…my money is on Barbie
The Doclopedia #1,550
Alt. Roleplaying Reviews: Dungeon Musical
All ratings based upon a 1-5 scale
Synopsis: Heck of an idea, if you have the time, effort and group.
A dungeon crawl RPG with musical and dance numbers? After 40 years of playing RPGs, truly original game ideas are getting thin, but I put this one at the top of the heap. Think of it as D&D&Glee.
The idea is pretty simple, you get your group together, they create characters using a pretty straightforward class & level system, then you DON’T have them meet in a tavern and go adventuring. Instead, they all meet in an Adventurer’s Guild training academy, where the book suggests they spend 3-4 sessions hammering out skills, personalities, goals and relationships.
Then, they go out in the world to loot a dungeon so they can pay back their “student loans” to the Guild. And throughout all of this, there are musical numbers that the GM and players must sing and dance to. If you are into that, or if you are/were a Theater major, you will love this game.
But let’s face it, most of us weren’t/aren’t Theater majors. We may not want to go to all the extra work involved in rehearsing…yes, rehearsing…for each game session. If you use the game’s suggested two rehearsals per session, that means you have to hold three sessions, only one of which will actually involve playing the game. Oh, and you have to learn alternate words and sometimes entire songs to account for things happening differently, like when you kill/don’t kill a dragon.
If you think that’s too much work, pity the poor GM. They have to actually write songs, because the book only contains songs for your academy time and half of the first level. After that, the GM is on their own, although the book does include many famous songs that can be filked for use in the game.
On the rules side of the equation, nothing is new here. The rules are not bad, there just isn’t much new here. You’ll recognize everything, despite some filing off of serial numbers.
The look of the book is pretty pedestrian, too. The layout is functional and the art is uniformly okay. The fonts are nice and they do give you both a table of contents and an index. The cover is somewhat better than okay, but still not in the big leagues.
In summation, if you are or were either a Theater major or a huge fan of musicals, and you don’t mind doing tons of work to play a dungeon crawl, this might be the game for you. For everyone else, it’s an interesting read only.
The Doclopedia #1,551
Alt. Roleplaying Reviews: Teenage Wasteland
All ratings based upon a 1-5 scale
Synopsis: An interesting and humorous take on post-apocalypse RPGs
There are quite a few post-apocalypse RPGs out there and even a couple that focus on younger characters. All of them are pretty gritty and serious, with survival being at the forefront and possibly rebuilding society as a secondary goal.
In Teenage Wasteland there’s less grit, a whole lot less seriousness and mere survival is actually not so hard. What is hard, and sometimes hilarious, is the fact that the PCs are trying to build a new civilization in a Mall of America sized shopping mall.
The game is set just a couple of years after the “Fast Flu” pretty much wiped out almost everyone over 20 and under 11. This left most of the world’s population as teens and, as the book states right up front, “you are way more clueless than you think”.
From there, it’s all about getting that mall up and running as a little city state. Characters will be dealing with everything necessary to do that, while also dealing with no internet, spotty electricity, no fast food and the general lack of all things teens live for, except sex.
The rules system is percentile based and skill driven. The twist is, there are some skills that most teenagers completely lack, although that should not stop PCs from trying to use them. In fact, a great deal of the humor here is a result of that.
Another source of humor is that without the media telling them how to look or act, girls are beginning to flex their muscles. Naturally, this causes teenaged bots to become confused. Hilarity ensues.
The book is well written and an easy read. Somebody actually paid editors and proofreaders. There are sections on Survival (go raid stores, try raising livestock), Relationships (hilarious now to us former teens), Combat (usually a comedy of errors) and Encounters (crazed old people, feral kids, wild animals, renegade robots). You’ll laugh out loud reading this stuff.
You get 3 different malls to choose from, each with four levels and at least one basement. All are mapped out with pretty good looking maps, easily the best art in the book.
That brings us to the looks of this product, which are below average across the board. Credit where it’s due, the authors explain that most of their money went to paying editors & proofreaders, leaving them little for art and layout. They do promise a better second edition, if they make enough money off the first edition.
Despite the amateurish look of the game, it is definitely worth buying and playing, especially as a one off at conventions or during a break from your regular game.