I’m on a study project to improve my understanding of roleplaying games. To this end, I already have two reading projects, A Game Per Year and An Adventure Per Year. This is the third, with the goal of reading or playing 52 games made in the last few years. Originally I considered making this “A New RPG Per Week” and that’s where the number 52 comes from, even though a weekly schedule is probably not within my abilities.
According to its tagline, BFF! is “a role-playing game about girlhood, friendship and adventure!” It’s the most warmhearted, wholesome roleplaying game I have ever seen. It’s also designed in an extremely interesting way, using visuals, physical components and maps to carry the burden of the design instead of relying principally on text the way most roleplaying game books do.
The basic structure of the game is as follows: You pick a character from the tokens provided in the box. (You can see the style on the cover image, above.) You decide on a setting, for example a road trip or “Sleepover at Tiffy’s”. The setting is presented as a map spread. Finally you pick a card from the deck, providing the basic impetus for what happens in the scene. An example would be “hide together”.
A session could be over in an hour but you can string scenes to make a longer game.
What I like about the system is that it’s extremely simple, easy to understand and functional. The materials provided guide the imagination and provide gentle prompts, effortlessly moving the player’s thinking into the desired imaginary space. It’s a very different approach from the crass systembound brutalism of so many roleplaying game designs.
As a physical product, BFF! is quite pleasing. The visuals are gorgeous and the map spreads illustrating different settings are full of detail that can be used to spark action in a scene. The character tokens have stands so they can be placed upright on the maps.
The whole setup brings to mind a children’s game, appropriate considering the concept of BFF! I want to stress that this association is entirely to the game’s advantage. Make believe is what roleplaying is all about, after all.