First new Game of 2017: PbtA

I am oh so very late to the party, but thought I´d share some of my thoughts.

For the longest time Apocalypse World games have been a mystery to me. I did not get them at all, wasn`t able to finish reading the rules of DW because they seemed weird, meta and “artificial”. It came to a point that the mere mention of “GM Moves” made me itch. Now, the new Kult edition will use a PbtA derivative. And I  man promised a good friend to run Kult for him. Hence I was “forced” to finally look at it more closely. I got a lot of helpful tips on RPG.net. Started reading the Dungeon Wold Guide. Read various blogposts. I still did not grasp what the fuck these games where about and how they are supposed to work.

Then someone linked me to Adam Koebels AW actual play for roll20. I watched around 8 Hours of this, switching between the game session and his prep videos. And I learned that in reality a PbtA game isn´t that much different from our “normal” RPG fare. For some reasons the designers decided to hide that fact behind obtuse language and new terminology. At least that’s how I feel about the rules.

The biggest differences I think are that the focus is more on “What is it you want to achieve” and less about “What do you do”. So shooting someone could be an attack, but it could also be another thing, depending on what the goal of the character is. There is also a lot more mechanical “interconnection” between the characters then in a classic RPG. Hence it flows a bit differently. It also seems to reduce a lot of die rolling but makes every roll mean something. And the time not spend dice rolling is instead applied to introspection and character motivation. Something I am not sure I need in a classic “Kill the monsters, take their stuff” games. But I will watch some DW next to get a feel for it.

After years of saying “No PbbtA, ever!” I finally came around. I am very interested to get into a game of PbtA now or run one. I love player input into the fiction and the world prep, so this will fit nicely. There are some things I am not that hot about. Mostly that characters seem to really only differentiate mechanically in their special moves since there are no skills. But then PbtA does not seem to need those at all.

In fact I feel this could work wonderfully for the types of games I image. Light Prep, collaborating with the players but still with enough mechanic heft to not make it pure “Storytime”. It is still a bit obscure for me in the sense that I would not be able to create my own “hack” of the rules to suit my needs yet. DnD or Savage Worlds are much easier in that regard as they are more mechanical and specific. I could hack SW after reading and playing it once for example.

PbtA games are definitely different, but not as different as I thought. I look forward to learn more and hopefully play in a game soon.

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