You're a hard-working Rep for AwesomeTech Solutions (ATS), a global corporation that values creativity, the future, and nostalgia. Except it doesn't value any of those things, only profit. And they want you to assassinate Mickey Mouse. The skills to pull it off have been uploaded into your brain, but are you really willing to sell your soul for the good of the Brand? Of course you are! You're playing MSG.MSG is a decidedly different sort of RPG created by some of the minds behind White Wolf's various supernatural-themed game systems. There is no randomness of any kind, and not a D20 to be found. Players play the roles of company Reps who all work for the soul-crushing Company in service of the Brand. Each player takes a turn playing the part of the company and throwing some kind of bizarre situation at the Reps, possibly incorporating some of the backstories the players came up with about themselves at the beginning of the game. Then the Reps decide what to do, try to earn points by working corporate buzz-words into their plans, then attempt to outbid the Company by taking a Risk with their reputation. Whoever wins the Risk narrates the outcome. If it all sounds a little vague and confusing, keep in mind that this isn't a "Only 45,000 more XP until I can wield my Holy Avenger +19!" type of RPG. The point is really to make a mockery of soulless corporations and their often ruthless strategies, not to mention the soulless drones who do their bidding. At the same time, it mocks our own willingness to worship these brands and submit to the will of these companies, all while creating ludicrous scenarios that are maddeningly interconnected with the stories created in the previous round. Maybe this excerpt from the rule book explains it best:
Brainstorm for a couple of minutes until you come up with a name for the Brand [that all the players work for]. If some of you hate it — or, better, all of you hate it — that’s brilliant, because it means you’ll understand a little of what it is to work for an organization that makes you cringe every time you look in the mirror and see the Brand logo they tattooed on your forehead.
MSG (I'm not really sure about the title - it just makes me think "Madison Square Garden") is stuffed to the gills with black, black humor. In fact, it is clearly heavily inspired by the classic Paranoia RPG. Instead of living in a domed city with the Computer, you're stuck in a boardroom with the Company. You can beat the other Reps, but you can never beat the Company. If you're looking for a change of pace for your weekly game night, this game is worth a look. You can order it over at lulu.com, and you can even download it for free in pdf format (but only until Nov. 25). Image by: johnheronproject.