We were given the opportunity to review After the Rain by Desks and Dorks. A one-shot, easy to set up, game master driven roleplaying game coming to Kickstarter in February 2022. After the Rain is a game that puts you in the role of a character who is in a world where it begins to constantly rain. The rain is unrelenting and has the strange ability to make characters forget who they are. A haunting premise that is intriguing to the core and unavoidable as the game progresses. Characters who were once murderous and vengeful may find themselves no longer compelled to carry out their anger as the rain washes away their memories.
Setup is fairly standard for an RPG. All you really require is the rulebook, a few people, paper, pencils and a few D6’s (or six sided die for out non-roleplaying fans). The game master leads the journey, has final say on rules, and keeps track of the story details. The rules are simple and the game is meant to be played over a single session so keeping track of a lot of information is not necessary for this game. Some roleplaying games can be daunting and take hours to prep, setup and learn to play. After the Rain is short, simple and to the point.
Players will first set a location and goal for their characters. Since this is an RPG you can make the location and goal anything you want. The rules are relaxed enough that you can make this game stark and realistic or, if you prefer, you can make the game mythical and high fantasy. Your goal can be to rob a bank in a cyberpunk world or slay the dragon who hoarded away your town’s gold in medieval times. The only thing you may be limited by is keeping in mind that your characters will slowly forget who they are, so their goals may not be met as the game progresses. This game is more about the characters and their internal journey than it is about their goals. Once the table agrees to their location and goal we move on to the roleplaying.
Players will create their characters, giving them a few traits called facets. Facets are what drive the characters and give them their personalities and motivations. They are Profession, Traumatic Past, Trusted Companion, Vengeance, Charge, Loss, Cause, and Irresistible Urge. Players roll four D6s and a select three of the numbers to correspond with these facets. The higher the number, the more important this trait is to a character. For example, a six for profession would mean that to this character, their job isn’t just a job; it is their life. As the game progresses these numbers will most likely dwindle and may reach zero. As these facets decrease in number they become less important to the characters until they forget this facet altogether. Perhaps the police officer who was driven by his career no longer remembers even being a police officer. Muscle memory is still present but he cannot explain why he knows how to reload a gun. A drug addict may forget their addiction and may end the game on a higher note than they began.
Once location, goal and characters have been taken care of the game begins. There should be an introduction as to how the characters know each other and why they are all together. Perhaps they are all coworkers hunkered down as the storm hits? Maybe they all meet at a tavern as is classic for Dungeons and Dragons? Once that has been established, they are all made aware that the rain is not ordinary rain. Someone overhears the weatherman say that the government is recommending all people stay indoors and out of the rain. Someone passing by whispers something about the rain causing people to forget things.
Gameplay is much like any roleplaying game. The players go around the table describing what it is their characters are doing. If a player ever does something that seems out of character the game master can ask them to roll. A roll works by using their fourth unused die and adding their result to a facet. So if a facet has a value of 5 and a 4 is rolled, the result is a 9. A value of 9-12 is considered a success with no consequences. A 6-8 is considered a success but has a cost and will decrease that facet by a value of 1. So in our example this would turn our 5 down to a 4. A value of 1-5 is not a success and leads the same consequence of decreasing that facet’s value. A player can at any point choose not to roll and force a success at the terrible cost of being completely exposed to the rain and suffer a large amount of memory loss. Any facet of their choice automatically drops to 1 or if it was already at a 1 or 2 the value decreases to zero and they completely forget that aspect of their life.
The game progresses in this way and obstacles can be added at the behest of the game master. Eventually the introduction paves way to the climax and then the conclusion. This is called Act I, Act II and Act III. The short brunt of it is Act I is the intro, Act II is the problems arising, Act III is the climax and then finally the conclusion wraps everything up and we see what has become of our characters.
After the Rain is a short and interesting approach to roleplaying. It is a one-shot RPG that can be replayed in a single sitting and can be both optimistic and sad. One thing to note is that since the game concerns memory loss, those who may have a family member or know someone who suffer from Alzheimer’s or dementia may find the game tough to play as their characters may begin to forget things about their lives. This is especially true if players decide to use Trusted Companion as one of their facets.
Language Barrier Playability: Not recommended. This game can be played in multiple languages once rules have been established but since the game is a long conversation translating every single thing will become daunting and detract from the game itself. In a game about roleplaying, it would be difficult to roleplay if you have to translate everything you say and do.
Replayability: Low to moderate. This is most likely not a game you would play multiple times in one sitting. The theme can also be a bit somber and morose and is not something one would often bring to the table.
Artwork: Since we reviewed the rulebook, this is not applicable. However the Kickstarter cover art is promising and would look nice on any rpg shelf.
Quality: Since we reviewed the rulebook, this is not applicable.
Strategy: This is a roleplaying game so strategy is not something that can be graded. Unless you know how to win over your game master.
Instruction Manual: Good. When it comes to an RPG, this is your bread and butter. Well written. The inclusion of some examples is appreciated but the examples are sometimes a bit odd. A need to smoke a cigarette is a 1 but an insatiable need to eat an endangered species is a 6.
Organization: Since we reviewed the rulebook, this is not applicable.