Each week here at Geek & Sundry we’re taking a look at new and upcoming exciting titles on Kickstarter! This week’s Kickstarter of the week is the funded Kids on Bikes RPG: Strange Adventures in Small Towns. If you want to stay tuned into what’s going on in the world of tabletop, be sure to tune in to our tabletop game show Game the Game every Wednesday starting at 4PM PT on Twitch and Alpha.
The tremendous popularity of Stranger Things and IT has given a popular subgenre a name, “Kids On Bikes”, which features children protagonists getting wrapped up in weird, spooky mysteries while riding bikes around their small town. Stories from the 80s like The Goonies or E.T. are often cited as the inspiration for the subgenre, but an argument could be made they go back farther to the Scooby-Doo cartoon or even the Encyclopedia Brown series of books. This name also applies to an upcoming RPG called Kids on Bikes: Strange Adventures In Small Towns, that’s currently on Kickstarter. The designers, Jon Gilmour and Doug Levandowski are veteran game designers with some very popular designs under their belts, such as Dead of Winter and Gothic Doctor.
This game offers a respite from the usual fantasy setting for something a bit closer to home; a small town somewhere in America. Beyond that, the players and the GM collaboratively create the setting together by taking turns answering questions about local landmarks and even the mascot of the local sports team. Kids on Bikes can be set during any point in the last century or the modern day, and even encourages groups to not get too wrapped up in specific historical detail should the game be set in the past. The point of the game is to get players into the adventure as soon as possible, which is aided by the Playbook, which contains several different archetypes for these types of stories. They range from Adults to Kids, and include favorites like the Reclusive Eccentric, Young Provider or the Loner Weirdo. For those fans who want to crank their game up to eleven, rules are also provided to play kids with strange powers, though the often come at a heavy narrative cost like being hunted or unable to fully control those abilities.
The system is built to be fast in creation and play. Even players making their own characters only have to spend a few minutes making choices. Each character has six traits, with a die type assigned to each trait. The higher the die type, the better a character is. A character rolls the corresponding die when they want to do something risky, like Flight to run away from government agents or Charm to ask their crush to dance. The character’s age offers bonuses for certain rolls, as do a character’s Strengths. Failure isn’t all bad either; characters earn Adversity Tokens when they miss to bump up later rolls to make sure to succeed when the chips are down.
Backers can get digital rewards or a hardcover copy of the book. Backers willing to put some big cash toward the game will earn a custom-built setting that Jon and Doug will Skype in to help turn into a reality. They’ve also lined up some amazing creators to add settings that are ready to make things even faster. Creators like Jim Zub, Elisa Teague, Matt Colville and more have already been unlocked to make the book better with more stretch goals on the way. Kids on Bikes is an excellent game for folks who love the genre, and it’s simple enough that it can be used as a great hook for people curious about tabletop RPGs thanks to their resurgence in popular geek media. The Kickstarter ends on November 28th, so make sure to back it before it’s too late!
If you’re looking to stay dialed-in on the best of boardgaming, be sure to catch our tabletop game show, Game the Game, hosted by Becca Scott! Game the Game airs live on Twitch and Alpha every Wednesday at 4 PM PT.
Images Credits: Infectious Play
Editor’s note: a copy of the game was provided by the publisher.
Rob Wieland is an author, game designer and professional nerd. He writes about kaiju, Jedi, gangsters, elves and is a writer for the Star Trek Adventures RPG line. His blog is here, where he is currently reviewing classic Star Wars RPG adventures. His Twitter is here. His meat body can be found in scenic Milwaukee, WI.