Tuesday, May 25, 2021

MMnMM & Apotheosis Janitors Review: Into the Wendiverse

The following is a review of two new games written by Wendi Y. (who is definitely not a close friend of mine, biasing this review, nope) both games use a unique house system created by Wendi, lacking a name for this structural frame she has brewed up I shall be calling it the Wendiverse.

It takes a mixture of traits from OSR, PbtA, FKR, and others, creating an intriguingly innovative framework in the process. I personally particularly like the Needs, Wants, and Beats mechanics/procedures which quite nicely allow for characters to have a freeform 'character arc' without many of the traditional drawbacks in trying to accomplish such a feat.

Marvelous Mutations & Merry Musicians

Or as its abbreviated MMnMM :P a wonderful setting (and system) book for a gonzo post-post apocalyptic world of wandering musicians and strange musical magics. 

I love the setting, its delightfully over the top and fun but loose so you can toy with it.

Mechanically the Wendiverse framework is lightweight, taking after games like Messerspiel with a dice pool based resolution system, but taking a sort of story focused bent embodied by the Needs/Wants/Beats mechanics. This in particular I think has a lot of potential, you can even chop out the numbers/dice and it works fantastically. I've been stealing it for my own stuff since I read it. The mechanic lets players direct and decide their characters own development and potentially character arcs without manhandling the game  or stepping on other players toes.

If I must make one criticism, its that it doesn't have as clear player goals as Apotheosis Janitors at start. However the premise of 'wandering musicians' lends itself well to the creation of conflict, and there are ample tools within for generating adventure.

And of course the whole thing is fantastically, nay, decadently filled with images of Wendi's own conjuring and creation. I fucking adore the mushroom man playing an accordion and the purple octopus saxophone player. 

Oh did I mention the pdf is completely free? Because Wendi is awesome.

MMnMM also currently has an adventure jam (or should I say a Bop) happening.

Apotheosis Janitors 

This game has the delightful premise of being the acolytes of a 'god', who is fact an ascended mortal, charged with the dirty work of wiping away the evidence of your god's non-godly origins. For me this is a very strong premise for a game as it immediately gives a strong thoroughline.

This game is the first of the Wendiverse (and co-made with ContrabandRimer) and you can see framework beginning to take shape. It lacks the Beats mechanic of MMnMM but has its own unique system tidbit for praying to your god. As well as tools for building your cult and its doctrines. Furthermore, the book features a factions section which provide loose templates for notable factions of the game world which can be easily customized while retaining the same shape and theme. I particularly like the way these factions are formatted.

And of course Apotheosis Janitors is also free and decadently layed-out.

Closing Thoughts

The Wendiverse framework is quite versatile for engaging in a variety of worlds with its play style, and easily hackable to boot since most of the work is merely in writing up the setting details. And both of the games written so far are wonderfully evocative and easy to pick up and play. I really hope to see this system being used more in the future.

Wendi is at this moment working on another project, an urban fantasy game focused on what are traditionally considered monsters through a queer lens. It's looking quite fantastic already and has even more tools for building the world than MMnMM or Apotheosis Janitors.

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