[Review] THIRSTY SWORD LESBIANS Beta Playtest


If 7th Sea is a game of "What Would Errol Flynn Do?", Thirsty Sword Lesbians is "What Would Julie d'Aubigny Do?"

Confession, my first reaction to the the play test materials was "this is a game of 'What Would a Sapphic Errol Flynn Do?"  And then I remembered there was someone from history that was THE perfect fit for this game.  The swashbuckling high adventure ideals and the structure of the game built around relationships and story brought to mind the much popular game by John Wick... but for me in a much more comprehensible and to the heart package.

Thirsty Sword Lesbians is a rolepaying game for telling queer stories with friends. If you love angsty disaster lesbians with swords, you have come to the right place.

In this book, you’ll find:
  • Flirting, sword-fighting, and zingers in a system designed for both narrative drama and player safety.
  • An innovative take on the Powered by the Apocalypse family of games.
  • Nine character types, each focusing on a particular emotional conflict: Beast, Chosen, Devoted, Infamous, Nature Witch, Scoundrel, Seeker, Spooky Witch, and Trickster.
  • Guidance and support for running the game, including how to make appealing adversaries, set the tone, pace the game, and structure play.
  • World building worksheet for custom scenarios and starting scenario seeds to play with: Best Day of Their Lives, The Constellation Festival, Gal Paladins, and Sword Lesbians of the Three Houses
  • Variant rules to highlight different identities, emotional connections, and setting elements.
  • Strategies to adapt any setting where swords cross and hearts race for Thirsty Sword Lesbians.
Just... THIS.  ALL OF THIS.  I spent the past few days paging through the short (less than 200 pages) rule book and delightedly shit-posting about stuff I loved in my spare time.  My discovery was aided by a very well deserved @ on Facebook, and I am so called out by just the premise of the game and I can't even be mad about it.

So, I don't know any thing about the Powered by Apocalpyse rules set, so it's possible some of what I encountered is part for the course... but I'm not someone who particularly enjoys reading through RPG rule books.  There's usually a whole lot of content and I struggle to parse out what I actually need from it.  The games I run the most often I learn first from available quick-start rules, then deepen my understanding by following up with the full rule book.

The rules themselves are lightweight, the mechanics themselves are simple without any crunchy bits.  The complexity comes from the narrative flavor and decisions of the players.  Game play focus is on the connections and interplay between characters, with discovery and growth key.  Perhaps the most extensive write up in the book is on safety mechanics, themselves simple but not something often encountered built into the rules of the game.  The game rewards players taking risks and accepting the consequences of their actions, as well as offers support to a GM ("Gaymaster" <3) in keeping things balanced - including when player luck wrecks the bell curve.

And while the game is called Thirsty Sword Lesbians, it openly states that it is not limited to just Lesbians or even those who favor Swords - encouraging people to play regardless of their romantic and sexual orientations or adventuring environment preference.  Play as a space opera, a high fantasy epic, or your Dream Sapphic Treasure Island (excuse me while I consider plotting that game out)... just have a sense of humor and at least a passing understanding of some of the realities of living as queer in a society that says you're wrong for existing.

More delightful, the Tea served in this game is DELICIOUS.  The voice throughout is smartly biting, full of tongue-in-cheek but so so on point moments.

"He has learned about it [Queertopia] through the queer-coded villains of Hetero media and characters, but he embraces it."

DYING HERE.

I'm in the process of figuring out the particulars of running playtests, one in person and one online, but this setting is only a few puns and jokes short of being everything I could ever want.  I mean, it lacks "Fight me yourself, you coward" as a move, and I'm not 100% sure if that's a forgiveable omission, but I'll try.  xD

Comments

  1. Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and love learning more on this topic. If possible, as you gain expertise, would you mind updating your blog with extra information? It is extremely helpful for me. katana,

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