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Monsterhearts
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/29/2017 12:32:52

I'm of mixed feelings about this one. On the one hand, it is superbly well done. On the other, I feel a little like my social contract has been violated (joking a little).

I would guess that this is much closer to the horror sources listed than to Buffy or Twilight (even though it's clear where those inspirations come in in the mechanics, it's very nicely done). This is skewed towards true horror with a salacious, malicious bent. Which I can see is in the blurb, now that I'm looking for it and not blinkered by the word "Twilight". Firmly on the "these stories is a metaphor for the horrible things people do as adolescents" side. Much more complex and difficult than I expected. This is... a good thing? I think.

The mechanics are great and accomplish exactly what they promise. The "growing up" mechanics are brilliant. With the right group this would allow you to tell amazing, rich stories with emotional impact and sexy, disturbing things happening all the time.

Sadly, I don't have a group like that, but I'm still glad I purchased it and read it cover to cover.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Monsterhearts
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The Quiet Year
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/24/2016 17:46:41

Played at PAX and loved it. Purchased because I would love to play it again. My only reason for not giving this a solid 5 stars is that the purchaseable product is formatted as a chart where you can lookup results using poker cards. I would have liked to have seen a printable deck that I could cut out for a more seamless play experience.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Quiet Year
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Monsterhearts
by Harpal K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/09/2016 14:17:53

It's a teen monster drama RPG. I figure most people can figure out whether that will appeal to them or not, so I'll just say that if you're into the genre or into exploring teen angst in an RPG format, you should get this. It also excels in its capacity for (and insistence on) exploration of queer identity. A really good implementation of Apocalypse World's engine IMHO, the strings mechanic works really well, and it's a super fun game!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Monsterhearts
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Monsterhearts
by Patrick S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/27/2016 07:29:41

After searching for a RPG that would allow stories like Beautiful creatures, Mortal instruments, RubyRed and such, I found Monsterhearts. I found funny the game mechanics where you either alter the mood of the opponent or get influence on him. But after studying it, it's sooooo narrativist, and will lead to only developing the characters' interactions and psychology and not develop a story, even less a campaign.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Ribbon Drive
by Brandon A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/17/2015 04:12:09

I'll start with my synopsis: Ribbon Drive is a GM-less game about characters on a road trip. The setting, characters and tone of the game are all determined by the musical playlists the players have prepared in advance. It's a good, solid game for when you're looking for a fun break from the norm; co-op storytelling best suited to a relaxed Saturday night with a good playlist and a good drink. Rulesmongers and munchkins need not apply.

I bought this game because my friends and I were looking for something a bit different than the normal Fiasco or Poison'd game to run on the nights between campaigns or on the weekends when we get together and hang out. We were looking for something we could all enjoy, something for just sitting back and telling a story, something that didn't require a lot of work or pre-planning, and something that went nice with a beer or cocktail in hand. Low key was the key here.

Ribbon Drive only hit three out of our four requirements, but that's not a bad thing.

Something we all could enjoy: Check! This game is huge hit with our friends that like storytelling games. Not so much with the ones that enjoy lots of crunchy rules bits. This is because it's a really rules light game. They're a bit vague to read, but make a strange amount of sense when you play. Just be sure to have the book handy your first time through and it'll all be okay. The hardest part for us is remembering to bring in obstacles. Most of our games tend to have fewer obstacles, and we like it that way, but that's going to depend a lot on your play style.

Something for sitting back and telling a story: Check! Ribbon Drive is great for telling a story, but whether you're laid back and sipping your drink or sitting on the edge of your seat screaming at your friends is going to depend on the music you're listening to. I CANNOT STRESS THIS ENOUGH! Your game will vary wildly depending on the playlist. For a bit of illustration, one night we where we played two games, we started with two wildly different playlists. The first playlist, entitled "Lost Love," was meant to tell the story of two lovers breaking up and getting back together again. It led us on a melancholy roam across Southern Europe trying to help our best friend and brother to get over his lost love. Our second playlist was a mixture of speed metal and dubstep called "Madness" that started with a road trip of convenience to the funeral of a mutual friend and ended in a cocaine-fueled rampage across New Jersey. Part of the joy of the game is seeing how everyone reacts to your list and takes it in ways you never even dreamed of.

Something that doesn't require a lot of pre-planning: Nope! I need to be clear: getting your playlist right can become a labor of love or, in my case, an obsession. A playlist done right will provide an amazing guide to crafting your tale, but a poorly done list will quickly turn a game south. I highly recommend spending a decent amount of time putting your playlist together and then giving it at least one listen through before you debut it. We've found that good playlists take anywhere from 2-4 hours to complete, including that initial play through. We all agree that when you spend time working on it, rather than taking a few minutes and stuffing whatever looks good onto the list, you end up with a much better game. Having a few playlists ready made and available is a good idea for nights where you want a "pickup game" of Ribbon Drive.

Something that goes nice with a beer or cocktail in hand: Check! It's rules light, doesn't require a lot of intense strategy or math, and has simple characters that can be scribbled on a Post-It note, so it's a good game to play when you're drinking. It's not a Beer-and-Pretzels game like Kobolds Ate My Baby, but being a bit buzzed can put you in the relaxed state of mind this game encourages. Just be sure to consume your adult beverage of choice responsibly, assuming you're of legal age. Also, don't drink and drive, at least not in real life. Stay home and play Ribbon Drive instead.

