We’re doing a lot of things we’ve never done before this year: 2-player games, massively epic games that will take more than a single episode to resolve, and some other neat things that I like. But we’re also doing some things that I love from previous seasons, like playing a rules-light indie RPG that lets us tell a compelling story without a lot of crunchy rules.
Today, Matt Fraction, Amy Dallen, Kelly Sue DeConnick and I played an absolutely phenomenal game called Misspent Youth. Here’s my introduction to get you excited about it:
MISSPENT YOUTH is an indie RPG about friendship, rebellion, and kicking ass, designed by Robert Bohl.
I want this pair of episodes to give you an experience similar to our sister show, TITANSGRAVE. That means that the focus will be on the characters and their narrative. I don’t want to overwhelm you with a lot of mechanics and crunchy system details that remind you we’re playing a game. I want this to be about the story.
But there are a few things you need to know before we get started:
In Misspent Youth, one of us will be THE AUTHORITY. That player will represent the force that’s making life miserable for the other players, who will be the YOUTHFUL OFFENDERS. THE AUTHORITY is our version of a GAME MASTER, in as much as THE AUTHORITY player will handle adversaries, challenge the other players, and work really hard to ruin their day. Unlike a traditional RPG where the GAME MASTER needs to be a neutral arbiter of rules and a narrative facilitator, THE AUTHORITY in Misspent Youth openly works in opposition to the other players, and both sides are going to fight like hell against each other to achieve their goals.
The YOUTHFUL OFFENDERS, or YOs, play a group of kids, from about 12 to 18 years-old, who are fighting back against THE AUTHORITY. At its core, Misspent Youth is about the struggle between the two sides.
Before we get into the story, we will all work together to set up the world we’re going to play in. It’s usually a dystopian sci-fi world, like The Hunger Games, Logan’s Run, or the 2016 presidential election in America, but it could just as easily be something more grounded in reality, like the world of Pump Up The Volume, Repo Man, or even Dazed and Confused.
Each session of a game is divided into seven different narrative sections. At the heart of each section is something called THE STRUGGLE. THE STRUGGLE is the primary conflict resolution mechanic of Misspent Youth, and it’s the only time we’ll use dice in the game. One side will win each struggle, and both sides will deal with the consequences. We’ll explain the specifics of The Struggle when it happens.
Misspent Youth is unlike any other RPG I’ve ever played, but I can see the influences of groundbreaking RPGs like FATE, Fiasco, and even Dread in its DNA. This is a game that lets us focus on the story, and makes it possible for old guys like me to imagine that we’re still young and fighting every day for something more important than a parking space. And I’m incredibly excited to be playing today with some phenomenally creative people.
Dig out your Rage Against The Machine records, and lace up your steel-toed boots, because we are about to visit our MISSPENT YOUTH.
Excited? I hoped you would be. If you want to get to playing this right fucking now, you can do a couple of different things: you can order a gorgeous PDF copy from Drivethru RPG dot Com, you can pre-order a printed version (which I own and love because it looks and feels and reads like a graphic novel), or you can freely download the eyebleed version that creator Robert Bohl has put online for your enjoyment.
If you end up playing it (and I really hope that you do), I hope you’ll share some details about the world you created with the other players, because I feel like there are a lot of stories to be told using this setting, sort of like you can with FATE or Fiasco, and those of us who have played the game will really love to see what other players come up with. And, because someone will ask: yes, I’ll release details about the world we created when this episode airs.