When it comes to Table Top RPG games, despite being weaned on AD&D 2E and the occasional game of Shadowrun my favourite RPG system still remains FATE (plus the FAE and FATE Condensed variants), mostly as it not only allows the players to guide the narrative, but it encourages creative exploration of player characters and how the various facets of their personality evolving over the course of gameplay.
I feel it really captures the collaborative nature that is sought after in our TTRPG worlds, interpretation of descriptions both character and world can be played on and alters how the game evolves.
I’m not going to lie the system isn’t for everyone, if a player struggles to be imaginative and/or creative then they aren’t likely to find as much enjoyment from the mechanics and gameplay to the same extent as someone that does.
A new player joins
However over the last few years a new contender has turned my head and has fast become my go to system/framework when I want to run a game that my players can pick up easily and dive straight into.
I am, of course, talking about Powered by the Apocalypse (PbtA) framework (or games inspired by it), originally created for the Apocalypse World game it has re-enforced the concept of fiction first TTRPGs.
By simplifying systems and player classes it actually paves the way for the storytelling to shine through, making it great for both one-shots and campaigns alike.
I have run a number of games that are PbtA and the familiarity of the core mechanics means that as the GM or player it has a familiar feeling, which is one of the factors in my turning to it as my first port of call when pondering a new game. There are a large number of PbtA games out in the world and they cover so many genres that you are likely to find something that fits your needs.
My first experience of a PbtA game was Monster of the Week , the game that mimics the episodic style of ‘Monster of the Week’ TV shows like Buffy, X-Files and Supernatural.
It’s a blast setting the players up as Monster Hunters, exploring their history and reasons for becoming one, what makes them tick and what their relationship is like with the other team members. I also love crafting settings, monsters and characters for this game as I can almost picture them featured in a show and it lends itself to my creative process when fleshing out details and behaviours.
If you want to play something different and memorable with your gaming group, I can’t encourage you enough to look into running a Monster of the Week game.
Need a quick overview?
Check out this “How to Play” video from World of Game Design, which does a great job of summing up the game key features in 15 minutes.
Last minute plug
I am going to do a small plug here for a friends PbtA game, created by the wonderful Remescient (funnily who I met while watching MotW streams on Twitch) Starhold is a space-themed survival horror TTRPG set on the very fringes of our universe, a hostile and unforgiving environment, where one false move could spell disaster.
Originally released in 2020 earlier this year the game was made free via Ko-Fi, not only does it come with 8 Playbooks, each one has 3 variants too, so you have a possible 32 different combinations to choose from.