Review: Monster of the Week, a supernatural TTRPG to try with teens!

Monster of the Week is a TTRPG system that sets you up for supernatural mystery-solving shenanigans!  This TTRPG is recommeded for teens but, as I saw in the charity stream I played in last year, can easily be made PG, and is a great system for offering player choice.

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Monster of the Week is great for teens (and maybe younger)

Monster of the Week is a TTRPG system that gives you a base for creating characters with special abilities to see the supernatural elements that exist in the world (and that others can’t see).  

It’s recommended for ages 14+, and I would say it is definitely a good one to try with teens both from the playthrough I’ve done and from the manufacturer recommendation.  Your characters are teens, and it’s designed in a way that the mechanics aren’t going to be a barrier to most players that age.

I would also say that because this is a system, you can create your own story and adjust it to fit your players for playing with younger kids – if you want something less scary and more “Scooby-Doo”, it is really easy to do that.  My first game of Monster of the Week was during the Scribbler Hug charity stream, and we played a pretty PG story so that kids could listen in if they wanted.  It really depends on your pre-game agreement and how you tone the story. 

Monster of the Week is set in a modern day world where the supernatural exists, hidden from most

Monster of the Week is set up around the premise that your characters can see, or maybe even use, the supernatural when most people cannot.  The world is filled with magic that’s hidden to the rest of the world, however, it still interacts.  

Forest spirits may find ways to defend themselves from deforestation that seem like strange mishaps to the average person, or a non-magic user may try to find a way to tap into supernatural abilities artificially and create chaos.

This game exists in that place where the average world and the supernatural world overlap and impact each other.

Your character in Monster of the Week

Your character in Monster of the Week is a person who (most likely) can see the supernatural in the world and may also be able to use special abilities related to that.  There’s playbooks of different character archetypes to choose from, which gives you a list of abilities, history questions, and stats to create your character.  You’ll have 5 stats (charm, cool, sharp, tough, and weird) along with your luck, gear, moves, and history with other characters to track on your sheet, and that’s about it!

When I played, I picked The Gumshoe, and, once I had read through the playbooks and chosen that archetype, it took me another maybe 15 minutes to fully set up my character.  From there, it was really easy to play – it was mostly just keeping track of stat numbers (there’s only 5) and the three main abilities + one weird ability, which had all the details about what to roll and what that move meant right on the sheet (so no need to look up anything extra). 

I also really liked that each playbook came with questions or bonds to create your history with the other characters.  It was a quick way to explain how the group all knew each other and created a lot of backstory.  For example, one of my bonds was that my character made friends with another character when the trail for a different mystery went cold – this let us talk about what that was, how they met, established how long we’ve been looking into mysteries, and gave a hook for further character development. 

Mechanics in Monster of the Week

Options that support storytelling

When you have your character do something in Monster of the Week, you have a list of options to choose from that range from fighting to helping to investigating to using abilities and magic to… a lot more.  There’s a whole bunch to choose from, and each has particular rules about what happens on a success or fail, and those rules have a great focus on story progression. 

One option in the list is to “Investigate a Mystery”, and, on a success, you get to ask a question from a particular set of questions to find more information or get a hint.  If you want to “Protect Someone”, you can choose to take the hit for someone else and may get an option to choose if you damage the opponent, reduce the damage significantly, or hold the enemy back if you roll high enough.  Having multiple choices that characters get to pick for their outcome gives significant player control in the story.

I will admit, at first, I thought there was A LOT to track here, but after reading through it, it was actually really easy to pick up.  There’s lot of different possible outcomes (which is great for player choice and flexibility), and they’re actually organized in a very logical manner that’s easy to parse out once you read through. 

Rolling dice

When you want to take action, you roll dice to see what kind of outcome you get.  You’ll be rolling 2d6 and then adding any relevant modifiers from your character sheet or helper rolls from party members.  You then compare the potential outcomes for that action and see what happens!

This was pretty easy to understand and quick to pick up, and most rolls have a 7+ for a basic success (7 is an average roll for 2d6 with no modifier) and a 10+ for a crit success, so players generally succeed more than they fail, which keeps the game going in a positive direction (unless fate and your storyteller say otherwise).

Fail forward

In the event that you do fail a roll though, you gain XP from learning from your mistakes!  

I really liked this element of the game because it helps to balance the players out over time – if one player starts out a bit “overpowered” because their particular playbook lined up well with the adventure, they may succeed all the time, but they don’t gain XP and grow further.  The other players, who may be struggling, will level up until their characters get to the same capability as the overpowered one.  

This also takes the sting out of failure, and I think teaches a good lesson – not only does failure create a more interesting story, you learn more from failing and trying again than you do from succeeding all the time.  My character kept failing checks to see supernatural elements (his powers and sight were still waking up), so I gained some XP there to eventually be able to level up my character’s supernatural abilities and also have a fun story as those abilities grew.

Overall thoughts on Monster of the Week

I had a great time playing Monster of the Week and think that it would be an excellent game for teens, and possibly for younger kids (8+) if you tweaked your story to fit their tastes and had some solid safety tools.  The general premise was a lot of fun, and it was easy to learn while also having some great mechanics that had enough crunch but also blended in solid storytelling elements.  I hope you get to try it out!

Find a copy of Monster of the Week

You can find a copy of Monster of the Week on DriveThru RPG!

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