Tuesday 31 May 2022

If Revue Starlight Was A PBTA Game

What it says on the tin.
If you've not seen review starlight, I don't know how to explain it to you. Go watch it. There's gay longing. There's a fun coming of age story. The show actually actually has some fairly in depth about art and the pursuit of perfection. There's musical numbers that are also sword-fights and also sometimes love scenes. One character is called banana and she's [spoiler redacted]. At one point a character stares directly into the camera to ask why you're watching this. There is a giraffe.
Look, it's really really good but also incredibly strange.
(this is based on my understanding from the anime and the film: if the stage shows or game contradict this pls don't be angry with me)

Seriously, watch this show.

So, a game. 
I'm also going to assume we all know how PBTA games work. I'm not gonna fuck with that too much. You don't need a GM for this: you're a GM while doing GM things.

Three stats, rated between -1 and +3. They are:

Drive. The ruthless urge to excel at all costs. 
Heart. The ability, and desire, to relate to others.
Glimmer. Artistic vision, the spark of inspiration.

When you make your PC, give them a stat each at -1, 0, and +1.


When a move is triggered, roll 2d6 and add the relevant stat. 6- is a miss, 7-9 a hit, 10+ an exquisite hit.

Tear Down
When you try to hurt somebody - physically, emotionally or materially - use this move.
Roll with Drive.
Miss: It backfires, making you vulnerable. Take a condition based on how it went wrong.
Hit: You hurt her, at a cost. Give her a Condition, and she gives you one.
Exquisite: You effortlessly lash out. Give her a Condition, and get a Connection to her.

When you try to get somebody to do what you want, use this move.
Roll with Drive.
Miss: It's obvious what you're up to. She gives you a Condition.
Hit: You're tempting. Give her a choice: do what you want and gain 1 Experience, or resist and let you give her a Condition.
Exquisite: You're incredibly persuasive. Give her a choice; do what you want and gain 1 Experience, or resist and let you give her a condition.

When you try to make somebody feel better, use this move.
Roll with Heart.
Miss: Things are just awkward. Each of you loses a Connection on the other.
Hit: There's some solace to be found. She chooses: one of you cures a Condition, and the other gets a Connection to her.
Exquisite: You both come out feeling better. Both of you can cure a Condition, and get a Connection with to other.

Vibe Check
When you probe somebody to work out what's up with her, use this move.
Roll with Heart.
Miss: Your interest is too forward. She gets a Connection on you.
Hit: You get a read on her. Ask her a question about what she's thinking or feeling, and she answers it. If her answer was completely honest, she tells you and gains 1 Experience.
Exquisite: You can intuit the truth. Ask her a question about what she's thinking or feeling, and she answers it. If her answer was completely honest, she tells you and gains 2 Experience. Otherwise, she gives herself a Condition.

When somebody is motivated or empowered by you, use this move.
A character can only benefit from being inspired by you once. If you inspire a new ambition in her, she can either keep her current ambition or over-ride it with a new one. A character can, however, be inspired by multiple other people at once.
Roll with Glimmer.
Miss: She's lead astray. You both take a Condition.
Hit: She finds a way to do better. She names an ambition, and until that ambition is completed, she can spend Connections to you to get +1 to rolls towards it. When the Ambition is achieved, she gains an Experience.
Exquisite: She find the makings of greatness. She names an ambition, and until that ambition is completed, she can spend Connections to you to get +1 to rolls towards it. When the Ambition is achieved, she gains an Experience. Further, create a new Truth about that Ambition, replacing any previous ones about it.

When you share a close, intimate moment alone with somebody, both of you use this move one after the other - the character who initiated the moment rolls first.
Roll with Glimmer.
Miss: Something's just... off for you. She picks one of you to lose a Connection to the other.
Hit: You grow closer to her. Pick one or both: either you offer her something you think she wants, or you both get a Connection to the other.
Exquisite: You share something special with her. Pick one or both: either you offer her something you think she wants, or you create a new Truth about only the two of you, replacing any previous ones about the pair of you.


Conditions are your current status, emotionally, socially and physically. If you get a Condition from a move or a Revue, it lasts until a move cures it, or you finish a Revue.

For each Condition you have, you take -1 when rolling for moves where that Condition gets in the way.

For each Condition you have, other people get +1 when rolling for moves where they can use that Condition against you.

A condition applies both literally and as a metaphor. EG, if you're "Looked Down On", that might mean you have a social disadvantage for being at the back of the class. But it could also mean your rival has the physical high ground over you in a duel.

Example Conditions include (but aren't limited to): Tired, Heartbroken, Retreating, Bruised, Confused, Lonely, Disarmed, Stumbling, Blinded, Unpopular, Aloof, Looked Down On, Cold.

You start play with one Condition; pick what.


Connections are a pool of points representing how much you mean to other characters. You track Connections to each other character seperately. EG, you might have 3 Connections to Claudine, 1 to Hikari, and none to anybody else.

After seeing the results of a dice roll, you can spend a Connection to somebody to give them +1 or -1 to a roll, or give +1 or -1 to a roll involving them. When you do, say how your influence helps or hinders.

When the game starts, pick two other characters you have some sort of relationship with. Give one of them a Connection to you, and get a Connection to the other.


Experience tracks how much you're learning and growing. Keep a tally of how much you have. Whenever you have time to reflect, you can spend five accumulated XP to learn something. Pick one of the following; you get +1 to an attribute (up to a maximum of +3), or you learn a new Trick.


