A Control System by the Non-Dreamers

posted by Evil Mastermind Original SA post

Hey! Ho! Let's Read! MISSPENT YOUTH

Okay, this one has been a while coming. And there's a bit of backstory to this review, so just bear with me for a minute.

See, I when I went to PAX East last year, I didn't realize that some indie RPG folks were going to be there too because I ended up going at the last minute to run a D&D demo table. I didn't have a lot of time to walk around between when I got there and when I was expected to run, so I spent some time walking around the tabletop area and was suprised to see that there was a Mememto Mori/Indie Games booth set up.

I got to meet Vince Baker and make a fool of myself gush at him for a few minutes, shake his hand and such. I mentioned my Apocalypse World review here and how there were a lot of fans here (turns out he's a fan of SA too).

One of the guys working the booth (Robert Bohl) overheard that I was reviewing games for this thread and asked if I'd be interested in reviewing his game, Misspent Youth . I told him that I was, but I was backlogged because a) I was, b) I still don't really consider myself a game reviewer , and c) I didn't want to be the guy angling for a free game then never review it. (I did that once already (sort of), and I still feel guilty about it, but that's a different story altogether.) Hell, I've been slowly reviewing my way through the Rules Cyclopedia for how many months now?

And I've honestly felt bad about not doing the Misspent Youth review, especially since PAX East is this weekend, meaning I've been putting this off for a solid year now. So with all due apologies to Robert, here's my readthrough of Misspent Youth, the game of teenage rebellion. Will it actually treat the idea of trying to change the world with respect, or will it be the RPG? Let's find out.

(Also I should point out that there's technically two versions of this game; there's the normal version available off DriveThruRPG for about $16 (or off the official site for $25 for the book/PDF combo), and the [url="misspentyouth.robertbohl.com/pdf/
MisspentYouthEyebleedEdition.pdf"]Eyebleed Edition[/url], which is all the same text as the normal game, but not anywhere near as cleanly formatted. On the plus side, the Eyebleed Edition is free, so it makes a nice demo package.)


Misspent Youth is a game about dystopias and the kids fighting against them. The basic assumption of the game is very simple: at some point in the future, The Authority is in power and has been fucking up the world. The only people who are interested (or capable) of fighting back are the teenagers. The book starts off with a list of inspirational media; ranging from music (Dead Kennedys, NIN) to movies (Clockwork Orange, Goonies) to books (Hunger Games, Snow Crash) to TV shows (The Prisoner, Avatar: The Last Airbender).

So right off the bat we've got a pretty...eclectic selection of source material. From there we jump right into the introduction.

Introduction posted:

Welcome to Misspent Youth .

This is a fucking awesome game. You’re gonna have fun with it. So much fun you’ll wonder why it’s not illegal.

Misspent Youth is a science fiction game about friendship and rebellion. It’s a roleplaying game, which means you create a world, pretend to be people you’re not, and create a story in real time as you play the game.

The protagonist in the stories you make is called a Youthful Offender (YO) , and is a heroic kid between 12 and 17 years old who won’t put up with being oppressed. The antagonist is called The Authority , the force that’s fucking up your world and making it a shitty place to live. You or one of your friends plays The Authority and everyone else plays a single YO.
Well, it's good that the game sets up the tone right off the bat. Whether or not the tone is good is, of course, up to the individual readers. Given the core concept of the game, I think it works.

So what's "The Authority" the characters are supposed to be fighting against? Good question. The answer is that it's up to the group. Yup, this is a filthy Storygame where the world is created by both the players and the GM. It's a bit like Shock: Social Science Fiction or Apocalypse World in that regard. If you want to remake the Hunger Games, you can do that, but you could just as easily be a rag-tag group of kids from different nations trying to fight back against the expansion of the Fire Kingdom.

Like AW and Shock, the first session is intended to be the "worldbuilding" session, and in this case the world is defined by The Authority. Or, to put it another way, the Authority is[/is] the world as far as the game's concerned. It can be a force that's running the whole planet, or maybe it's just a few powerful people that run a city. That's one of the things you need to figure out starting out, but what matters most is that you [i]hate the Authority.


