Written by Jeremy Morgan, tabletop games editor, gamer, and software developer.
About | Planescape4E

Don't Overlook This Game

27 December 2011

I got an opportunity to play Don’t Rest Your Head (hereafter DRYH) from Evil Hat last night (I’ve talked about it before here). It was a blast! This post isn’t really a full-on review, nor is it really a playtest report, either. Consider it my thoughts and impressions, loosely organized. My first goal is to to write about something I enjoyed immensely. My second is to give helpful feedback to Fred and his compatriots. Tertiary goals include feedback for other game designers with a good example, and information for potential players (although I won’t spend a lot of time giving context).

The Good

I grasped the rules pretty intuitively (which is not something that usually happens to me), although a second read-through would have made things run a bit smoother at the table. I referenced the rules summary page quite a bit, so I can’t recommend that enough if it is possible (due to complexity of rules, space limitations, etc.).

It’s not that there are a lot of rules either. The mechanics are lightweight (something that’s appealing to me more and more recently), and they’re focused on the narrative. Rolls happen when they need to happen, not for every conflict. This also reinforces the rule of awesomeness, letting the players succeed with no rolls as long as it’s awesome!

Another amazing thing that I think Quinn captured best with this tweet:

nice session run by @TriskalJM. Just finished post-mortem analysis and talk. DRYH plays even better than it reads.

I’m not sure how to expand on that, other than to say that you know when a system doesn’t work well at the table.

Also, Quinn was my only player. The rules positively sang with one player. A lot of systems seem to break down at that granularity and require hacking of the system or encounters, but DRYH seems like it would work better with fewer players.

The Bad

Quinn and I both thought it would benefit from some additional threats or complications. I found myself throwing resorting to using different types of Nightmares. Honestly, that criticism may arise because this was my first time running the system. With familiarity, I might find a way to use the conflict mechanics without it being a conflict between the Nightmares and the players.

Another brief difficulty was the different color of dice. We played using a Google+ hangout, so the question of how to make sure we kept track of which dice were which was very important.

The Ugly

Honestly, there wasn’t any that I could find. I know Fred hedges his bets a little because it was one of Evil Hat’s first games, and it didn’t have much of a production budget, but this thing is a diamond in the rough.


What about you? Have you played it? Read about it? What were your impressions? If you haven’t played, does what I say here make you want to at least give it a glance?


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