The PDF itself is nicely laid out, with good font choice, nice contrast and use of color. The images are a bit distracting and feel quite random, but don't really hurt the presentation per se. Your mileage may vary. Multiple formats are included for various devices, which is a nice touch. All in all, well worth the asking price (at the time of this review and when I bought it: $8.00).

Occasionally, it seems a bit pretentious with the writing, wanting to be about living in the now, ignoring the past and forsaking the future, all for the sake of a transcendental road trip. Don't let it throw you off, it's not as pretentious as it pretends to be. We've run all sorts of games using the same basic rules: love stories to murder mysteries, Blaxploitation to shagadelic 60's super spies. It's all in the music you show up with.

We've played Ribbon Drive many times with groups ranging from three players in an intimate setting (completed in just over an hour) to an epic nine player adventure that took most of the night (around eight hours, not including the dinner break) and we've learned a few things along the way. Here are our tips and tricks for Ribbon Drive, presented in no particular order.

1) The more players you have, the shorter each individual playlist should be. Everyone has crafted a list they're proud of and wants a chance at having it played. The more players you have, the less likely you are to detour (switch lists). By keeping lists shorter, more music gets played and more people can shine.

2) They say 3-5 players, but you can do more, so long as you a) be sure to keep play moving smoothly, b) are prepared for a longer game, and c) are okay splitting the party. This is a road trip game and we've discovered that while cramming a bunch of characters into an 8 passenger van has a certain appeal, dividing up between two or three smaller vehicles makes for better story telling. We've used various plot devices (CB radios or walkie talkies usually) to keep the cars in contact and it can make for fun drama when the person talking isn't relaying the right message to the other car. Also, if you're playing 5 or less players, only take one car. Trust us.

3) Do not use Youtube videos, multiple CDs, or other things that have to manually be changed for a single playlist. It will completely destroy the game. You want to be able to set and forget, and much like real driving, too much messing with the radio will make distract you from what's important.

4) Don't bring printouts of the lyrics to the game. Do make sure to have a few cell phones or laptops where the lyrics can be referenced if needed. Our experience has been that slavishly reading the lyrics means you miss a lot of the point of the music itself. Listen first, read second.

5) The car is a character in its own right. It should have as much detail as any one of the PCs, if not more. Give it a make, a model, a color, even a name if that's what your characters would do with it. It's going to be the one near constant piece of scenery in the story and it will make a huge impact. Going to California in a faded VW camper van will give you different story than road tripping in a silver Porsche Panamera with custom rims or a black Chevrolet Suburban with dark tinted windows. At the start of each scene clearly state where everyone is in the car, or if outside of the car, where they are in relation to the car. Be specific as to who's in the driver's seat, who's got shotgun, and who is in back snoring. Don't forget to determine whose car it is and who has keys at the outset. This comes up over and over again, more than you can possibly imagine.

6) Expect your list to be played differently than what you imagined it. Everyone will react to your list differently and will have their own ideas as to what it means. Embrace it, let the other players show you a different side of your music. DON'T BE INSULTED OR ANGRY IF THEY DON'T "GET IT." It will just ruin the game for you and probably those around you. I've spent the majority of my life working in sound design and production (including six years as a professional DJ) and I have yet to make a list that gives me the exact game I want. That's okay, because that's not the point. The music is a guide, not a prison.

7) Lastly, make an effort for the music. If possible, play the music on a good sound system rather than off of a cell phone's tiny speaker. At the very least, steal those old computer speakers your parents have lying around and use those. When a bunch of people are talking, it's easy for the music to get lost. Set it at a comfortable volume where you can hear it and can still hear the person across the room from you. Pick one person to be in charge of the music, preferably the music nerd. Let them do what they do best so the rest of you can enjoy the game.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Ribbon Drive
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The Quiet Year
by William C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/17/2014 01:58:06

I love this game. It's very simple and allows for an insane amount of creativity. It a fusation of board game and rpg, not quite one and not quite the other. I have run this at three conventions as well as for friends and significant others of gaming friends who are not 'into' games and they all had a blast. While people mind find it daunting Rp'ing Grignar the Mage of the Three Spheres of Dawn, its a lot less stressful saying "Uh..the new scarcity is...hammers." and then draw a small hammer with an X through it or deciding that the new danger to the community is "Um...giant..crawfish..are..in the river and attacking our sheep!" and then draw a big old crawfish on the map. There are no numbers or columns and tons of dice to confuse or fret over. The act of drawing and watching things grow and change really draws everyone one.

The game recommends using a piece of printer paper or loose leaf paper, which works fine, for the map. I personally use one of those large wet erase roll up battle maps and a 8-pack of colored markers for all the drawing. It really gets people to be creative with the drawing. At every con most of the players end up taking pictures of the maps.

This is a game for any age bracket and player level. I've had hardcore grognards, 10 year olds and 40 year old mother who have never played an RPG in her life and each one loved it.

Buy this game. It's totally worth it.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Quiet Year
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Monsterhearts
by Roger (. L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/13/2014 05:28:28

http://www.teilzeithelden.de/2014/12/13/indie-spotlight-monsterhearts-teen-sex-horror-story/

Ein Spiel um Monster in einer amerikanischen Highschool? Das klingt nach aufgewärmtem Twilight-Brei. Doch in Monsterhearts werden Vampirfänge und Werwölfe zu einem erschreckend psychologischen Teenager-Drama, in dem die Sexualität der Charaktere Teil der Spielmechanik ist. Aber ist es darüber hinaus auch ein gutes Rollenspiel?

