In this post:
- I contrast two games set in high school, that have different rules and deliver different experiences.
I'm actually not sure how much insight I'm going to get out in this post; I might need to change something about this series. Anyway, for this post, I looked over Raspberry Heaven, School Daze, and Schoolgirl RPG. I didn't look over Schoolgirl RPG too closely, after I realized just how much it was in the same design lineage as Kagegami High. Raspberry Heaven is thematically inspired by 4-panel manga, while School Daze is thematically inspired by teen dramas.
Let's look at how they make that thematic connection work.
- By default, Raspberry Heaven has 6 player characters designed, and 12 scene cards.
- Player characters are a name, a concept, a biography, and a "special move".
- The scene is the basic unit of organization in play.
- Each scene consists of multiple paragraphs.
- Someone reads the scene card aloud, and after each paragraph, the players play out their responses to the situation that paragraph sets up.
- Each player character has a "special move" that they can trigger once-per-scene, to shake things up.
- Randomness exists in the form of the choice of scene, and in the outcome of special moves.
- School Daze has a character creation process meant to guide players into designing characters that embody teen drama archetypes, and encourages the "Administrator" to create "Group Projects"; each Group Project is a self-contained story.
- Characters are a name, a "favorite subject", some "ranks" (every example character seems to have one, but the character sheet looks like it has space for more?), a "motivation", and some relationships to other characters.
- Each Rank is a description of a character archetype, and ways in which fitting into that archetype makes things easier or harder for the character.
- All ranks provide both advantages and disadvantages.
- Group Projects are a theme, some NPCs, and a time frame.
- Character motivations typically relate to the current Group Project.
- The characters involved in a Group Project attempt to achieve the goals set by their motivations, helped by their favorite subjects, and helped or hindered by their Ranks.
- School Daze has characters engage in conflict with each other, and with adverse circumstances.
- Such conflict is mediated by simple die rolls, with modifiers based on Rank and Favorite Subject.
- Failing a roll results in a character experiencing a Consequence, which further hinders them in some circumstances.
The ultimate takeaway I have from all this is that, to reinforce the high-school setting, I need to write some scenarios, or other kinds of material, that establish the setting. At the same time, to capture the gameplay experience I'm looking for, I need to look at games with a similar thematic focus. That is, focusing on engaging with and covering up bizarre conspiracies and supernatural occurrences. And I just happen to have one handy...