Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Misspent Youth Read-Thru Review



....wow.... just wow. That's what I think after reading through the rules of this game. There are some games that you find yourself liking because of nostalgia, some because of your friends, and some because they're just frickin' AWESOME.

Misspent Youth is in the last category.

First, let's get the bad out of the way: the physical product. No, I am not talking about the artwork or the layout or anything like that: those are good, if a bit confusing at first (more on that in a second). The actual book was shipped in a comic book sleeve and backing board. While this makes sense (given that the book's only about 100 pages and it's softcover) it's extremely flimsy, a factor that almost no RPG book should be! I'm afraid of taking the book out of its bag because I might damage it or destroy it and, given what sort of accidents can happen to RPG books, that really may not be too far off. I can understand wanting to keep the print cost down (and really, considering the production values on the book in general, I'm grateful), but this book really could have used an actual hardback.

Speaking of production values, WOW, this book's got some nice layouts and art. While most of it's just photos and a few pieces of line art, the book feels like a punk song (notably Blink 182): it's jumbled, raw, honest, and glorious (yes, I just used "glorious" to describe punk music). While the layout of the book is a bit difficult to get used to, it's only because of it's unusual orientation of text, and not because it doesn't work. Which it does, and gloriously at that (notice a pattern here?). I mean, if the type was straight the book just wouldn't... work. The only trouble I had with this was that I couldn't really read the Eye-bleeding edition PDF (which Mr. Bohl, the writer of the RPG, gives for FREE! So check it out!). So the book is very pretty, in it's own dysfunctional and nutty way.

What about the rules, though? Misspent Youth is an indie mostly-rules-lite RPG, that focuses on a group of friends from 12-17 trying to take down The Authority, a person or a force or a government that's screwing up the world. The group collaboratively decides what's screwed up and how, and assigns one player to be The Authority (the GM). The Authority's job is to provide adversity and be that pain in the ass of the players.

Each of the players pick a series of traits that represent their youth and innocence. During play, in the midst of one of the seven conflicts you'll have in a session, you can sell out one of these traits to a trait more like the Authority so you don't fail a check. The game is over when one of the characters is entirely sold out, at which point you determine whether the characters or the Authority won. It's a game that gets steadily darker and darker, until one of the characters looks almost exactly like the threat everyone's been fighting. The game is mostly free-form RP with a few minutes given to the conflict resolution mechanic, which is very simple and unobtrusive. The sessions start off with a bit of ad-libbing, which will decide what goes on during that session. NO PREP WORK FOR THE GM IS GOOOOOOOOOD...

OK, by now you can tell I think the game's awesome, at least from a read-thru. Despite my misgivings about the durability of the product I really like the game. I'm definitely going to try and run it soon, and if I do I'll letcha know how it works in play!