Indie-Spotlight: Monsterhearts – Teen Sex Horror Story

Monsterhearts erschien im Jahr 2012 dank einer Kampagne auf der Crowdfunding-Plattform Indiegogo. Autorin Avery Alder McDaldno lässt die Spieler in die Haut von bekannten Monster-Typen schlüpfen und konzentriert sich auf Probleme der Adoleszenz: persönliche Dramen und Bedürfnisse. Einige Spieler loben Monsterhearts dafür als erschreckend realistisches Teenie-Setting oder sogar Queer-Rollenspiel. Aber wie genau passen die Sexualitäts-Mechaniken in das Spiel? Verkommt eine Monsterhearts-Runde am Ende nicht automatisch zu einer Beziehungs-Schmonzette? Und muss das überhaupt schlecht sein?

Die Spielwelt: Shades of Vampire-High Monsterhearts spielt an einer High-School in Amerika. Wo, ist dabei unwichtig, die sind alle gleich: Cliquen, Außenseiter, quälender Alltag und unterdrückte Sexualität. Dabei wird die Schule von Monstern besucht, die sich als ganz normale Schüler ausgeben – dutzende Teen-Romance-Romane lassen grüßen. Auf einen mythologischen Überbau à la World of Darkness wird hier verzichtet. Wo Vampire, Feen und Werwölfe herkommen und welchen übernatürlichen Regeln sie unterliegen, bleibt ungeklärt. Dabei gäbe es schon Klärungsbedarf: Was etwa ist das Abyss und warum kann jeder Charakter diese anrufen, um Visionen zu erhalten? Was sind die Dark Powers, denen einige Charaktere einen Gefallen schulden? Auf welche Weise können Monster ihre Natur wechseln, wie in den Regeln für längere Kampagnen vorgeschlagen wird?

Das alles spielt für Monsterhearts keine Rolle und würde nur vom eigentlichen Fokus des Spiels ablenken: den Beziehungen zwischen Charakteren. Daraus macht das Rollenspiel auch keinen Hehl und bezeichnet sich als „Teen Sex Horror Story“. Mit Buffy the Vampire Slayer hat Monsterhearts also weniger zu tun, als mit Twilight. Zwar kann man einen Chosen spielen, doch dieser Monsterjäger verändert das Spiel zugleich merklich und baut „Monster von Außerhalb“ ein, die nicht näher beschrieben werden. Etwas böse formuliert dienen Monster und übernatürliche Fähigkeiten vor allem dazu, ein Spiel um Teenager-Beziehungen aufzupeppen und mit einem Schuss Horror zu versehen. Doch Monsterhearts geht einen Schritt weiter: Die Monster sind immer zugleich Metaphern für psychologische Typen von Teenagern und ihrer Probleme.

Das Vorwort von Avery Alder McDaldno drückt das Spielgefühl von Monsterhearts perfekt aus:

[quote] Du spielst [Monsterhearts], weil die Charaktere sexy und kaputt sind. Du spielst, weil die Sexualität von Teenagern peinlich und doch faszinierend ist – das Material für brillante Geschichten. Du spielst, weil die Monster trotz ihrer Natur, trotz der Welt, in der sie leben, ihren Fängen, ihren verschacherten Seelen und kochenden Kesseln nicht nur Monster sind. Sie sind auch Heranwachsende, die versuchen ihre Bedürfnisse zu befriedigen. Sie sind, wer wir früher waren – und wer wir manchmal noch heute sind. Du spielst, um dich zu verlieren und um dich zu erinnern. Und sind wir ehrlich: Du spielst, weil du schuldbewusst auf übernatürliche Monster und Liebesgeschichten stehst, aber insgeheim glaubst, du könntest sie besser schreiben. Gut, das ist deine Gelegenheit, es zu beweisen. [/quote]

Die Regeln: ApocalypseSys für Teens Monsterhearts verwendet ein modifiziertes ApocalypseSys, aus dem preisgekrönten Indie-Rollenspiel Apocalypse World. Die Attribute sind hierbei jedoch dem Highschool-Setting angepasst: Hot macht ein Gegenüber an oder manipuliert einen NSC, Cold hilft dabei, jemanden emotional zu verletzen, bloßzustellen und selbst die Nerven zu behalten. Volatile ist für körperliche Handlungen wie Kampf oder Flucht zuständig und Dark ermöglicht magische Sonderfähigkeiten der Charaktere, sowie dem Abgrund (Abyss) Fragen zu stellen, die vielleicht mit einer Vision beantwortet werden. Proben benutzen 2W6 plus ein Attribut gegen eine Standardschwierigkeit von 10. Ein Ergebnis von 7 bis 9 gilt als Teilerfolg und der Spieler muss etwas dafür opfern oder ungünstige Umstände in Kauf nehmen. So weit, so bekannt.

