Star-Crossed RPG Offers Forbidden Romance With A Taste of DREAD

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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  Star -Crossed, a two-player role-playing game about forbidden love. The Kickstarter has exceeded their $7500 funding goal and is currently funded at over $35K as of this writing.

Tabletop role-playing games span several genres. Geek franchises, several flavors of fantasy and urban fantasy have dominated the shelves of your Friendly Local Gaming Store for decades. Smaller indie games have pushed out of the expected genres for just as long, seeking out fertile ground outside of where the big guns fire.

Gamers seeking out singular experiences with one-on-one play, due to little interest in RPGs or acting as an introduction to their best friend or significant other, is one genre where indie designers have explored. Romance games have flowered in this area too, with games focused on relationships (or games with relationship mechanics) flourishing for fans of slash and OTPs. These two genres combine in a big way in  Star-Crossed, an RPG being kickstarted by the studio that created  Fiasco. Love is difficult enough for most people, but this game focuses on forbidden love. Or, as the games’ tagline succinctly puts it:

Star Crossed is a two-player game about really, really wanting to, when you really, really can’t.

Star-Crossed uses a Jenga tower to represent the tension of having a crush on someone that you can’t act upon. The implementation is similar to Dread but the denouement is closer to Fiasco. Tipping the tower over means someone makes their move and the forbidden passion is out there in the open. The more bricks out of the tower when it falls, the more likely it is things will go well once everything is on the table. If the tower never falls by the end of the final scene (games usually take about two hours), the characters never admit their feelings for one another, which can be just as good or as bad as the players want it to be.


“Emily Care Boss’ Romance Trilogy laid most of the ground I stand on,” said Alex Roberts, creator of Star-Crossed, “Other games gave me moments, or dynamics, or just particular emotions that I wanted to see if I could reproduce. Dread is the obvious one. The Lead and Follow setup was absolutely inspired by Hot Guys Making Out; I wanted to take that power dynamic and see if I could sort of twist it on its head. I have this thing with Kagematsu; I’ve run it more times than I can count. It was quite a journey to figure out how to reproduce the kind of delicate, suspenseful desire that emerges in a Kagematsu session.”

Two players set up the situation at the beginning of every Star-Crossed game. Are they the leaders of different monster clans? Is one an AI and the other a human sharing the same giant stompy robot? Scene cards set the stage and tell the players when to pull from the tower. Backers get access to a playtest copy right away. Reward levels include a physical boxed set that includes a Jenga tower that allows you to play the game anywhere.

For RPG players looking to add some romance to their other games, Roberts offered some great advice. “When I’m playing,” she said,”especially when we’re setting up a world, or relationships, or a particular scene, I want everyone to toss out suggestions until something catches like a flame. For relationships between characters, that might be anything from ‘I’m the Senior Software Developer and you’re the 20-something genius with three startups under his belt already who’s bringing out my insecurities!’ to ‘You’re the earnest Royal Guard and I’m the brazen thief who’s raiding the castle half to swipe jewels and half to taunt you, because he knows no other way to express his affection.’ Either way, everyone at the table should be absolutely stoked about it.”

“It’s easy to say that everyone should be comfortable with content like this,” she continued. That’s true, but also comfortable is not nearly good enough. I want everyone at my table to be on fire about what we’re doing! If you want to experience something that’s just so-so, go watch TV. We have total control over what happens in our own games. If anyone is even mildly disinterested in an idea, skip it. Ideas are quick and cheap.”


The Kickstarter ends Thursday, May 10th. If you think you can bring the heat, back this game and get started right away!

What’s your favorite in-game romance? Tell us about it in the comments!

Interested in more amazing games full of intrigue and betrayal?

Image Credits: Bully Pulpit Games

Rob Wieland is an author, game designer and professional nerd. He’s worked on dozens of different tabletop games ranging from Star Wars and Firefly all the way down to his own creations like CAMELOT Trigger. He can be hired as a professional  Dungeon Master for in-person or remote games. His Twitter is  here. His meat body can be found in scenic Milwaukee, WI.

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