Mini-Review: Dungeon World

Dungeon World is not a fantasy adaptation of Apocalypse World. Key elements of the fantasy genre, such as mass battles or courtly dramas, go entirely unaddressed within its pages. Instead, Dungeon World is a D&D adaptation of Apocalypse World, meaning it’s about adventurers going on dungeon crawls and not a lot else. That’s hard for me to review, because whilst I love Apocalypse World, I don’t love D&D… and I suspect that the bits of Dungeon World I find most obnoxious will be the bits most celebrated by its intended market. Continue reading

The Hype Strikes Back: (Possible) 2016 RPG Releases

About a year ago I wrote about RPG releases I was looking forward to in 2015, and examining the list now is pretty embarrassing. Of the ten games I mentioned, two already had PDF releases in 2014, two still haven’t come out yet, one has been officially abandoned for now, and one seems to have been unofficially abandoned (or least, the hint of an upcoming Cortex Plus “Heroic Roleplaying” game no longer appears on the Margaret Weis website).

I’m hesitant, then, to do something similar for 2016… Continue reading

It Follows: A Monsterhearts Mini-Hack

I went to the cinema to see “It Follows” the other day.  It’s a good horror movie.  Lots of interesting things explored about the male gaze, and why it is so threatening to women (when you don’t know which person amongst the crowd is a predator, survival instinct warns that they all are).  Some of the acting and writing’s a little dodgy, and it’s not particularly scary either, but it’s interesting enough to be worth your time, if horror movies are your kind of thing.

I was struck afterwards how easy it would be to adapt the set-up of the movie to fit within a Monsterhearts campaign.  So I’ve given it a bash below.  Be warned that spoilers for the movie abound. Continue reading

Mini-Review: Apocalypse World

Four years and countless adaptations later, the original is still the best. Quibbling over the extent of its innovation (or which gaming primogenitor deserves to be recognised as the “true innovator”) is fundamentally missing the point. This is a landmark achievement of game design, and one of the best RPG releases of the decade. When gaming historians look back at The Forge and the Naughties’ story gaming movement, Apocalypse World will stand out as its crowning accomplishment. Continue reading

I Would Die For You: Death Moves in Monsterhearts

Recently I wrote about the conditions that force Monsterhearts characters into their “Darkest Selves”, the death of that character being one of them. I criticised this approach for its trivialisation of death, and for its contribution to the ubiquity of the Darkest Self condition. Whilst death in a supernaturally themed game doesn’t need to be the end of a PC’s story, it shouldn’t just be a convenient trigger for a roaring rampage of revenge. As Simon Pegg put it: “Death is an impediment, not an energy drink”.

(He was talking about the slow zombies in Shaun of the Dead, but it’s almost relevant.)

As an alternative, I’ve hacked together a series of “Death Moves” for each of the core Skins in Monsterhearts. They are triggered when you take four harm and choose to avoid death, and are a replacement for the “enter Darkest Self or lose all strings” default move in Monsterhearts. Continue reading

Darkness There and Nothing More: My Problem with Monsterhearts

Monsterhearts is a paranormal romance RPG about “the messy lives of teenage monsters” that’s Powered by the Apocalypse. Assuming that the “paranormal romance” part didn’t immediately turn you off, that’s a pretty strong sales pitch, since Apocalypse World remains one of the most innovative advances in tabletop RPG design for the last decade. Let it not be said, though, that Monsterhearts coasts by on the successes of its predecessor – there are plenty of new gameplay options introduced to adapt the system to its new setting, and many of them are implemented successfully. Continue reading