Saturday, April 23, 2011


Whilst I am nowhere near the game buyer I used to be when I was a kid, I will pick up a new and innovative system if it gets a decent sounding online. Sometimes this doesn't work (Reign) for me and sometimes it works very well (Mouse Guard) and sometimes its absolutely revelatory. Ladies and Gentlemen, Smallville definitely falls into the third category.

As I'm sure you are all aware, Smallville is the reimagining of the Superboy mythos thats been on our screens now for nine seasons. Personally, until I picked up the game I have not seen one episode of it and now I have only see half a dozen shows from S1. Thats not important really as I know a fair bit about DC mythology (yeah, you can stop laughing at the back...understatement of the century) and I know how US teen drama works. Anyway, the real reason I wanted to pick up the book was that it has been raved about online for two mechanics.

The first is the character generation which is powered by the group generation of a massive, intricate relationship map which brings characters, NPCs, groups, locations and more important than all those together, relationships, are there at the beginning of the game. Sure, there are some mechanical bits but this, this is amazing. It does everything I ever wanted it to do and more. We did an experimental chargen session and it rocked. Four characters, all interlinked, dripping with potential. I'd love to do it again, with a proper game idea in place and some real intricate consideration of some of the decisions and answers. It would make for an amazing game.

The second thing is the mechanics of the game which centre around the 'why' rather than the 'how' of actions. So instead of saying 'I hit him with my sword' and then describing the mechanics of the situation, you say 'He stands between me and the woman I love and I cannot see her insulted in this way again!'. Thats very different  from the games that I have played before - even some of the 'indie' ones - and I want to explore that and see whether it drives a different kind of play.

We may never play Smallville - we just have so many potential games and so little time - but I think some of the lessons that the game brings will stay with us and be incorporated into our evolving metagame. Thats a great thing in my opinion.

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