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

GenCon: Day Four Overview

I just sat down for dinner, with dessert, and I’m so tired that my speech is slurred.  Which can only mean that GenCon 2014 has come to an end.  The unofficial motto of GenCon is “eat, sleep, game: pick two”; I seem to have half-eaten and half-slept over the last four days, which is at least mathematically compliant.

Today was a short day, with events only running for six hours (contrast yesterday, when I was busy 9am to 9pm).  Here’s what I got up to: Continue reading