DayTrippers: Game Master Guide Review

"I'm DayTripping," I thought."This can't be real..." Floating in a Dali-inspired reconstruction of a Gernsback universe, surrounded by images arising from my own subconscious, I glanced around rapidly at a cast of colorful characters. All the Egyptian gods were there, thousands of miles tall. My brother, somehow back at home but also here, laughing at my career choices, swigged a dark ale and dispersed into tachyons while Chaz the pilot suddenly began to sprout flowers without comment, and a giant baby head floated in space, mouth agape, tiny spaceships drifting in and out of its yawning orifice."

Disclosure: I know Tod Foley from G+, we've talked a bunch, Melissa and I both provided feedback on this and the GM's Guide, and Tod has provided feedback on some of our products. We received digital copies of this for our help, not for review purposes.

This is the second part of the two-part review: you can read the first part about the Core Rules here, which covers characters and game mechanics. Just to recap: DayTrippers is a standalone role-playing game, with the tagline "A Surreal Science Fiction Reality-Hopping RPG". It is written and designed by Tod Foley of As If Productions.

As with the Core Rules, the layout is good, the art is decent, and the writing is awesome. My overall impression is, where the Core Rules tell you how to play the game, the Game Master's Guide is all about telling you how you are "supposed" to run it.

For example, in the Core Rules the Combat section tells you to figure out whether you're attacking, defending, or doing something else, what to roll, and what the results mean. Contrast this to the Game Master's Guide, which tells you none of that, instead solely focusing on explaining how to run combat, to challenge the characters without implicitly trying to kill them, and even provides a table on random combat mishaps.

I know above I put "supposed" in quotes, but that's a good thing. Yes, a DM or GM or Storyteller or whatever is welcome to run a game any way they want (like, say, running D&D as a political drama), but I think it is useful for you to at least get a handle on what sort of experience the game was designed for. Then, if you don't like it you can run it another way and then maybe bitch on the internet about how it's not doing what you want to (despite not being designed to do that anyway).

The Game Master's Guide retreads and builds upon some of the content found in the Core Rules, like the MegaCorps, clients, SlipShip computers, starting up your own business, Downtime Events, and so on. There's also a bunch of...

Holy shit, the generators (all of which Melissa wanted me to mention that she is fond of).

There's a generator for missions (which includes the mission and node type, example complications, obstacles, and perks), stars, planets (size, gravity, atmosphere, pressure, water, climate, and biosphere), locations, lifeforms (very complex, which includes a bunch of possibilities for shape, body surface, symmetry, sustenance, and so on), societies, drama, characters, dream worlds, the multiversal chao, and time travel.

Fortunately, there's a flowchart for a suggested order of using the generators. For example, it recommends starting with the Known/Unknown Planet generator, then Star, Planet, Location, determine if there's life (going with the Lifeform and Society generator if there is), Drama, and finally Character. Of course these are just tools, not a monolithic way of running the game: you can use whichever is needed at a particular point in time.

Speaking of tools and running the game...

Creating DayTrips & RunSheets
I think certain DMs/GMs will dig these sections. They categorize and discuss story types, mission goals, and narrative structure, and does a lot to help guide you into making adventures that best emulate the short story/TV serial episode approach DayTrippers is geared towards.

RunSheets are a way to help loosely organize things, while still allowing for a flexible story due to character actions. As a minimal-prep GM, this isn't something I see myself ever using, but I could see new GMs, or those that prefer being more organized, lifting them for use in other games.

The Conclusion
As I said in part one, I don't play many science fiction games in general, which is really the only reason I don't think this game is for me (though I could see myself breaking down and doing some sort of horror/Lovecraftian one-shot).

I've heard tell that people consider it a game for "smart people", but I disagree. I think it's a game for good gamers. The rules aren't hard to figure out, and even with all the crazy stuff you can stumble across (especially in DreamWorlds and the Multiversal Chao), there are plenty of generators to cover your ass, and if you prefer to plan things the RunSheet tool can help keep your thoughts sorted, without railroading the characters.

There's a bunch of inspirational media in the back to help you get a handle on the tone or feel or whatever of the game which, in addition to being good reading, would make it even easier to come up with stuff on the fly (even in other games, so win-win).

Even if you don't care for the setting or theme, if you like sci-fi games you could get a lot of mileage out of the generators. If you don't like sci-fi games, you could probably still mine them for ideas for making strange creatures. Finally, the section on Running DayTrippers also has some useful gaming advice/ideas (I'm especially fond of Progressive Character Generation, as I prefer having characters with minimal hard-set backgrounds that are gradually expanded upon/discovered during actual play).

A Sundered World is out!

The Fighter is geared up and ready to go! Unlike the default Dungeon World fighter, your skills matter more than your special "can sometimes be lost but not really" weapon. There are a variety of fighting styles to choose from, including the ability make a DEX-based fighter.

Grave Goods is the latest magic item compilation in our 10+ Treasures line. If you want nearly 30 undead-themed magic items, some monsters, and advice on how to make your own, pick it up!

Lichfield is available for public consumption. If you want a concise adventure with a Silent Hill feel, be sure to check it out! Primordial Machine is also out, so if you want to catch a glimpse of A Sundered World, now's your chance! Finally, we've updated If These Stones Could Scream.

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