The Authority is about power and control. It attacks freedom and joy and hates whatever the YOs love. The most important thing when coming up with The Authority is to make something that’s going to make you — the players, the people sitting around the table — furious. Brainstorm a list of the things that real-life bullies do that make your guts knot up with impotent fury. Keep this list in mind when you’re deciding what The Authority will be like. If someone proposes an Authority that you don’t give a fuck about, one that doesn't make you want to spit and claw and bite and fight, say so. This is true even if you’re playing The Authority.

The Authority is designed by going down a list and picking options, then fleshing out from there. You start by picking a Name and a Description , which should be one or two sentences that are just a high-level description of what the Authority is about.

Next, you pick the Authority's Vice , which is their main motivating force. There are a few options available, ranging from the obvious (Greed, Fear) to the more abstract (Absolutism, Utopianism). There's no mechanical bits backing any of these up (or any of the things you pick, really). At this point you're just doing the broad-strokes thing.

Picking the Victim is next, and this is the thing that The Authority is "killing, consuming, ruining, perverting, or feeding on". Again, there's only a few options here, such as "History", "Freedom", or "Progress". Basically, this is the main thing that The Authority is trying to destroy.

Next up is the Visage , which is how The Authority presents itself. Are they a Corporation trying to control everything from behind the scenes, or are they the State with a "legitimate" government backing?

Finally, you pick The Authority's Need . This is a sentence or two about what The Authority's ultimate goal is. It can be something simple like "Maintain the status quo", or more complex like "Bring everyone under our corprotaion's umbrella to create a world-spanning monopoly". Whatever it is, it should be something that's dangerous for anyone outside The Authority's cozy little circle.

Now that we've determined what The Authority is, we need to figure out what they've actually done to the world. That means putting together a Dystopia . The previous section was about fleshing out the high-level threat to the PCs, now it's time to see how things look at ground level.

That look is determined, first off, by the game's Rating .


What kind of game do you want to have? What content should be in it and what shouldn't? Sometimes you’re in the mood for a profanity-laced trip through ultraviolence, and sometimes you want something light and funny.

Decide on a rating for the game. For example, you might use your country’s film board ratings, the video game ratings, or the television rating system. Pick the system and rating that works best for how you see the game going, then record it on the Dystopia sheet .
I actually like this idea. It's up there with concepts like "lines and veils" for making sure that everyone's on the same page in terms of content, and making sure people aren't being shoved outside their comfort zones. Which is important in a game where the PCs are teenagers who can wind up in pretty violent situations.

Anyway, the first actual part of Dystopia design is putting together the Systems of Control . In this phase, each YO picks, and I quote, "a science fiction thingie" that empowers The Authority. Every YO gets to pick one, they all have to be different, and they all need to stand on their own so that, if/when they're taken down, the other Systems still make sense.

Oh, Systems of Control have to do with the calculated score at the endgame. Not to get too much into it right now, but there's a Fiasco-esque endgame type system here,

Systems of Control can be technological (implanted RFID chips, cameras everywhere) or social (people rewarded for spying/reporting on neighbors). This is where you're really setting up how The Authority operates, but you need to leave a few gaps.


When creating Systems of Control, don’t let The Authority be totally omnipotent. Create a world with wiggle room for the YOs. This is also a good time to consider what scale The Authority is operating on. Is it in control of everything? Is it a clandestine organization? Is it on the run from the law?
This step also helps set up the themes that the game's going to explore; if you have "implanted RFID chips" as a System of Control, then you're probably going to explore the idea of loss of privacy.

Once you've got a few Systems of Control in place and recorded on the Dystopia Worksheet, then The Authority gets to pick the first Exploit . Exploits are The Authority's weak points, or the weaknesses of the Systems of Control. Again, these can be technological or social, and should be tied to the Systems of Control. Only one Exploit is defined at this point, but more Expoints (and Systems of Control) will be generated during play, and the balance between the two will be used at the end of the game to figure out who won: the kids or The Authority.

