A Note on Spoilers: I will do my best to avoid these when possible and merely whet your interest.
Here are some of the things I enjoyed in January 2018:
KIDS ON BIKES RPG
Kids on Bikes by Jon Gilmour and Doug Levandowski was the runaway RPG Kickstarter success story of 2017. Inspired by the hit Netflix original series Stranger Things, I eagerly backed this at a level that will eventually score me a hardcover expanded edition copy (plus a shit ton of modules designed by some of the biggest names in the indy RPG scene). I received my first backer reward in January: a PDF copy of the core rulebook (basic, not expanded). I dove right in and have to say I'm pretty impressed with the game.
This is a narrative-style RPG clearly influenced by Fate, Apocalypse World/various Powered By games, Cortex Plus, and perhaps more. It features collaborative setting building and player narrative control and hits all the right notes with regards to diversity and respect for the wishes and boundaries of the participant players. There are six stats—Brains, Brawn, Fight, Flight, Charm, and Grit—each of which is assigned a value of one of the following die types: d4 (your weakest stat), d6, d8, d10, d12, and d20 (your strongest stat). These stats are what you roll when you attempt to do something in the game (Stat Checks), either against a difficulty number or another character's opposing roll. There are degrees of success that decide outcome and narrative control of outcome, with an emphasis on "make failure interesting". When you fail a roll, you earn an Adversity Token you can apply as a bonus to future rolls.
What I particularly enjoyed is how the game handles powered characters, the role of Eleven in Stranger Things for example. The powered character is shared between players as well as the GM. Each player gets some aspect of the powered character to roleplay and make decisions for, be that the power itself, a personality trait or flaw, or how they react to other characters. Any player can activate any of these aspects at any time they feel appropriate during the game, but the player controlling that aspect is responsible for making it happen. The GM can introduce things about the powered character as well. It's very clever and a viable solution to the potential problem of every player wanting powers in a game that includes powers.
I also want to give a shout out to the inspired artwork by Heather Vaughan.
Dark is a German Netflix original series recently dubbed into English and released in the United States.
Cons: You really have to pay attention, more so than you did for Lost. There are many generational characters in several different families over three time periods separated by 33 years—2019, 1986, and 1953*—with some characters played by different actors depending on when the story is taking place**, and then they travel through time. Also the dubbing into English is awkward in many places. It's not as bad as a 1960s Japanese Godzilla flick, but with some characters speaking in English with an accent and others more American in style, at times it reminded me of a dubbed-into-English-from-Swedish Pippi Longstocking movie.
*Don't read anything into the order I listed these. Or do.
**The Wikipedia article has family trees now. Somebody should add stills of the actors. *thumb on nose* Not it!
AMERICAN HORROR STORY: ROANOKE
|Out on Netflix. Mildly entertaining, but I think we've jumped the shark now.|
THE THRILL OF DRACULA BY KEN HITE
Nightmares of Mine to GURPS Horror and more recently the GUMSHOE RPGs like Trail of Cthulhu and Night's Black Agents. I picked up The Thrill of Dracula as part of the recent Dracula Dossier (for Night's Black Agents) Bundle of Holding.
This book starts with an overview of the original Bram Stoker novel themes and characters. It then goes through almost every Dracula movie made—the good, the bad, and the ugly. Each movie is presented through a synopsis, how it differs from and/or pays tribute to the original novel, some thoughtful criticism, and a section on things you can take away and use at the game table. This last section is not only useful for Night's Black Agents campaigns but any game where the Count makes an appearance. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and discovered a few new Dracula movies I hadn't seen before and now I'm hunting down to watch.
Mrs. Amworth is based on a short story by E.F. Benson. Apparently there is a 2007 remake.
That's all for this month. Thanks for reading!