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TTRPG Talk - "Be Seeing You" by Tanya Floaker

Today we are going to be doing a TTRPG Talk looking at the game Be Seeing You by Tanya Floaker. If you would like to read it, keep going below the fold. There is also a video version of the review as well!

The cover for Be Seeing You. It features a photograph of a CCTV camera mounted to an unfinished concrete wall. The Title Be Seeing You is Black text in Yellow boxes reminding the viewer of Police or Caution tape. In smaller white text, it reads "A Roleplaying game about Independence, Control, Freedom, & Compliance by Tanya Floaker
Cover by Tanya Floaker

Be Seeing You is a narrative-building game based around the concepts of No Dice, No Masters. In its dystopian setting, Be Seeing You explores the concepts of State Surveillance, Coercion, and the struggle between Individualism and Social Conformity. This is done through a series of roles that the players fill.

The Prisoner is an individual who acts in many ways as the main character of the game's narrative. Something about them has kept them from really fitting into this strictly structured Society. After disrupting Order with their resignation from their job or some other position that remains ill-defined, they have been placed under strong surveillance in a special location called the Village.

The Administrators are the characters appointed by Control to try and mold The Prisoner back into a model citizen. This character regularly changes, but their objective is the same. They seek to find out why The Prisoner resigned while covertly trying to get them to start conforming to expectations and maintaining control over The Village.

In the The Village role, the player is in charge of creating locations, the feel of the setting, uncanny elements that society has created in this place, and how the narrative changes what was established before. Some of this is designed to physically and physiologically control The Prisoner and Residents, while other elements may bring a momentary respite to them.

The Residents are supporting characters that live in The Village. All are known by a number rather than a name, come from various backgrounds, and bring with them various motivations. Some may rebel against the Administrators while others embrace conforming into Control's mold.

While these four roles exist, that does not mean that you need to have 4 players. In fact, the game encourages the The Village and Residents roles be folded into one another for 3 player games. There are has specialized play-aids and scenarios for a two-player Versus mode and a solo Prisoner diary version of the game.

In the 3+ player version of the game, the players start with an initial round where the initial Village, The Prisoner and some NPCs are fleshed out by the group. Then they go through a series of stages where the antagonistic nature of the roles drive scores that are tracked to see the escalating efforts of both the The Prisoner and their antagonists to achieve their goals.

This combined with unusual circumstances being introduced into the narrative make the struggle increasingly surreal and desperate until a chosen Administrator character and the Prisoner enter the Degree Absolute. This final confrontational interview between them brings about the end of the story as the players decide the final fates of at least some of the involved characters.

In a game with such heavy material, it is important to maintain safety at the table. The X-card system is built into both the game mechanics and the play-aids. The game also prevents the creation of long-term or stable antagonistic relationships at the table by using the game roles in a rotating fashion, encouraging the group to work together to build the story. Finally, in the post-game, the players are invited to engage in a round of Stars and Wishes, where they discuss things they liked and wished were different about the events of the game.

Simplified Black and White icons for each of the four roles: a running stick person for the Prisoner, a Police Officer bust for the Administrator, a CCTV camera for the Residents, and a simplified version of the Big Ben clock tower for the Village
Icons for the four game roles

In my opinion, a good game often starts building the feeling of the game in its layout design, which Be Seeing You has certainly done. While the main text could have used a bit more spacing, the use of simple graphics, color, and monochrome photography creates a certain feeling for me that really fits this style of game. There are also a huge number of play aids for Group / Versus / Solo play.

However, I wish there was a print-friendly or text version of the game. There are soft & hardcover versions of the game available, but a rich-text edition of the manual would potentially improve accessibility for folk like myself who have issues concentrating with graphically busy layouts, need to use screen-readers, or have issues focusing on text on a screen for long periods of time and don't have the resources to purchase a print version of the game.

Overall, Be Seeing You is a great game for players who enjoy creating collective narratives with a setting that would appeal to fans of modern dystopia.

If you would like to check out the game, you can find more info about it on its itch store page! There you can find the game for purchase in digital, softcover, and hardcover format as well as community copies.

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