design goals fulfilled as intended. It has few mechanics to enjoy mastering, and doesn’t support campaign play, but what it does do it does exceptionally well. Buy yourself a copy, and keep it on hand – the next time a session of your campaign falls through, you’ll be glad to have a one-shot replacement game, every bit as good as your regular entertainment.
(I never review a game I haven’t played or run. Check out https://michaelduxbury.com/category/reviews/ for more RPG reviews.)