We sit down and pick the "slay the dragon" quest, but decide to switch things up a little: Instead of a dragon, we're trying to slay a cat. Because we're mice.
In our first challenge, we try to raise a mouse army to face the cat head-on, but more and more of our would-be recruits are overcome with fear and sneak away. Now for our second challenge we decide to lure the cat into a trap, but it's all going badly. We're scattered across the farmyard, unsure of what to do next, when we hear a foreboding yowl. The cat is loose.
It's time to see if we succeed or fail. We gather the stones, hold our breath, and get ready to draw…
Follow is a game where you sit down with your friends and play characters working together to achieve a common goal: your quest.
The quest you pick decides the kind of game you'll play. You could start a rebellion, cure a disease, slay a dragon (or a cat), or get your candidate elected. If it's something people can work together to accomplish, it could be a quest.
Will your characters stay united or will their differences tear them apart? Will they triumph or will their hopes go up in flames?
I made Follow because it's the game I wanted to have in my bag.
For the last six years I've run a public gaming group, Story Games Seattle, and every week I sit down and game with random people. Often total strangers. Often people who have never tried role-playing games before. We sit down for a few hours, forge an epic and surprising story together, then exchange glorious high-fives and walk off into the night.
But you need the right tools to make that work. We have a lot of great games, but I wanted a flexible, easy-to-learn game that I could always whip out at a moment's notice and play. A game that provided structure and useful prompts but emphasized role-playing and didn't stand in the way of the contributions of the players.
I also wanted a game with massive replay value – something you could play over and over again without feeling like you were treading old ground or getting bored. A game that could keep surprising and exciting you week after week. I designed Microscope and Kingdom, and while both are great games, both have their limitations. Microscope has a very specific (even unusual) style, and Kingdom creates excellent drama but has a definite learning curve.
Follow is designed to hit all these targets: fast, easy, replayable, and most of all, fun. Very fun. Lots of people are already playing it, and now I want to share it with you.
Learning role-playing games isn't as easy as it should be, so I also wanted Follow to be a perfect way to introduce new people to the hobby. Never tried role-playing games before? Follow has your back. Already into role-playing but want an easy system to introduce new people? Again, Follow has your back.
Follow has no game master and nothing to prepare. All the steps are clearly and carefully laid out so, even if you've never seen a role-playing game before, if you have some people and some time, you're ready to play.
So how does Follow work? The backbone of your game is the quest you pick. It gets everyone on the same page about the kind of story you're creating so you can start playing quickly.
'People working together to accomplish a goal' covers a huge range of possibilities, so Follow quests do too. You can settle a new planet with the Colony or try to rocket your band to the top of the charts in the Music. Win an election and get the Candidate into office or put on your lab coat and fight a disease in the Cure. Play the Gods and make mortals worship you or try to unite the Superheroes as a team to protect society and bust some heads.
Quests are built to be flexible and powerful. Each has a default setting, but the game is designed so you can take one and drop it into whatever environment you like. Want to play Rebel spies stealing the plans to the Death Star? Whip out the Heist. By default it’s a modern-day robbery, but you could just as easily go after Imperial secrets. I've seen the Posse played as UN investigators tracking down a rogue artificial intelligence, the Dragon as Norse seafarers hunting a kraken, and the Rebellion with plucky 4th graders fighting back against the 5th graders who bully them. So long as the goal of the quest stays the same, you can jump into any setting that interests you.
We used nearly a dozen quests in the playtest, but there are so many more possibilities. I'm still fine-tuning the perfect mix to include in the final book. I'll talk more about that in the weeks ahead.
To complete your quest, you confront a series of challenges. Each success makes you more likely to win the quest and each failure makes it harder... but not impossible.
The challenges you choose determine what kind of story you're telling, so you can play the same quest over and over again and have a completely different experience each time. You could play a Heist that was all about casing the joint and crafting a cunning plan, another that was all car chases and gun fights, or one that was all about lying low until the heat blows over and you figure out who ratted you out to the cops. They're all heists, but even though they're totally different flavors of heists, one quest template can do them all.
There's a moment I've seen in Follow over and over again: we've gathered our stones and we're ready to draw to see if we win or lose the challenge. Everyone's attention is riveted. Everyone's breath is held. And then we draw… and everyone screams. Sometimes it's a cheer of victory. Sometimes it's a cry of relief. Other times it's a wail of defeat.
You might think that in a game about completing a quest that winning is good and losing is bad, but Follow is about the characters – the decisions they make and what they care about. It's designed so that seeing our characters lose is just as interesting and exciting as seeing them win. Even when we groan in defeat, we're enjoying the tragedy that unfolds just like any great story. The characters may lose, but the players never do.
I started working on Follow in 2013, and it's been playtested by over a hundred people all around the world. The pictures on this page are from just a handful of those games.
The good news is that the game is ready to play – right now. And if you back Follow, not only will you get the final version on the date shown in the rewards, you'll get an early access version after this Kickstarter closes, long before the final release date. You'll be playing Follow months before it's available anywhere else.
I'm having a lot of fun of playing Follow, but I want to get it out into the world because I want more people to play and have great games. It's as simple as that. With your support, we'll make that happen.
"Follow is a dream come true for facilitators. The rules are straightforward and super easy to explain, so when you're running it you can also be a full participant. It's my new go-to for games with first-time players." –Caroline Hobbs
"It’s a subtle game. The mechanics are deceptively simple and on reading it, I found it a bit shallow. On playing it, however, I found it deep." –Simon Pettersson
"Follow is streamlined fun! Three acts to establish whether your quest will end in success or, even better, failure!" –Adrienne Mueller
"It really gave me perspective on the differences between player and character, honestly one of my favorite and most intense gaming experiences in a while. I was at the edge of my seat until the very end" –Patrick McCabe
"Follow puts the human back in the heart of your quests. And that's no mean feat!" –Wauthoz Bastien
"You can be Space President! You can be DOUBLE Space President! WHAT ELSE DO YOU NEED TO KNOW!" –Eric Olson
"Follow is yet another beautifully written, polished knockout piece of design from Ben Robbins." –Noel Warford
"Follow is a triumph! It creates the strongest narrative experiences of any story game I've ever played." –Jeff Slater
"Ramps up the tension from the start by building characters that have cause for infighting." –Andrew Hamilton
"Follow is a game that reminds me of all the best AND worst team projects I've ever been a part of." –Marc Hobbs
"Follow helps you tell poignant stories. The mechanics are light enough to get out of the way when you don't need them but present enough to introduce meaningful emotional twists. While playing Follow at a Con with a group of strangers, the end of our story was enough to bring a tear to my eyes." –Noah Cohen
Risks and challenges
This is my third Kickstarter and fourth book release (after Microscope, Kingdom and Microscope Explorer), so I know how to get the job done.
The rules are finished, but I'm constantly honing the text so it flows effortlessly at the table. I'm also deciding exactly which quests deserve a place of honor in the book. Final layout and printing is still to come, but again, these are all processes I've tackled several times before.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (29 days)