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Steffan O'Sullivan
United States
Plymouth
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"All history is made up. Good history is made up by good historians; bad history is made up by the others." -David Macaulay
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"We talked a little more of Milesians and Firbolgs; but I do not write what he told me here, as it is at variance with things I have written already, as is often the case with legend, whence comes a pleasing variety." -Lord Dunsany
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This is a semi-review, meaning I've read the rules thoroughly - some sections multiple times - but have not actually played the game. Take my conclusions with whatever level of salt you judge appropriate.

Why Am I Reviewing This Obscure Game?

There are very few RPGs specifically designed to be played outdoors. As the author of one of them (Sherpa), I thought I should review another such game.

So, What Is It?

The Nighttime Animals Save the World (hereafter: NAStW) is a Kid-Friendly RPG aimed at about six years old, judging from the text of the game. It's made to be played while taking an evening stroll just after sunset, when the nighttime animals come to life. It's an extremely simple game, almost entirely narrative driven, with no character traits or advancement. Yet it's oddly appealing, and is a game I'm actually eager to try with the right crowd at the right time. I have no children of my own, but have friends who do, so perhaps that will occur sooner rather than later.

The Setting

Given the player character choices in the game, NAStW is set in North America. As an adult strolls with one or more children, the children decide which nighttime animal they wish to be: a rabbit, a possum, a skunk or a raccoon.

The neighborhood you're strolling through becomes the setting. That's where evil plots are being hatched, and that's where devastating events are just beginning to occur. As the author writes, Many is the world-threatening plot hatched in and around our local popsicle store or our favorite video rental place...

So that's it: your local neighborhood, and nighttime animals have to save it and the rest of the world. Don't worry, they will. I mean, that's even the name of the game.

Mechanics

Nice! Rabbits can run fast and jump real high. Possums can dangle by their tails. Raccoons have opposable thumbs. Skunks have stink power. And they can all see in the dark and smell stuff and hide, etc. Then each player has to name another type of nighttime animal (an NPC) and say why they're getting a bad feeling from it. That's it for character creation - a six-year-old would indeed be comfortable with these rules so far.

Action resolution, however, is a bit trickier. Everyone, including the GM, starts out with three coins of different denominations, such as a quarter, a dime and a penny. Make sure that among the players/GM, there's at least one penny, nickel, dime and quarter.

During the narrative, the GM and players simply alternate telling the story ... until a PC tries something dangerous. The GM explains what the danger is ("you'll fall off the fence and maybe sprain a leg") and holds out a coin to show how dangerous it is (a nickel's worth of danger).

The player responds with a different coin - no ties allowed. If the player's coin is higher, the danger doesn't come true. If it's of lesser value, the danger happens. Either way, they swap coins and the story continues.

The author admits that it didn't take long for his six-year-old to figure out to give away the small coins on small stuff and hoard the big coins for the final confrontation. That's why the Nighttime Animals always Save the World, and we should be grateful for it. The point of the mechanics is not really to be fair, but to make the story better. That's what it's all about, and it works. (Except the author admits that sometimes the GM's wits fail him and the players should not throw tantrums and call the GM a stoopy-head. That's sound advice for any game.)

Summation

That's really it, though I left out a little so you have something to be surprised by. But in reality, this review may actually be longer than the game I'm reviewing. That's because the author is very concise and I'm not.

So, now I'll try to be concise and use exclamation points instead of a lot of words: I like this game! I want to play it by the rules as written, and don't want to translate it to my own rules system - and that's rarely true! And I want to play a nighttime animal if anyone wants to run such a game - I can be six years old again, in spirit!


[Note: this is part of my series of semi-reviews of Indie game products]
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DMSamuel
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sos1 wrote:
(Except the author admits that sometimes the GM's wits fail him and the players should not throw tantrums and call the GM a stoopy-head. That's sound advice for any game.)


Adults in an RPG are more likely to do this than kids!

Sounds fun - I am happy to see all of the newer RPGs that are specifically focused on children as players.
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Richard
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Are these the rules? Or is there a book or proper PDF?
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Steffan O'Sullivan
United States
Plymouth
NH
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"All history is made up. Good history is made up by good historians; bad history is made up by the others." -David Macaulay
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"We talked a little more of Milesians and Firbolgs; but I do not write what he told me here, as it is at variance with things I have written already, as is often the case with legend, whence comes a pleasing variety." -Lord Dunsany
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Boards of Games wrote:
Are these the rules? Or is there a book or proper PDF?

That's the game I'm reviewing, yes!
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