GM Corner–Headspace

Warning: this post contains spoilers for She’s a Super Geek’s Headspace episodes.

I was able to head up to Gen Con after the con ended to hang out with Senda for an evening, and she went on and on about some cyber punk game called Headspace. Senda played Headspace GM’ed by its creator Mark alongside Brian Patterson (who did Headspace’s art), Hamish (author of the Sprawl RPG), and Jim McClure of Talking Tabletop.

I was not jealous. I don’t know why you would say that. It was not out of jealousy that I made sure we played Headspace for SASGeek.

“Running Headspace is a breeze because by the time you hit game you have a really strong goal as a group AND emotional connections to both your fellow players AND big bads in the world.” -Senda

Before I break this down a bit, let me just tell you that Headspace is one of the most enjoyable games I’ve ever played. Certainly Senda deserves credit as do my fellow players Jim McClure and Rob Abranzado, but I just want to say to Green Hat Designs… da-amn. This game is a well-crafted, well-tested roller coaster of an rpg.

In this cyberpunk Apocalypse World-based game the characters are connected via their Headspace, an illegal piece of tech allowing them to get into each other’s heads and use each other’s skills. The post-apocalyptic setting provided in the test packet is in Vancouver, but don’t worry. If you’re like us and don’t know anything about Vancouver it’s ok. It’s post-apocalyptic. Just make it up.

There are 6 roles your characters can step into, each with their own skills. Jim picked up the Handler and became cool as a cucumber Aaron Cross. Rob became the suspicious Infiltrator named Burn. I played Brooklyn, the Runner. The Runner is awesome. I got parkour as a skill!

“Being cool is so much more interesting than safety.” –Jim McClure

Headspace provides leading questions that builds relationships between party characters and also creates tension. You can hear during character creation these questions causing both Jim’s and my characters to become more and more antagonistic towards Burn. That lead us to the question of why Burn would be in our group if we didn’t fully trust him which we then had to flesh out. It became obvious that Burn’s place in our group was one of obligation or keep-your-enemies-closer.

3 roles were left unfilled—the Ronin, the Tech, and the Whitecoat.  Those 3 became named team members as ghosts in our headspace—Bombshell, B.H., and Benson respectively. It makes a lot of sense. Here is this illegal piece of tech that we don’t really know how it functions that connects all of us. Of course something will be left behind even in death.

“But I’m rolling all doubles!” -Rob Abrazado

The more we wove our story pieces together the more emotional the details surrounding the death of these 3 were. We learned that Benson always stayed at HQ but this one time we knew civilians would need his medical skills immediately. B.H. helped Brooklyn get her mind attached to the helicopter that crashed and killed him. And Bombshell… poor Bombshell. She was the best of us…

This set is very explicit about starting you mid action. Take three things the team wants to accomplish and pick two you’ve already failed at. That’s how we started. We had a clear goal in mind even though we started amid the chaos of our team mates’ deaths. We had to push forward.

“I like how I’m in the Batmobile and you’re in the Mystery Machine.” -Emily

Listen to the podcast to learn the details of our characters and how the plot unfolds. It’s a fun combo of cyberpunk, emotion, and laughter. The great things about Apocalypse World are still in Headspace. The dice system is straight forward. You can always choose to succeed in a roll by taking complications that drive the game forward. There are times when there’s emotional feedback because a certain emotion is running high when multiple characters can get a complication.

Be sure to back Headspace on Kickstarter when it comes out on October 20th! It’ll be well worth your money.

2 Replies to “GM Corner–Headspace”

  1. I really enjoyed the actual play of Headspace. The concept of the game intrigued me, but the way SaSGeek brought it to life was exciting, sad and funny all in one session. The background creation was just as good as the actual mission. I am a huge fan of PbtA, mostly because I play fast and loose with most rules and rarely do much prep besides “hey, what if…?” Headspace competes neck and neck in my mindscape with The Sprawl for the cyberpunk genre. (As much as it breaks my heart to leave Shadowrun on the shelf.) Thank you for giving a solid example of how much fun it can be to play Headspace.

    1. Thank you so much for listening! We love Headspace and it was thrilling to run it for our show. I’m still super pleased with how these episodes came out.

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