Monday, February 14, 2011

And you thought your High School had Drama

I just picked up two new games this weekend and I really like them both. "The Silver Kiss of the Magical Twilight of the Full Moon" and "Byron Falls". Both are short games and both are just 5 bucks, so for just a little cash you can get a couple of really fun games.

Both take the very ripe and ready genre of "High School Supernatural Romance" and run with it.  And yes I do mean things like "Twilight" and many other books and TV shows like "Vampire Diaries".  Set it all in some small town where the girls are super smart and beautiful, the boys are all emo and everyone is trying to date the local supernatural populace.

The hard core horror guy in me wants to rebel, saying that this is what is so wrong with the genre today.  That last generations monsters are this generations would be dates.  But in truth I just can't get worked up about it.  The games are fun, there is a bit of tongue in cheek here (ok, maybe more than a bit) and if these games can capture just a fraction of the "Teen Angst" market that sells the books and TV shows, then they will be the ones laughing at us hard core horror types. ;)

So what are these games?  Well if you have ever listened to a Smiths song, then that is what you have here.  Take those high school kids, mix in a supernatural and let wackiness ensue.  Both go for very rules-light presentations and instead focus on the relationships and interactions with the characters.    In fact the rules are so light that an enterprising GM could add these games to any current modern supernatural game (or even supers) for another level of play.

The Silver Kiss of the Magical Twilight of the Full Moon 
Silver Kiss, or SKMTFM in the book,  was the first one I picked up.
There are some very interesting things going on in this book too.  First I loved the idea of chocolate as XP, great thing to do and something I have used with younger kids too.  The game assumes four players; two humans and two supernaturals.   The stats are very simple and include names like "Emo" and "Bad Ass".  You get some points to redistribute, so you can have a high "Pretty" and a lower "Emo" for example.  The supernaturals get to choose their race and what they can do is agreed on by the group.  So vampires can walk around in sunlight or faeries can't go into churches.  Then the first scene, or soon after that, one of the humans and one the supernaturals fall in love.  It is designed to be very fluid and fast.  When there is conflict a simple d6 resolution mechanic is given.  The idea here is not who could beat who in a fight, but rather what would be more dramatic and even angsty for the game?  For example if tonight is the big prom (and there is always something going on "tonight") then if two characters get into a fight (let's say the brooding vampire boy and the pining werewolf boy) then the winner will be the one that causes the most drama for our human girl.  She wants to take the vampire, but if the vampire beats the crap out of the werewolf then she will feel for the poor werewolf!  So much drama.  And that is what the game is all about and I think the author Jenni Dowsett does it very, very well.  The game includes tons of "Secret agendas" for the supernatural creatures.  Everything from the personal (X is already in a relationship with Y) or the global (You can't be with her because you are a Z).
My favorite though is a bunch of Emo Quotes that are cut up and given to players to use.  The only thing that is really missing is a rule on how to handle the "long meaningful stare".   The character sheets are easy to fill out.  I suggest printing out the book two page per sheet, that gives your characters sheets a nice portable size that you can fold over like a small journal or diary.  An appendix of recommended reading, watching and listening is included. The game ends with a Halloween themed episode/adventure.
The author also has an active blog where she is posting new ideas for her game all the time, http://jennitalula.wordpress.com/.

Byron Falls
Byron Falls works in a similar manner.
Written by RPG demi-god John Wick Byron Falls focuses more on the human side of the equation.  The town of Byron Falls is full of beautiful, highly intelligent girls and women that only have eyes for the supernatural creatures in town.  And the town has more than their fair share.  Character generation is also very simple.  You have Interests, up to five Friends, an Enemy (or not) and your Grade.  All characters start out as High School Freshman (Grade 9).  The mechanic is a very simple one.  If you want to do something and it relevant to your interests or friends then you roll the number of dice that you have points in that area. Evens mean a success.  No success and your enemy gets to decide what the outcome of your actions are.  Again here it is not whether or not you have enough points in a area to beat someone up, but rather what is most dramatic for the game.  The supernatural creatures of BF also have to be agreed on.  Do Werewolves and Vampires hate each other? How do witches react around humans?
The game is designed with playing humans in mind, and female high schoolers in particular.  But over time more supernaturals can be added and even some characters may discover they are supernatural themselves (like becoming a witch on your 16th birthday).
The town is fleshed out and situations are given for role-playing.

Both games simultaneously poke fun at and respect their source material, which I think is about right.  They can see the silly side of this but at the same time understand that to the people in this situation it is all seriousness.  It is high school, where all drama in Big Drama and every choice is Life and Death.

If you are fan of the source material then these games will be fun.  If you are not a fan then these games can also still be a lot of fun if taken in the right mindset.

1 comment:

Pun said...

Both sound interesting. I think I might have to pick up "The Silver Kiss of the Magical Twilight of the Full Moon."

My wife's a Twilight fan (though not in the extreme, I'd have to drive a stake through her heart sort of way). I've always been a Buffy/Lost Boys style fan, so I can't fault her too much.

Anyways the games do sound pretty fun.

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