Panty Explosion is a game that I am not the intended target for. The game is about Japanese Psychic Schoolgirls. I understand that this is a genre within the anime, manga, and live action movies Japan has. I am mostly unfamiliar with all of that. I read list of items the author used as inspiration and I had not heard of let alone seen any of them. So, while I am new to the genre the role playing game aspect is something that I am very familiar with and I can easily say I like what I read here. Panty Explosion is a game for a very tight audience. It is not a game that can do other things; all of its focus is on this genre and it works.
Panty Explosion is a relatively new RPG by Atarashi Games. It is written by Jake Richmond and Matt Schlotte. It comes in a small ninety six page book. The art is all very respectful and of realistic looking Japanese schoolgirls. I use the word respectful because the title can make people wonder otherwise. The book has a very cool lay out that makes it look like it was written in a school note book and there are the occasional little doodles and scribbles in there. The character sheet is provided in the back of the book and it is made to resemble a student?s Permanent School Record. They do a very good job with the art and look of everything to reinforce the school setting of the game.
Panty Explosion is at its core a horror game. But it is really hard to tell that from just a casual reading and understanding. The players are playing Japanese schoolgirls that are trying to just survive school. And to make it worse there are demons that want them dead. Not all the characters will be psychic. It is a blessing and a curse and the book does a very good job of demonstrating that. On the surface the game may deal with the characters getting read for school and dealing with bullies or being the bully, popularity, after school jobs and activities; there is always the fear of strangers and demons. I think if I understood the genre a little better I would have a better grasp of how it all fits together.
Panty Explosion has its own mechanics and character generation. This is a character driven game and everything really enforces that. One of the items with character creation is blood type. Apparently the Japanese place a lot more into blood type then I ever knew. Blood type does not dictate personality it does though help to define it. type is important as it defines personality and certain blood types are seen as better then others. And then each person has a trait based on their blood type. It is a bit more of a defining characteristic like people know they can rely on her, asks the right questions, devil?s advocate, or always thinks before she speaks. Then one selects the month the character was born in and this once again will help define the character?s personality. A trait based on the month will also be selected. I really like the defining of the character?s personality and focus on that during character generation. It really does a nice job of showing what the game sees as important.
The closest the game has to stats is with the five elements. Each character basically fifteen points among the five elements of Earth, Water, Fire, Air, and Void. Each point represents a die that will be rolled to accomplish tasks. Each element covers different types of actions. Each one is also strongly associated with certain personality traits. So someone with a strong Earth would possible be stubborn and confidant. They like to see things remain as they are. Each of the elements has traits with them as well and for one?s character the player picks the element they feel fits the character best and assigns one trait associated with the element. Each player will then also pick a trait associated with their family and one about their hobbies. Traits are important as they allow one to roll higher dice. If the character gets to roll d6?s, when they try to do something related to one of their traits they get to use d8?s.
Each character has a best friend and rival. These are other player characters. One player can claim another character is her rival and that character can have the first one be her best friend. This is important later as the game is played. When a character succeeds in an action the player playing the best friend describes how the success happens. When a character fails it is her rival?s player that describes the failure. It is a very interesting mechanic that makes the players much more involved in the game. It can also be a challenge for people not used to basically doing some of the Superintendent?s job. The Superintendent is the DM of the game.
At the beginning of each game each student selects an agenda that the character is trying to accomplish. These are important because the demon is reinforced by unresolved agendas. Once an agenda is succeeded the character acquires s a trait that reflects the completion of the agenda. There is a long list of sample agendas in the book and I think this will be really helpful for people not sure of what to do with their characters. It is a nice and simple way to give a focus of what the character will do and a goal for them to go towards. The last bit of importance for the characters is popularity. Before each game there is a secret vote to see which character is the most and least popular. Anyone with psychic powers can never be the most popular. This determines what dice one rolls to accomplish tasks. The most popular uses a d10, the least a d6, and every one else use d8?s.
In a given sequence of events each character has a poll of dice depending on their elements. Once a character uses all her fire dice for instance she can not take actions that are governed by fire. This should help players get a little more creative and it also helps scenes come to an end. There is a lot of conflict but rarely is it going to be deadly. It can be dealing with tests, and bullies and other things people encounter in schools. I would have liked to see a sample adventure or something more to get an even better understanding on what happens in the game. There is a section that explains it and a good portion of the book is dedicated to the setting and the feel of the game. As a novice to the genre though I felt I needed a little bit more.
The writing for the character generation is interesting and involves the reader. The setting writing reads a little too fact based. There is some colorful characters and the first half is fun to read. But then the tone changes as it goes into the Japanese culture and what their schools are like. At times it seemed like something one would hear on a news report. It is very informative but little else.
Panty Explosion is a game that covers an area that no other game I have seen does. It has a very interesting and well done character generation system. I really enjoy the use of traits, the simple mechanics, and the way the game involves different people at the table. How the game runs and what a session looks like though is a little harder for me to grasp.
VALUE: Very Satisfied