28 June, 2015

Game Chef Review 17: Rent the Veil by Adam Robichaud and Kelley Vanda

Rent the Veil

Ingredients: 7 [Dragonfly (4), Dream (3)]
I like the way the dragonflies are presented are agents of change linked to the element of water. The notion of dream is solidly presented and fairly integral to the game structure as well. These two elements are linked into the game far more intimately than I've seen in a lot of the designs so far.

Theme: 7 [6 +1 bonus for explaining how the game addresses a different audience]
All things considered, this game borders on the type that I have been giving low scores to. It would appear that I shouldn't like it, but it actually does something I've been looking for in freeform/jeepform games, it explains things, it bridges gaps, it opens the more free narrative style of roleplaying toward traditional gamers by explaining why certain things are necessary and maintaining a few half-way compromises like token based economies rather than simply saying "Here's a situation, here's how to relate to each other...now GO!!". In its way it doesn't open up a new audience, but it shares the love between audiences. So, kudos for that.

Would I play this?: 6
I know a few gamers who really need to learn the concept of "Yes, and...", so this might be a good primer to get them into that frame of mind. It's the kind of mindset I've encountered frequently when running games at conventions. Generally, this game seems to be a good step toward that issue. I'm not sure how well it would address the situation, but you never know until you try it. I'm not sure how many times I'd play this, the premise might get stale quickly, but it feels like the kind of things that might make a good showing after a traditional campaign and before moving into more "indie" territory. (Maybe it would make a good end of session mini-game before characters spend XP or level up, to show what they had learnt over the last session or so).

Completeness: 8 [7 +1 bonus for going above and beyond in trying to show inclusivity]
Everything seems to be here to play a game, rules, examples, cards, principles of play (that you might find in an freeform/loose/indie title), an end game sequence (that might determine "victory" in the sense of a more traditional game), there's even a pair of hints about desires and desperations.

Innovation: 5
While this game does a lot of stuff to promote inclusivity between audiences, it uses a lot of familiar techniques to do this. I've awarded plenty of points elsewhere for that inclusivity, but I can't really award them here for innovation. The use of tokens in the method described is common to several games I've seen. That's not bad, I know that it works, it's just not overly innovative.

Output Quality: 7 [Language (3), Layout (3), Imagery (2) +1 bonus for overall package]
The languages is appropriate in this game, the layout gains bonus marks because it has title pages, and pages for evocative quotes. I've thrown in the second point for imagery, because even though the game doesn't have a lot of pictures, the quotes help set the tone and feeling of the game through the mental images conveyed in their words. Again, it looks like the kind of game that I'd expect to find with decent reviews on an online pdf RPG store, and basically looks like it's ready for publication in a game anthology or paperback PoD.

Overall: 70% Credit [21+14+6+16+5+7]
It's a simple game, but it does what it sets out to do fairly well. I wasn't sure what to expect when I went in, but I was generally pleasantly surprised.
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