Neu und besonders wichtig in Monsterhearts sind Strings. Diese erinnern am ehesten an Aspekte aus Erzählsystemen wie Fate, bestehen aber immer zwischen zwei Spielfiguren. So kann ein Charakter Strings durch Handlungen erzeugen und später für Bonuswürfel bei Proben gegen diese Figur benutzen. Auch interessant ist die Möglichkeit, Strings in Erfahrungspunkte umzuwandeln – aber nur, wenn das Gegenüber etwas Ungewöhnliches für den Charakter tut. So entsteht nach kurzer Spielzeit ein Geflecht durch das man ablesen kann, welcher Teenager über welchen anderen am meisten Einfluss besitzt. Spieltechnisch sorgt das Strings-System dafür, dass Charaktere Einfluss aufbauen müssen, um effektiv an ein Ziel zu gelangen. Dadurch erhalten aber gleichsam andere Charaktere Einfluss über die Rollen. Das ist elegant und passt perfekt zum Setting einer intriganten Highschool, mit oder ohne Monsterwesen.

Spielbarkeit aus Spielleitersicht Der konkrete Schauplatz, die Highschool mit ihren Lehrern, Klassenräumen und Besonderheiten, entsteht ganz aus der Vorstellung der Spieler zu Spielbeginn. Hierbei legt schon das System besonderen Wert auf Beziehungen zwischen den Charakteren und NSC und unterstützt damit die Aufgaben des Spielleiters. Der muss dann nur noch die richtigen Fäden ziehen, um großes Drama zu erzeugen. Ganz klar stehen die Interaktion zwischen Spielfiguren und ihre persönlichen Geschichten damit im Mittelpunkt. Spielrunden, die lieber regelmäßig gegen ein „Monster der Woche“ kämpfen, sind mit einem anderen System besser beraten. Der Spielleiter muss dabei Nichtspielercharaktere mit Tiefe und Leben füllen. Was wollen sie? Welche Eigenarten und Schwächen haben sie? Wie lange machen sie das mit? Wann brechen sie zusammen? Das ist nicht mit ein paar Werten getan und erfordert einiges an Vorarbeit, wenn nicht gerade ein Improvisationstalent hinter dem Spielleiterschirm sitzt. Besonderen Wert legt Monsterhearts dabei darauf, die Sehnsüchte der Charaktere unerfüllt zu lassen, um sie interessant zu halten. Haben sie einmal ihr Ziel erreicht, ihre wahre Liebe gefunden oder sind erwachsen geworden, muss Monsterhearts ein Ende finden. Hand aufs Herz: Unerfahrene Spielleiter dürften sich mit Monsterhearts die Finger verbrennen. Das liegt nicht nur am schwierigen Thema Sexualität, sondern auch daran, dass das Regelwerk trotz vieler gutgemeinter Ratschläge den Spielleiter beim Hintergrund alleine lässt. Ein konkretes Abenteuer samt ausgearbeitetem Setting und Gegenspielern gibt es zwar (The Blood of Misty Harbour), doch das kostet extra. Unschön. Spielleiter mit langjähriger World of Darkness-Erfahrung sind hier klar im Vorteil. Dafür kann Monsterhearts aber leicht an so gut wie jedes „young adult fantasy romance“-Setting angepasst und damit zu Fan-Fiction in Rollenspielform werden.

Spielbarkeit aus Spielersicht Spieler wählen den Charakter aus einer Liste von sogenannten Skins und passen ihn mit Werten und einzigartigen Moves an. Das geht schnell und ist denkbar unkompliziert. Jedes Skin hat dabei ein passendes Darkest Self, einen Charakterzug, der immer dann eine Weile das Spiel beherrscht, wenn Dinge für den Charakter richtig schiefgelaufen sind. Skins entsprechen Monster-Typen gängiger Urban-Fantasy. Hier einige Beispiele:

Ein Vampire ist emotional kalt und bindet doch andere Charaktere an sich. Sein Darkest Self lässt ihn alle Personen wie Spielzeuge zu seinem Nutzen behandeln. Ein Werewolf ist leidenschaftlich und gewalttätig. Als Darkest Self versucht er als Wolfsbestie andere körperlich zu unterwerfen. Eine Witch ist verschwiegen und genießt die Manipulation von anderen. Als Darkest Self wertet sie Gehörtes als persönliche Kränkung und schwört magische Rache. Ein Ghoul hungert nach etwas, sei es Macht, Chaos oder sogar Angst. Als Darkest Self geht er für dieses Ziel sogar über Leichen. Ein Ghost hat (durch seinen Tod) ein unerledigtes Trauma, für das er andere Charaktere verantwortlich macht. Als Darkest Self wird er unsichtbar für alle anderen Charaktere.

Dazu kann ein Spieler für seinen Charakter besondere Moves aussuchen. Diese sind klassisch und hätten auch aus anderen Rollenspielen wie der World of Darkness stammen können. Ghosts gehen durch Wände, Witches verzaubern und verfluchen Opfer über Sympathetic Magic. Etwas Besonderes sind die Sex-Moves, von denen jeder Skin genau einen bekommt. Diese Spielmechanik passiert automatisch beim Beischlaf. So kann etwa die Schuld bei dunklen Mächten übertragen, oder der Sexualpartner zu einem Gefolgsmann verwandelt werden.