The last part of the initial worldbuilding is putting together the Clique and Casting it. The Clique is the "party", the group of teens who are going to end up fighting The Authority. You just need to come up with a short description here, but it should be something gives a serious reason for the YOs to be together; something like "punk rock band" or "children of activist group".


Come up with something interesting and grabby. I pretty much guarantee that if you say “classmates,” you’ll be bored.

Once you get that, you start casting. Everyone just comes up with a bunch of short concepts of the members of the clique. At this point nobody's actually picking their characters yet; what you're doing is setting up the whole core and supporting casts.


Treat it like you’re TV writers figuring out who your recurring cast should be. What “jobs” need to be filled by the group? What kinds of personalities ought to be played in order to underscore the themes suggested by the Exploit and Systems of Control? Come up with about twice as many concepts as there are YO players. The concept is best as a short, two- or three-word phrase — something flavorful, but brief. For example: “little pothead,” “genehacking genius,” “rich kid,” etc.

Once everyone runs out of ideas for cast members, the GM reads the list aloud again, and people sound off when they hear a concept they want to play. The player then writes that concept on his Permanent Record , and any leftover concepts become the "supporting cast" used by the GM.

At this point, your world is seeded. You've defined The Authority, you know who they are, what they've done, and who's fighting against them.

It's a nice little system, too. Creating the Authority is quick and easy, since it involves picking things off three short lists and fleshing them out a bit. I also like how the players get to be involved with the world creation, since that always helps with player buy-in and helps make sure you're not going to put something together nobody cares about. Having the GM determing the Authority's starting weak point is an interesting idea, especially since the players will know what it is; it makes a great stepping-off point for explaining how the YOs can actually rebel against the almost-all-powerful Authority.

Now you need to actually put your little juvie together, which we'll talk about...

NEXT TIME: This is going on your Permanent Record, young man.

Fuck You, I Won't Do What You Tell Me

posted by Evil Mastermind Original SA post


Hey! Ho! Let's Read! MISSPENT YOUTH


So now we know what people are fighting against, it's time to see who's doing the fighting. At the end of the last chapter, the players all got to pick a general archetype out of all the concepts that were attached to the clique. Now let's see how that's fleshed out.

First off, let's take a look at the Permanent Record , which is the game's character sheet. I like how it's set up like a standardized test; one thing this game is great at is setting up the _feel_ of the game. All the sheets look like government standardized tests, and the overall layout of the game is set up like a bunch of loose paper stuck to a wall with flyers for punk bands and graffiti all over it. I know there are folks who don't like it when the game goes _too_ far trying to sell the reader on tone (c.f. Apocalypse World), but I didn't get that impression from the book.

Anyway, we start with the obvious stuff: Name, Age (between 12 and 17), and Sex. You also come up with a few words to describe your character's Looks.


During this part of character creation, I usually make it a point to see if the freedom-fighting youth movement we’re creating is going to be a pasty sausage party. I have found that frequently people don’t pay attention to gender and ethnicity in their games. Usually just asking if it’s all white people or boys results in a wider variety in the characters we play. For me, having an entire rebel movement look like a ‘50s country club kinda gets in the way of expressing themes of revolt and rebellion. But if that’s your thing, that’s totally cool. I won’t judge you.

It's only mentioned in passing, but the Permanent Record isn't just a place to record all your numbers and whatnot, it also represents The Authority's file on you. So if your character is, say, trans, then you'd fill in whichever gender the people in charge would think you are, and use your Look to diverge from that. Again, this is a nice way of reinforcing the ideas of the game, and it's cool to see designers looking a bit closer at the idea of what the character sheet actually means.

The next part of character creation is determining your Convictions . Everyone has five convictions: three closed ones (Means, Motive, and Opportunity) and two closed ones (M.O. and Disorder). For the closed convictions you pick them off a short list, but the open ones are completely up to the character.

