View Full Version : Original System Looking for feedback on Straight to VHS (Free, ready to play)

2014-12-12, 03:14 AM
Greetings, everyone! I'm here to share and get feedback on my project of passion. Straight to VHS is an RPG built on the theme of B movies. Playtesting with friends and family has been extremely fun, encouraging and educational. But what I'm really hoping is that some folks here are looking to try out Straight to VHS and give me some tough feedback.

So, here's an excerpt from the first page explaining what the game is all about.

What is Straight to VHS?
A werewolf stalks the streets...but not for much longer, not if former prostitute turned nun Gloria Vendetta has anything to say about it. Never mind her cybernetically enhanced buddy in the precinct who suspects the werewolf is being protected by Yakuza. If only former heavyweight champion Tucker Smash could regain his memories. He was the only one who knew the antidote to lycanism, and now the plague is spreading...

You and your friends can now indulge in your own bitchin’ story with Straight to VHS, an easy-to-learn and fast-paced tabletop RPG inspired by bad movies. You’ll create a character by mixing and matching Tropes and Perks inspired by countless awful movies. Do you wanna be a voodoo master with bionic legs, or maybe a streetwise preacher? Straight to VHS will let you! The Director (or “game master”) will narrate the action and provide challenges and something resembling a plot for the characters to smash and seduce their way through. Players also get opportunities to tweak the Director’s script for their gain and amusement. Straight to VHS is a work in progress, but is already sure-fire fun!

So, mechanically-speaking, here are the defining features of the game:
- Mix and match character creation that makes it pretty difficult to make a dull character. Also, custom creations are encouraged.
- A "Script Change" mechanic that gives players the chance to mess with the scene narration.
- A system that encourages roleplay that supports the spirit of bad movies (Epic Dice awarded by the Director, One Liners, Dramatic Effects).
- The only dice are d20. Slick!
- Combat lies between "narrativist" and "simulationist" and lends itself to big cinematic moments (especially when aided by the Dramatic Effect mechanic).
- Overall a pretty newbie-friendly game. I wanted it to have straightforward mechanics that give the player some direction, without being too burdensome. Easy to learn, but not "too rules-light".
- Lends itself well to one-offs and short campaigns. Long campaigns are certainly an option though.

Read it (and download it!) here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B9Qiq_vhT3DoX3psTXVBUkdvdEE/view

I'd love to have any feedback anyone has about the document, but I'm especially hoping for feedback after actual play. You'll even find a link to a playtest feedback survey (https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/S75NJR6) on the last page before the character sheet.

Anyway, I hope someone out there has fun with it! Ultimately, I plan to continue making adjustments based on playtesting, finish up a to-do list (which includes a plot-creation tool) and look into the idea of trying to sell a modest number of PDFs of a fully fleshed-out and balanced version of the game. What? Crazier things have happened! :)

UPDATE: The game is progressing well, and there's even a growing community at http://www.reddit.com/r/StraighttoVHS

2014-12-12, 10:34 AM
I'm actually having a gaming party tomorrow night (first one in a while! woot!). If I get the chance, I'll def bring this up. If we play it, I'll be sure to tell you how it went!

2014-12-12, 10:55 PM
Neat! And if your group ends up needing some inspiration, let me point you to some fine movie trailers I've scrounged up on my fittingly chintzy Straight to VHS website! (http://straighttovhs.wix.com/home#!vidspiration/c1p7x) ;)

Gymkata is a personal favorite.

2014-12-14, 12:57 PM
So weird, but both original and very playable mechanically. Good job.

2014-12-16, 06:41 PM
Thanks JBPuffin! Weird, original and playable are all descriptions I'm very happy to see!

The whole bad movie theme, I think seems particularly weird at first blush. It's kinda broad and a little bit off-kilter, but I think the theme is the greatest strength here. So, why this weird theme of bad movies? My reasoning was two-fold.

