Wednesday, February 15, 2017

How Breaking the Ice led me to Shooting the Moon

Last year, I read and even got to play Emily Care Boss's Breaking the Ice, which was a revolutionary game designed for two players to play out the first three dates in a couple's relationship. I still think it is one of the best RPGs I've seen to discuss romance and relationships.

So, of course I had to read the second game in her romance trilogy, Shooting the Moon. While Breaking the Ice is about two people getting to know each other, Shooting the Moon is about that other classic romance formula, the love triangle.

From a mechanical angle, Shooting the Moon is definitely simpler than Breaking the Ice. Character creation is much simpler, which is a shame because I thought that the word association chain and the switch in Breaking the Ice are particularly brilliant.

Scenes in Shooting the Moon have a simple structure of call and response.  The active player sets the scene with the opposing player offering obstacles and complications. To be perfectly honest, it's a common structure in GM free games and it works very well.

But one of Shooting the Moon's greatest strengths, as well as something really sets it apart from Breaking the Ice, is the fact that it is structured around a love triangle. That creates a very strong dynamic of conflict and competition.

One of the great strengths and weaknesses and hurdles of Breaking the Ice is that in the end goal is rather nebulous. Is the relationship going to work? No can be a perfectly satisfying and valid answer. Exploring feelings can be complicated.

But, at the start of Shooting the Moon, you create specific and concrete goals for your characters. In a two player game, you are both competing for the same love interest. Even in the three player game, with someone playing the love interest, they have their own goal.

That makes for a simpler and, to be fair, probably more shallow story. To be frank, it is also more safe. I know a lot more people who would feel comfortable with the structure of Shooting the Moon than Breaking the Ice. Truth to tell, I know more people who I would be comfortable playing Shooting the Moon with.

Romance isn't a genre that I'm terribly interested in and a genre I wouldn't have thought could work as a RPG a few years ago. Emily Karen Boss, though, has done an amazing creating innovative games about romance. Shooting the Moon is a short form game that requires no game master, just a willingness to compete for love.

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