A while ago, I was sent this Tumblr post, which many of you will likely have seen:
God help me, I started working out what this might look like. These sat in my Notes app for a bit, and have lingered long enough. Please, for the love of all that is good: Help me fill in the blanks and finish game.
Critically Acclaimed at the Sundance Film Festival: The Tabletop Role-Playing Game
Congratulations, your film made it to Sundance, and critics say they're looking forward to it! Only problem is, you haven't written it yet. You're more of an avant-garde director, you tell people, and let the characters write themselves.
This game is about being the characters in a witty, hipster-y, rom-com-y feature film that's sure to do well at Sundance, and will make waves at Tribeca.
1. Character Creation
Assign -1, 0, 0, +1, +2, +3 as you like to the following:
- Childlike Wonder
- The Cut of my Gib
- A Certain Je Ne Sais Quoi
2. Basic Moves
Get out of Uncomfortable Situation
10+ you successfully escape the uncomfortable situation without causing offense
7-9 the Narrator is going to give you a worse outcome, hard choice, or price to pay
On a miss, things get weird
When you help another player with a move they are making, roll +Moxy
On a 10+, your help grants them +1 to their roll.
On a 7-9 your help grants them +1 to their roll, but you also open yourself up to an awkward situation
On a miss, you walk right into an awkward situation without helping
Note that bonuses don’t stack. If two players successfully help out, the target character only gets +1 to their roll.
Read the room
When you try to get a feel for a situation, roll +Childlike Wonder
On a 10+ hold 3
On a 7-9 hold 1
While you are in this room or situation, you may spend hold 1-for-1 to ask the Narrator a question from the following list:
- What happened here?
- What are people trying to hide?
- What is the biggest threat?
- What’s my best way out of this?
- What should I look out for?
- What’s going to happen next?
- Are things going to get worse before they get better?
On a miss, you reveal some information to the room or someone you’re talking to. The Narrator may ask you some questions, which you will have to answer.
When you exchange biting words with someone, roll +The Cut Of My Gib.
On a 7+, you and whoever you’re talking to become engaged in verbal repartee, and inflict embarrassment on each other. The usually means that you inflict embarrassment equal to the interpersonal skills you have equipped, and the other person deals embarrassment to you.
When taking embarrassment, you subtract the amount taken from your Self-Confidence. If you are lowered to 0 self-confidence, you proceed to a "Second-Act Montage".
If you roll a 10+, choose one extra effect:
- You gain the upper-hand: take +1 forward, or give +1 forward to another player.
- You are especially witty today (deal +1 embarrassment)
- The other person gets tongue-tied (take -1 embarrassment)
- You put them exactly where you want them
On a miss, you suffer embarrassment, and do not deal any embarrassment to the other person.
This move is used when getting someone to do something they don’t want to do. To get them to do what you’re asking, you’ll need a good reason, or some kind of leverage.
Once you have given them a reason, tell them what you want them to do and roll +A Certain Je Ne Sais Quoi.
For a normal person:
10+: They’ll do it for the reason you gave them. If you asked too much, they’ll tell you the minimum it would take for them to do it (or if there’s really no way).
7-9: They’ll do it, but only if you do something for them first, to show that you really mean it. If you asked too much, they’ll tell you what (if anything) it would take for them to do it.
On a miss, your approach is totally wrong: they’ll take offense or get angry.
For another player:
10+: if they do what you want, they mark experience and get +1 forward
7-9: they mark experience if they do what you ask
On a miss, they decide how angry or annoyed they are at you. They mark experience if they choose not to do what you asked.
To The Rescue
When another player is about to suffer embarrassment and you swoop in to protect them, roll +Gumption.
7+: You protect them, but you’ll suffer some or all of the embarrassment meant for them
10+, choose an extra:
- You suffer less embarrassment (-1 embarrassment)
- All eyes are now on you
- You inflict embarrassment back
- You hold the other person back
- On a miss, you make things worse
At the end of the day, you’re still living a movie, so a lot of weird stuff is possible. When you want to accomplish something that isn’t necessarily possible in real life, roll +A Certain Je Ne Sais Quoi.
10+: the improbable movie magic comes through without issue. Choose 1 effect from the list below.
7-9: it works... imperfectly. Choose 1 effect and 1 glitch.
On a miss, it’s out of your control. This isn’t going to end well. The narrator picks 1 effect that happens immediately, but does not expose you to immediate embarrassment or awkward situations. They may also choose one glitch that could change that.
- Inflict 1 embarrassment on a target
- Confidence Boost (Your interpersonal skill gains +1 Embarrassment and +magic)
- Do one thing beyond human limitations
- Prevent a single person from finding something out
- Remove a person or bad influence from a place
- Introduce a new character
- Communicate with someone you do not share a language with
- Learn a secret about someone
- Heal one point of self-confidence
- The effect is weakened
- The effect is of a short duration
- You take 1 embarrassment
- You draw immediate, unwelcome attention
The blanks still to be filled:
- What roles would players actually play as? What unique moves would they use?
- What would a typical session set inside a hipster rom-com look like?
- How will you know when it ends?
- What tools can we give the Narrator for creating a plot-line and propelling the characters forward?