Monday, 3 August 2015

Gen Con 2015 OR How BREAK!! is not Ryuutama (And that's probably good for both)

So this year was my second Gen Con, and maybe my third or fourth big chance to shamelessly shill BREAK!! to a gaming audience. And shill I did, in the forms of running for Games on Demand. Well, when I could at least - I also ran Ryuutama, a great game that proved to be very popular.

Ryuutama is a lovely game. It is very linear, but in the best way possible - it's straightforward and honest in both theme and mechanics. I was nervous about writing my own scenario since I had never Gm-ed it before, so I used an example one from the website (though I added an encounter with a troublesome NPC styled after a famous green hat wearing video game hero to pad it out). 

It focuses on travel and party interaction in a very clever way: The mechanics for daily things like camping, overland movement and even just how you feel in the morning are very procedural, providing players the what while freeing up the why for them to play out to their heart's content. This led to a lot of complaining about Moogle cooking, tone deaf minstrels singing about raspberries and a particularly funny bit where a noble woman told the rest of the party that her refined interpretation of a camp site was simply too advanced for them to appreciate (She had failed her roll pretty miserably).

Very different from what I normally run - but still a lot of fun!

BREAK!! on the other hand, is very focused on location-based adventuring. I am quick to admit that it is structurally close to classic RPGs in that manner, but I don't think that's a bad thing. I think there is enough differences in style, tone, and specific mechanics that I can afford (hell, probably benefit) from a certain amount of familiarity.
Grey provided me with some choice props, huh?
Trouble in Sprocket seemed to work well for the groups I ran it for. I was nervous about how the game would handle what was essentially a whodunit style scenario (with a small dungeon attached, because I cannot help myself) but it turned out to be a lot of fun. The setup lead to a lot of choice moments, including:

  • The Battle Princess using her Heart's Cry ability to discern the emotion currently motivating various NPCs and use that to assist investigation.
  • The group's Factotum playing hardliner with the Battle Princess as her chipper foil during interrogation.
  • The Mechanoid Champion slicing clean through one enemy, leading to the immediate surrender of another.
  • "Did they teach you about horrific vivisection back in Happy Little Person Academy?" says the Mechanoid to the Chib.
  • Another session where said Chib managed to take down an explosive wielding antagonist via kamikaze run with a Fireberry Grenade and miraculously surviving the aftermath. He had a minor wound and a broken right leg for his troubles, though.
  • Pretty much everyone's reaction to the "Very Useful Cloud" and Burr the Puppymole.
I was surprised how much each group seemed to pity a particular figure in the adventure. I'm not sure if I made them too sympathetic or if I hit a sweet spot I shouldn't ruin.

Anyway, we plan on having Trouble in Sprocket along with some playtest rules available for you all soon! Then you can let me know if I'm being big-headed about it.

(One of the BREAK!! play-testers was a gentleman who is a member of the Off the Table podcast, though I don't remember which. His Mechanoid Champion voice was inspiring.)


  1. Thanks for running Ryuutama. I'm really looking forward to Break!!!!!!!

    1. It was a blast! I am looking forward to sussing out my own scenarios for it someday, now that I'm more familiar with the rules.

      I am pretty sure doing my Neko-Goblin impression killed my voice for the next few days, though.