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Glitch: A Story of the Not
by Jordan D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/19/2021 10:48:38

I'm not sure when I'll get a chance to play or run Glitch- previous works in this line, like Nobilis and Chuubo's, stayed on my shelf for years before I ever got a chance to actually introduce my friends to them. But much like those works, you just need to read Glitch to recognize immediately that this is the kind of experience that you absolutely cannot get anywhere else. When the stars finally align and a game does come together, you're not going to forget it anytime soon.

Speaking of shelves, Glitch is a very attractive book and I recommend getting a print copy if you're the sort of person who enjoys having pretty books around. Even the digital editions are quite fun to read, helped in large part by the copious full-page illustrations of demigods dying of absolutely ridiculous things (personal favorite: Vilita Skaudus). As always, the author's microfiction and ability to spin tangents is a treat.

If you enjoy a little introspection about the nature of fiction and created worlds, I recommend picking up this book to read it. If you also like having a pretty book on your shelf, I think the printed book is worthwhile. If you're feeling a little burnt-out on traditional RPGs and would like to try something kinda crazy and different with your regular group, this is definitely an option you should consider.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Glitch: A Story of the Not
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Glitch: A Story of the Not
by John F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/19/2021 01:23:00

[Excerpted from my personal blog]

I think most people, if asked to boil Jenna Moran's work down to a single word would describe it as "whimsical." There's a lot of that here. There's a character in this book who is "dying of trademark infringement" - fate conspires that her actions just happen to strongly resemble those of a "famous idol" with a similar name, and the universe punishes her for her unintentional plagiarism. There's another character whose title is "The Prince of the French Fry that Fell in the Corner." At one point he saves the universe (though the canonicity of this is dubious - it was in one of the always delightful microfictions that are a Jenna Moran signature). If you're coming to this for the whimsy, you're going to find it.

However, Glitch made me think, and I'm persuaded that a better word for Ms Moran's body of work is "intricate." The good kind of intricate, mostly. The kind of intricate that demonstrates craftsmanship and care, that you largely marvel at because of the elegance of its many interlocking parts. But also the kind of intricate where material you're reading on page 320 would have come in really handy for understanding concepts introduced on page 30. Also, sometimes, if it's late and you're a little zonked from the time change, you'll have no fucking clue what's going on.

As a follow-up to Chuubo's Marvelous Wish-Granting Engine it's fascinating. Chuubo's was a singular accomplishment that will likely never be repeated, but I think it's fair to say that the thing it accomplished was to expose the superstructure of rpgs as a storytelling medium and point the way towards designing new games that took its insights to heart. Glitch is exactly that sort of game. It owes a lot to Chuubo's, but it's not Chuubo's.

In many ways, it's a strictly superior game. When it directly inherits a concept, that concept is usually subtly improved. For example, "genre actions" have been replaced by "spotlighting." If you read closely, spotlights replicate a lot of what genre actions actually did, but they're presented as more abstract and more like a character power than a player obligation. You use a spotlight to make the GM or another player stop and elaborate on whatever they were just talking about. The specifics of what they're supposed to do with the spotlight are often similar (for example, Chubbo's epic fantasy genre had the "Decisive Action" where you're supposed to give a speech about what you're going to do, and then do it and Glitch allows you to "spotlight a test" and buy an automatic success if the character gives a speech about what they're about to do), but the difference in framing, and, heck, the new, more evocative name, make the concept a lot more attractive.

Similarly, there's a change to the quest system that is, quite frankly, inspired. Now, players take turns being the "focus" of a session. You can only advance your storyline quests while your character is the focus, but for the duration of the session, so can the other players. They can trigger your quest flavor options and earn one xp for you and one xp for themselves. The implications for player investment in each others' stories is staggering to contemplate. I am positively salivating for the next edition of Nobilis.

Which brings us to . . . not exactly the downside of Glitch, but let's call it a "caveat." Glitch is weird. Even for a Jenna Moran game it's weird. You may have noticed that I've not yet explained what Glitch is about. That's because what it's about is roughly 3-layers deep of Moran-verse self-referential. People think Glass Maker's Dragon is insular, but there's only one thing you need to know about Glass Maker's Dragon - and that's that we'd all gladly die to protect our Best Boi Leonardo de Montreal (or Seizhi Schwan or Jasper Irinka or, hell Chuubo himself - that is one damned charming campaign).

