From publisher blurb:
The Misery Index is a collection of eight tabletop games about human suffering.
This collection confronts subjects ranging from racial and cultural violence to sexual abuse, class conflict, and mental illness, and do so through the lens of multiple genres, including science fiction, sword and sorcery, cyberpunk, supernatural horror, and superhero fantasy. Each game is played differently, and all of the games are designed to be easy to learn, but hard to forget. The games draw inspiration from a number of sources, including role playing games, board games, card games, and improvisational theater. The mechanics have been carefully chosen to compliment each game’s subject matter.
The eight games included in the collection are described briefly below.
Student/ZOMBIE: When an attempted school shooting is interrupted by a zombie outbreak, the shooters find themselves forced to assume a new, awkward role: that of heroes.
Passing: A town in the Deep South in the early 20th century is being terrorized by a vampire, and the town elite—a group of old white aristocrats—is determined to catch it. Unfortunately, the search threatens the safety of a black man who has been secretly living among the white elite for years.
The Needs of the Few: Stranded on a deteriorating spaceship far from any inhabited planet, a group of incompletely trained youths must try to survive while struggling with the memories of the abuse they suffered at the hands of their dead captain, whose ghost might still be on board.
Welfare Queens: It’s 2084, and wealth has finally finished trickling down. Thanks to the magic of laissez faire economics, every American now lives a prosperous life. However, many are still dissatisfied. These discontents turn to illegal virtual reality dens where they escape their frustration and boredom by living imaginary lives as poor people on welfare.
Mentors: A troubled inner-city kid discovers that she has remarkable, perhaps even supernatural, powers, and the only one who seems willing to help her reach her full potential is her Urban Outreach mentor. Too bad he has a devious ulterior motive.
6 Page Manual: This is game of serious, thematic role-playing. It is about things thought about in dark room, at night waking, alone, but now experienced as party game with good friends. In 6 Page Manual you will put yourself in shoe leather of suffering persons throughout world, face their difficulty, and overcome—or fail!
The Oldest, Cruelest Sword: It’s a fairy tale premise: a well-intentioned thief sets out to steal a magical sword from an evil sorceress. But nothing is ever so simple, and soon he is lost inside her tower and trapped in a cycle of sadism and sexual aggression.
Danse Macabre: Death is inevitable, so why not have fun with it? Danse Macabre allows players to live the final days and moments of characters doomed to die, and, ultimately, to assume the role of Death itself.