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Monster of the Week: An RPG of Frights and Fights

When I was younger, I enjoyed sitting down each week like the nerd I am waiting for the newest Supernatural episode. It was always enjoyable and refreshing seeing the Winchesters fighting a different monster or cosmic entity week to week.

Of course, there was still an overarching plot usually involving the destruction of a powerful demon. This demon usually had ties to the monsters that showed up throughout a season, whether it was personal or they had summoned the monsters to protect themselves/kill the Winchesters.

I bring this up not only because it is an interesting trope that I enjoy and shows up in many other shows such as Buffy, Agents of Shield, X-files, Doctor Who, and even the American Sherlock series Elementary, but also because it is the title of an amazing Tabletop RPG.

Monster of the Week RPG uses the “Powered by the Apocalypse” system. This system uses only 2 six-sided die to determine whether events are successful. This system was utilised by other games such as Worlds in Peril, Apocalypse World, and MASHED.

The game consists of the players, known as “The Hunters”, and the Game Master, known as “The Keeper”. There are 12 hunter classes to choose from, each with a small but unique set of abilities. These classes are: The Chosen, The Crooked, The Expert, The Divine, The Flake, The Initiate, The Monstrous, The Mundane, The Professional, The Spell-slinger, The Spooky, and The Wronged. Each of these classes define a cliché present in Monster of the Week fiction; The Long-gunman from X-files, Castiel from Supernatural, John Watson from Sherlock etc.

These Hunters have abilities called “Moves”. There are moves all classes share: Charm, Cool, Tough, Sharp, and Weird. Charm is for convincing people and sometimes monsters. Cool allows you to act under pressure when being attacked or help someone out. Sharp helps with investigation. Tough helps you with protecting people or fighting. Finally, Weird is for magic use. Classes also have ones unique to them, which I will not go into detail to as there are around 7 for each class.

Each of these abilities ranges from -2 to +3, which denotes proficiency or lack thereof in a skill. A Spell-slinger will always have a higher weird than a Professional, while the professional will always have a higher tough than a Spell-slinger.

The Keeper has a unique roll from other RPG systems. They don’t roll at all.

This system encourages pre-planning and improvisation during play. The Keeper writes out what would happen if The Hunters hadn’t arrived in town, and The Hunters respond to the situations The Keeper presents. A Keepers most powerful move is the phrase “Something bad is happening”, which means that somewhere in the game world, something is going down that The Hunters should find and stop. This is usually the Monster or its minions enacting their plans.

There is always a sense of dread and terror in the air anytime The Keeper says this phrase, and it is always a good laugh to see the players scramble around looking for abilities to help with the situation, or making rolls to try to find out what’s happening.

All-in-all, this is an interesting system that is available for free from Evil Hat Productions. I encourage everyone to give it a try. There’s so much content in this game that, and you can support the creator, Michael Sands, by buying a PDF with more information and everything collated for only $12 from HERE. It’s definitely worth it if you and your friends enjoy monsters, anxiety, and using magic to try and solve all your problems, to the frustration of The Keeper.