I’ve played Dungeons & Dragons on and off since I was a kid. I’ve played some other role-playing games here and there as well, but D&D has always occupied the lion’s share of RPGs I’ve played. The on and off was mostly on when I was a kid. And mostly off for the next 10-15 years. Lately I’ve been getting back into the hobby, which has been a delight. One of the things I’ve been enjoying is branching out and trying other RPGs.
Lasers and Feelings is a one-page rpg for playing a game in the genre of Star Trek. Give it a quick read. It’s only one page! The rest of my thoughts will make more sense if you’ve familiarized yourself with Lasers and Feelings. I’m also assuming you’ve played D&D before!
Boy Problems uses the same basic rules as Lasers and Feelings, but trades Star Trek for cyberpunk + Carly Rae Jepson.
A few months ago, I GMed a session of Boy Problems and it was exciting to play a game that was so different than D&D. I ran the scenario that comes with boy problems, which is a heist taking place during a gala at MoMA NY in the near future.
A few things that stuck with me after the game:
The speedy resolution mechanic made it really easy to split the party and have a hacker character trying to get into the IT room, while another character got hired to cater the gala, and another snuck in as a performer. Cutting back and forth between the action allowed a cinematic feel that felt like a heist movie. I’ve never felt comfortable splitting the party in 3 or 4 different places like that in a D&D type system. Not that it can’t be done in D&D, but it felt like this system really supported it, and that felt really appropriate for the genre.
The second thing was that using the same resolution mechanic for everything made it easy to expand and contract time. Sometimes you could make a single role to determine if you seduced the security guard (and then fade to black, first time using safety tools as well and a “pause, fast forward” was executed excellently in that moment). Other times when two people are diving for a fumbled taser during a fight you could make a roll for each leap, each grab, each time the taser gets fumbled and you need to decide where it bounces. It felt like I could drop into slow motion, which was really fun!
The last thing I noticed, was that it was exhausting. I realized that as a GM, D&D type combat allows me to take a breather from improv storytelling. Without a crunchy combat subsystem, it was all improv all the time!
There are a lot of things I enjoy about D&D and similar games, but playing a game that took a very different approach has enhanced my RPG experience tremendously. If you’re an RPG player that mostly only plays one game system, whether it’s D&D or something else, try taking a detour into something completely different every now and then!