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Bedlam Hall Potluck Blog

Aug 6, 2018

After we buried the last episode of Bedlam Hall, we had a quick memorial with food and discussed how the experience made us feel.

If you need a medium length campaign where players are the driving force instead of just reactionary, read on to see whether Bedlam Hall is the right fate for you!

Overall, the entire crew loves the flavor and setting of Bedlam Hall. As fans of Downton Abbey, Lemony Snicket, and the Addams Family, we found similar themes within the depths of this game. It’s very easy to make it very subtly creepy while knowing all along it’s gonna be a scary game. You can lean into either whimsy or terror with your campaign so that it’s the perfect level for your gaming group! As veterans of games like Call of Cthulhu, we felt a stark difference in Bedlam. Instead of striving to solve the mystery, your characters are trapped in a terrible situation that they just need to soldier through. Instead of being a hero, you remain a servant. You do your job. And your job is not to defeat monsters.

That being said, it makes sense that this is the first game we’ve played where there is no system for combat. Cruel moves may have violent effects, but there are no mechanics for fighting monsters or each other. But this is also the first system that has claimed the lives of our characters. We find the choice to leave out combat perfect for the setting. In this day and age of tabletop, it’s very bold to avoid combat mechanics. More games should make this choice and it definitely pays off in Bedlam.

Many of our players had a difficult time fully embodying the spirit of the game; we don’t tend to strive to hurt each other. We’re usually much more cooperative. But Marquez, who embraced it the most, did a great job and had a blast. This is a game where you need to get into the mindset of PvP to fully experience it. Our group was a little torn on this competitive aspect. Those who ever enjoy PvP did not enjoy it here. Those who thrive on competition understandably loved it.

As we often discuss, this game is more of a ROLE-playing game than a ROLL-playing game. Moreso than any other Powered by the Apocalypse games we’ve played, the playbook you choose radically changes the experience of the game for you, what you are able to do, and what your goals will be. Moves are written in such a way as to create beautiful opportunities for scenes.

Tips from the GM:
1. For the sake of story, we wanted this to be the servants’ first day. If you want to really delve into the PvP relationships, do not do this. We could have gotten to a lot of meat and suggested relationships much faster if we had created established members of the household.
2. Spread out the supernatural elements between characters so everyone is having a good bout of creepy experiences.
3. Since the game is PvP and all of the playbooks lead characters to do very different things, make sure you’re keeping track of where every character is and how much “screen time” each player is getting.

A few things we are unsure of or would like to see changed in later editions:
1. The book of Bedlam Hall includes alternate settings, but it does not appear to necessarily be an easily customizable game. Including a section to create your own rooms and family members would be a fantastic addition to this game.
2. The book is incredibly helpful because it includes examples of every concept. But this makes a majority of the book look the same. An index is needed in order to quickly navigating concepts.
3. The character sheets do not include the relationships mentioned in the book. This didn’t affect our game since we skipped that section, but it’s an important reference for character building and roleplay and should be easily referenced during play.

Overall 5/6 of the Tabletop Potluck crew said they would play Bedlam Hall again. This game would be perfect for strangers meeting up at a gaming convention. It’s also an experience that would be great to GM for different groups to see how each react.

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