However, for Glitch I have to take several steps back. So, there's this game called Nobilis, and in that game you play people with the power of universal concepts. A character is something like "The Power of Fire" and you've got a broad ability to define what that means, getting as weird and as epic as you want. Set whole worlds on fire? Yes. Light a fire in someone's heart and convince them to pursue their dreams? Sure. Grant humanity the Promethean fire and boostrap it into a new age of technological plenty? If that's what "fire" means to you and the rest of the group doesn't rebel at you hijacking the setting, knock yourself out.

Now, the Nobilis have enemies. They're not just out there in the cosmos doing cool shit, there's a war going on. There's a faction called "The Excrucians." Their goal is to destroy the universe and their powers are beefy enough that they're uncowed by the frankly ludicrous strength of Creation's defenders.

With me so far? Good, because there are actually four types of Excrucians, and they all approach things a little differently. Deceivers have these infectious self-referential paradoxes that they use to corrupt the things of Creation. Mimics wield roughly the same powers as the beings that empowered the Nobilis, but in doing so they make a mockery of the laws of the universe. Warmains will just directly fuck your shit up. And then there's Strategists, with their signature power of The Worldbreaker's Hand, which can make things, even the abstract properties of ordinary objects, just not exist anymore, and because of this dread power they enter Creation doomed to die, usually pretty quickly, only to come back again and again in an endless cycle of resurrection.

Glitch is about the Strategists. But not the Excrucians. It's about the Strategists who decide to drop out of the war and live their doomed lives as best they can. They're still dying. They still share the Excrucian's fundamental conviction that Creation is a crime against the Void. But instead of attempting to slaughter the Powers that defend the universe, they solve mysteries.

That doesn't even begin to really describe the game. That's just what you need to know before you can say whether you're interested in what the massive expansion in canon will explain.

And honestly, you should be interested. It's very interesting. It's alternately funny and scary and thought-provoking, and Jenna's "wise, with a smirk" voice is used as artfully as it's ever been. But . . .

In Jenna Moran's own words, "You can think of Glitch as a kind of improv ethical philosophy and comedy jam session."

And that's . . . It's . . . Are you trying to sell the game or presage the exact parody your detractors are going to use to dismiss it as being made for absolute wankers?

There are several examples of play, and they're quite useful for understanding the game, but they are so arch and verbose that even I, no stranger to discursive quips and self-indulgent meandering, had to roll my eyes a couple of times. Even as I was being absolutely charmed by the wit, I was rolling my eyes.

Two out of the five attributes are called "Eide" and "Flore" and good luck guessing what they do (the other attributes are "Ability," "Lore," and "Wyrd," and they're not exactly straightforward, but at least they have existing fantasy provenance).

And look, I like this game. Quite a lot, actually. But if someone called it pretentious and impenetrable, I would not be able to deny the justice of those accusations. It's a niche within a niche and I'm actually kind of astonished that it exists at all.

But you shouldn't necessarily let the book's worst qualities scare you off. It will also take you to places that you've never dreamed of and show you things you'll see nowhere else. It's the double-shot espresso of fantasy. The things there are to love about the genre, Glitch has, more extreme and more specific than just about any alternative.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Glitch: A Story of the Not
by Zephaniah B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/08/2021 22:40:37

i love this game very much

i could say more, but the other reviews say it better, so let me just say that: i love this game very much



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Fable of the Swan
by Vivian B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/05/2021 11:36:45

So like...

This book is really, really good. It is liminal. It is divine. It's quite difficult to describe! There's a strong narrative voice attached to an equally strong narrator character. There's some heavy stuff going on, some very real adolescent girl struggles with sexually aggressive boys she feels she ought to be attracted to, with the sort of fuzzy I-don't-know-who-I-am-but-I-think-who-I-am-sucks identity crises teens so often go through.

It's also got a cold and iron god of Death, and giants, and magic and legends and a brass octopus with a dead lift of several tons.

Read the book!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Fable of the Swan
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Glitch: A Story of the Not
by Tessa M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/27/2021 18:41:45

This year I got to play a game of Glitch. This game will amaze you. It will bring you closer to strangers. It will improve your life, or at least your writing. This is only skirting shy of hyperbole from personal experience. This game creates bonds.

Underneath all the wonderful writing, the actual running engine is pretty simple, and even more intuitive to play than read. Everything comes back to Cost, which builds up as you take damage, attempt to file taxes, and use your sweet void-entity powers, and goes down when you take time to recover or earths in Wounds if you need a lot gone at once because you hit the cap, for instance. There are no dice; if you want something, all you need to do is be willing to pay for it.