Your convictions are your character's general personality, drives, and goals. They all start out as "free", which means that it's still kind of fluid. After all, when you're around 16 your personality is still not set in stone yet. But during play, your convictions will come under fire when you have to choose between immediate victory and hanging onto youthful optimism. When that happens, choosing the immediate victory means the related conviction gets sold out , and we'll talk more about that later once we get into the mechanics of things, but in a nutshell "selling out" lets you succeed at something you would have failed at, but at the cost of your ideals.

For closed convictions, the change it undergoes when selling out is fixed, but with the open convictions you can pick something appropriate to the original, but darker and able to be used against you.

Let's take a look at what the Convictions actually mean. For closed convictions, there's a half-dozed free/sold out options, but I'll only talk about a few of them here.

Means is your overall approach to how you fight The Authority. Are you the Bad kid who just rebels for the sake of rebelling, or are you the Cool kid who's a natural leader? Selling out as a Bad kid makes you Perverse; you rebel not to fight the power, but to push boundaries and get attention. Cool kids who sell out become Trendy, not following their own ideals and instead conforming to the greater culture.

Movite is why you don't do what They tell you. Maybe you're an Optimist who just dreams of a better world (and becomes Cynical when you sell out), or you're in it for the kicks Thrills that last until you sell out and become a Nihilist who just takes bigger and bigger risks because you just stopped giving a shit.

Opportunity is how you get away with fighting the system. One of the easiest ways to get away with things is to be Rich, buying your way out of trouble...at least, until you become Profligate, throwing money at every problem and living in a state of malaise. Or maybe you're just Trusted by the higher-ups, which is great until you sell out and become the Believer in the very system you used to fight against.

M.O. is your main personal weapon against The Authority. This is your "special set of skills", or tools, or what have you. This isn't picked off a list, it's just a short phrase about your character's main ability.

Disorder is your character's main flaw. Are you asthmatic, or just too poor to live well? Again, this is an open conviction, so you just fill in a short phrase here.

And that's it for character creation. There are a few parts of the Permanent Record that are just filled in as you go along, like "Known Associates" and "Activities Surveilled", to record things as the game goes on.

Like the Authority/Dystopia Creation, the character creation is designed to be a skeleton for everyone to build off of during play. There's no mechanical parts here except chosing your three closed Convictions, no numerical rankings, or anything like that. The focus of the character sheet is the character , who he is and what he's about. Misspent Youth is a game about motivations, and character creation cares as much about who your character is over what he's capable of.

After all, the whole point of the game is to find out exactly what he's capable of.

NEXT TIME: The structure of revolution

In Order To Establish The Dictatorship

posted by Evil Mastermind Original SA post

Hey! Ho! Let's Read! MISSPENT YOUTH

Part 3: In Order To Establish The Dictatorship

We've got our Authority, we've got our Clique, it's time to start the actual game now.

Misspent Youth is designed to work like a TV series, one that's working towards a definite end. This isn't a game that's intended to keep going on and on, with the kids winning small battles that don't ultimately change anything except having some megacorp higher-up shaking his fist in impotent rage.

The overall campaign is called a series , which is made up of a number of episodes , which are in turn made up of seven scenes : What's Up, Fighting Back, Heating Up, We Won, We're Fucked, Who Wins, and Dust Settles.

At the start of each episode, each YO gets to create an Authority Figure that will appear in the episode. An AF could be a beat cop who just walks a beat in the neighborhood, or a fleet of robotic drones, or some corporate middle manager. You don't have to keep making new AF's every episode, though. You can have recurring bad guys moving in and out of the series. As you accumulate a supporting cast of bad guys, you can record them on the game's Case File so you can keep track.

At the start of each episode, the YOs also ask each other Friendship Questions . These are kind of like Bonds in *World games. You come up with a question or two for the player on your left based on what you'd like to see examined between them in this episode. The questions shouldn't be simple "yes or no" things; you want to ask questions like "Who did we fight over romantically?" or "How did you react when my parents sold out to The Authority?". This is also your chance to create backstory or facts about your characters, so make it good because these get written on the Case File too.


