Due to various scheduling conflicts in the past month, my group and I haven’t been able to play much Dungeons & Dragons. I’m not unreasonable, I know that real life obligations come up and take priority in just about every situation. Normally in our small group of 3 players and myself, I’m able to treat these sessions as opportunities for the characters who are presently there to embark on some of their own personal quests and flesh out their backstories. But earlier this month when one of our players was out, I decided to try out a different role playing game with my group; A game I think they ultimately enjoyed more.
With a man down, I created a quick one-shot campaign in a game called Monster of the Week. Monster of the Week differs pretty drastically from D&D in some key ways, particularly in limiting the amount of things that the players and myself have to manage.
Really quickly, let’s breeze through the basics of Monster of the Week. First, the GM never rolls any dice, and the players only roll 2 six sided dice to determine everything. Secondly, everyone knows what success and failure look like because the numbers they roll have predetermined outcomes. For example, rolling a 7 to 9 for anything is considered a mixed success. A mixed success usually means that the players do what they want, but at a price. Sometimes that price is unwanted attention, a glitch in a magic spell, or damage, but it’s never an unknown outcome because the players get to choose which one of these complications I hoist upon them.
So with all of that in mind, I set my players off into a contemporary setting with the pretext that they were private investigators hired by the city to assist in finding a missing child. One of our characters was a spell-slinging wizard, while the other was a man who had to quell the dark monster inside him by eating everything he could all the time. They also decided they wanted to parade around town via unicycle and penny-farthing bicycle which was a nice touch.
What I really liked about Monster of the Week is how it’s a more role-playing focused game as opposed to a combat focused one. It encourages players to talk to NPCs and garner good relationships with them instead of trying to intimidate and fight their way through every situation because everyone is pretty squishy. And due to said squishy-ness along with the fact that this story took place in a modern town with laws and law enforcement, it made the players feel more grounded in the world and raised the stakes a little bit.
What I think my players enjoyed the most however, was the fact that everything is out in the open and easy to understand. They know that when they roll a 6 or below, that’s a failure, but they get an experience point. They know what questions they can ask me as the GM when they roll to investigate a mystery because they have a list to choose from. None of the mechanics are obscured from the players, they know the moves they can make and the consequences of each of them.
All things considered, I really enjoyed playing Monster of the Week and it was well received by everyone involved. I think we’re all looking forward to returning to it as soon as possible, or at least I know that I am.