More Rockalypse Thoughts

The public beta for Rockalypse just dropped last week, but I have been playtesting it for about half a year now. Many of the mechanics were tested and tweaked over the course of a 3-month campaign arc, and I have also run numerous one-shots at small local gaming events. For everyone just getting started with their own games, I thought it might be helpful for me to share my experiences so far - perhaps a little more specifically than I discussed in the intro section of the PDF.

 

Take it away, Four Eyes.

 

First, and I cannot stress this enough, Rockalypse is completely gonzo. Without fail it ends up even wilder than I expect in terms of setting, story, characters, and even game mechanics (20-shift attacks happen regularly, and they’re often successfully defended). Players enjoy the opportunity to create bizarre setting mashups, wacky band concepts, and hilariously extreme character choices that nevertheless feel so very right. When I came out of my first game/character creation session with a playtest group that had settled on a luchador mariachi fusion band fighting demonic musical megacorps, I knew something was right. But every time I walk another group through the process, I am surprised anew by just how creative players can be. I’m always excited to find out what kind of band they’ll form, from the Punk Avenging Angels fighting demons at their high school to the hipster acoustic noise/folk band whose Band Trouble aspect was, “We’re the worst.”

 

Unlike these guys. They're the best.

 

Another thing that has surprised me is just how compelling players seem to find the High School at the End of the World setting, especially for one-shots. Clearly there is a strong undercurrent of the teen band movie that drives the ethos of this game, and I admit that makes me happy. I had expected to see a little more of The Wasteland in my one-shots, but so far people seem to prefer the social wasteland of high school, typically mixed with either aliens or demons. I’m sure as more people play the game the other options will get their due attention, but I am definitely glad I included this setting among the choices.

 

No ponies yet, but it's just a matter of time...

 

Finally, as I grow more comfortable with the unique pacing of conflicts in Rockalypse, I am becoming more and more certain that Fate is the perfect system for this game. But on top of that, I am starting to think that Rockalypse may be a perfect game for Fate (though certainly one among many). A large part of the reason for that is that it very quickly trains new players in the power of aspects, and the writing of those aspects is very open. If players aren’t musical themselves and just want to use aspects to describe the look or feel of their performances, that’s perfectly acceptable. If they are musically inclined, they can use the aspects to describe their song in multi-layered detail. Either way, the table itself becomes something of a work of art as it fills with these many different aspects describing a band’s performance. And the players seem to feel it too - they almost always take me up on my offer to keep some of their favorite index cards at the end of a demo.

 

Tank Girl's was "Ooo, I'm so pretty"

 

I’m already getting some thoughts about what might be added in the first update to the beta. Keep an eye out for that in the next week or two. And please send me feedback, whether it’s playtest reporting or just comments after reading the document. Thanks to everyone for downloading and trying out Rockalypse!

 

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