08 Sep Kids on Bikes review
Why You Should Play Kids on Bikes
Today I’m going to be talking about the role-playing game kids on bikes.
kids on bikes was created by John Gilmore and Doug Levin Dow ski and published by renegade game studios and hunters entertainment in 2018 it’s a horror game that’s meant to take place in a small town and I say horror lightly.
because in truth there are a number of different genres that could be run using this system it’s self described as a game in which you take on the role of everyday people grappling with strange terrifying and exceptionally powerful forces that they can’t defeat control or even fully understand and right off the bat I have to point out that this is an incredibly easy system to learn the whole book is about 70 pages or so and I read the whole thing at just under an hour.
so if you’ve ever played any role playing game before you shouldn’t have any trouble at all picking this one up there’s an implied setting that the game is supposed to take place in a small town where everyone knows everyone else however the rest of the details are left up to the entire group rather than the GM coming up with all the details about the setting there are dedicated rules to creating the setting collaboratively as part of play there are a number of questions that players will be asked at the beginning of the game to contribute to the setting such as what famous landmarks are there or what prominent companies exist within the town after that each player will be asked to come up with one or two rumors about what’s been happening in the town and I love this for a few reasons first of all it creates a very natural way for the players to start off with some real knowledge about the backstory of the setting which is pretty important in a game that’s supposed to take place in a town where everyone kind of knows.
everybody else in second it allows the GM to really take inspiration from these rumors and run with them deciding which ones are true which are just blatant lies and watch are kind of true but could be tied to something much deeper than what they seem to be on the surface it can be really cool for a player to see a rumor that they thought of about somebody in town really pan out and become part of the deep sinister plot that they never saw coming when they came up with it this is a modern rules light system which favors role play over mechanic and relies pretty heavily on the implication that the games going to be treated like a collaborative storytelling experience and for the right group that can be a lot of fun and really rewarding in kids on bikes stats are measured by the size of the dye that will be rolled when using them.
for example something you’re not very good in will be either a d4 or a d6 meaning that you roll that die when using that skill whereas something that you’re particularly good in will be either a d-10 a d12 or even a d20 and I typically like this system of stat measurement in games although I was a little bit skeptical at first of the fact that they threw the d20 in the mix with this typically when you have a system where your stats can be measured from a d4 to a d12 it means that it always goes in increments of 2 but by throwing the d20 in here it means that your highest stat has a maximum possible outcome that is eight steps above your second highest whereas everything from there going down is two steps away from each other this throws off the difficulty scale a little bit and makes it feel like characters are super naturally good at their best stats and just pathetically hindered at their worst.
this is kind of offset by the method of landing a critical success in this game called an exploding roll so whenever you make a check if you roll the highest possible outcome on that die then you get to roll a second time and add it to your outcome if you continue to roll the highest possible outcome then you get to continue rolling and continue adding it on until you meet the difficulty for the check that you’re making this means that in a stat that you’re particularly bad in yes you may only get to roll a d4 or a d6 but you now have a 1 in 4 or a 1 in 6 chance of landing a critical success whereas with something that you’re very good at you might only have a 1 in 12 or even a 1 in 20 chance of landing that credit.
players also choose strengths and flaws for their characters at the start of the game and the strengths have some mechanical advantage to them while the flaws are just meant to be portrayed through roleplay in addition to the player characters the GM also makes a character with supernatural abilities known as a powered character who is controlled collaboratively by the entire party the powered character is given aspects which can be personality traits or supernatural powers and each one is really written down on an index card the gamemaster will then hand out two aspects to each player and anytime that player wishes to use one of those aspects they can take control of the powered character for that moment and have them use that aspect in practice it’s a pretty cool way of giving players additional abilities to help them overcome problems and interesting ways while forcing them to use teamwork and cooperation since the powered character can only be doing one thing at any given time.
the way the powered character is presented in the book feels a little bit backwards to me if you weren’t someone who followed the Kickstarter or really research the game ahead of time it can be strange that the powered character isn’t mentioned once until the last couple of pages in the book it can feel a bit strange as a brand new player that the game first describes itself as being about everyday people then walks you through character creation gives you the entire rules for the game it makes you feel like you’re ready to go and start playing and then in the last couple pages just says right and by the way you have a character with superpowers and don’t get me wrong I love the concept of the powered character.
I think it fits really well into the game but the way it’s presented can be kind of jarring if you’re not expecting it the game feels tailored to shorter adventures spanning between one and five sessions but there’s no reason why a creative enough group couldn’t run a longer campaign with a world that changes greatly between each session so to finish off this video of course there’s not a single system out there that’s for everyone so I want to touch on why this game might not be for you if you’re the type of player or game master that likes a game that can rely on the mechanics then this game definitely isn’t for you every check you make and whether it succeeds or fails is meant to act as inspiration for you in the group to collaboratively decide how you’re going to narrate this scene in the adventure overall I think that kids on bikes is a seriously interesting system with the potential for fun scary suspenseful and even funny campaigns and I definitely recommend it to anyone who’s into the supernatural thriller genre well that’s gonna be it for today I hope that this video helped to explain a little bit about kids on bikes and whether it’s the right game for you.