RPGaDay: Challenge and rewards

Welcome to day 20 of RPGaDay, hosted by BrigadeCon.

Today’s question: What is the most challenging but rewarding system you have learned?

RPGaDay 2016

I looked at my list of played games. One thing I notice is many of the games which I find rewarding are light on mechanics. That doesn’t mean they aren’t challenging to learn. Frequently, low rules can make it highly challenging to master. For example, the classic game of Go has the simple rule of place a stone on the cross-hairs of a grid with the goal of surrounding territory. Even with such a simple rule, you get a highly challenging strategy game.

I have a genre of rpgs which I found challenging and that is WWII games. I have Godlike, the WWII superhero rpg, and wanted to run a campaign for it. I’ve run a one-shot years ago but it didn’t satisfy me. I was scared. I want to give the time period its proper respect. It’s a terrible time where many human horrors occurred. I didn’t wish to play in a silly game as I tend to do. Godlike has a great mechanical system and can deal with the procedural action of gritty superheroes in a world at war. I felt the game didn’t give the tools to evoke the atmosphere I wanted. I required help.


A few years ago, I got to play a campaign of Night Witches, a game by Jason Morningstar. The Night Witches are the 588th Night Bomber Regiment of the Soviet Air Forces during World War II. It’s the English translation of the German nickname, Nachthexen. The 588th regiment were all women and flew old Po-2 biplanes used as crop dusters and training aircraft. When the Night Witches did their missions, they would shut down their engine and glide at night and drop bombs or railway tracks. The Germans felt it was like witches flying on their wooden broomsticks.


The game allows you to play as one of the women in the 588th regiment. You get play in cycles of day and night phases. During the day, you play out the drama, the social interaction within the base as you try to get sleep, repair your planes, and deal with team morale. During the night phases, you do your missions as you bomb the Germans for Mother Russia. Where the game shines is in the various roles you can choose.

Each role, named after a bird, help you tell a story. When I played, I was a Sparrow who got a very sad story where she lost many folks she loved until she sacrificed herself for her sisters. Her story was satisfying, sad, and heroic. Night Witches has moves and mechanics which helped me get the atmosphere of WWII. The game broke the barrier in my mind for WWII games.

Do you have a game or genre which you find challenging? How were you rewarded once you finally got it?


3 thoughts on “RPGaDay: Challenge and rewards

  1. Did you ever play Darcy Burgess’s “Black Cadillacs”?
    That made World War RPGgaming make sense to me. It’s pretty narrative and focuses on just how horrifying being “in the trenches” can be.

    He had an ashcan version of the game, but I don’t believe he’s released anything. I’ve run it once or twice.

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