Self Teaching Games: Role-playing Games


Fog of Love  
Designer: Jacob Jaskov
Players: 2
Ages: 17+
Time: 60-120 minutes


Imagine a blind date as a board game and you have Fog of Love.

Each player takes on the role of a character in a budding relationship, using cards to shape themselves, their partner, and the events that unfold over the course of the game. Each player chooses their occupation and inner personality, while their co-player determines their physical traits (re: the things that attracted you to them in the first place). The rest of the game is spent playing cards back and forth to determine what sort of hijinks happen, such as a simple breakfast in bed or seeing your partner with another person. After each card played, players secretly answer questions which affect their character’s satisfaction in the relationship as well as shared and individual objectives on the board.

Fog of Love has a lot of complexity, but introduces players to all its different mechanics one or two at a time by using a shorter introductory scenario. The introductory scenario comes packaged ready to play and teaches players new rules as they draw cards from the different decks. Play continues until new tutorial cards are drawn, at which point the rules expand. Numbers in the corners of the cards and asterisks are used to help players know which cards are part of the starting scenario and how to reassemble the decks for the next time they play with somebody new.

Fog of Love is a complex game, but the introduction really helps to reduce the learning curve and is a blast to play through. It’s a lot of fun playing out the dates of a new couple, and Fog of Love handles this subject with a lot of interesting nuance: characters can be either gender, unaffected by physical traits; professions run the gamut from gutter to glamorous; and personality traits can enable or get in the way of relationship satisfaction. Our playthroughs varied from romantic comedies to daytime soap opera and everything in between. It has a lot of replayability and plenty of interesting looking expansions on the horizon.

In all, Fog of Love is a good game to have in any collection that caters to late teens and adults of all age groups. It gamifies relationships in ways that teach not just computational thinking, but interpersonal skills.


The Cloud Dungeon

Designer: Andrew Miller
Players: 2-6
Ages: 7+
Time: One two hour session, or three sessions of less than 45 minutes.

It’s tough to imagine an RPG style game where nobody needs to read the rules or do any session prep, but The Cloud Dungeon does it in style. Print out the PDF, get some standard six-sided dice, and set out the craft supplies: you’re ready to go!

Craft supplies? Yes! The Cloud Dungeon, the first in the DIY Adventure Games series from AndHe Games, is a papercraft game where players cut out elements, color them, and attach them to the characters they play. Using their creativity and their adventuring gear, players overcome challenges. Sometimes they save the day by working together, and sometimes they do it in competition with each other--and it’s never the same game twice.

This is a great introduction to tabletop roleplaying games for younger kids, and the papercraft aspect adds a diversity of activity so children more interested in art than being the center of attention will feel engaged as well. It’s well-presented, easy to get into, and the person running the activity can read ahead while players are customizing their characters. A GM isn’t really needed, but with younger kids who get distracted easily it probably is a good idea to have one present just to keep the game focused.

The Cloud Dungeon is a great game on its own, or an exciting supplement for small story-time activities. If you are going to get The Cloud Dungeon for repeat use, we recommend getting both the spiral-bound book and the PDF. Use the book as a reference, but print out the pages you need for each run, and do expect to go through a lot of paper and other art supplies.


Article by Donald Dennis
Games in Schools and Libraries is produced in association with Inverse Genius and the Georgetown County Library System.
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