Feedback Requested: The Pack - Pets in the Post Apocalypse


#1

My goal
The Pack is the fifth RPG I’ve created (to a greater or lesser extent). The previous four have each had a large footprint and dealt with difficult topics. My goal here was to design a smaller game with a lighter theme. I didn’t do either of these especially well. «shrug»

Unusual mechanics

  • Dogs take on pent-up energy when they’re stressed. They need to deal with this pent-up energy, or they can’t advance.
  • Dogs also have an anxiety trigger (like thunder) and anxiety moves (like compulsive chewing).

Borrowed elements
The Pack draws heavily from…

  • Comrades: I love Akers’ mechanism for advancing the revolution, and adapted that framework for pack advancement.
  • Ironsworn: The Pack also uses cards to represent distinctions, and each distinction has a unique move.
  • The Warren: Conceptually, The Pack draws heavily from Miller’s The Warren, though there are no specific mechanics it uses. For the settings, I was inspired by the worlds in The Warren.

Feedback desired
This is the first draft of a mostly complete set of rules, so I’m mostly interested in knowing whether you’d play this game. Does it look intriguing and exciting enough to play?

Here are a few questions if you’d like to do a deep dive:

  • Do the basic moves offer good options for propelling the narrative?
  • What actions and behaviors does the system seem to incentivize?
  • Do the settings (last three pages) give you enough prompts to run a campaign?

Thanks for your time and attention!
– Dan


#2

First and foremost, I adore this idea. Just flipping through the various kinds of dogs I could play made me really want to sit down and play a game with some friends, like, right now.

To answer your three questions:

  • Yes, the basic moves offer good options! Mostly. I’m not quite sure you need Scuffle, Endure, and Face Danger—I think you can probably roll those three into two, or maybe even into one. The rest of the basic moves are seem great, though.

  • The big incentive I read from these rules—more than most PbtA games I’ve played—is to stick together. So many moves require another packmate nearby, so it feels like it would be a terrible idea to split up. I’d guess that’s the point, probably, so good job!

  • The setting pages are definitely more than enough, especially since you can probably(?) steal from all of them, even if you focus on one specifically.

Some other feedback and questions:

  1. You reference hexes; you give an explanation briefly of what a hex is and how to use it, but I desperately want an actual example hex map and then one I can fill in myself (like AW’s threat cards).

  2. There seem to be a number of mechanics floating around that I don’t quite understand. What is Dominance? Why are there only, like, two moves that interact with food? How are Distinctions different from moves? When do I make pack moves as opposed to stuff like Hunt, which is just done with several dogs?

  3. You can definitely consolidate some of your Special moves. You don’t need Avoid Harm and Face Danger and Endure and Scuffle, I bet you can cut those in half. Likewise, Catch a Scent and Take It In are basically the same, they can be merged. I want Freak Out and Wound Up to be similar, somehow; like, those two don’t feel distinct enough to warrant two different moves.

  4. Put more info on the playbooks. I had to go digging through the Special moves to figure out how pent-up energy works, when anxieties come into play, and whether or not I actually had health. Also, how do I track harm? There are no boxes for it that I saw.

  5. On the whole, I want a half-page explanation somewhere to detail how a lot of these mechanics work. I don’t need exact details, but something that quickly covers the broad strokes of the pack, pent-up energy, dominance, hexes, and other unusual mechanics.

On the whole, though, this game looks rad. I look forward to playing it at some point in the future.