Blog by: Ernie Laurence
Produced by: Frenzy Kitty Games
Written and Designed by: Gareth H. Graham
Illustration by: Vincent Sammy, Macie J Zagorski/The Forge Studios, and Nicky de Kock
Layout by: Gareth H. Graham
Total disclosure here, I’ve only had one experience with collaborative storytelling and it was awful. However, that was with random people over the interwebs, so playing with friends in a game like this might provide a much different experience. The premise of the game sounds intense and potentially a lot of fun. I look forward to the opportunity to play.
Children of the Fall is a post-cataclysmic game with a Lord of the Flies vibe where the players play children around their teen years. All the adults are mindless, vicious savages trying to eat them and, to me, the worst part is when a child reaches adulthood at about seventeen or eighteen, they go mad too. This is a game of survival and has a level of fatalism to it that makes it far darker and scarier than games where the monsters are mostly external. There are even warnings throughout the manual about stepping away from the game if certain aspects get too intense. Those warnings are not to be taken lightly, either.
Children of the Fall has very light mechanics, focuses largely on storytelling, and is a collaborative game. That means everyone takes turns at being the GM instead of just one person. This manner of play means that there is actually less work for the GM to do before the game, and the building of the game before it gets started and as it progresses is shared. I really like that aspect.
There is a lot more to this game at the outset than simple character creation. However, the character creation is pretty simple. To start, you pick a time period from the fall to start the story. The game suggests 6 days, 6 weeks, or 6 months, but I think zero hour, 6 hours, or even 6 years would be interesting to. Then you get into creating individual characters. There is not nearly as much to this as typical rpgs. You start with a kind of template called a playbook. It’s an overall mentality of your character. These include personalities like The Leader, the Diplomat, the Innocent, and the Monster. They are well thought out and descriptive of what might be found among a group of kids in this situation. After creating the player characters, the group then collaboratively creates their haven – which is based very much on the time period, followed by their tribe – all of the NPCs that are also part of the group. Finally, there are these little short introduction stories that explain how the character got from the normal world to the present. Every bit of this is either storytelling or listing of assets. There are no numbers for stats of any kind.
This takes place on Earth “in the not so distant future” so there are only humans, but this could very easily be adapted to any setting because of the simplicity of the mechanics and the fluidity of the story-telling model.
The mechanics of the game, as I have already mentioned, involve this idea of cooperative story telling. They take turns being the active player, telling the story, while everyone else who is “there” are reactive. Everyone gets a turn at being active for a different scene in the act. When all have gone, the act is over.
There are a few number-related things and some dice because, you know, it’s a role-playing game and chance will likely be included some way. Characters get two story points and a helix point which are similar in nature. When in reactive mode, they can spend a point to introduce a complication into the game. For example, when running from an enemy, someone might spend a point by giving it to another player and saying that they trip and fall. The player who has to deal with the complication then rolls 2d6 with some variations. If they roll 8+, then the complication doesn’t happen and the story continues, but they get to keep the point. If they roll less than 8, they have to incorporate the complication into the story. This can lead to the character getting Trauma Points which in turn lead to major events up to and including death or turning into an adult if they are the right age.
The only adversaries players will encounter are 1) adults who are insane and trying to eat them, 2) other kids that may or may not be hostile as they try to survive on limited supplies, 3) animals. This makes the game easy to a great extent, and very focused.
Equipment and Treasure
This is a huge part of the game in terms of how the story can progress. Supplies impact the game in a major way as lack of supplies cannot be remedied by dumping loot and purchasing needed stuff at the store. They are often the main point of the quest scenes in the game. Equipment and treasure are means of survival. Gold, money, and things normally valued in rpgs are pointless here. Medicine, food, weapons, and the like are the currency.
As noted in the intro, I really like the premise of the game. It would not be a staple like high fantasy and space drama are, but if I need a break and want to play something edgier and very different, this would be a fun change. The game allows for one-offs and campaigns. It’s intense, it’s story driven (which is its best selling point to me), and simple. For adults and even older teens, Children of the Fall looks like an excellent game and I definitely recommend it.
For younger ages…not without heavy modification to the premise.
If you’d like to catch the interview and demo session by Game School, you can check it out here:
To find out more about the Children of the Fall game, get supplements and adventures, or to order your own copy Children of the Fall go to:
Rating – PG-16