Each of the powers is a narrative moment in it's own right, from characterisation flair to concept defence to capstone, and combined with the attentional direction of the Spotlight system this gives you and every other player a massive amount of control over the story you're collaboratively creating. Plot beats that are detrimental to the character are fun. Failing is fun. This is a game where being Worfed is fantastic, because it lets you show how serious the stakes are for the group's comeback, and hey, if you're not down for it, you can always convert the problem into that nebulous Cost. The game's Wound system encourages you to create fun problems for yourself; being a disappointment has mechanical advantage. All of this makes the moments when you choose to do something super cool (and you can do some balls to the wall amazing things even automatically) even better. You don't have to worry about permanently dying - even the Ending Book mostly exists so you can close out your character's story in a way that makes sense - so you can just run face first into things, it's great. Whenever I'd get stuck, I'd run up and down the power list and inspiration would leap out.

Everything hangs together, everything flows even with the eddies and messiness of actual play, it's just really fun. This will be folded in my heart as a treasured memory.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Glitch: A Story of the Not
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Glitch: A Story of the Not
by Jonathan C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/29/2020 00:34:12

Last session, I killed my friend and maybe love interest, who is a clown. Next session, I expect to ride with a flaming spear of violence against a war criminal and nemesis, who is a badger. In between, I have been thinking long and hard about the nature of identity, and how the manifold ways we try to flee from the past, limping bloody and burned into a future that can promise us at best a tired, quiet survival. It's possible, if the prose daunts you, to skip right over it and play a perfectly sensible game about retired void-god detectives. I think that, even if you tried, and didn't read any of the microfictions and skimmed all the rest of the text, you would end up playing a powerfully compelling game. Glitch is a game of Strategists, each dying of a bespoke curse, but that's not why Rule 1 of the game brought me to tears. Glitch is a game that suits itself to philosophical monologues mixed with comic breaks from reality, but it's not about that. Glitch is a game about not dying.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Glitch: A Story of the Not
by amaryllis p. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/28/2020 02:28:32

The world is wrong, but Glitch makes it a little bit better. (It's also one of the best rpgs I've ever played!)



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Glitch: A Story of the Not
by Cameo B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/20/2020 03:59:36

Glitch is easily my favourite of Jenna Moran's RPGs so far, and I was already quite fond of Chuubo's Marvelous Wish-Granting Engine. The central conceit -- you have developed a violent metaphysical allergy to an aspect of reality, and reality contrives to pull you into contact with that aspect with steadily increasing force and improbability -- is very easy to build characters around or retrofit onto existing characters. It makes a robust metaphor for chronic illness and disability, all the more so if you choose something mundane like Sleep or Slipperiness to bedevil your character, but with the promise of amazing void powers and an inability to stay dead in exchange for the indignity and inconvenience of your Bane interfering with your life.

Which makes it sound kind of gloomy, but that's usually not the case; if you want to focus on your characters' pain and tragedy you definitely have the option to do so, but from the example of play in the rulebook onward, every Glitch game I've ever witnessed or played in had a darkly comedic tone revolving around the protagonists' hilariously ill-fitting solutions to problems both ordinary and supernatural. The first time I used the spotlight mechanic, an incredibly handy system in which you can request a few times per chapter that a detail be elaborated upon, ask for a push in the right direction, hang additional narrative weight upon an action or a few other things in that vein, I spent it on giving an origami hat to a passerby's dog for no particularly good reason except to draw attention away from the vaguely suspicious behaviour of one of the other PCs. I feel this is illustrative.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Glitch: A Story of the Not
by A customer [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/19/2020 16:11:33

Dr. Moran's newest work, Glitch, draws on the formula of diceless, philosophy-heavy design found in Nobilis and Chuubo's Marvelous Wish-Granting Engine to produce a system perfectly designed to capture the experience of playing, just, an absolute mess of a person with deep-rooted social and psychological problems and also a supernatural mandate to kill the world. The player characters of Glitch are people acausally connected with the land before time and the void before the world, imbued with its essence and violently opposed by their very nature to the fabric of Creation around them, and boy do they suck at being all of those things. It's an incredibly resonant experience as a marginalized person - someone surviving problems of gender and disability especially - under late capitalism.

The system itself is an excellent work of setting-driven design; it adapts many of the mechanics that worked best in Nobilis and draws on the more general system of CMWGE, but its best points are where it goes out of its way to highlight the experience of living as one of the Glitched with things like character design that disincentivizes having the ability to do any kind of professional work, or the fact that characters can recover, in part, from the damage they inflict on themselves in order to succeed by explicitly choosing to fail at actions and disappoint the people around them. Mechanics like the cost and spotlight systems force the player to empathize with the pain of the Excrucians, while at the same time, the lore and setting writing do the legwork of laying out exactly why they are the way that they are and paint an astonishingly beautiful picture of their beings.

