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Age target: 4+ (scales with age)
Quoted straight from page 8 of Power Outage itself, “Power Outage is designed to capture the qualities of standard adult tabletop games while adding a focus on playability younger-aged-children”. This game was specifically made to play with kid, and it is on point with achieving that goal.
Power Outage is for ages 4+ and scales with your kid’s age if you follow the awesome age range tips at the end of the book. This game is designed to allow for either fighting or peaceful resolutions, so you can modulate how you prefer the tone of the story goes, and the charts, diagrams, and explanations turn pages of text into something easier to read and understand for both adults running the game and for kids. For usability, the character sheet is uncluttered and uses color coded symbols for your key stats, so even kids who can read yet are able to understand the core of what’s going on.
The premade stories and lore that comes with Power Outage have funny and colorful heroes and villains that kids will love (my kid liked the LawYarr the best) and have plot hooks to start of adventures but that are open enough that you can adjust them to fit the interests of your kids as they grow and play more adventures.
The world of Power Outage is set on an island with different zones that are wildly varied. The zones range from a Neo-Japanese futuristic city to a pirate den to a sentient forest and more to make sure there’s something for every kid’s interests (which is VERY important for getting them to come back for another game).
Each location has some awesome lore that reads like a fantastical historic recounting and then bursts into a fun and colorful adventure with heroes like the LawYarr in the pirate area and villains like the Bolshefist from the game’s Russian atom-punk setting. Kiddo loved the characters and the pictures of the cities and landscapes, and I had a good laugh at the awesome names (I had a REALLY hard time stopping laughing when I saw Swagneto).
When you’re ready to start the action, there’s roll tables for each area with plot hooks to get you started on a story and lead you to the villain’s lair. I REALLY appreciated having roll tables for hooks – because you’ll roll a different order each time, you’ll get a different story each time without having to really prep a whole bunch of plot hooks. It takes away the pressure on facilitators and makes for easy short plot points that can be used for doing modular stories.
Power Outage comes with premade character sheets that you can find on their site as part of the game, or you can make your own character pretty easily:
- Roll for yield points
- Roll for travel
- Add 3 points (how you want to distribute) to your impact, power, and ohmer stats
- Pick 2 powers from the chart
I’ll explain what all those words are in the mechanics section, but the point here is that there’s very little prep required to make your own hero from a mechanics standpoint, so the character sheet is a very barrier for being able to play.
Once you have your stats, there are some fantastic prompts in the game for building your character up into a hero, and they go way beyond just picking your hero’s costume, strengths, and weaknesses. They get you really thinking about who your character is, and it is a REALLY fun Q&A to do with kids. Kiddo loves coming up with stories, and this is his character’s backstory that’s being created through these questions – he loved getting asked about him and being able to create (even if he mostly just made Spiderman). The character creation was just as much a part of actually playing the game (versus being prep) as everything else here.
The stats for your Power Outage character: impact, power, ohmer, yield points, and travel. These are all established in your character sheet (see the character part of the article for how to set this up), and then serve to create all your mechanics base for the rest of the game.
Impact is how well you can use “normal person” abilities, like throwing or doing a body slam. Power is how well you can use your powers that you choose for your character. For both of these, when you use them, you roll a d20 and then add your stat from your character sheet – it’s exactly as simple as it is needed to be.
Ohmer is another pun that I loved… this stat represents your resistance. When you’re defending against an attack, you would roll a d20 and then add your ohmer stat from your character sheet. Again, this is just as simple as it needs to be.
For yield points, this is kind of like your health, but it really represents how willing an opponent is to give up. As you either persuade them or combat them, your opponents will get more and more likely to surrender, and when they hit zero YP, you get to control the situation a bit and determine what happens next. Do you persuade them to turn from their dastardly ways? Do you send them a villain reform center? You get to decide!
I really liked using YP instead of health because it helps to enforce that there can be a peaceful solution if you want; your heroes aren’t killing the villains. They are defeating them but there’s a choice available and built in (so equal clout as fighting) to choose something besides a fight.
The last stat is travel, and this is how many squares on the map your character can move about
Power outages and encouragement
After you use up all your powers, there’s a recharge mechanic in the game where you can basically rest for turns in combat in order to get your powers back after they are out. This mechanic is really cool to me because it offers up a risk-reward choice to kids – they have to weigh and decide if getting their powers back is worth bypassing two or three turns of using their impact attacks.
Another cool mechanic in Power Outage is the encourage move. Teammates can use an encourage action to give a bonus to a teammate for one of their rolls! This means that your kids have the choice to support each other and build each other up… and then also celebrate together in joint victories.
Age ranges, accommodations, and accessibility
Towards the end of the book, there are several pages dedicated to suggestions for modifying Power Outage to help fit the needs of players and to reduce barriers to joining in on the game. This section is AMAZING. It isn’t about specific mechanics, but it is about the mechanics in a general sense.
It covers how to adjust the game for different ages and gives a heads up for common issues that can arise with each group. It explains how to make accommodations for players who are differently abled, and the author even created a wiki called www.accesible-rpg.com as a resource for making TTRPG’s accessible. I am so happy to see this, and this wiki is a wonderful addition to TTRPG’s everywhere, in addition to when you are playing Power Outage.
What did my kid think?
Kiddo is very into superheroes, especially a certain spider themed variety, so this was his jam! We tracked down the Boat Rocker with the LawYarr and had an epic spider-kid vs. pirates fight in a submarine that ended with spider-kid convincing the pirates to invest their money in a bakery instead. There were wacky antics and laughs and kiddo acting out all his spider moves – it was a hit!
My kid and I had a lot of fun playing Power Outage together – we shared our love of superheroes with each other and had quite a few good laughs at the bits of humor built into the characters and the antics that this game facilitated. It’s a clear and accessible game (originally and by means of the modifications recommended at the end), and a great way to let your child have some amazing hero moments. We had fun, and I hope you do too!
Where to find a copy:
Power Outage can be found here on drivethru RPG!
Please let me know in the comments if you have any questions, try the game because of this post, or have played this game before!