- I am Owlbear!(sdonohue)United States
Antlers was designed by Mixu Lauronen as part of the 2013 24 hour RPG contest on rpggeek. It can be downloaded on this site.
In Antlers, the characters take on the role of one of Santa’s 9 most famous reindeer. They are faced with keeping not one but two terrible secrets. First, Santa might be just a little bit senile and so the reindeer have to work hard to hide that from the world. Second, not all elves are jolly toymakers. In fact, most elves are members of an alien race bent on controlling the world. The elves who work for Santa have been brainwashed by the reindeer to be good and faithful servants.
Creating a character is pretty simple. You choose which of Santa’s reindeer you’ll portray. If you’re Rudolph you get a red glowing nose. Everyone else can either roll a d12 or choose from a list of powers for their reindeer. The powers range from bonus dice to an attribute to bullet proof fur and carbon fiber antlers.
Once that’s done, there are four attributes: Body controls the physical, Brains controls the mental, Calm controls willpower and sanity, and Charisma controls the social. Reindeer get 20 points to divide up between these four, with the rule that each must be at least 1 and none can be higher than 10.
The last step is to answer 9 questions about your character. These range from details of your birth to how you became one of THE reindeer to what you want in life and who you hate. With the attributes distributed and the questions answered you’re ready to play.
Playing the Game
The game is intended to follow a narrative model with the players choosing a seed (there are three in the initial game) and then talking things out as much as possible with the dice appearing only sparingly and at critical junctures. There is a GM but he’s meant to adjudicate the dice and work with the players; there’s no mention of him setting up more than the seed of an adventure.
There are two times when the dice are likely to come out – for a fight or for a critical skill check. Skill checks are made by rolling a number of d6 equal to the attribute which you have agreed will control success. Each roll of 5 or 6 counts as a success. Most actions only require one success, but the GM could define something as needing more.
In a fight, characters will roll pools and compare successes. There is a little surprise here as an alien with a gun will roll Brains to hit while his reindeer opponent might be rolling Body. Both roll and count successes – whoever has the most has won and will get to do damage equal to the margin of victory (their successes – their opponent’s successes). Damage is done based on the attribute rolled, so if I shoot you using brains and get a success, you take 1 point of Brains damage.
Characters can and do get hurt in this game. If your opponent in a fight beats you, you take damage in whichever attribute you were attacked with. Getting below 0 leaves you mostly unable to act and if something goes to -3 you likely have a permanent effect.
First things first, it would be inappropriate to really lambast a game someone made in 24 hours or less. I’m not going to talk about grammar, spelling etc., unless it really gets in the way of understanding the rules. Likewise, I won’t make too much ruckus about the physical presentation of the game.
So this is a pretty fun idea. You play one of Santa’s reindeer out to save Santa and Christmas from a bunch of evil aliens. To me, this is a great concept with plenty of opportunities for some great stories.
There are, unfortunately some problems, most of which are related to the shortened timeframe. The first is that the reindeer powers are fast and loose with some having very specific effects, like Hercules which adds 2 dice on body rolls and others having no discernible effect like carbon antlers which are considered unbreakable. It’s cool, but there aren’t any rules for breaking antlers, so it may not be that useful.
The system is also a minor issue. With only one success required to do most things, characters with as few as 2 dice are more than 50% likely to succeed at most things. In fact, just splitting your dice evenly would give you 5 in each attribute and make you about 85% likely to succeed at everything. This kind of math isn’t surprising in a game with little time and no play testing.
Overall, I think this is a great effort for a 24 hour game. I gave it one of my highest ratings for excitement and I was pretty happy to convince my group to give it a try. We had a pretty good time playing it too and I think with a little more time, some of the rough edges could be filed off pretty easily.
- [+] Dice rolls