1: They say to do what you know and love. :)

2: It's kinda a blank check for the players and GM to just have fun. I think about it this way: lots of RPG campaigns (especially ones that are a bit fly by the seat of your pants) basically resemble bad movies in a lot of ways. Inconsistencies, over-the-top personalities, plot contrivances, absurd situations and so on. . . mind you, I don't mean to imply that this is the only way RPG games are played, nor should the extraordinarily interactive format of RPGs be compared to movies in any straight-forward fashion. But the. . . resting state. . . of RPG play tends to resemble a bad movie for many of us and in our play we do our best to elevate it and keep it away from that feel. And that's great. I myself play a number of games with a rather serious mindset, both as player and GM, trying to create deep and interesting stories, characters and worlds.

But damn, does it feel good to just let loose and have the cheesy player one-liners, character tropes and overly convenient plot devices all be a DESIRED outcome! It feels weirdly natural and cathartic to just play an RPG with the intention of it being like a bad movie.

So it's that "playable" bit that I'm really trying to nail down now. Playable is good, but I wanna make sure it stays that way through rigorous and repeated testing with various player personalities and mindsets.

I'm rambling aren't I? Anyway, thanks for the encouragement!

2014-12-17, 02:19 AM
I liked It Came From the Late, Late, Late Show, and I've always been annoyed that I haven't been able to find other "Bad Movie" games. I tried to run ICFTLLLS on a forum and I found out it's much better to do in person. One thing that bothers me

Combat lies right between "narrativist" and "simulationist" and lends itself to big surprising moments.
Teensy bit worrisome as is, but I'll have to read the book to be sure. No judging here. Not yet anyway.

2014-12-17, 02:31 AM
Well if you read through, please judge away and share your thoughts. I'm hungry for some really critical opinions! :)

2014-12-17, 05:27 AM
Alright I've read over it

You perhaps planned on a simple tale about a sasquatch terrorizing the players out in the woods, but due to a Script Change, the sasquatch has fallen in love with one of the player’s characters. Your original vision has been compromised. Good! That’s what happens to the directors of bad movies. So you just have to ask yourself how to salvage it. Maybe poachers come for the sasquatch; maybe it’s time to meet the ‘squatch’s parents. Maybe the sasquatch comes to trust the players and reveals his secret alter ego: Santa Claus. Don’t worry about it too much; it’s probably going to fall apart again anyhow, and that’s half the fun!
This makes me very strongly dislike Script Change, but other than that, I was amused.

2014-12-19, 05:58 AM
*Nods* Yeah, I can see why some GMs would be put off by the idea of Script Changes. Thank you for pointing to the particular section that troubled you. I'll look into rewording that part and perhaps suggesting a way or two to limit their scope, if desired. Might also be a good spot to remind the reader that the Director can veto Script Changes.

I really appreciate the input. Thanks!

2014-12-20, 03:07 AM
Might also be a good spot to remind the reader that the Director can veto Script Changes.

I really appreciate the input. Thanks!

Another idea might be if the GM really doesn't want to GM the change, but isn't inclined to directly veto it could be to change the director, and let the old director play a new character?

That might be too much fuss though. In any case, a rewording is definitely in order.

2014-12-21, 11:48 PM
I'd love to take a look, but when I click the Drive link, it says that I can't read the file because of the "Terms of Service".

2014-12-22, 01:20 AM
EDIT: Weird! I tried to fix it and it happened again. I'm gonna try something else. But, rest assured, I am fixing this one way or another tonight!

I've never had issues with google docs before. :\

2014-12-22, 01:57 AM
Yeah. . . I dunno what's going on with google docs right now. So here's a new link: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B9Qiq_vhT3DoX3psTXVBUkdvdEE/view

Sorry about that, and thank you for alerting me to the issue!

2015-02-11, 11:13 PM
Unfortunately this thread petered out under the shadow of a technical issue. But rejoice, I've uploaded a newer version and updated the links in this thread accordingly! We're at version 0.2.5, people.

I've added the Dramatic Effect mechanic, improved terminology, added player options, improved the character sheet, added advice for Directors and generally cleaned up stuff all over the document.

I reckon this ought to qualify as a pretty proper sort of bump (new information, new links). Please pardon me and educate me if I've misunderstood the etiquette involved. Still looking for some tough feedback after a partial or full read-through... But if anyone takes it upon themselves to give feedback after they get some friends together and partake in some ridiculous bad-movie action, they shall become the target of my very deepest gratitude. :)