Welcome back, dice fondlers! Last week, we had our lights (and our characters’ lives) snuffed out with Ten Candles. This week, we’re leaping in a more nostalgic and less creepy direction.
RemiNES: All the Retro Feel Without Nintendo’s Hard Rules
Ever wanted to play a tabletop game in the land of Hyrule? What about the Mushroom Kingdom? I certainly have.
Welcome to RemiNES, the rules-light game that is all about letting you emulate classic video games! Well, emulate them as tabletop RPGs, not “emulate” emulate them— that’s a legally gray area and usually considered piracy. We’re sticking to the “honor through a totally different medium” kind of emulation.
Break Out those D6s
RemiNES is a delightfully simple game. Each character is composed of four Stats, two Quirks, and two Specials. The four Stats are BASH, HOLD, WISE, and MOVE. These Stats are given scores which reflect how many d6s you roll.
When you face a challenge, you roll the appropriate amount of d6s for the relevant Stat, then take the highest result. If it beats the challenge difficulty, you’ve succeeded! Also, in this system, the GM never rolls—only the players do. This rolling method speeds up play and keeps players engaged. I personally hope to continue seeing games use this. Numenera, which we previously talked about, is another system (albeit a much more complex one) that uses similar rules.
Character Quirks & Special Powers
Unlike Stats, Quirks fill a different function. Quirks are useful character gimmicks that remind you that your character behaves in certain ways. You see, if you get yourself into trouble, you can choose to “burn” a point from one of your Stats, temporarily reducing it for the rest of the session. Burning a Stat lets you reroll a failed roll, decrease roll difficulty, or recharge one of your Specials. This is where Quirks come into play. If you roleplay out one of your Quirks, you get to recover a single point of Burn on a Stat. However, this only works once per session per Quirk, so you can only get two points of recovery back on your Stats. Make them count.
Now Specials have functions in both areas. These are the powers that really make your characters feel like old school video games. Many of them are written up as extra items, but they can be just as easily thought of as inherent abilities.
For example, the Captain’s Coat lets you summon three trained soldiers to fight for you. This could be restyled as a Necromancer’s staff that raises three skeletons or as an ocarina that animates three trees into Treants.
Several of the Specials can only be used once per scene or once per session, depending on their effectiveness. Don’t worry, though— after beating challenges, you may receive upgrades that can be used to increase the number of times a Special can be used per time slot, or you may be able to earn a whole new Special!
Risks in Major & Minor Threats
As I mentioned above, the conflict resolution system is quite simple, having each player roll at overcome challenges. The challenges, though, can represent either Minor or Major threats. Minor threats, should a character fail, temporarily disable that character until another character can come to their aid. Major threats may outright kill a character or whisk them away, kidnapping them.
As such, Major Threats remove characters for the rest of a scene, after which the characters left standing can make their move on trying to rescue or revive their fallen comrade.
Level Up Your Play
Toward the back of the manual, RemiNES gives some great suggestions on how to run campaigns to make them feel like playing retro video games, as well as provide single-use items to spice up the adventure. One of my favorites is the Ghost Ticket, a single phantom ticket that can be used to call a ghostly train to fast travel the party to a location they’ve previously visited before – but it’s a one-way trip only.
And that’s it. RemiNES really is that streamlined and easy to play. I hope you’ve gained some insight into how this delightful little game works and spend some time RemiNESing with friends and family. As for me, I’m going to dodge the “boos” and tomato-throwing that comes with dropping dad-grade puns to exit stage left.
Until I get back, y’all remember to…