So, so many mixed feelings on this one.
The big one is that this screams BUT WHAT DO YOU DOOOO at me. There are playbooks. There are apparently moves. There’s an “inspiration card” stretch goal. But all the inspirations they list — and I really like the list — are such narrow, specific premises. They share an aesthetic, which is sexy space fun. I have no idea how to map “sexy space fun” onto a premise. What do you do(ooo) in Farflung?
From the Kickstarter page: “…the only limits are your imagination.” Please no. Oh lord. Later, there are a few campaign ideas, but damned if they don’t all just sound like generic space adventure. I totally can’t feel the connection between the design and whatever premise there may be.
The next big one is that I’m not at all persuaded that they actually “get” PbtA, based on the very first sentence they use to explain their take: “Declare it, then do it. Let the uncertain be broken down into simple, random rolls.” — that does not sound anything at all like my own understanding of what PbtA is about. In fact it sounds like marketing-talk that could be applied to literally every RPG (involving randomizers) ever written.
I’m looking at their common moves sample page and it’s pretty much wall-to-wall “moves are just skills.” A Notable (I won’t name here) and I recently had this conversation and agreed that the line between “good” and “bad” PbtA hacks is how well they understand that Moves can be both triggered and used. Like, you don’t always get to choose when a Move gets rolled. But when you treat Moves like skills, that just never comes up.
But the upsides swing me back. Sanguine makes Myriad Song, which I know folks have some affection for. They also do Iron Claw, which apparently is a go-to in anthropomorphic gaming. Their list of inspirations is full of zany sexy stuff I adore (Fifth Element, Hitchhikers Guide, Torchwood). For heaven’s sake there are bottom and top stats, and if that doesn’t scream Lexx I don’t know what does.
And there’s this interesting thing they do with History (Hx), per straight Apocalypse World. There’s also Present (Px) and Future (Fx) points you need to spend to use some extra-zany stuff. Having that economy in place further cements the “moves are skills” design aesthetic, but still I think that’s pretty interesting.
So: strong visuals (with a fairly strong boob-tilt, as to be expected if you’re pulling in Lexx and Farscape), iffy design, a known publisher doing their
first second (!) non-house-system game, and it’s space adventure, which lord knows PbtA could use more of. Hmmhmmhmm.