Glitch's biggest weakness is frankly that, although part of its conceit is that the player characters are retired Excrucians - that they are no longer in a grand war against the world, and that the intended topic of the game is how they learn to live with themselves in their abstinence - it's entirely too tempting to try to hack it to do otherwise. (I eagerly await the publication of Nobilis 4th edition and potentially other books in the same setting which will offer more character options.)



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Glitch: A Story of the Not
by Jonathan S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/18/2020 19:19:14

In his video essay "The Future of Writing About Games", Jacob Geller discusses the kinds of things people write about video games, and argues that when evaluating if a game was 'worth it' to buy, you shouldn't just look at how many hours you spent playing it. He proposes an alternative metric:

"What is the hour count that a game lives in your memory? How often do you think of it, reference it, dream about it?"

I haven't yet been able to put together a group to actually play Glitch yet, but I think of it often. A major element of all of Jenna's games is taking the 'ordinary' elements of life and highlighting their importance - often by elevating them to mythic significance: in Nobilis you are its god and protector, in Glitch it is your curse, and the quest system introduced in Chuubo's and used again in Glitch, the ordinary is often given equal weight to the fantastic. It's not surprising to me then, that her works come to mind so regularly. Rarely a day goes by when I don't encounter something and wonder how it would fit into a a Glitch character - as a bane, technique or miraculously empowered item. Something will happen to me, or I'll hear a story and I'll think - what kind of quest would this fit into?

In Jacob's video, he argues that reading powerful writing about a game will unlock a deeper understanding and appreciation of it - an RPG rulebook happens to exist in a space where it can be both the instructions on how to play, and a compelling explanation of itself and what it means, all at the same time. Dr. Moran is undoubtedly a master at merging these two goals into one text, and while I'm sure there are some people that might prefer something drier, I wouldn't trade it for the world.

It's going to be one of my favorite games, and one I think about for a long time, even if I never do get a group together. There are parts of the book that I go back to and re-read because the writing is just that funny, moving or uplifting. It's not something that you ususally look for in a RPG rulebook, but its one of my favorite things about it.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Glitch: A Story of the Not
by Glad H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/18/2020 11:21:52

One of the most beautiful games I've ever read. The writing really resonates, the art is beautiful and the system is a ton of fun. One to pick up if you like the sound of a game that encourages both soulful explorations of the pain that comes from living in an intrinsically hostile world, and the inevitable shenanigans that ensue when a group of ancient void gods tries to assemble ikea furniture.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Glitch: A Story of the Not
by Kyle R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/18/2020 01:58:02

I've only played a single game of Glitch, and I did not play it very well. Here is what the experience of playing Glitch poorly felt like: uncertainty quickly gave way to delight. The raw indulgence of playing a (retired) world-destroying nether god was liberating and silly. Now, there are games out there where enjoyment derives from mastery, and maybe this is one of them. It was definitely made with deep thinkers in mind, and if you brave the furthest waters, I'm sure you'll find all sorts of treasures. I'm writing this review to let you know that splashing around in the shallows is still an absolute blast.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Glitch: A Story of the Not
by Samantha M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/16/2020 19:29:25

Glitch had me hooked from the moment I heard the premise. In brief, you play hyperpowerful void-gods of destruction who can blow up the moon, but can't kick their insomnia; avatars of the void who can concoct grand strategies to reshape the face of the world, but struggle to pry themselves away from the laptop and take a damn shower. It's an absolutely astounding mixture of "empowerment fantasy" and "relatable content for people with depression, chronic illness, trauma or other things like that."

In spite of the heavy subject matter, and often because of it, Glitch is capable of supporting incredible emotional range. Do you want low-key tragicomic slice-of-life shenanigans in a gonzo urban fantasy setting? Easily done. Want a brooding and cathartic meditation on the nature of suffering and the unfairness of the world? You got it. Do you just wonder how ordinary tabletop hijinx and having fun with your friends escalate when the player characters are capable of acting at a cosmic scale? The answer is "like you would not believe."

