A Game Per Year: octaNe (Bonus 2002)

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 octaNe

octaNe is an early Forge game of vehicular chaos and psychotronic adventure in the blasted wastelands of a postapocalyptic American West. It draws from Mad Max and feels like a precursor to the massively influential Apocalypse World.

The game’s style is exaggerated and explosive. Despite the setting, it’s not at all interested in history or the reasons why the world is like it is. The setting is just a stage for all the luchadors and killer clowns to get in their souped up hot rods and let it roar.

Mechanically, the game’s core idea is that success or failure on a roll determines who gets to narrate what happens. If the player succeeds, they can decide their character’s actions. If the GM succeeds, they decide. The system also produces results of partial control, where the player mostly decides but the GM can interject, for example.

The system is light and fast to use. It suits the game’s “style over substance” -design where nothing has to make sense as long as it looks cool. Like in many games with similar priorities, the character types and other elements feel like a catalogue of references to particular movies and books. The difference is that here the reference is often explicitly spelled out whether it’s A Boy And His Dog or Rob Zombie.

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