One Page RPG Review: Newtype

Newtype  by \u\DeathMcGunz  is a one page rpg about anime-style mech combat- see the featured picture or follow one of the links for the rules.

The Good

The system of creating characters by picking words and syllables is interesting and flexible- my players enjoyed setting up their characters and the rules made it quick and easy.  I also had an easy time rolling up mooks and we got started in a few minutes.

Newtype was mechanically flexible and broad without being complex- Eldritch moth monsters and giant robots fit into the same system snugly and assigning dice to vaguer words created some interesting effects and helped make character creation fast, and the tradeoff between attack and defense felt meaningful.

Loading up on defensive dice in place of health let me recreate the minion system from 4e easily, allowing me to throw out a lot of enemies without having to do much bookkeeping.

The interludes out of combat were satisfying in their contrast when they worked; I wish I had planned more for them- you need to be very genre savvy or have players who are comfortable roleplaying to make this work well

The Bad

The simplicity can become a downside; even with improvised maneuvers the combat got stale within a 3 hour session, with one strongly encouraged option each for defense and offense providing little variety, and no mechanical support for out of combat like skills and such.  The group was left in an odd place where, unlike The Witch is Dead, there wasn’t any framework to determine success for anything besides fighting, and it made it harder to both vary the content while providing a challenge that had a clear mechanism to resolve.

The Ugly

Some of this is my fault- outside of one Evangelion marathon I haven’t watched much in this genre and I probably didn’t focus enough on the interaction between the pilots.  I treated this as something DnD-esque and designed encounters with the possibility of escaping serious injury- making something that was more of a meatgrinder would have suited the shorter play time implied by a one play rpg, used more the mechanics around trading off life for power and would have been more in theme with something partially based on Evangelion.  I liked the session I ran overall and so did my players but making these changes might have made things more enjoyable.

TL,DR:

This is a fun little system but like many one page rpgs the system shows some cracks by the end of the session- I would strongly recommend it for a one shot but I wouldn’t build a campaign around it.

Houserules/Improvements

Something as simple as just allowing 3 or 4 general devices could be a lot more effective, allowing each to be applied to attack, defense, and utility purposes as appropriate in the fiction- possibly by splitting dice between mechs and pilots.

A simple out of conflict resolution system, maybe 1d6 based plus 1d6 for a related pilot trait, would really flesh the system out and would give it some staying power, at least enough for a 3-5 session campaign.

 

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Review: The Witch is Dead

The Witch is Dead is a one page RPG by \u\gshowitt on reddit about murder- the witch has been killed and her entourage of woodland creatures must kill the witch hunter and take his eyes in order to revive her.  My group had a lot of players out this week so I ran it as a quick old-school revival style bloodfest for the two people who had made it and everyone had a blast.

Taylor the witch was killed by a wild and headstrong witch-hunter from the nearby oppressively perfect village of white supremacists at war with the local forest tribes. The mortality rate for the night was 150%-Hadvar the hare bolted across an open field and managed to convince an orphan boy that he was his father using magic before he was carried off by a falcon.  His player rerolled and returned as Gonzalez the rat in about 30 seconds.  The predator guarding the village now busy eating, the rest of the party entered through a creek but Tony the NPC toad was almost devoured by koi until Roger the rat beat them back with his unseen hand.  After a shouting match with a cat, they managed to infiltrate a rally led by the witch hunter.  Gonzalez dropped a bag of sand on him back stage, badly injuring him, and Roger the rat managed to steal a war horn originally taken from the forest tribes and get Tony to blow it as a distraction, at the cost of Tony’s life.

Seeking to finish off the witch hunter at the doctor’s office, the party mistakenly entered an exterminator’s office.  Roger attempted to kill said exterminator with his unseen hand spell and the knife he had used to avenge Tony, but was instead killed by a flying mousetrap.  His player rerolled as Mosey the cat,  and successfully lead the forest entourage and Gonzalez in mobbing the exterminator’s ankles until he fell into his own poison stash and died.

Armed with the information that the sign with dead and hurt animals on it was not the hospital, they soon located the witch hunter.  A pitched battle ensued in the doctor’s office, and Mosey was mortally stabbed by the doctor’s pet dove Archimedes before he swallowed it whole.  His player took over the NPC Errol the arsonist owl who set fire to the building and with Gonzalez’s help removed the witch hunter’s eyes and flew off.  Regrettably, Errol could only carry Gonzalez and the rest of the forest creatures burned to death.

With the high probability of failure and death I think you can’t run it as anything but a funnel world style game, with disposable characters and a deep pool of backups.  Using this set up the game flowed well and the quick rerolling and simple rules encouraged the players to take risks- combined with the random generation the group ended up in a lot of interesting situations; it didn’t feel like there was any dead time with this game.

What I would say the downside is like Dungeon World your (meaning the dungeon master’s) ability to improvise is very important.  In particular the concept of failing forward is very applicable.  Working a vague degrees of success system into this helped- if you stop dead on a bad roll The Witch is Dead is not going to work.  The random tables help things get moving quickly but you have to make a lot of snap decisions about how difficult things should be and how to lay out a world created with dice rolls.  If you can do that, the system is very good for one shots- I ran mine in about 2 hours with no prep and I think it was one of the best sessions I have ever run.  The rules provide a good deal of structure for the players while leaving room to maneuver- a good system for old and new players.

TL,DR; A quick and fun one page RPG in the OSR style- if you are good at improv and don’t take it too seriously you will have a good time.  Give it a try.