What's Your Favorite Flashback Move?

In some games, players can narrate a flashback for their character. This usually delivers a fictional and/or mechanical bonus in the current scene.

I love this idea, because it encourages people to develop their character’s backstory over a series of sessions (“Play to find out what had happened”). It also overcomes a practical limitation of collaborative improvisation: If the characters were real they would take steps to prepare for the situations they’re in.

Anyway, I’m working on a game about “80s buddy cop movies,” and flashbacks are essential to the genre. I’m curious to hear about games where you think this mechanic is well implemented.


I like simple prompts building up, à la For the Queen. And, locally, the Quarantine from AW.

Leverage supposedly was a gsme that really pushed flashbacks, which makes sense because the series did too, but I’ve never played it.

Dungeon World does this slightly with its Adventuring Gear (3 uses, you have what you need because you must have put it there beforehand).

I always enjoyed the Blades in the Dark approach, specifically designed to short-circuit analysis paralysis in heist-planning. You drop right into the action of a mission with the Engagement Role, then at any point you can mark a Stress to have a flashback. It’s the GM’s call whether the flashback itself requires a roll. Then once that’s resolved one way or another, you jump back into the main action, reaping the rewards (usually) of the flashback. Pretty elegant.


I already said this in Twitter, but for anyone who missed it, Pasion de las Pasiones has a killer soap opera-inspired Flashback mechanic (a couple, actually).