Although Dungeons and Dragons (DnD) is perhaps the most famous tabletop game, and I’ve had fun playing it, it’s not the only one out there. And to be completely honest, it’s far from my favorite tabletop game. DnD can be difficult to learn because of how rules-heavy it is, the world-building is restrictive and problematic and combat in the system can easily become a drag in an otherwise fun game. Again, I say this as a person who has enjoyed playing multiple DnD campaigns. It’s a fun game, and I completely understand why it’s so famous. Nevertheless, I wish people knew how many other amazing tabletop roleplaying games are out there.
If you’re new to tabletop gaming, are interested in roleplaying or telling stories with friends or just want to play something new for game night, then I highly recommend you check out Follow created by Ben Robbins.
Follow can be played with a group of three to five people, and the book gives suggestions for adapting the game so it can be played by a pair. I played it with one other person and we had a fantastic time. It was a relatively short game, and took us about three hours in total to play, making it perfect for a one-night game, although your mileage may vary. This game is incredibly easy to learn, even if you’ve never played a tabletop role playing game before. It doesn’t require a ton of dice-rolling, complicated character sheets and stats or extensive planning and preparation. There’s no game master in charge of creating all of the characters and conflicts; instead, everyone plays a major and minor character, your group chooses a “quest” and the players pick three challenges from the quest type for their characters to face. The quests and the challenges are all brief phrases that act like prompts for the scenes players set, rather than being detailed scenarios, and you can easily adapt them to fit your group’s desired setting and style of play. You can either play it as a single game, creating the setting and characters at the start, or you can play it with characters you’ve already created, to make it an interlude game in the course of a campaign. This system really gives players a lot of freedom in deciding what they want to do.
However, for me the real joy of Follow is the emphasis it places on roleplaying. The action is driven by character interactions. When you create your main character, you’re asked what they want from a success in the quest, and what they need from another main character (that the other character is unwilling to give). When you set the scenes to address the different challenges, you’re exploring the relationships and motivations of the different characters involved as they try to solve the problems they’re facing. And then, when it comes time to roll the dice, you’re asking yourself — is my character unhappy with how things are going? Do they actually want the quest to fail? Do I, as a player, think they’ve done what is necessary to succeed? Think carefully; your answers impact what the odds are when you roll the dice, whether you succeed or not and whether all the characters make it through the challenge.
Follow made it easy and incredibly fun to tell a story with friends. The game’s design lets you decide the type of story you want to tell, what you want the stakes to be and allows you to find what is most interesting about the characters you’ve created and the quest on which they’ve embarked on. When I played Follow, we ended up making ourselves cry after our third challenge ended in a tragedy for our main characters, and we loved it. It was cathartic, and we felt like we had told a satisfying and beautiful story, and we had fun while doing it. It was exactly what I want to experience when I play a tabletop roleplaying game. If that’s not your cup of tea, the good news is you’re not limited to doing what we did. With this game, you can tell a comedy as easily as you can tell a tragedy.
I cannot recommend this game enough, for both experienced and inexperienced players alike. I’m already looking forward to the next time I’ll get to play.