Die Auswahl an spielbaren Rollen ist ausreichend, auch wenn es schade ist, dass sich Skin, Darkest Self und Sex-Move nicht standardmäßig entkoppeln und frei wählen lassen (das wird im Kapitel „Modifying Skins“ immerhin als Option nachgetragen). Eine Sonderregel verhindert, dass ein Skin mehrmals gewählt werden kann. Das nervt auf den ersten Blick, erhält aber die Dynamik einer Gruppe durch unterschiedliche Ziele. Die eigentlichen „Schwierigkeiten“ von Monsterhearts für Spieler liegen woanders:

Jeder mit Jedem – Das „Problem“ Sexualität In Monsterhearts kann jeder Spielercharakter jeden anderen Charakter oder NSC anmachen und mit ihm im Bett landen. Dabei werden besondere Effekte (Sex-Moves) ausgelöst: So verliert ein Vampir automatisch alle Strings zur Bettgeschichte. Auch andere Mechaniken sind sexualisiert – ein Charakter heilt schneller, wenn jemand anderes sich „zärtlich“ um die Wunden kümmert. Damit ist gespielte (nicht aber zwingend ausgespielte) Sexualität ein elementarer Bestandteil der Spielerfahrung von Monsterhearts. Das berührt ein Tabu-Thema des Hobbys, um das viele Spielrunden lieber einen großen Bogen machen. Monsterhearts ist wohl nur für vertraute Spielrunden geeignet und kaum etwas für One-Shots auf Conventions oder mit Fremden. Die Mitspieler sollten vorher alle über das Setting Bescheid wissen – sonst drohen Kicher-Alarm und peinliche Blicke am Spieltisch.

Interessant ist, wie Sexualität in Monsterhearts präsentiert wird. Das feministische Bitch Magazine etwa lobt, dass alle Regeln realistischen sexuellen Dynamiken entsprechen. Von angelegtem Sexismus also keine Spur. Das ist erfrischend, beschaut man sich die traditionellen Ketten-Bikinis anderer Rollenspielwelten. Die explizit freie Wahl der Sexualpartner in Monsterhearts ist zudem um einiges moderner und näher an tatsächlicher Highschool-Sexualität, als etwa die zwanghaft keusche Stalker-Beziehung von Edward Cullen und Bella Swan in Twilight. Für den Spieler bedeutet das vor allem eine ungewohnte, von Spielmechaniken unterstützte, Freiheit der Sexualität des eigenen Charakters. Rollenspiel als Aufklärung im Sinn der Queer-Bewegung? Das Kapitel „Queer Content“ ist da eindeutig. Warum eigentlich nicht? Das Hobby ist schließlich erwachsen geworden.

Spieler gegen Spieler – Das „Problem“ PvP Skins geben in Monsterhearts klare Ziele vor, die sich häufig im Weg stehen. Spätestens durch ausgelöstes Darkest Self geraten Spielercharaktere aneinander und handeln plötzlich gegeneinander. Einen Spielercharakter über Schuldgefühle zu fragwürdigen Handlungen zu treiben, kommt dabei genauso vor, wie etwa Dominanzgebahren, Anfeindungen oder Intrigen. Damit ist auch PvP, ein weiteres Tabu-Thema in vielen Spielrunden, ein Teil von Monsterhearts. Das passt zwar zum rauen Alltag einer amerikanischen Highschool, ist aber bei weitem nichts für jeden Spieler. Wer hier der Spielidee und seinem Charakter folgt, erzeugt im schlimmsten Fall einen echten Konflikt am Spieltisch. Hier braucht es eine erwachsene Spielrunde, die Spielgeschehen und Wirklichkeit konsequent trennen kann.

Preis-/Leistungs-Verhältnis 10 USD für ein Indie-Rollenspiel sind ein fairer Preis. Da kann man eigentlich nichts sagen, vor allem bei dem umfangreichen, kostenlosen Download-Material. Trotzdem fühlt sich Monsterhearts erst mit dem konkreten Abenteuer The Blood of Misty Harbour richtig vollständig an. Doch dafür sind noch einmal 5 USD fällig.

Erscheinungsbild Das bei DrivethruRPG angezeigte Cover mit der beißenden Vampirin hätte auch auf dem Band einer Twilight-Ausgabe gepasst. Seltsamerweise findet es sich gar nicht im eigentlichen PDF – dort ist es durch ein stilisiertes Monster Hearts-Logo in Fangzahn-Optik ersetzt, was an Vampire: The Masquerade erinnert. Im Inneren des Buches finden sich 18 sehr gelungene Schwarz-Weiß-Zeichnungen, die das Rollenspiel gut illustrieren. Ansonsten ist das PDF gut zu lesen und hat sogar einen soliden Index, samt Querverlinkungen – vorbildlich.

Bonus-/Downloadcontent Auf der offiziellen Website des Rollenspiels steht viel Material zum Download zur Verfügung. So findet sich dort eine Übersicht über die Skins, Reference Sheets sowie der zusätzliche Skin Serpentine.

Besonders interessant dürfte Safe Hearts sein, ein Leitfaden um problematische Inhalte im Rollenspiel, der auch generell sehr lesenswert ist. Fazit Monsterhearts ist kein generisches Vampir- oder Monsterjäger-Rollenspiel. Stattdessen spielt Autorin Avery Alder McDaldno das konsequent durch, was in den Regeln zum Thema Sexualität bei Apocalypse World schon angerissen war. Monsterhearts ist damit „young adult fantasy romance“ als Rollenspiel. Klar, dass dabei komplexe Beziehungsgeflechte zwischen Charakteren und deren Emotionen die Hauptrolle spielen – für soziale Interaktion, Intrigen und Drama ist also gesorgt. Cliquenbildung, Flirten, Sex und letztendlich das Spiel gegen (!) andere Spielercharaktere sind essentieller Teil von Monsterhearts und sicher nicht für jedermann geeignet. Es braucht erwachsene, erfahrene Spieler, die kein Problem mit sexuellen Themen und eine Affinität zum Genre haben, damit Monsterhearts gelingen kann. Zugegeben, das dürfte die Zielgruppe stark einschränken.

