The Teeth Sneak Up On You In Follow

Follow fakes you out by looking super light and chill. You just free-play scenes and everything is great! So easy!

But the teeth hide in the challenge resolution. The odds of succeeding at each challenge is based on two entirely separate things: whether the characters are happy about what the fellowship is doing and whether the players think the fellowship did what was necessary to succeed. The players effectively give themselves and each other a report card on how well they’ve done this last round. Did our scenes focus on the challenge? Did what we described make sense? Do we deserve to get away with this?

In any role-playing game, the goal is to get people to embrace a shared vision about something that does not exist independently — a fiction that only exists because we agree it does. We’re trying to all get on the same page, even though the page is made-up. There’s the potential to wander off in different directions, particularly in a GMless game. We could all just pursue our own individual story ideas, but even if all our ideas are great we could wind up never really playing together.

That’s why Follow does a little judo redirect and asks the players to check back in and judge their own progress. If we think we’re not on the same page, the system reflects that by making it more likely we’ll fail the challenge. And even if we defy the odds and the draw goes in our favor, we had that discussion and we all saw how many red stones everyone else put in the bag. It’s a consensus check.

I’ve said before that, in Follow, the unity of the players at the table trying to play a game together that’s fun mirrors the unity of the characters in the fellowship trying to work together to complete their quest. This is exactly what I’m talking about.

    Ben Robbins | June 9th, 2019 | | leave a comment