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Review: ‘Masks: A New Generation’

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The Powered by the Apocalypse system, Vince Baker’s revolutionary game design paradigm originally showcased in Apocalypse World, has become a big of a mixed blessing: while it inspired games like Monsterhearts (which is incredibly important to me as it massively changed how I play and think about roleplaying games), it seems like lots of people are trying to make PbtA games without really thinking about what that means. The virtue of PbtA is that is can emulate a specific combination of genre, emotional intensity and surprising twists like no other system that currently exists. At the same time, it just doesn’t work for everything. It shouldn’t – it’s not a generic system. It’s pretty much the opposite of that. There are some great places to look for systems that can be hacked into whatever shape you like: Fate if you want high-action, minimal changes; Cortex for something more tailored to genre emulation; Hillfolk for high-drama big-picture plots.

So when I hear ‘it’s x done in PbtA’, my heart sinks a little. Will it disappoint me? My ears prick up. Will it have mechanics I really want to get my teeth into?

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Review: ‘Breaking the Ice’

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Breaking the Ice by Emily Care Boss is a two-player game that tells the story of a relationship through its rocky start into a bright future. I was initially dubious about this game, as I felt that it would inevitably be awkward and weird to play, provoking lots of trashy novel descriptions and stilted, melodramatic dialogue, but I’m pleasantly surprised. It’s fresh, fun and opens a dialogue right from the start about comfort levels. Continue reading

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Review: ‘Monsterhearts’

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Monsterhearts is one of those games that’s acquired a sort of mythic status (certainly where I live). It’s known for being emotionally powerful, excellent for genre emulation and potentially hugely variable depending on the campaign. Maybe that’s just in my friends’ circle, but there are good reasons for this reputation. Continue reading