Monday, March 18, 2019

Embrace how you always cheated at Choose Your Own Adventure

A few years ago, I stumbled across the Parsely RPG, a system designed to emulate old school interactive fiction. It’s a fun game, part party game and part RPG and part street theater. The biggest downside to it is that you can only play each scenario once per group. 

Enter Cheat Your Own Adventure. It’s a free RPG whose existence I discovered through Play By Forum. Instead of being based on old computer games like Zork, it’s inspired by the Choose Your Own Adventure game books, hence the name. But let’s be honest, it’s a pretty similar idea.

In Parsely, one player is the computer/game master. They have the map and the adventure and everyone else takes turns giving instructions. And frankly, a lot of the fun of the system is the GM imitating the artificial stupidity of those old games. And it is a lot of fun.

Cheat Your Own Adventure, on the other hand, has players turning playing the reader and everyone else gives choices. So, it’s kind of like you takes turns being the PC while everyone else is the GM.  

Mechanically, after the active player makes a decision, two dice are rolled, trying to beat or equal an increasingly high number that caps at twelve at the end of the game. 

Rolling under means game ending, over-the-top failure and death. But that doesn’t mean the end of the game. No, just like with a real Choose Your Adventure book, you can go back and make another choice, which will automatically work. (You did it too. Own up to it) Twelve rolls and you wrap things up. 

There’s actually a lot I like about this system. It has a lot of replay value and every player has a lot more agency in the story you end up telling. Every story-based game depends on the group but I think this would work with a lot of groups. It’s seriously on my list to try.

Cheat Your Own Adventure doesn’t fire Parsely for me. The GM is an artificially stupid computer is a really awesome mechanic when done well. However, I think it is a game that will be easier to play more often.

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