A Game Per Year: Fanfic (Bonus 2012)

I started to feel that I didn’t know roleplaying games well enough so I came up with the plan to read a roleplaying game corebook for every year they have been published. Selection criteria is whatever I find interesting.

The cover of Fanfic, 2nd edition

Fanfic is a storytelling game for collaboratively coming up with bad erotic fanfiction about the franchise and characters of your choice. Reading it was interesting to me because the subject matter is quite close to my own Bad Sex: The Roleplaying Game. Many of the design choices are similar too. Perhaps we can now declare the existence of a game design genre with a focus on sexual cringe!

The way Fanfic works is that you choose the franchise, the characters and the setting. The players use a deck of playing cards to organize who goes first during a round of play. There’s a system of escalation following the “first base, second base” model of sexual interaction familiar from American teen movies. When do use language in an especially awkward way, you gain Awkward Points. There’s also a card deck mechanism where players invent events for the game which are then put in the deck and end up coming to play in random places.

Although the action depicted is sexual, the focus of the game is on language. This is a fanfic simulation, after all. An interesting detail is the way the disjointed nature of collaborative improvising is baked into the concept: It makes sense for bad fanfic to tug into many different directions.

Fanfic is definitely a nifty little game, approachable in its simplicity. I see it working very well as a light party game with the right kind of players. For me it was a treat because its lovely to see other designers appreciate the joys of awkwardness!

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