If you have ever thought that it would amazing to be a modern day hero vampire hunter or monster slayer then this is the game for you.
What it is
Monster of the Week (MotW) is built on the powered by the apocalypse game engine. It’s a relatively easy to use system that requires you to roll 2d6 and add modifiers depending on your core stats.
The core rule book is a full how to guide that takes you through everything from how to build characters to creating a game and being a Keeper (game master). It’s a useful guide and I reference it a lot while playing and creating games.
It starts with an explanation of the kind of game you are playing and roughly how it will work.
Then they move onto a section for The Hunters. Here they talk about what hunters are and creating a team concept. This section also discusses the basic playing mechanics of the game which are called moves.
From there the book moves onto Playbooks. These are character sheets that help you build the kind of character you want to be. Each one has things they do really well and things they need help with. Examples of the playbooks include: The Spell-Slinger – a character with innate magic ability and The Wronged – a character with a traumatic past who is out to get revenge. There are a ton of playbooks each with a unique flavour.
Now the book moves onto the section that talks about game mechanics and rules covering what it means to be a hunter, how to solve the mystery in front of you, what luck and resurrection mean in the game and how magic works in the world. This is a really well thought out and comprehensive guide to helping players understand the game. I wish we got this as a handout that we could give to players.
Next up we have the section for how to be a Keeper. This section talks about creating monsters, using locations to up the stakes, how to use bystanders and even timing events. It’s an incredible system that allows you to keep putting pressure on the players.
The book also includes a starter mystery that you can run to try get into the mechanics of the game. I am not a fan of the mystery. It’s really odd and leaves players wondering what just happened. But there are other mysteries sprinkled throughout the book as examples for mechanics that I have used as a basis for a game and I really enjoyed those.
Up to that point the book is a kind of overview of the game and mechanics of it. Now we get to the more detailed how to’s. There are detailed examples and explanations of how to run battles, player moves, all the things the keeper needs to do before a game, at the end of the game and preparing for a game.
It’s made very clear that this is a conversation that’s had between the Keeper and the Players and that the Keeper should create a mystery, location, bystanders and a timeline but not a way to solve the mystery. Instead they should let the players be the heroes of the story and come up with their own solutions. So what you are essentially doing as the GM is putting in place a framework for the game and letting the players figure out the story. If they never talk to that particular bystander then it shouldn’t break the game. If they go to that location too late then one of the bystanders will be dead but the hunters can still defeat the big bad.
At the end of the book are some other starter mysteries that you can run. I will be honest, they are rather odd so run them with a quirky group.
The Monster of the Week guide book is well thought out, clear and easy to reference. You can absolutely play the game by reading the book a couple of times and perhaps watching a recorded one shot on YouTube or even playing a one shot as a player.
Tip: Using the character sheets on roll 20 makes life so much easier than using the pdfs.
What it is not
This is not a competitor to Dungeons and Dragons or even Pathfinder. It has an urban fantasy vibe and the play style is completely different to D&D or Pathfinder.
Everyone in this world is a human so there are no races to explore but there are pretty fun character types with built in mechanics to give them flaws and strengths.
This game doesn’t come with pre-generated campaigns and relies on you to make up everything, so from that perspective it could be better. Having said that there is a small but active community of people putting out game ideas, monsters and other content that you can use.
For dice enthusiasts, this one only uses a set of d6s so you won’t really get the joy of rolling all sorts of pretty and different dice.
As a Keeper you never touch the dice. Your monsters attack based on successes or failures of the players.
Who will benefit from it most
We love to play this game. It lends itself to an epic mini game series and it’s a great way to create games that are about players and not about a big complicated story.
We highly recommend that all ttrpg enthusiasts try it because it’s fun, relatively easy to learn and does what so many games try to do but don’t quite manage which is to make players front and centre.
Worth noting is that the story relies on the Keeper’s setup and the player’s interactions far more than D&D 5e which has so many mechanics that you can pretty much make up a story on the go. For this one players need to be much more hands on than they do in 5e and it’s one of the reasons that we think all D&D players should play this game.
You will get better at role playing and improv by playing Monster of the Week.
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If you enjoyed our review of Monster of the Week you may also enjoy our review of the D&D Essentials kit.