Here’s a hack of Graham W’s excellent Cthulhu Dark, with apologies.
Want to dive into the deep end of the feels-forward indie scene? Here’s a stripped down version of literally every feels-forward game ever designed.
Your Sad Sack
Choose a name, an occupation, and an insoluble personal problem. Describe your sad sack. Take a green Sadness die.
Your Sadness shows how deeply you feel your feels. It starts at 1.
When you feel anything, anything at all, roll your Sadness die. If you get higher than your Sadness, add 1 to your Sadness and roleplay your feels.
Is your Sadness real? Can you really feel your own feels? Sometimes, it is hard to tell.
Stumbling Around Looking For A Scene
When you stumble around looking for a scene, roll:
1 die if what you’re doing can even be called a scene
1 die if it’s related to your insoluble personal problem
your Sadness die, if you will risk feeling things to succeed
If your Sadness die rolls higher than any other die, make a Sadness roll, as above.
Your highest die shows how solid your scene framing is. On a 1, it’s just barely a scene: if you need a theme to hang all your talky improv on, you get it, but that’s all. On a 4, you get a theme and buy-in from other players.
On a 5, you get juicy subtext and everyone says ooooh.
On a 6, you get themes, subtext plus, in some way, you recontextualize stuff you or someone else said. This probably means you feel things and have to make a Sadness roll.
If someone thinks the story would be more interesting if you fail to come up with a scene, they explain how your framing lacks context, leads nowhere, or shuts off fruitful exploration, then rolls a die (called the “failure die”). They can do this even if you actually came up with a decent frame, because it’s important to establish creative dominance.
If their failure die rolls higher than your highest die, oops, your scene falls apart. What were you thinking? Just…find your feels, shut up, and you’ll get invited into someone else’s scene. A better scene.
If you included your sadness die in a roll and you’re not happy with the result, you may reroll all your dice.
If you didn’t include your Sadness die, you may add it and reroll. Say something sad about your insoluble personal problem.
Understanding The Full Horror
When your Sadness reaches 6, you understand the full horror of feels-forward indie gaming and leave everyday life behind. To the rest of the gaming universe, you appear insane. This is a special moment: everyone focuses on your sad sack’s last moments of uncritical trad gaming, evil races, murderhoboing, cryptocolonialism, etc and so on.
(It was funnier when I thought the Insight die was the Madness die. See because Madness and Sadness sound the same and…)