Thursday, October 14, 2010

Review: Escape From Tentacle City

Escape from Tentacle City is a storytelling RPG for 3-6 players. The book describes the game as:

Escape From Tentacle City is a game about marginalized members of society facing off against a tentacle menace. Minorities, the poor, the down and out, these are the focus characters of Escape From Tentacle City. You will play a number of these characters trying to make their way through life. You'll also get a chance to play the Tentacles, the horrible monsters that plague Tentacle City.

In order to play the game you will need the rulebook (duh), a twenty sided die, a good number of six sided dice, 30 or so note cards, a sheet of paper and a number of pens or pencils.

At the beginning of the game, each player chooses a group that is marginalized by society. The book uses circus folk as an example. Other groups are likely to be very non-PC (that is Politically Correct, not Play Character!). The idea is that the rich, privileged groups of people have more resources and are escaping via airlifts and other expensive means while the minorities and less well-off are left to their own devices. Make sure that your group is ok playing with these stereotypes before starting since they can be sensitive topics.

After a player chooses a group, every other player creates a character for that group. The characters will have a name, positive attribute, negative attribute and two items. Items can include most anything and will grant a +1 bonus to certain checks if used while role-playing scenes. You can instead use both item slots to to get a "pimped out" item that adds a +2 bonus if used while role-playing a scene. Your item can be anything from a weapon to a loved one. (Only one loved one per character throughout the entire game). Items (including loved ones) can be picked up/found throughout the game.

The player that chose the type of group will role-play as the tentacles and NPCs during that groups turn. Each player will have a number of characters equal to the total number of players minus one. For example, if there are five players, each player will have 4 characters. During the course of play, each player will lose characters until they only have one character left.

Each player will also draw a location on the map as the starting point for their group and add other locations. Locations are connected by car and/or walking paths. Use the d20 to track the tentacle threat. The threat level starts at 1 and will go up over the course of the game. Locations can also gain local threat (use the d6s). Local threats start at 0.

During a groups turn, the group can choose one of several actions, Chill (recover stress), Loot(find items), Take Back the Streets (fight local threat), Travel (duh) or Throwdown (fights within the group). If anyone chooses throwdown, that is the automatic action that turn.

Each character starts with three stress boxes (one already checked due to the rising tentacle threat). Characters can use stress to help fight and avoid certain death. During fights, the total threat level is added to tentacle dice rolls. Over time, character will die. The last character of each group automatically makes it to the final group. Once each player has only one character left, you move to the final stage, the escape.

During the last scene, you draw in a heliport that must be a number of spaces away from the total number of players. Each turn moves the group one step closer to the heliport. At least one person will survive.

The game can be a ton of fun so long as everyone is more interested in playing fun characters and letting things die rather than worrying about winning per se. The goal should be about fun and entertainment; having characters die to help achieve goals and providing colorful death scenes. At 46 pages, the book is very well organized and the game is well explained with a number of useful examples. It's the perfect thing to play a Halloween one-shot with for this horrific season.

1 comment:

  1. Keeping the games local, Willow is out of Madison.


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