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.
Moth Children is one of the small number of vampire roleplaying games existing under the long shadow of Vampire: the Masquerade. It seems almost impossible to do vampires, werewolves or the like in a modern urban setting without being in some way affected by the hegemonic sprawl of the World of Darkness.
In Moth Children, the unique idea is that vampires have moths in their hearts. The type of moth determines the characteristics of the vampire. Vampires are not immortal but have to hunt others of their kind and swallow their moths to gain more years of existence. A vampire can live forever but has to work for it.
There’s a lot of interesting poetic imagery involving the moths in the game and anything connected to this feels cool and personable. Moving away from it to the nightly activities of vampires and especially to the other supernatural creatures populating the world brings up the problem that it’s hard to separate creatively from the World of Darkness because it’s so massive and detailed, eating up all ideas in its space.
Tonally, Moth Children makes interesting shifts. Sometimes it feels as fragile and ghostly as the wing of an insect. Other times, we’re told that vampires often shit their pants because they forget how bodily functions operate. You can also play a vampire who subsists by eating feces.
For small publishers, Drivethrurpg is a good choice because putting a book up there takes care of distribution. For the same reason, it works as a Kickstarter fulfillment system. Just input the info from your backers into the publisher backend at Drivethrurpg and the system will take care of the rest. I did this too for Chernobyl, Mon Amour.
The downside is that print quality is mediocre at best. In particular, blacks don’t really come out as black at all and grey and brown tones turn into smudge. Moth Children is printed with three principal colors: all pages are black, with white text and mustand-colored highlights. I can’t decide whether this is a questionable choice because the black reproduces so badly, or an inspired choice where the type of black you get from on-demand printing is in dialogue with the mustard.