Finally, sometimes people ask friendship questions that aren’t about their friendship, or which aren’t questions, or which aren’t open questions. I call these “just questions.” Just questions are fine, but they’re not friendship questions. If you as the asker, askee, bystander, or Authority hear someone asking a closed question, a question not about your friendships, or a question about things that are about to happen, call bullshit. If you let that shit slide, the friendship questions are going to suck and not be helpful.

At the start of each scene, one player gets a turn to answer two questions:
• Which friendship question is the scene about OR which Authority Figure is in the scene?
• What is happening in the first five seconds as the scene opens?

The GM then frames the scene around the answers the player came up with.

The scenes always go in the same order, as follows:

First up you figure out What's Up . This is just establishing what's going to happen over the course of the episode. You figure out what the episode's going to be about, who's involved, things like that. Basically, at this point you're just laying groundwork for the rest of the episode. This scene also contains the Kicker , which is the event that gets the whole episode moving.

There should also be a Struggle in this scene (and every scene, really), and I'll talk more about that later. What you need to know right now is that a Struggle is a conflict between the YOs and the forces of the Authority.

The next scene is Fighting Back , and this is where the YOs are expected to actually start doing shit. This is where the problem is first confronted, and as a result will create the first Beat . Beats are the turning points in the story and fall into one of four categories: Catastrophe, Complication, Discovery, or Reversal. These are just directions for things to go, kind of like GM moves in *World. Not something with mechanical weight, just something to provide structure and direction.

This act also introduces the Question , which the overall thrust of the rest of the episode. "Will the truth about cybereyes be revealed?" or "Can the YOs stop the shipment of homeless people from reaching the processing plant?" THe Question isn't answered here, but it's established here to be answered later on.

The third scene is when things start Heating Up . This is pretty straightforward, because it's the part where the YOs actually start working to deal with the Kickoff, the Beat intensifies, and have a Struggle.

The next scenes is We Won , and this is the scene where it looks like the YOs are going to pull things off.


In the We Won scene, the YOs need to get a victory that makes them feel like everything’s going to be okay — especially given the crushing setback they’re going to suffer in the next scene. You know that moment in a movie where it seems like the heroes get their way, but you check the time and there’s still like 45 minutes left? This scene is that moment in your game. It can be a really good turn of events, an unexpected success, or even a false ending.
At the end of this scene, there whould be a reveal of some sort to lead into the fifth scene...

We're Fucked . At this point, the clique suffers an unexpected setback, and a second Beat is instroduced. This is also where the penultimate Struggle should happen between The Authority and the YOs.

Scene six is where you find out Who Wins . This is where the Question posed in the second scene gets answered, and this is also where the final Struggle happens.

The last scene is when the Dust Settles . This is a simple scene where you figure out the outcome of the previous scene and the episode as a whole; while you can still have a Struggle here (maybe to set up the next episode), this part is mostly for seeing how the episode affected the clique.

Then the credits roll, and you figure out the Aftermath . If the YOs managed to win in the end, then they can create a new Expoit on the Dystopia Sheet based on the events of the episode, or convert one of The Authority's Systems of Control into an Exploit if that makes sense for the events of the Episode. If The Authority wins, though, they either get a new System of Control or make one from an existing Exploit. Either way, that's the actual end of the Episode.

Yeah, it's pretty heavily structured, but I get what the game's trying to do: get you thinking in terms of, say, a TV show or movie. Making sure you have things like rising action and twists. I don't know if I like the idea that every scene has to have a Struggle (or at least, that each scene should have one), but I like the idea of the game being built around some sort of actual change to the setting, either for the good guys or bad guys.

NEXT TIME: Siezing control of the means of production

The Blood of Patriots and Tyrants

posted by Evil Mastermind Original SA post

Hey! Ho! Let's Read! MISSPENT YOUTH

Part 4: The Blood of Patriots and Tyrants

I've mentioned Struggles quite a bit so far, now it's time to talk about how they work. TRIGGER WARNING: Confusing

Basically, a Struggle is what happens when the YOs have done something to make The Authority actually pay attention and try to stop them.


