#RPGaDay Hillfolk


Day 8: A good RPG to play for about 10 sessions

This is tough. I don't generally set out to play a game for around ten sessions. I've got into a sort of de facto "rule of three" habit: I try a game out once, for a sort of "pilot", then if that goes well I plan a sort of three session arc. If that goes well, I might plan another. And there's scope for a third three session arc, I guess, but by then I'm usually bored and itching to try something else. If I was the only GM for a regular weekly group, that habit might change, but right now I don't really think about what would be good for ten sessions.

But then… as #RPGaDay is meant to, this question got me thinking? What if I were to propose to a group a set run of 10 sessions? If I were it would be because I was doing a lot of gaming, I'd be attending two groups a week (it would have to be weekly), and one of those groups would be scratching all my other gaming itches, giving me time to explore a concept that I threw into the long grass some time ago.

I was streaming the first series of Sons of Anarchy, very much enjoying how it riffed off Hamlet. It went downhill very fast after that first season, so don't bother with the rest. I enjoyed the slow burn social tension, and that in turn reminded me of season two of The Wire. It's not everyone's favourite season, but I like it. Though every season is good, even if the last is the weakest. In that show, the police procedural isn't the story, it's the politics, in city hall, the office and a home, that engages the audience. I'm not a massive fan of PVP tabletops, like Vampire, but I found myself thinking about how to roleplay a Sons of Anarchy inspired game.

You don"t want a game with stats for motorbikes and a combat system that includes chains and baseball bats, you want a system that's all about relationships. Well, let me caveat that, you could use any system, if you were happy you weren't going to be turning to the combat rules that often, and had a group of people who knew what they were doing. You could use Cortex+ Dramatic, the core of the Smallville game. You probably wouldn't use Fiasco, as that's more about the whole edifice crumbles at the end of a story, not about the slow build.

But I'd use Hillfolk, the DramaSystem game, which is designed to recreate the beats of a TV show. Hell, the scenario ideas at the back of the book and in supplements are even called "Series Pitches". Obviously this is the right answer.

Although, I haven't actually played it.

I have the rules, I think I may even have bought them around that Sons of Anarchy time, but as I said that idea was knocked into the long grass. I've read the rules too (and they are a quick read) and I can tell you that they privilege social combat over "procedural" scenes (fighting etc) and reward players for backing down in such situations – I'm sure we've all had games where a disagreement between players rapidly escalates into a fight between their characters – so that they can come back stronger on a later scene.

So if you'll accept my recommendation on the basis of conjecture, rather than played-experience, that's it. If you were to insist that o recommend only a game that I have played, I could say, I don't know, something like Night's Black Agents: The Dracula Dossier again, but I've already mentioned that, and I'm thinking I might just be able to do this whole #RPGaDay thing headlining a different RPG every day, which would be cool.

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