The Between: How is it?

This looks good and I’m considering getting it in PDF. Anybody here played or read it and could tell more about it? How does it feels in play? Any similar game?

Thanks in advance.

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Hi Silva!

The Between feels in play like your are immersing a television drama with an a extremely high budget. It is extremely cinematic and mechanics in play are inspired by directorial techniques. It also has the potential for long campaign arcs. Whereas most PbTA games can fizzle out within eight sessions or so, a game of the Between is structured such that an arc will last about 12-15 sessions or so.

Detractors sometimes say that that due to its scenario based play and highly detailed playbooks, it feels more like a legacy board-game than say “Our Haunt”. Others see the learning curve, getting used to some novel techniques like the Unscenes, cut away scene that give us glimpses of London, unrelated (ostensibly) to the main plot, may pose a barrier. To an extent these are true: the game does pose some hard frames and does take a bit of getting used to, with a number of mechanics—interlocking like a puzzle box.

However, having actually played the game, the scenarios I find are more sandboxes for the GM to play with, with many opportunities, given the “paint the scene” questions, for players to influence the story beyond the actions of their characters. Additionally, the solution to the mysteries are all up to the players, because given the nature of how mysteries are solved, the answers are emergent from the story. The GM does not have privileged information. Also, given that the Victorian era itself is extremely strange, beautiful, and horrible, London itself breathes like a character in play; the Unscenes express this aspect of the game, and they are some of my player’s favorite moments at the table. Unscenes allow moments for mental breaks when the tension is so high during the Night phase of play, the period when everything is more dangerous.

I have found the Between a thrill to run; the book gives you everything you need to run a first session with very clear steps as you get used to the mechanics. There are over 50 Threats for you to peruse and play with to keep you busy for dozens of campaign arcs. Buy a copy and test it out for yourself. It is an unavoidably dark game, but one that you can savor with your group for a long while. Rarely have I actually felt tantalizing fear at the table in an RPG. This game does that.

If you would like to watch a run, here are two series I have watched myself:


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Thanks for the great response @Ben_Bisogno. I would have got the PDF already but dollar here in Brazil became ridiculously high after our recent economic crisis so I must plan carefully recent purchases.

Some questions that came up after reading your response and bits around the web:

  1. Do playbooks have Moves of their own or all they only use Day and Night moves? I got this impression after reading an article on the blog. Don’t know if it’s true or a mistaken interpretation on my part.

  2. How flexible and replayable the game is? The playbooks seem super focused on specific stories, giving the impression the replayability factor is limited.

  3. Are there more/extra playbooks beyond the starting 6? How easy is it to create new custom ones?

  4. Is there some tactical-strategical component to the game? I see something related to the Hargrave House being a headquarters of sorts that can provide PCs with upgradeable assets? Is this true?

Thanks in advance!

Hi Silva!

Let me address your questions.

  1. Playbooks have a ton of really interesting moves included in them, apart from the Day and Night moves. More over, there are a many custom moves uncoverable in the Threats, and advice in the book for making your own. Here is just one from the Mother (the Frankenstein playbook trying to resurrect a dead loved one):

THE CHILD: You have a secret laboratory in Hargrave House where you are building a person from body parts you acquire in the city. When the time is right, you will use principles of chemistry and alchemy to give your creation life. When you acquire a body part for the Child, cross it off from the diagram below and narrate a brief, pleasant memory of the person you lost that is triggered by holding the part in your hands.

[There is an image of a baby with different boxes on body parts]

When you acquire all the necessary parts or are instructed to do so by the Mask of the Future, you attempt to bring the Child to life and roll with Reason. If you don’t have all the parts, you have to make do with any old body parts you can find in order to finish the Child and the roll is made at Disadvantage. On a 10+, the Child is alive, and they love you very much. You may add the following to your Dawn questions (it is always marked): “Did you teach the Child a lesson about what it means to be human?” On a 7-9, the Child is alive, but it is a disappointment or a horror. Retire this character to obscurity. ThThe Orphan (Playbook) is now available. On a miss, the Child is alive and consumed by anger and fear. Tell the Keeper to put The Orphan (Threat) in play.

  1. The game is quite replayable because of the emergent nature of how players describe locations via Paint the Scene questions and the fact that the solution to a threat is not scripted. Moreover, there are over fifty threats written including the contest threats, so you can run at least 60 sessions or so of the between without needing to repeat any material. Threats generally take two to three sessions of 3 hours each to resolve.

  2. there are more playbooks coming out in the magazine and there are already over ten fan custom playbooks you can find in the publishing discord. However, if you just want to reuse the core playbooks in different arcs, you could just rewrite the 12 questions relating to their back stories to create fresh characters, which I find is quite simple.

  3. Our awareness of the breadth of Hargrave House expands with each day that passes, but this is not strategic, just narrative—although players can find via paint the scene questions some quite interesting objects to their personal quarters, which give advantage on rolls when they are appropriate to use.

I hope that helps!

Best,

Ben

If you want a look at the shape of a playbook might look like, here are a few fan ones I made myself:


If you want a look at how threats look, here are the fan ones written for the recent contest:
https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/18BYL_OJiUK-TvOGojNUQy_Dw7dJYSucp?usp=sharing

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Thanks again for such great response, Ben.

You confirmed my worries about the playbooks being overly focused, but at the same time they seem really evocative and fun to engage. Which makes me think that the ideal would be having at least a dozen of them in the corebook. That said, it seems it’s not hard to find fanmade ones nor create ones from scratch. These extra ones above seem super cool!

That’s it. I’m pulling the trigger and getting the PDF. Oh, by the way, what is this “magazine” you talk about? And do you have a link for the Gauntlet Discord where I could supposedly find extra materials for the game?

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The official stack of new threats put out by the gauntlet itself is currently only on the patreon. But that might change in the future.

However, there are still all of the fan ones that have been uploaded for the contest in the link above.

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Ben, what would be a good way for me to get that stuff while not going bankrupt? XD

I’m thinking about getting both the PDF from drivethrough and signing on the Patreon for a couple months just to get the extra playbooks and threats. Could that work?

It might well work! Join the Gauntlet Publishing Discord and message Jason Cordova to confirm.


(link will expire in seven days. If someone comes across this post later, message me for another link.)

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Hi Silva,

I am not in charge of the Patreon nor do I know when the Gauntlet will publish the new official in-house threats. If you have any concerns, you can message the publisher himself. I’ll message you his email.

Ben

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The creator also has two series right now:


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Be aware that Patreon releases don’t sit there for ever. Stuff is released on a monthly/bi-monthly basis and then is replaced by the next Codex zine or other publication. You may want to check with Gauntlet Publishing via the Discord that what you’re interested in is all still there.

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