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Rememorex (2018)

Rememorex, by Megan and Sean Jaffe, is the first story game I played, so in my memory it remains a kind of mystical experience – you know how it is when you play something that is at once familiar and yet completely new, and all your synapses are firing because the mechanics all click together so perfectly? Like that. I have since learned quite a bit about story RPGs as a general design movement which puts Rememorex in its larger context, but that doesn’t change my view that it is an excellent game that was probably the best possible introduction to a different sort of RPG.

The basics of the system will be familiar to folks who’ve played other story games. Characters are made of keywords, each of which has a numerical value that correlates to the number of dice rolled against a difficulty rating of the GM’s choosing to resolve conflict. Keywords contain all the skills and abilities you can successfully argue; thus, a Vintage RPG Enthusiast character could probably talk your ear off about RPGs, be handy with a camera, be able to write and be utterly useless in any regular RPG situation.

There are a number of special mechanics, themed around VHS tapes and TV editing. Tracking errors let one player complicate, or help, another character’s actions in different ways, giving players some control over the narrative. Calling a montage opens up a group challenge to accomplish something that would otherwise be impossible. And so on.

These are in service to the game’s setting, which is a 1980s suburban childhood where weird shit is going on. Think Stranger Things, or ET, or any of the dozens of kid adventure movies from the 80s. Most of the book is given over to describing a number of towns, monsters, characters and conspiracies to build your game around – your weird shit will vary. It is sort of the opposite of Tales From the Loop, which has a strongly defined setting; Rememorex is looser and fuzzier, like your childhood memories, and through that encourages players and GMs to build a spooky world together.

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