Do you remember Remember Tomorrow?

Remember Tomorrow by Gregor Hutton is a weird little game that you probably never heard of. It came out back in 2010, and it’s possible that it made less of an impact because on the surface it doesn’t look weird at all. You play a character with a goal, fighting bad guys to get what you want. What could be more straightforward?

We have two — count em two — Remember Tomorrow games going right now. One straight cyberpunk, and the other digging more into one of the fantasy eras of one of our Kingdom legacy games. Did I mention it’s a cyberpunk game? Yeah that’s the default setting but we found it works just as well for swords & sorcery. So long as you have daring individuals being opposed by groups or organizations, whether that’s scheming corporations or hooded cults, it works.

We used to play it at Story Games Seattle every now and then, but trying it again recently reminds me that yes, it is a good game and deserves more love.

“Come At Me Bro!”

Cool, cool, cool, you say. But what’s the interesting part? Why should you check out this game?

The interesting part is the very unusual structure. The best way to describe it is a tapestry of stories that are loosely interconnected, but with threads that come and go based on what we think is interesting. I know it sounds like Microscope when I describe it that way, but that’s probably just me. It isn’t at all… except maybe in spirit.

Each player has their own character, which looks very straightforward, but you only keep that character for as long as they’re interesting to you. On your turn you can choose to abandon them and introduce a new character and launch their story instead. Your old character goes to the center of the table and sits there, untouched, unless someone else decides they want to adopt them and continue that story — giving up their old character in the process.

Each character has a goal, and their story is all about accomplishing it: you want to cure the cyber-plague, or kill the killer who killed your partner, etc. But the strange part is that the only way you can move towards your goal is by making *other players* interested in your story too.

On your turn you’ve got exactly three options:

  1. Introduce a new character (or faction), which I just described
  2. Have your character make a deal with a faction
  3. Forget your own character for a moment and describe a faction attacking someone else’s character

The second option, cutting a deal, can give your character a leg up, but at the cost of making a faction more powerful. Ultimately factions are all the characters’ enemies, so it’s bad for everyone. And the important thing is that while a deal can give you a buff, it *cannot* give you the checks you need to move closer to your story goal.

The third option is the key. The only way to get your story checks is if another player, on their turn, decides to forget about their own character for a moment and describes how one of the big bad factions is attacking you. They take off their protagonist hat for a moment and decide to be your antagonist. That scene, on their turn, can be one of the big story beats that moves your towards your goal. CEL-X tries to shut down your research lab, but that proves to be the critical moment when you isolate the transmission vector of the cyber-plague, bringing you one step closer to a cure.

It’s hard to wrap your brain around at first, because players keep thinking that their turn should be about their character–and it can be if you’re introducing a character or cutting a deal–but once you get in the swing of it it’s very fun.

Tapestry of Characters, Tapestry of Players

What happens when you accomplish your story goal, or fail and go down in a flames? That character is done. They’re out of the game. You make a new character and start a new story thread.

What I love about the whole combination is that we have a bunch of *potential* stories on the table, but the ones we follow and how they turn out must be the result of us building on each other. One person puts forward a character and a story goal, but that goes nowhere unless some other player is interested in creating adversity for that story.

And it’s a decision each of us makes individually, deciding how to spend our turns. The story *I* like might be quite different from the one that interests you, and that’s totally fine. All these threads weave around each other, creating a rich tapestry.

Is the game perfect? I think it has more fiddly bits than it needs, adding a little too much complexity in some places (I’m looking at you, conditions), but we have house rules to simplify it while still keeping true to the core mechanics.

The tapestry structure also means the game is super-flexible in terms of players coming and going. You can run it at a con, and if someone has to leave, no problem you just keep going. And if someone wants to join in they can just make a character and boom new thread added to the mix. Even if they know nothing about what’s already happened in the game, they can jump in on a new character’s story and get right into the action.

There’s always room for one more character, and for one more player.

    Ben Robbins | July 31st, 2023 | , , , | show comments