The Game: PreppiePunk
The Publisher: Density Media
Degree of Familiarity: None. I've read it.
Books Required: Just the one.
One thing I love: RPGs that have a strong perspective, even (especially?) a political one, and don't compromise it. I find it hard to write that way (closest I've gotten is curse the darkness), but every now and then you find an RPG that is what it is and doesn't even try to be anything else. PreppiePunk is exactly that.
I love this kind of passion, but man, it's not always a good thing. We get a strong vision, sure, but we also get hostile bullshit like this:
Anyway, much of the book is in-character (autobiographical? The game's authors are listed as "Brock" and "Biz," and those are the folks writing in the book). The setting is a prep school after Trump's election, and the characters are in distress about that (meaning they're, like, right). The majority of the book is just that, a series of letters, diary entries, that kind of thing from these folks' perspective. And it's good fiction, it's raw, and it's genuine. Make for a good RPG? I dunno. I'd have a hard time selling it to my players, but that's as much because there doesn't seem to be much in the way of genre stuff - no super powers, no magic, etc., and that's kinda important to us, I think.
Well, so, character creation. So, first thing I'm choosing is age. Characters in PreppiePunk are 13-19, because "post graduate" year at prep school is apparently a thing (I work in public schools in Cleveland, it's...not so much a thing here). I'll be 16 (side note: I would not relive being 16 for all the bourbon in Kentucky).
Three stats: Sport, Smarts, and Spirit. And...sigh.
Hostility is boring, and hostility of the "don't let your players buffalo you" variety is as old as the fucking hills in this hobby. (I'm picking on this because I think it's counterproductive and annoying.)
Anyway, I get 4 points to divide up, and they go 0 to 3. Let's see. Interesting to contemplate what sort of person I might have been had I gone to a prep school rather than a downtown-Toledo-Catholic-school, but I'm not making me as a teen. I'll put 0 into Sport and 2 each into Smarts and Spirit.
I'm now asked to choose name and school. Presumably if I were in a group we'd all pick the same school, but here we are. I want it to be a Catholic school, though. A quick online search doesn't reveal a patron saint of rebels or freedom, surprise surprise, so we'll go with Jeanne de Chantal Preparatory Academy (de Chantal is the patron saint of forgotten people, according to one source). My character's name is Matthias Barbary (call him "Matt," thanks. Yes, I know that's my name, but piss off).
So, then we get a few pages of rules explanations. The rules are interesting; you're rolling 4d6 and trying to hit a difficulty based on an age. Try to rent a car, the difficulty is 24, because that's the age at which you can rent one. Even numbers are positive, odds are negative, and you want within a margin of error of 3. I have no idea how well this would work in play, but it's definitely an interesting approach. Stats give you the ability to reroll. Oh, also:
Bonds are the next thing. Bonds aren't necessarily social connections, they're more about who you are societally and who your family is. (Side note: This game doesn't name any actual place names, it'll just say "Y---" instead of "Yale," and I get why they're doing it, but at the same time it's distracting.)
So. I need six Bonds for Matthias. I'll say:
1) Cousin Jack is a movie star's assistant.
2) Mom sits on the board of the Met.
3) Dad was in a powerful Ivy League frat.
4) The Barbary family helped found this school.
5) Uncle Stephen plays golf with the Bishop.
6) My godfather owns a gallery in New York.
And then, Social Capital. Oh, wait, no. Social Capital happens in play. When an NPC is introduced, you can invest some Social Capital to have an existing relationship with that person. Doesn't apply to chargen, though.
And then chargen would conclude with five "I never" statements (like the drinking game), but since that really only applies if you have a group, I think I'll skip that bit.
Look, I'm hard on some bits of this game because they tickle particular pet peeves, but overall this is a very thoughtfully constructed RPG, and I think it deserves some love.