Obwohl ich mit den Twilight-Büchern so gar nichts anfangen kann, habe ich Monsterhearts gerne in meine Indie-Rollenspielsammlung aufgenommen. Besonderes Lob verdient in meinen Augen das Spieldesign, das es schafft, die Monster als Metaphern für tatsächliche Teenager-Psychologie zu verwenden und Sexualität als Mechanik einzusetzen, ohne Sexismus anzulegen oder per Augenzwinkern zu entschärfen. Trotz Teenie-Hintergrund ist Monsterhearts damit ein anspruchsvolles, sehr erwachsenes Rollenspiel, das einen Hinweis darauf gibt, wozu dieses Medium jenseits von Elfen und Zwergen eigentlich fähig ist. Interessanter als das nächste generische Fantasy-Setting sind die Monster-Teenager allemal.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Monsterhearts
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The Unburied Collection
by Wonny C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/04/2014 00:32:11

Been curious of The Quiet Year for sometime now. Finally pulled trigger for the bundle. Great value for a great set of unique games.

I LOVE the presentation and layout of all the docs. Only minor complain would be that the Quiet Year did not include the Printable Cards and the Oracle.

But otherwise no regret. BUY THIS!!!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Unburied Collection
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The Unburied Collection
by Jason C. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/20/2013 20:01:44

When I started playing RPGs, I had my favorite brands, but if you asked me who the designers were, I would mispronounce "Gygax" as a (wrong) guess and that would be it. This led to some very strange situations. When I was playing D&D with my middle school friends we were always arguing about what "the game rules really said", because in our 7th grade nerdy way we won our arguments by appealing to what we thought D&D "meant". We had no conception of what it meant to have many dozens of people work on a brand over the years between when D&D came about and when we were arguing about it. It made no sense whatsoever to expect that D&D would be the same game, or that the rules would be the same, or that it would even have the same goals over that period of time as a product, as a brand, or even as a game.

These days I try to think about RPGs and RPG products as independent to an extent. I try, especially here, to gauge what its goals are and whether it achieves them in the moment (not necessarily even whether I like it very much or not!)

So when a designer like Joe McDaldno, who puts the "ute" in auteur (don't ask me what that means) decides to put together a bundle of ALL their games, from early missteps to current classics, it's a good opportunity to see how someone's preferences, approach and thinking on RPGs can change over time, in a way you wouldn't get from becoming a fan of a property like D&D or Shadowrun.

I've already left an extensive review of Monsterhearts on that product. Go there and check it out if you want. Suffice to say it's amazing and this contains both the Monsterhearts corebook, some additional playbooks (character sheets with special rules built into them) and a miniseries called the Blood of Misty Harbor, basically an already-prepped setup for Monsterhearts. I almost feel like the key elements that make a Monsterhearts scenario go must be generated at the table so I question its necessity, but it at least shows you how a Monsterhearts campaign is set up and launched.

So let's talk about the other games:

The Quiet Year - This is a card game about a quiet year in a postapocalyptic community. It involves the physical creation of a map at the table. Although there are certain personalities that develop over playing the game it isn't really an RPG. Instead, it creates a setting, puts it in motion, gives it some troubles and they resolve or they don't. The tactile elements of this game elevate it above many other setting-creation tools that I've seen, and the unique pacing of the card mechanic for the year's events make it both suspenseful and actually makes it feel like a living, breathing place. Warning: If you don't like the ending of No Country For Old Men, A) you are not going to like the ending of this game, and B) you do not have good taste.

Like The Quiet Year, Ribbon Drive centers around an artifact, though in Ribbon Drive it's a set of music (we called them "mix tapes", ya damn kids) that is used as a soundtrack to create a "road movie" style adventure starring characters inspired by one of the mixes. Although it's very freeform, it avoids a lot of problems of freeform games by putting interesting restrictions in. For example, anyone can speak up if it would make sense for their character to be in a scene, but the last person to speak up is the one that can introduce an obstacle. If nobody can use their traits to overcome an obstacle, the group takes a Detour and the mix changes to one prepared by someone else. The use of musical inspiration means that you might even change genres if the imagery or emotion of the music is strong enough. Another interesting restriction is that the characters can't talk about the future except for the two potential futures you select for each character at character creation. This avoids the problem many freeform games have of meandering along with no goal. You will always be thinking of the potential outcome of the game!

Two "hacks" (we used to call these "campaign supplements", ya damn kids) are included, one for Firefly-a-like country-science fiction (a clear omission in this case is an ironclad requirement that only country/western music be permitted in the mix tapes) and one for slasher movies. These are fine, but at least the slasher flick one is a bit unnecessary - you can do a horror-themed road movie just by choosing the right music and discussing it up front.

Heart of Ashes: This is a "coloring book" and RPG that uses some Apocalypse-World-like mechanics (moves, playbooks for the young characters) to tell a story of character who gains magic power and travels to another world. One thing it does do a little better than a lot of AW-style games is that it uses tags ("Keys" here) much more effectively. However, other than that I don't think that the situation is well-detailed or the mechanics as well-connected to the target fiction when compared to other, successful AW-style games (including Monsterhearts.) It's worth checking out, especially for the playbooks, but perhaps not the strongest entry in the catalog.

