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.
0 thoughts on “So, so many mixed feelings on this one.”
Eclipse Phase reigns in its transhumanist far-future nonsense by hemming it in with conspiracies and x-threats, but I do wish these games would just pick another angle and run with it. To me, this screams posthuman art wars, but that’s a tough sell to joe average gamer.
I’m not joe average gamer and it’s a tough sell to me.
I think it’s a mistake to exclude moves-as-skills from the realm of possibly good PbtA games. It may not be taking advantage of an aspect of the system in the same way AW is, and that may be an aspect you really like, but I’m wary of making “good PbtA hack” a narrow application that must fit a specific pattern. If there’s other cool meaty bits dangling off the game, awesome.
That’s not to say this specific game is well designed, I haven’t read it so I have no idea, but I don’t want to see a PbtA orthodoxy emerge even though I get what you’re saying.
(Nitpicky aside: this isn’t their first non house game. Their cyberpunk game was D20.)
Bret Gillan oh agreed. This is where Dungeon World and Uncharted Worlds come in, yeah?
(If I need to chum the waters with Sanguine news to get you into my threads, Bret Gillan, I’ll do it! You watch me!)
My personal opinions on Dungeon World and Uncharted Worlds don’t really bolster my point. 😛
Good AW hacks move the fiction forward with every move, and in a game this high concept the moves really have to be there to help keep things moving.
Socratic jiujitsu aside, I definitely recommend folks at least take a look at this thing. Might be the space adventure game of our dreams! I mean, it’s a worthy goal: a sexy space fun game that somehow procedurally/fictionally supports the sexy space fun?
I just skimmed the sample rules. Reeaally interesting. Lots of currency manipulation. Lots. Way different from other PbtA hacks I’ve seen. My gutfeel about it is good but I don’t have a good sense of how tightly the currencies fit together in play. But again, I only read a sample.
Did someone say LEXX?! I didn’t think anyone else in the multiverse watched it besides me. There’s a part of me that would have lots of fun with LEXX the RPG. The other part of me knows nothing but shame and embarrassment and wants to hide in a cupboard.
I just came in here to mention LEXX. Again.
Bret Gillan yeah, all those currencies are interesting to me too. Apparently you get the draft right away if you back it so…
At a higher level than I backed it at. I was like “I can wait until January” but who knows if this conversation will still be going by then? 😛
I kinda think MYZ is sort of the end point of Moves-as-Skills.
I passed on this one because it felt too gonzo.
I did give this a bit more weight because someone I follow on Kickstarter already backed it. But even having not looked at the draft yet, I am hopeful and want to give it the benefit of the doubt.
I just don’t really get what they’re doing with the shipping on the physical levels. The FAQ on it didn’t really explain it in a way that left me understanding it after reading.
I share all your concerns, Paul Beakley. From what’s visible here, it seems like they want to do sexy space fantasy, but don’t want to come right out and say it, and I fear the moves and playbooks will also hide it.
On the plus side, a reskinned Monsterhearts would do awkward sexy space inter-species fantasy pretty well! Ship plan instead of seating chart… Also the main KS art makes me want to pull out Sufficiently Advanced.
I feel like they should have used Cypher system where the skills can really just be skills. This is intriguing but whoo boy that’s a lot of categories and numbers on the sample playbook.
Between Mashed (which just funded) and Bluebeard’s Bride and Ghost Court and Monsterhearts 2, I am tapped for Kickstarters that don’t immediately grab me. Also… I honestly can’t imagine that even if this was a perfect (to me) implementation of “sexy science fiction” that I would ever find a table to bring it to.
All I can say is that the kitschy font is hurting my eyes, and the examples of play are kind of turning me off.
But, honestly, I was not super-interested in this project to begin with. Plus, I was kind of let down by Myriad Song, so there.
Edit: Pointless comment is pointless.
I like being able to model different power levels, and extra support for group actions, but I’m also not convinced that they are that deft with AW.