This review is one of the reviews I am doing as part of the peer review process for the “Last Chance” Game Chef game design competition.
Rage, Rage is a game about confronting the inevitable culmination of entropy, a game of poetry in motion. Player’s share a common end scenario, and pathway theme to get there. There are several great examples of the “end” and “pathway” in the book, you could play several scenarios using the tables for random generation. Player’s have a two, zero-sum, skills courage and madness that affect various aspects of the game, and handle conflict resolution. One of the strengths of the system is how it builds relationships by establishing hope and fear ties to adjacent players. The example scenarios, and layout of note cards do an excellent job illustrating how to setup a game. Unfortunately, what you are supposed to do after setup is less clear.
In most of my reviews I have included a summary of how the game is played based on my understanding of the rules. Unfortunately, with this game I am not entirely clear on what game play looks like. The rules talk about there being a GM, but it does not really talk about what the GM is supposed to do. Its also not clear about what the relationship between the characters is supposed to be. There are rules for dying and killing other characters, but I did not get the impression that it was a PvP game. Also, the use of the lantern as a metaphor was tenuous at best, and ended up making things a bit more confusing that it needed to be.
Overall, I really like many of the concepts employed in the game. And, I feel like I have a good idea of how to get everyone ready to play. I have enough GMing experience that I think I could graft on rules based on elements of the game to actually run a session, but I would have a nagging “is this actually what I am supposed to be doing” feeling while playing. Would I be playing Rage, Rage, or Rage, Fiasco? Like most Game Chef games, it suffers from “design shorthand” that lays down many great ideas, but relies on the facilitator to actually fill in the blanks and make it playable. I hope the designer stick with it and fills out the missing pieces so my group can give it a try.