The Adam of Your labors
Greta Quindle was in the supply closet of her university's chemistry department. She had just gotten back from McDonald's and was pretending to be busy to avoid her professor when, "CRASH," she accidentally knocked over a shelf of dangerous chemicals. A glimmer of excitement came across Greta's face when the coagulation started to glow a luminescent white. "If I can discover something noteworthy, maybe the higher-ups here will take my ideas more seriously. Heck, maybe I won't even have to finish my degree!" Pungent powders mixed with soiled milk samples. The goo started to bubble and hiss on the floor. "I wonder what will happen if I feed it this," Grata asked as she chucked a hand full of her french fries onto the floor. "Hissssss," the fries melted. The puddle tightened and pulled together into an oval-shaped blob. Greta wanted to scream but couldn't risk getting caught in such a mess. Suddenly a pair of googly eyes were looking up at her. An adorable monster was born.
Adam of Your Labors is a two-player role-playing game written by husband and wife game designer duo Amber and Rick Dean. In-game, one player will act as a scientist, who tinkers with lab equipment in an effort to create a new form of unworldly life; the other player will pose as the created creature, exploring the strange world that the scientist brought them into. Will the scientist convince the telekinetic frog creation to destroy their rivals? Will the creature become so lonely that it seeks the unrequited friendship of strangers on the subway? The story is in your hands.
To set up the game, players discuss where they would like the game to take place. A present-day college town, or a thousand years in the future orbiting one of Jupiter's many moons? The rules list four different settings, but also encourage players to make up their own. Next, the scientist and creature will answer a short list of questions to flesh out each of their characters. On my first play-through, I was an amorphous blob who had the power to shapeshift. My partner decided to be an incompetent intern bumbling her way around the lab. The rules help you make these decisions by providing four creature types and four scientist types for you to choose from. Finally, each player reads their collection of final actions listed in the rules for the creature and scientist respectively. As the game progresses and as each player gets a better feel of their characters, players will start to eliminate their final actions one-by-one until they are funneled into an epic conclusion. Knowing how the game might end really helps guide the role play. For example, if the creature-player eliminates all peaceful endings, it's time to escalate the situation. Destroy the scientist's house and escape, perhaps? Now that setup is complete, let the experiments begin.
The heart of the role play happens in one each of the game's scenes. A scene works to guide the players, giving each player an end goal to achieve and specific tasks to get there
For example, in the first scene, the scientist attempts to make contact with the creature; meanwhile, the creature narrates their responses to the scientist's attempts. When the creature demonstrates its special ability, the scene ends.
By knowing the end-scene trigger before starting role-play, both players have something to work towards. This allows the players to do anything that they want for as long as they want, but once both players run out of ideas, it is easy for both players to move on. I love this mechanic! I have played so many games where thinking about what to say seems more a task of labor than a joyous one.
In our game, the first scene had the scientist-character, Greta, feed me objects strewn about the lab to see how I reacted to them. She found that once I touched an object, it would dissolve inside of me and that I would grow a little larger. I ate several pencils and a few wooden chairs in the room. Because of this, Greta made the note that I liked to eat wood. She also gave me a portion of her cheeseburger. This had me making gargling sounds and begging for more. When she asked me if I would rather eat a piece of a wooden chair or a cheeseburger. I used my special ability to shapeshift into a cheeseburger thus triggering the end of the scene. Greta ended by saying "I think I'll call you Wood Burger." I repeated the name while devouring the remnants of the cheeseburger. I belched, made eye contact with Greta, and repeated "WOOD BUUURGER!"
I don't think I have ever made such joyous gurgling sounds as I did while playing Adam of Your Labors.
There are a total of eight scenes divided up into four acts. Each scene gives instructions and an end goal to both the scientist and the creature. As the scenes progress, the creature becomes stronger and harder to control leading to unexpected chaos. After every second scene players mark off one of their possible final actions previously mentioned until each player is left with only one final action.
By the end of our game, I was left with the Transcend final action. I wanted to go beyond myself and alter into a new kind of being. I consumed an entire library book collection which gave me supernatural intelligence. The united states military discovered me and unsuccessfully tried to destroy me, and I used my powers to empty landfills. My partner ended with the Embrace final action. She wished to develop a friendship with me and to shower me with love. Greta awoke every morning to pick me up cheeseburgers. In return, I made sure that Greta (who I now call mama) lived an easy relaxed life of luxury.
By encouraging different types of settings, monsters, and scientists the designers add replayability to the experience. I think that you can expect to get 3 to 4 solid adventures out of this game before patterns start to appear.
If it isn't obvious by now, I really enjoyed Adam of Your Labors and it is an easy recommendation. The instructions are clear and easy to follow and lead to hilarious moments in-game.
You can get Adam of Your Labors by purchasing You & I: Roleplaying Games for Two on DrivethruRPG. The collection is 8.40$ for a pdf or 21$ for a softcover book (which also includes a pdf version). Follow the designer Rick Dean on Twitter @rickeverything.