Abnormal: "A game about body horror". This one is actually new to me from the bundle. Body horror is a subgenre of horror that I have most experience with from the movies of David Cronenberg (though perhaps the most well-regarded recent film with body horror elements is Black Swan.) This game puts firm roles on the players: a Watcher, who experiences the horror, the Horror itself, which spreads its infection and influence, attempting to overwhelm the Witness, and Supports, who try to ground the Witness in reality (and who may end up being victims.) The most interesting thing about this game from my perspective is the pacing. The Horror has two "winning" endgames - one where it completely consumes the Witness and another where it is permanently entwined with the Witness. The Witness and Supports succeed if they reclaim the Witnesses' life from the horror. Interestingly, the Witness describes primarily their thoughts and the Horror describes primarily their sensory experiences, and although the Witness describes their actions in a general sense, the Horror describes how they may probe and sense into the horrific world. Each side takes turns, rolling to see how and what types of manifestations occur or are battled. I'm not actually a fan of body horror in general, but this one seems to be a solid adaptation that I might like a little better than the source material.

Rookvale is a "grimdark Pokemon" strategic RPG about traveling through a fantastic realm which is being invaded by evolving demons. On the GM's turn, they move, introduce and evolve demons on a map of the kingdom - players then respond by determining where to go, which demons to try to defeat (and which, naturally, to capture). Rookvale got a lot of internet forum press (arguments) because of its six genders for characters. Folks, if you're already believing in a gothic fantasy realm where demons invade and you have to team up to battle them, it shouldn't be a giant stretch for you to imagine it's also a society with different gender roles. And gender matters in this game - you will see from the mechanics how different genders produce teamwork effects in battle, while still situating them in the well-sketched fantasy world. Probably the best thing abut Rookvale is the pacing. The pressure is on to nail the demons before they evolve too far to capture or defeat.

Good Parents and Three Days are very tightly constrained mini-games. Good Parents is for three people, who portray a couple with a child who have split up, and the "new stepparent". Leading, forceful questions make an untentable situation, and over several scenes the three characters must make decisions about how to deal with each other. I very much like the "use this as a covert LARP at a convention" rules, where you invent a hand signal to show that you want an interaction to be in character, and get to it.

Keep It Sunny is a jaw-droppingly on-target "It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia" adaptation that focuses on the kind of "loathing comedy" that show specializes in. I really don't like that show or that kind of comedy but you absolutely must see how the questions and character options make both the comedy and the game work.

Three Days is a game in which two players portray two characters - one who is smitten with the other, and the second who is more tentative about their feelings. The person playing the tentative player, no joke, knits as a way of expressing what their character is feeling at various times during the interactions. Yes, you literally knit something as a mechanic in this RPG. That is completely mental. (I don't have anyone I can play this game with, my wife CROSS STITCHES!! flips table) But it also is a subtle signal that the players can use to gauge and fire up their imagination - when the player of the tentative character reaches for a "negative" color of thread, the player of the smitten character doesn't need a cue, or to read a cue, in the words of the other player. They know the other character is feeling negatively!

Three Days makes you knit and Rookvale has six genders, but now I'm gonna talk about the REALLY weird games in this bundle. Ready?

Teen Witch and Brave Sparrow: In these single-player LARPs (you have no idea how long it took me to formulate that this is what they were), you are asked to take on and immerse yourself in the identity of a teenage (young woman) witch and a sparrow cursed to be in human form. You interact with things in your house or in your normal experience in the persona of these characters, which are themselves facets of you. You seek out locations to play and eventually try to bring other people into the game as well. These two games really push the envelope of what roleplaying can do. They demand that you immerse to a tremendous degree, and to do so, at least at first, alone, away from a table and friends.

Now I thought I was a cool, experienced roleplaying dude. Yeah, I'm a GM, so I've played a teenage girl with magic powers before, what about it? No big deal, right? Right. But the whole idea of doing it alone carried with it a massive load of very weird vulnerability. Shouldn't it be the other way around? Shouldn't I be more worried about what I do among my friends at the gaming table than what I might think alone in my mind? Oh no, definitely not, I discovered. Definitely not. If you enjoy immersion in your roleplaying at all, I urge you to read these games and think about what your reaction to them means about your normal roleplaying experience. Not to mention that both of them playfully have you practice doing things like recognizing beauty in your life and coping with negative emotions, so that's cool too.

After these two games it seems almost anticlimactic to mention there's a couple of Apocalypse World things in here: a playbook (the Grotesque) and a slimmed-down version (Simple World.) Meh, whatever, Apocalypse World is a fun game I guess but I ain't here to play THAT.

Finally I want to mention that the bundle contains games that the designer is now "less than excited about" and one that they designed and is now "actively embarrassed about". There are interesting to see how they relate to the goals and mechanics of the other games. Snakes & Ladders: Deluxe Advanced Edition just seems ill-conceived. Deserting Paradise I actually quite like - it brings the oppression of Perfect, Unrevised into a modern punk-supernatural world, and pairs it with a Grand Theft Auto-like escalation system for the authorities ("The Man") of that world.

The game the designer is actively embarrassed about is Gun Thief. In a "Concerns.txt" they now see it as actively misogynistic. This criticism seems valid - also, from a gameplay perspective, the three roles of the three players in the game do not have the same kind of directed friction as the set roles in Three Days or Good Parents, and without that friction there is no real benefit to the limitations of the roles. It's best classified as an interesting game that misses the mark in several ways.

