A Guide to Building New Stories

Image for article titled Create new stories with these games, systems and engines

Based on the system developed for world of the apocalypse by D. Vincent Baker and Meguey Baker, Powered by the Apocalypse systems are typically narrative, high-stakes adventure systems that easily allow for genre emulation and immersive, character-driven storytelling. It doesn’t have an SRD (although the Bakers are working on one), but it does Open Use Policy, detailed on their website. Because of this, there is no set definition of a PbtA game, as the Bakers have stated that “[Powered by the Apocalypse] means ONLY that the game was inspired world of the apocalypse in a way that the designer deems important and that conforms to our policy [with regard to] the use of our creative work by others.”

Most PbtA games have some familiar elements: archetypal charging with playbooks, “moves” instead of skill checks, an item system that uses tags, and combat designed for a vibe check rather than a drawn-out, hour-long whiz of a BBEG provide hit points. This system typically uses 2D6 and ensures that every single throw has narrative consequences. With a lightweight framework and the possibility of powerful storytelling, PbtA games are incredibly popular, and learning this system opens the door to hundreds of other games. As one of my personal favorite systems, I will always default to a PbtA game whenever I’m offered a choice of games.

Also, the RPG company magpie games uses the PbtA system almost exclusively and it has work as produced masks, urban shadows, Pasion de las Pasiones, cartel, Bluebeard’s Brideand more – all written by various writers working with Magpie as editor/producer.

I’ve left out some notable systems and I know it! However, I hope to update this slideshow to show as many systems and SRDs as possible, including favorites like Lasers & Feelings, Cairn, Troika, and many, many more! That means – anyone who comes in the comments to say GURPS or THAC0 gets sprayed with a water bottle.

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