Costume Fairy Adventures - anyone know much about it?

edited December 2013 in Story Games
Here's the Kickstarter, and it looks like it could be a really lovely game - I love the idea of costumes altering character capabilities. Reading through the system description, it seems like a lot of new-school design is in there - playsets, social mechanics, the characters modded by adding on a costume (brings to mind the Capes click-n-locks - pdf) - alongside videogame style stuff like miniquests with unlockable achievements. But I'm curious how it all fits together, particularly in terms of fit for younger children.*

Reading the QuickStart rules, it seems quite fiddly, with a lot of moving parts: Facets (stats), Quirks (Aspect/Traits), Magic tokens, Trouble Die pool, Powers, Edges, Stress, Temporary Quirks. In terms of individual mechanics, making standard rolls doesn't strike me as simple, at least on reading, and the costumes involve cards with their own economy separate from the dice mechanics.

Overall on reading my gut says this is going to be more fun for adults more than kids. But I don't have a practiced enough eye to draw conclusions from a (partial) text, and I don't know the designers or see any ludography/prior work to give a bit of context. It would be great if it was kid-friendly. Perhaps someone here knows a bit more about the game?

*I have 9 and 11 year olds I know in mind. Moreso the 9-un.


  • I can verify the game is enjoyable for adults--I'm working on one of the stretch goals though, so take that with as many grains of salt as you like.

    Regarding the rules, I've noticed players can engage with them to varying degrees and still have fun. Individual players can ignore a lot of the sub-systems and still get mileage out of the ones that appeal most to them. It's helpful if the GM is more familiar with their rules and interactions, but I think a bunch of smart kids could understand.
  • Cool, Zach, thanks! Very useful to get your perspective, no salt necessary.
  • edited December 2013
    Heya. I'm the game's project lead, so my word should be taken with a whole barrel of salt, but I'd be happy to answer any questions you might have.

    With respect to the issue of complexity, allow me to preface my response with the observation that, in my experience, adult gamers tend to vastly underestimate the level of mechanical complexity that kids are willing and able to engage with. If the interest is there, young children can pick up the basics of moderately complex games with relative ease, and if it isn't, no amount of simplification will grab them. Heck, when I was a kid the go-to game for your average ten-year-old tabletop gamer was Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition, which is notably crunchy even for its generation.

    That said, the published version of Costume Fairy Adventures will make accommodations for very young gamers. The core book contains a whole suite of suggested tweaks to this effect, the full extent of which is beyond the scope of this post, but the gist of it is as follows:
    • Powers and edge are gone - ignore 'em completely.
    • Rather than having the player invoke Quirks and totting up dice pools, the GM simply assigns a "difficulty" ranging from 1 to 3 dice (with 1 being the most difficult and 3 being the easiest), using any applicable personal, Costume and Location Quirks as a guide.
    • Trouble Dice and the Trouble Pool are out, as very young gamers often have trouble with the notion of adversarial play, and are liable to interpret Trouble Dice expenditure as the GM being mean for no reason.
    • Magic Tokens and the Magic Pool remain, with Magic serving as a "consolation prize" for rolling 6s. However, as dice pool sizes are assigned by the GM, Magic's only function is to pay for Wishful Thinking (at the usual cost of three Magic per wish).
    • As very young gamers may have conceptual difficulty with the "coincidental magic" rules that govern Wishful Thinking, these guidelines are relaxed in favour of a more "Looney Tunes" approach to Wishful Thinking.
    • The Quick Change and scrounging rules are out; players may change Costumes whenever they like, and draw a new Costume any time it makes narrative sense to do so.
    The player still has to figure out what Facet to use based on her approach to the problem at hand, but it's been our experience that younger gamers pick up on that part quite readily - especially the "find excuses to always use your highest Facet" aspect of it, which is, in fact, officially encouraged. ;)

    (One may note that, with no Magic expenditure for adding dice, activating Costume Powers, or Quick Changing, there's liable to be a lot more Wishful Thinking flying around than in the standard game. This is intentional.)

    With respect to the dice-rolling mechanics itself, they can admittedly look a bit gnarly at first glance, but there's a hidden benefit there for very young gamers: they don't actually require any math more complex than counting and greater-than/less-than comparisons. Totting up your dice pool and picking out the highest individual roll that doesn't exceed the relevant Facet gets you variable difficulty, degrees of success, and all the other expected bells and whistles without adding or subtracting anything from anything. It's not necessarily easier than more conventional roll-add-compare mechanics, but it exercises a different skill set, and one that's less likely to feel like a math lesson.

    Does that cover everything you wanted to know?
  • That's great, David, especially your dive into the feel of the dice-rolling, which wasn't something I'd considered.

    With regards to the 'suggested tweaks' how are you planning to represent them in the game - as mechanics are introduced, or as a freestanding section of its own?
  • We're still working on the organisation of the core book. At the moment, it's a separate appendix; we've experimented with sidebars scattered throughout the main text, but found that this makes finding all the little-kid-friendly rules tweaks a bit of a chore in practice. No final decisions have been made, but we're currently leaning toward sticking with the former.
  • That sounds wise. Thanks David, I've got a much better picture of things. Now to sound out my potential players!
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