What is it?
Emily Care Boss’ Romance Trilogy is a collection of updated and revised editions of three of her games, Breaking the Ice, Shooting the Moon, and Under My Skin. It also includes three “Companion Games,” which are based on those three but have significant changes. For the purposes of paying my RPG Tax, I’m treating this as a bundle product and reviewing the games separately.
Shooting the Moon is the second game in the trilogy. It’s a game for three players who take the roles of two suitors competing for the hand of a beloved.
How did it get my attention?
Breaking the Ice and Shooting the Moon were on my radar from Forge discussions way back. I was intrigued by games that departed so far from typical RPG fare, and could be played with only two people.
Why did I actually buy it?
I missed the original release announcement for the Romance Trilogy, but saw a later announcement when it was on some kind of special sale, I think for Valentine’s. I had Breaking the Ice from way back and not really gotten to play it, but the inclusion of Shooting the Moon and the less-romantic Companion Games made me decide to get it.
What are my first impressions?
Character creation starts with sketching out the Beloved by naming Attributes, defines the Suitors in relation and opposition to those Attributes, and ends by fleshing out all three characters. Play alternates turns between the Suitors and the Beloved. In each Suitor’s turn, the active Suitor approaches the Beloved, while the other Suitor’s player provides opposition. This plays into the rivalry of the suitors. During the Beloved’s turn, they create a challenge for both Suitors.
During the various turns, you can get more dice for later rolls and for your goal by allowing other players to make trouble for or change your character. This incentivizes having characters that actually change over the course of the game, and that get into trouble, rather than having static characters who don’t face hardship.
The rules overall seem fiddlier than Breaking the Ice. I think this is because of the asymmetry in roles, with the Suitors and Beloved having different functions and responsibilities.
Like in Breaking the Ice, the Strategy & Tips section is a goldmine of useful advice, and helpful for designers trying to understand the game. The Alone Against the World variant adapts Shooting the Moon for use as a solo game about two Seekers with conflicting Goals traveling a dangerous land. It includes evocative tables of prompts and questions, and has you map out the Seekers’ movements across the land. The Versus Nature variant is the longest. It also involves two Seeker players pitted against a third playing Nature, but has rules for up to seven players. There are six possible roles players may take, and it’s a fascinating example of how to divide player responsibilities in a GMless game.
Overall, it’s a worthy sequel or follow-up to Breaking the Ice, especially for anyone with an interest in asymmetric GMless games.