DeScriptors: A Word Game Micro RPG

Dungeons & Dragons is a collaborative story-telling game. That’s what we tell ourselves and it’s mostly true. We announce what we want our players to say or do. The dungeon master does the same for NPCs and monsters. We chuck some dice and then interpret some results. We tell a story. But sometimes I think we are little dismissive of how much that indifferent third party (the dice) influences our stories. In a word game RPG like DeScriptors, the narrative you and your friends create is the star.

DeScriptors: A Word Game Micro RPG
DeScriptors: A Word Game Micro RPG

DeScriptors: A Word Game Micro RPG

Writer: Matthew Bannock, Tim Bannock
Publisher: DriveThruRPG
Cost: $4.99
Product Length: 28 pages

‘Okay, after I see the paladin has waylaid one highway bandit I take cover behind a wagon and shoot the other with my crossbow. Crap, that’s a 10…’

 

‘All right. So you nimbly dodge behind the wagon but lose your footing a bit on the rutted out road just before firing the bolt and the shot goes wide.’

So how does a word game like Descriptors actually work? Essentially, you create/adopt a character that uses one noun and up to four adjectives. So, you choose a descriptor, then adjective 1, and adjective 2, etc. Depending on the setting in which you play you may have the following as your character:

Buriso: Rogue – Cunning, Resourceful, Charming, Observant

On your turn, you will use your adjectives to succeed (bidding) or, if you choose, you can choose to fail to gain a new adjective (fishing). That’s right. You, the player, decide whether you succeed or fail when faced with any given problem. Of course, there is a storyteller (aka, GM) to adjudicate decisions you make and who has the authority to deny anything deemed not interesting or dramatic enough. Of course, I have given a very simplistic overview of how things work and there is a bit more to it. Nevertheless, this is a system where the designer clearly did not want the rules to get in the way of the creativity.

So, on Buriso’s turn, faced with overcoming some trapped mechanism, he used his resourcefulness to jam the gears with some scrap chicken wire he saw on the ground nearby. Now he is:

Buriso: Rogue – Cunning, Resourceful, Charming, Observant

Originality

It’s in the detail above that Tim Bannock wrote this (he’s the listed creator on the site) but I believe his cousin, Matthew, created this RPG (the cover agrees). Regardless of which cousin deserves the most credit, the Bannocks have created a nice, rules-light system that may be strange to grasp initially but whose value becomes apparent once you do understand just how simple it really is.

Writing

I had to read this a couple of times for things to click. Let me put that another way. I kept rereading the early parts wondering what I was missing. I finally read the pdf in its entirety and that’s what I would advise you to do as well. Read the whole thing. Even if you are foggy on some of the details, keep reading. (Matthew’s) Tim’s writing is not to blame for my misunderstandings. It was me second-guessing my comprehension. You mean the PLAYER decides if he succeeds? Yes. Keep reading.

Production

This pdf is easy on the eyes and while the art is mostly stock (maybe all stock), each piece is appropriate for its section within the document. The pdf has bookmarks for easy navigation and the hyperlinks within the text all work. Including links to podcast episodes where live play sessions use this system.

Design

Even though the pdf is short, I still only glossed over the rules earlier. The authors provide sample characters in various settings (i.e. modern day, sci-fi, fantasy) and one excellent example of how you bid and fish for adjectives. There is an FAQ where both the creator and Jeffery Ingram, creator and host of the Worldbuilder’s Anvil podcast (that link will take you to the Pregame Show where they begin using DeScriptors. Check it out!). There are also details on using gear and consumables in your campaign. Like I said, the product is short, but it’s all you really need to play.

Final Thoughts

When I first looked at this, I got a bit concerned that I’d struggle with what to say about it. In a nutshell, DeScriptors isn’t for the gamer who likes a lot of crunchy mechanics or excessive tracking. However, it is perfect for those who favor an emphasis on improvisation (comedic or otherwise), narrative, and sitting down to play a game without pouring through several source books for a handful of unique ideas. If that’s you, grab this game and get started. You can play this with a pencil and a notepad and nothing more. If you have an eidetic memory, you wouldn’t even need that much.

DeScriptors
DeScriptors: A Word Game Micro RPG is available on DriveThruRPG.
Thanks, Tim, for the review copy of DeScriptors.

*Additional note, that’s our Mug of Wakefulness that is ostentatiously shown in the pic above.

Author: Patrick

Board gamer, role-player, father, blogger.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.