their very being, is essential to the story. In my opinion, that is also a major flaw in the game but more on that later. System wise this isn’t a stat-heavy, number-cruncher of a game. Characters have a few boxes to tick, the top two are fight or flee, others can be customised and then there are the Exhaustion and Madness stats. Both of these latter two, when used, usually give a success but they also have consequences. Read them again. Those ARE the consequences. Well, the immediate ones at least, but when you stack those into a running fight against the evils of the Mad City they soon escalate into much worse than tiredness and being twitchy, much worse. The dice pool, for want of a better word, is variable, depending on how much you want to succeed, or how much you NEED to succeed. Back to those Exhaustion and Madness stats again. Exhaustion is particularly dangerous because if you fall asleep in the Mad City, as I said earlier, you don’t pop back home to your lovely little bedroom and have a rest, no. You just become a beacon for the crazed denizens of the City. What fun. There are also pain dice and despair dice that the GM can add to flavour the game further though one has to be absolutely fair in their usage since misuse can annihilate a group playing “Don’t Rest Your Head”. Ultimately the game feels like a dream analogue of the core “Wraith: The Oblivion” premise. You must resolve the issues that haunt and follow your character without falling to death and/ or nightmare yourself. Not sure exactly how that works but there you go.
Great ideas, about as user friendly as having no thumbs.”
Right, I said earlier this game conflicts me and it does. There is a lot to admire in “Don’t Rest Your Head”, a cool mechanic and some fun storytelling and the descent into tired madness seems a blast however, the book itself is badly put together. I haven’t seen this much “see page 63” style nonsense since SJ Games brought out In Nomine (and I love that game). It jumps around too much and references things in examples of play that do not clarify that example of play until you skip ahead and read the example. Now, you may think that is perfectly fine but I don’t. Examples of play should be self contained lessons, not jumping off points for a three line paragraph forty pages on. I also mentioned that the characters are essential to the story, how that made the game but I also see it as a flaw. The characters and their story are essential to the game but to the detriment of the setting, so much so that the setting (what there is of it) is huddled halfway down the book and riddled with more “see page number 7” style sentences than one would like. I like this game, I really do, but a second edition would do it the world of good. Indie games are giving stodgy rules lawyer laden tomes and whatnot a good kick up the arse but they have to remember that rulebooks, however interesting, are still textbooks for a game and have to function as such. Admittedly this book does claim to be an “expert” role playing game because it doesn’t go into what such games are or how to play
them. But that is just lazy writing. I’ve been running games for many years now and writing games for convention play and I don’t consider myself to be a stupid person but I had to go through the rulebook with a pad of post-its to keep track of where everything was. Great ideas, about as user friendly as having no thumbs. End verdict? This is still worth buying. So buy it and encourage the author to do a second edition.
The Gazebo is a free, quarterly e-zine dedicated to gaming in the UK and Ireland.