Putting the 'aybo' in playbook

this comes up if you google 'playbook' I assume it's about sports

Hello, gentle readers.

I hope this missive finds you well- it certainly finds me quite well. As I sit here and write, I am fresh off of playing the first session of a game with the Fandible crew- Slayers. A world of high-weirdness and corrupted magic and ever-shifting cities.

I'm digging it so far, and one of the things that I liked was how well-contained the different playbooks, and how differently each plays from the others, from a mechanical standpoint. The 'wizard' characters with their Corruption-based magic have an unique system of balancing out their current level of Corruption against the power of their spells, while others have limited resource pools with which to perform their special abilities. From a mechanical standpoint, no two character types play the same, and I'm really enjoying that.

And that's a little weird to me, because it's starting to hit me that one of the things that I originally disliked about Powered by the Apocalypse games was the playbooks. Even though many if not all of them had opportunities for you to pick traits and abilities from other playbooks as you advanced, giving you far more flexibility than I gave it credit for, for some reason being presented with the entirety of my character's potential abilities and growth all contained within a single 4-page playbook, a large chunk of which is dedicated to background and character art, for some reason struck me as absurdly restrictive, like I was being forced to play the character precisely the way the creator wanted it, not the way I would have liked to.

I'm starting to understand that I was mistaken in that original assessment, but, also, I have gained, or re-gained, an appreciation for the concept of and creative essence of constraints, ones that are not so tight that they keep you from placing your own mark, your own twist, on each archetype that a playbook represents, but ones that still guide and encourage a certain flavor of character, a playstyle that still captures the essence of the type of character it's meant to be,

I picked up the book for Slayers like maybe 15 minutes before we were going to play. I looked through my playbook, saw what their abilities and advancement options were, the core interplay between their stats and their abilities, and the kind of characters I could play (a surprisingly wide array, from pure damage dealers to potent healers and even very capable support/buff/debuff roles in combat and each one having their own flavor, all from just under 2 small pages of spells to pick from.

A couple of questions to the GM about game mechanics later and I was ready to go. No hours spent in character generation, figuring out a thousand details. Pick up a playbook, see a few good options for character abilities and advancements, give them a name and a personality to wrap around those abilities, and be ready to rock in minutes. I really dig that now.

Don't get me wrong- I still get a certain thrill, an enjoyment out of statting out something like a D&D or Shadowrun or WoD/CoD character, diving through pages and pages of abilities and skills and powers and spells and making choice after choice and adding detail after detail- and for a long-term game, I still dig that. But for the kinds of games we usually play at Fandible, I'm coming to appreciate the playbook format more and more.

And so I've latched on to that idea for 3GiaT- playbooks. Of a sort, right? Super-simplified. Your Medieval Goblin playbook, your Underwater Goblin playbook, your Weird Shaman Goblin playbook, etc. Likewise, the 'setting-books' would be things like Sci-Fi World, or Lava-World, containing themed lists of enemies, challenges, and goblin goals to build with.

Look, there's not a lot of 'advancement' in 3GiaT, it's meant for one-shots.

Which brings me to another point- do we want to expand on that? Should we remain focused on one-shots, or do we want to spend the work on figuring out an advancement scheme? I feel like, as basic and broken as the system is right now, this would not only add a lot of unnecessary complexity, but may even be technically impossible to properly do thanks to that overarching simplicity. Simply put? There's not a lot of headroom inside those trenchcoats to grow, rather, your goblins, and their aforementioned trenchcoats, are meant to be driven as if they'd been stolen. Given all that, the addition of an 'advancement' system and tying things to higher 'levels' or the like would require such a complete overhaul of the system as to be less than worthless for our approach.

Come back tomorrow- we'll start building one of these playbooks. And in so doing, figure out the rules for creating others- the real gold we're mining for here.

Are you enjoying this bullshit? You are, aren't you? Hot diggity! Well, did you know you can encourage Dan to do more of whatever the hell this is by joining the Uncivil Union over on ko-fi? It's true! Not only is this a signal to Dan that people want more of this, but you'll also get immediate access to The Vault, where you can pick up free copies of every single game he's written, and exclusive access to the in-progress docs for upcoming games.

Daniel Rodriguez

Daniel Rodriguez

The Bad Boy of Fandible. I like RPG's. Filthy leftist Social Justice Glitter Boy. Writes silly TTRPG games. Owned by a cat. He/Him. Demi.
New York, NY