51/52 New RPGs: Comrades

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.

The cover of Comrades

There’s something radical about the way roleplaying games distribute creative authority and break down traditional models that divide people into consumers and creators. In a game you play, you can act in ways that are difficult or hard in real life.

Comrades is a roleplaying game explicitly trying to get you into a revolutionary mindset. It seeks to demonstrate that we can all embrace the revolutionary lifestyle. First in the imagination and then perhaps in the streets.

In other words, this is a strongly political roleplaying game, an old school act of political agitation.

Comrades contains different pathways to the revolution that the characters can advance through their actions. Thus, the revolution is concretely achievable during play. Often inside the fiction, the context for this is that the characters are part of a broader movement where everyone does their part. Thus while the characters succeed in one revolutionary act, their compatriots perform others.

The game is Powered by the Apocalypse, in a fairly straightforward implementation with Playbooks and Moves. It also adopts the philosophy typical to Apocalypse games where the GM often asks players to define parts of their environment. “You see a policeman. What does he look like?”

In a game where the characters are members of a revolutionary opposition, this is an interesting choice because it abstracts the player to some degree from the position of the character, instead making the player complicit in the character’s oppression.

The game is setting agnostic but there’s also an example milieu you can play in, an early 20th century fictional East European nation on the verge of the revolution.

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