You’ve gotta have one — and no more than one — Struggle per scene. When the clique is doing something that The Authority wants to stop, that’s a good place to start a Struggle.
All Struggles are between The Authority and the entire clique. There are no one-on-one Struggles between the bad guys and a single YO, and there are no YO vs. YO Struggles

When a Struggle kicks off, the GM puts a Struggle Sheet down, which looks like this:
12 11 10 9 8
 2  3  4 5 6
Each side gets six unique tokens, too. The overall system uses 2d6, but only the YOs get to roll.

Things start off by having the GM say what The Authority wants out of the Struggle this scene (his Objective ), then the YOs say what they want out of it (their Hope ).

Then The Authority makes an initial attack of some sort against the YOs. This is just handled through narration; the initial step in the GM trying to achieve his Objective. He then asks "Who's going to stand up?", which is the prompt for one of the YOs to grab the dice and try something.

The player's action works pretty much backwards from how you'd expect things would work, because the player doesn't say what he wants to do before rolling dice. Instead, you roll the dice first . The number you roll is then "claimed" on the Struggle Sheet by putting a token on it. The player then looks at their Permanent Record and figures what Conviction they're using. Then you get to narrate what you do to try to achieve the YOs Hope. Lastly, you put the number you rolled next to that Conviction on your sheet.


After the YO’s done narrating, The Authority must describe “taking the blow.” That is, he must show his Authority Figures reacting to the YO’s successful action: being duped, beaten up, confused, etc. Just don’t say what they’re doing to fight back, yet. That comes next.

The start of the second excahnge begins with the GM narrating The Authority's next action. Then he gets to claim some numbers on the Sheet. If the YOs didn't roll a 7, then he claims 7. On top of that, The Authority gets to claim one of two number based on the Scene you're in. For example, scene 1 (What's Up) has 3 or 11, but scene 5 (We're Fucked) has 6 or 8. The GM claims the number for whichever side of the Struggle Sheet has fewer tokens.

For instance, if The YOs rolled a 10 in the first exchange of scene five, then the Sheet looks like this (+ is the YO's token)

12 11 10+ 9 8
 2  3  4  5 6
Now the GM claims 7 since that wasn't rolled. In addition, he needs to claim one of 6 or 8. He has to put the token on the side with the least number of tokens, so he has to put it on 6.
12 11 10+ 9 8
 2  3  4  5 6*
So what's the point of claiming numbers? It's this: if the YOs roll a number that has been claimed by The Authority, then they lose the Struggle unless they Sell Out. If they roll a number that has been claimed by the YOs, then they win.

This brings us to the second YO roll. This is done by anyone; there's no set turn order, it's just whoever grabs the dice first.

If they roll a number that isn's claimed, then they get that number and everything continues to the next exchange. The Authority takes the blow, claims the remaining number on the Sheet (or the next number towards the middle if the slot he needs is taken), then the one of the YOs roll again and things continue like that until the YOs roll a claimed number.

When the YOs roll a number claimed by their side, then they win the Struggle. They achieve their Hope and The Authority is denied their Objective. The YOs check to see who had written the rolled number on their Conviction; if you're the one who claimed that number before then you just narrate how you "win", bringing that Conviction into it. If it was claimed by someone else, then you still narrate the "win" but you have to explain how that character's Conviction helped you out. This is more narrative than anything else, really.

Now, if the YOs roll a number claimed by The Authority, then they fucked up. Whoever just rolled has a choice to make:

If the player accepts the roll, then The Authority achieves its Objective and the YOs lose their Hope. The GM gets to narrate how you screwed up ("the most tragic and interesting way possible").

But, if the player feels that this Struggle is too important to lose, then he can Sell Out . If the YO decides that victory is more important than his principles, then what you do is pick one of your Convictions that you haven't Sold Out on yet (i.e., is still Free), and that you haven't used in the current Struggle. If it's an open conviction, then you erase it and write the new version down. If it's a closed one, though...