The elements of McDaldno's design are easier to see in a collection like this: the use of crafts or creating artifacts as central elements of preparation or play, the use of strongly defined character roles and unique mechanics for each of those roles, subject matter that includes romantic and relationship, and experimental mechanics and setting material. These are things you can really only see in a bundle like this, rather than trying to track a brand or a property over time, we see what a singular designer thinks about various types of games and gaming.

You really owe it to yourself to give these innovative, exciting games a look. It's perhaps the best bundle on the site. Now let me drop my mike and go look for some sparrow feathers.

(An earlier version of this review was posted today, with some mis-pronoun-ciations and a couple of typos.)



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Quiet Year
by Travis P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/25/2013 19:46:21

I was hesitant to pay for a product that sounded fairly crunch-less, but am very glad that I did! The Quiet Year is a fascinating game of the "Scandinavian role play" style (more broadly descriptive, involving collaborative overall storytelling, rather than taking on identities of specific characters). The rules are very simple and straight-forward, yet allow for infinite creativity of the players and absolutely endless re-playability. I can see this game becoming one of my group's favorites for casual evenings when we aren't in a crunchy mood and want to exercise our imagination more than most other games allow.

I can see grade-school kids playing perfectly well. Many people may not like the fact that there is no "winner" and the game cannot truly be "won" in a sense (although, if everyone in your group wants to play it that way, it is certainly easy to do via the Contempt mechanic). I suspect most skeptics would change their minds should they give it a chance.

Despite being only 14 or 15 pages long with pictures, I feel this PDF is well worth the cost. My only criticism is that the official deck of The Quiet Year cards are kind of pricy ($25 plus shipping, from the publisher's website), but the game works perfectly well with just a regular deck of playing cards.

If your gaming group is social and enjoys cooperative games, I strongly recommend The Quiet Year!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Quiet Year
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The Quiet Year
by mark k. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/15/2013 13:06:40

this is a really fun game, but really it seems more like a mental exercise in world building. it's a unique setting with interesting mechanics. things happen in the world, for good and for bad, but you always feel invested in the creation and destruction of the civilization you and the other players create. for the price, it's a steal, and you will get your money's worth. i look forward to playing it again and again.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Monsterhearts
by Jason C. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/06/2013 14:45:16

I helped kickstart this book. It's better than the game that gave it birth.

Apocalypse World is a game with a very simple system: you roll 2d6, and add a couple of modifiers. At 6 or below you fail, from 7-9 you succeed, though at a cost, and at 10+, you succeed big time. It's your basic postapocalyptic game. Monsterhearts takes this core system and applies it to a messy game of teenaged monsters, and blows it out of the water, because it's tradeoffs like "succeeding with a cost" that make those stories work, when they do.

The players each select a "playbook", basically a partly pregenerated character. Unlike in other games, only one player may select each playbook - you won't have a game with 5 Vampires, you will have a game with a Vampire, a Werewolf, a Mortal, a Chosen, and so on. You then mark a couple of options and you're now ready to start setting up the situation.

The situation is developed using pointed questions about relationships between and among the player characters and NPCs, who can be their fellow students in high school or their families (or substitute families in the case of Vampires or other "infectious" playbooks.)

The characters turn against each other very quickly - this is a game where PVP is part of play, but much like high school, the PVP doesn't necessarily take the form of hating each other. It could be that someone is just SO IN LOVE with someone who would prefer they jump in front of a train.

Play is relatively freeform, but that freeform is organized into "moves" that your character will inevitably end up making in their attempts to get what they want and go after their goals. What's cool is that the mechanics I mentioned above encourage you to try to get as much control of the situation before you go for what you want, but as you seek out that control, you become more compromised and other people get their hooks into you. If you make a gamble without doing that, though, you are likely to have to pay a significant cost for your success.

The key mechanic in the game is "strings". You gain strings on characters that you have emotional ties to, and those strings make your abilities, both mundane and supernatural, more effective, and give them more impact on the story. Yet at the same time, other characters will be gaining strings on you and manipulating you to pursue their goals and interests.

Advancement comes with discrete, clear steps forward in your character's effectiveness...yet on a broader scale there is a "season" advancement that only kicks in when you play for a while. This includes replacing the teenagery things you can do with more mature versions - "turn someone on" becomes "make someone feel beautiful". This kind of insight into why the characters you're playing are messed up, while still giving them a mechanical way out, is tremendously satisfying.

Do not buy this game thinking it will be a nice generic vampire game. Do not buy this game unless you have some idea why the Twilight series, as a concept, works so effectively for so many people. (You don't have to actually like Twilight to enjoy this game, since Stephanie Meyer can't actually write, just grasp what it's about.) Do not buy this game thinking it will be a Buffy-style team-up fight against monsters. (Just buy the Buffy RPG if you want that, it's pretty great.)

Do buy this game if you like developing complicated relationships between player characters. Do buy this game if you like messy situations and partial victories hard-won. Do buy this game if you want to see the Apocalypse World engine fire on all cylinders. Do buy this game if you want permission from a game system to go after what your character wants with absolutely no boundaries. Do buy this game if you want to try a game that's about your emotions as much or more than your capabilities, and links your emotions to your capabilities in an inextricable way. In short, buy this game right now, you will absolutely, positively, not regret it.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Monsterhearts
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