If you're new to this author's games, or you've heard things but don't know quite where to start, I'd encourage you to check this out and read the other reviews. With pages of rules and an established setting, Glitch can be intimidating at first blush, but like most games, at the end of the day you're trying to tell a story. The difference is mostly in how you go about that. You earn XP for telling the story you want, using Quests (little cue cards full of scene prompts) and Arcs (a set of five quests that form a narrative structure) to guide your efforts. When you finish them, you pick up rewards, ranging from simple mechanical enhancements to the ability to rewrite your character sheet in full. Between Arcs and Ending Books, you have a number of ways to ensure that your story ends when and how you want it to. The GM is there to play the world and declare the results of your actions, which can range from simple kibitzing and "recovering some Cost for letting somebody down because you were holed up in your sanctuary hiding from the world" to "concocting a grand plan to use your infant daughter or your Instagram account to conquer a whole country" or "destroying the color red."

(But don't destroy the color red! You may be world-killing void gods, but you're supposed to be teetotal world-killing void gods in search of better coping mechanisms!)

If you've enjoyed Dr Jenna Moran's other titles, on the other hand, then Glitch is a must-have. I've played two games so far, both in playtest, and like the author's other titles, Nobilis and Chuubo's Marvelous Wish-Granting Engine, playing this game with my friends led to some of the best memories I've ever made at the table.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Glitch: A Story of the Not
by RICHARD H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/16/2020 15:15:45

Giltch is the latest installment of Jenna Moran's Nobilis IP, presented using a new ruleset. Glitch contains all of the virtues of her previous work - that strange energy that pervades the worlds she describes, the example of play that aptly communicates the intended experience, the diceless mechanic that provides meaningful restraints on activity even while it enables fantastical activities.

It is also sharply improved by being more accessible than many of her previous works. I've enjoyed Jenna's work since Nobilis 2e, but I've never been impressed by the apologetics by people who insisted that anyone who had difficulty grasping her designs was simply reading it wrong. Her previous work could be abstruse. This is not. She clearly communicates the shape of things. Even when an underlying setting element is abstruse, her writing makes the nature of that abstruseness clear to the reader, so that they do not worry that they are simply failing to grasp some concept.

Now, I'm giving this a 5 star review, but that's because it's very good at what it is trying to do. Glitch is not for everyone - it's a very specific game, for a very specific setting, and many people will simply not be interested in what it's selling. If you're interested, I strongly recommend you read the full-size preview - if you like what you see there, you'll probably eat up Glitch like popcorn. If it makes you furrow your brow, Glitch is probably not going to do much for you.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Glitch: A Story of the Not
by Chris L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/16/2020 12:52:17

Glitch builds on the best aspects present in two of Dr. Moran's previous ventures, Nobilis 2nd edition and Chuubo's Marvelous Wish-Granting Engine, and creates something streamlined, stylish, and downright sensational.

Some would argue that 2020 needed a story about mourning the self. 2021, in all likelihood, will need a story about rebuilding the self. *Glitch* is rich parchment for telling both of these stories, bolstered by Dr. Moran's trademark dashes of witty sidebar humor as she provides the resources to play a game about existing in a world that sees you as an error to be corrected.

All in all, Glitch is a masterful piece in the hall of diceless roleplaying games. placing its players in the unique role of retired, formerly-human supervillains who often fail to re-integrate into the simplicity of how they remember things being. Called "Strategists," player characters take the form of human-like creatures that are repelled by (and once fought against) reality itself, each imbued with a "bane" that represents the way our world will kill them...

... over, and over, and over again. For these characters, death is not only an inevitability, it's often a footnote during an already-stressful week full of grocery shopping, job interviews, and discovering yet another rift between dimensions in their own homes. The archetypical Glitch PC is simultaneously fearsome, flashy, and downright terrible at existing.

As a diceless narrative TTRPG, Glitch makes the most of its resource-management, cost-focused mechanical system in order to bring the experience of its protagonists, the long-suffering Excrucian Strategists, to the forefront. The checklist-style quest system returns from CMWGE, now bolstered with the new Spotlight mechanic to bring heated moments to the game's forefront, providing players with a variety of scenes to hit during play to accumulate experience points via actually having experiences. Throw in the adapted Fugue chip mechanic that lets you toss XP at your friends for leaving you dumbstruck out of speechless awe, and there's rarely ever a dull moment at the table.

Dr. Moran's vivid descriptions of the Strategists' night-bathed world of Ninuan and the trials they face in trying to adapt to life on Earth is the book's emotional core that provides ample inspiration for the aspiring player, and Glitch is filled to the brim with jaunty microfiction, sordid tales of suffering, and few limits to constrain who or what your Strategist can be.

Glitch is well-suited to both one-shots and longer campaigns, and the quest system grounds stories to be told about a number of potential dramatic archetypes. Heist games, mystery & intrigue, monster-of-the-week, and slice-of-life style play are all supported, allowing for diverse methods of play that encourage players to venture outside of their storytelling comfort zone.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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