If the conviction is closed, The Authority redacts the free version. This means he takes a black marker and scribbles over the free version of the conviction so that it can no longer be read. From now on, you only use the sold version of the conviction.
The only limitation on Selling Out is that you can't Sell Out your "Disorder" Conviction unless you've already Sold Out every other Conviction you have . Once someone Sells Out their Disorder, that means that this is the last episode of the series and it's time for the endgame.

No matter who wins the Struggle, at the end the Struggle Sheet is cleared off, everyone erases any marks on their sheet, and the scene is wrapped up in one way or another.

I'm kind of split on the whole Struggle thing. On one hand, it's pretty heavily structured, especially when combined with the Scene structure. The idea that every scene has to have a Struggle of some sort feels like it could wind up being something that you feel you have to shoehorn into things.

On the other hand, though, the heavily abstract nature of a Struggle give you a lot of leeway to how it works in-game. Struggles aren't meant to be a normal RPG fight where Bob goes, then the bad guy goes, then Jane goes, then Will goes, then the NPC goes. It's closer to *World games, where one of the players does something, then the GM makes a move back. But because a Struggle is even more abstracted than *World, you can have one Struggle that takes place over weeks or one where there's no actual physical confrontation.

And again, like *World, I feel like this is a system that plays a lot better than it reads. It's also nice to see a game trying to approach conflict in a form other than "everyone shoots each other until one side wins".

NEXT TIME: No matter who wins, somebody loses

It All Comes Round Again

posted by Evil Mastermind Original SA post

Hey! Ho! Let's Read! MISSPENT YOUTH

Part 5: It All Comes Round Again

We've learned how to set up a series, the structure of Episodes, and how to fight the power. So how do we know when one side or the other wins, either crushing the world under its heel or freeing the world from tyranny?

The last Episode is reached when one of the YOs sells out his last conviction. When that happens, the current episode will be the final episode. When the episode is finished, you figure out what this means for the world and for the characters . This works like the Aftermath in Fiasco, where you figure out how everyone made out based on the results of the events of the game and the mechanics you tweaked along the way.

Figuring out who wins on the world 's level is done by comparing the number of Systems of Control against the number of Exploits. If the YOs have made more Exploits than The Authority has Systems of Control, then they win. Otherwise The Authority wins. Easy enough.

Now you go through to see how the victory or loss affected the characters. Eeach character rolls a d6 for each of their free convictions and adds the rolls together. Then you do the same thing for your sold convictions.

If your character gets a higher total for his free convictions, then he gets a happy ending for remaining true to your principles. If the sold out total is higher, though, you get a sad ending since you, well...sold out.


Happy endings mean that you don’t become a huge prick after all of this. Somehow you retain some of your youthful idealism. Sad endings mean that you become like The Authority, or you grow up to be an inveterate criminal, or something else you don’t want your character to have turned into.
Now, since the game doesn't end until someone sells out completely, that means that at least one character will get a sad ending. But here's the thing: once you figure out who gets happy endings and who doesn't, a player can sacrifice their happy ending to give it to someone else, taking their sad ending. The group only gets to do this once, so make it count.

At this point, the person who sacrificed gets to narrate what happens to their character first, followed by the person who's selling out triggered the end of the series. Then everyone narrates their endings in whatever order they want. Once we know what happens to the characters, whichever side that won overall gets to narrate what happens in the world after their victory.

And really, that's it. The remaining chapter is GM advice, and I'm still going to cover it, but at this point the actual "game" rules are done.

I've made Fiasco comparisons, and that game is a clear influence on Misspent Youth. Fate is listed as an influence too, and I have to say this game does a good job at taking the narrative structure of Fiasco and tying in a lighter version of Fate's Aspects (in the form of Convictions) to it. The Struggle mechanic looks too abstracted, but I really like the fact that it works for any type of conflict, from combat to a propoganda campaign, and even allows for the conflict to take place over long periods of time. I'm still not sure if I'm completely on-board with the rigid narrative structure, but I think it still serves the same driving purpose as it does in Fiasco, and it works pretty well there so I'm willing to give the benefit of the doubt here.

NEXT TIME: The Evil Overlord's List