Truths are ideas or themes that are, for want of a better word, true. They shape the world around them in subtle but powerful ways. They apply to everybody and everything, all the time; a Truth is for the entire story, not connected to an individual character.

Truths are defined with a simple phrase, no more than one clause. They deal with matters of emotions, ideals, ambitions and relationships.

Whenever a move succeeding would agree with with that Truth, that roll gets +1. Whenever a move succeeding would contradict a Truth, that roll gets -1. The effects of multiple Truths stack.

You collectively begin with a single Truth. Decide between you what it is.


A revue is a struggle for the spotlight, and to shape the narrative of the world. Contestants fight, debate and sing their hearts out so that they can seize the centre stage and embody their ideals.

They are also deeply, deeply surreal, with the set and props responding to the tempo of the fight, morphing to reflect the emotions between the two contestants.

During a Revue, you don't use the six moves on each other: all that is covered by Exchanges instead. You might make moves immediately before or after the revue, though.

A revue takes place between two contestants. When a Revue begins, each contestant states what they're fighting to prove: this becomes their stake in the Revue. 

A Revue is divided into Exchanges, where the contestants exchange words, blows and ideas in their struggle for dominance.

The first step in an exchange is to pick their strategy. Simultaneously, each contestant picks one of the following:

Yield, to give ground and try to recover.
Push, to press forward aggressively.
Dance, to carefully lead your rival.

A Yield beats Push, Push beats Dance, and Dance beats Yield.

They state how they'll use the situation in the fight to their advantage, what they're saying to their rival, and what this means. In each exchange after the first, what you say and how you fight should build on the events of the previous exchange.

Then, work out each contestant's score for the round. For this, add up:
If your strategy beat theirs, add +5 to your score.
Add +1 for each Condition your rival has that you can take advantage of.
Add +3 for each Truth that agrees with you.
Add +1 for each exchange you've already won.
Add your current Connections to her.
Add the result of a 2d6 dice roll.

Whoever's score is highest is the winner of the exchange. If both scores are the same, then the result is a stalemate.

If you win with a Push, inflict a Condition on your rival, and she loses a Connection to you.
If two Pushes tie, each of you inflicts a Condition on the other.
If you win with a Yield, cure yourself of a Condition, and gain a Connection on your rival.
If two Yields tie, each off you cures yourself of a Condition
If you win with a Dance, gain a Connection on your Rival.
If two Dances tie, Each of you gains a Connection on the other.
Regardless of which happens

Most revues will last for three exchanges, or until one contestant relents. If it goes to the end, the overall winner is whoever won the final exchange.

At the end of a Revue, both rivals are cured of all their conditions. Whatever the winner was fighting to prove becomes a new Truth. If she won because her rival relented, however, then if she wishes, the pair may instead decide to create an entirely different truth between them, based on the events of the Revue.


The game is divided into normal fluid play, which everybody can involve themselves in, punctuated by Revues between two characters.

Each episode, a character has one Revue against another character they've not yet had a Revue against. Decide a dramatically appropriate time for it to happen. If there's an odd number of characters, pick somebody to sit out who hasn't yet.

Once Everybody's had their review for the episode, start a new one. An episode may need to last multiple sessions.

Decide how long you want the story to last. After that many episodes, whoever's won the most Revue's wins the auditions. In the event of a tie, run tie-breakers until there's a clear winner.

Whoever wins the Revue gets to pick a single Truth from those that have built up over the course of the story. Fuelled by the stolen spark of everybody else, they make a performance that truly embodies that Truth, and that Truth (and only that Truth) lasts beyond the current story. Reality may warp quite a lot to accommodate this.

If you choose to play more stories in the same continuity, you can. The Truths chosen by every previous winner are added to the game's starting Truths. You can keep the same character you played before, if you want, but her spark has been stolen. Reset her stats to -1/0/+1, and keep only one of her Tricks. Her Connections and Conditions carry over. New characters are created as normal, and then you begin again.


Tricks are unique facets of a character that let them interact with the world (and mechanics) in new ways.

Supporter: You can spend Connections on somebody to give her +1 to her score for an Exchange when she's in a Revue.
Underdog: If you can turn a condition you're suffering from to your advantage, you get +1 to a roll.
Favouritism: If somebody becomes your favourite person, say who and why. Spending your Connections to your favourite person counts double, but you need to spend two Connections to get +1 for everybody else.
Dreamer: When rolling for moves, you get +2 when following an Ambition or benefiting from a Truth, not +1.
Slippery: If your rival's strategy beats yours in a Revue, they only get +3 for it.
Talented: In a Revue, you get +2 for every Exchange you've already won, not +1.
Curious: Whenever somebody rolls a move on you, you can ask "Why did you do that?" - if they answer honestly, they get a Connection to you.
Favourite Tactic: Pick either Yield, Push or Dance to be your favoured tactic. You get +2 to your score when you use that Tactic.
Metafiction Savvy: You can talk to the players by talking to the Giraffe.

You start out with one Trick, and can gain more as the story progresses.


Listen, interpretations may vary, but if you play this game and it's not very very gay, I shake my head at you in disapproval.


You can assume any out-of-character commentary you make is also being made by the Giraffe. To get into the spirit of things, say "I understand" a lot out of character.