The door opens, revealing a lavish hospital room filled with bouquets of beautiful flowers opens. Juliana Martina Ventura sweeps inside with a box clutched to her chest. She begins to move towards the bed where Don Hugo Cuevas lies comatose, but a hand catches her elbow- the hand of the dashing Cruz Ruperto Santiago.
“Juliana, I didn’t think you’d dare show your face here after what you did,” spits her lover, his handsome face twisted in pain.
“Cruz this isn’t what you think—” she begins to respond, but he shouts out, “No! Enough lies! If the past year has meant anything, tell me why!”
A shot rings out, the now empty box drops to the floor, and Juliana holds the smoking gun in shaking hands. “I’m sorry,” she gasps out tears in her eyes, “You were never supposed to be part of this.”
She steps away from the collapsing Cruz, turning her gun on the bed. “Now we finish this.” She pulls back the curtain…but Don Hugo is gone.
Pasión de las Pasiones is a telenovela tabletop roleplaying game designed by me, Brandon Leon Gambetta! The game was first published by Magpie Games in unfinished, ashcan form in November of 2017, and I’ve been working on it ever since, refining mechanics and polishing ideas until it was ready for the spotlight!
Pasión de las Pasiones is a game of passion, drama, secrets, delights, and heated conflict. In Pasión de las Pasiones, you and your friends will play out the stories of the greatest telenovela ever to air—a telenovela called, of course, Pasión de las Pasiones. You won’t be playing the actors, directors, or camera crew; instead, you’ll be playing a scheming and dangerous character like El Gemelo, or you’ll be playing an innocent character, striving for love, like La Empleada. You’ll play through stories with dramatic reveals, explosive confrontations, evil twins, and more!
Pasión de las Pasiones is a Powered by the Apocalypse game, drawing on game techniques and mechanics from games like Apocalypse World, Monsterhearts, and Masks: A New Generation. When your character takes an action that fits a move, the move tells you what happens in the story or you roll two six-sided dice to find out. The moves in Pasión provide their own system geared towards melodrama, excitement, and romance.
Pasión de las Pasiones creates stories like those of Marimar, La Usurpadora, or Cuna de Lobos, but you don’t have to be familiar with telenovelas to play and have a great time! The game will ensure that you’re kept on track while creating your own telenovela, a show of such quality that it will go down in the annals of television history!
Here’s some explanation of the nature of telenovelas and how they play into RPGs, taken from the already-written text of Chapter 2 of the Pasión de las Pasiones corebook!
Telenovelas are a worldwide cultural phenomenon. Just for some numbers, when Yo Soy Betty, La Fea relaunched in the United States in 2009 after its original Colombian run, over one million viewers tuned in. The BBC reported in 2006 that hundreds of millions of people globally watch telenovelas daily.
Telenovelas are often picked up by the whole family, everyone sitting down to keep up with the latest wild turns. There’s something for everyone; romance, violence, intrigue, betrayal. It’s not unusual for entire families to sit down to watch together. Given telenovelas’ rapid production, this audience is important and can have an effect on how stories go; a ten year long urban legend surrounding telenovelas described a writer granting a divorce to a leading character after being threatened by protesters.
So what are these stories going to be? What makes a telenovela different from an American soap opera or British television drama? And if you aren’t familiar with telenovelas, how can you bring them to life at your table?
Telenovelas are usually deeply involved stories filled with twists and turns, lies and deceit, and a constant challenge to the watchers understanding of the truth. They keep you on your toes for the next big reveal and keep the story moving quickly. Every episode can feel like a finale and the characters are set to tie your heart in with their every desire. Each character is a piece in a rapidly evolving puzzle, but telenovelas help the audience to keep up by using strongly archetypical characters. They show us quickly who is who and connect them to a legacy of other characters with the same role, then throw things into chaos, deceit, and troubles that all lead to an ending that pays back what they’ve done. The evil are punished, those who sacrifice are rewarded, and true love can bloom.
Pasión de las Pasiones has all of the tools, mechanics, and advice you need to promote you making your ultimate telenovela. The characters are structured to help you find your role in the story quickly and to perform it reliably. The playsets give you drama right from the beginning and the relationships promise twists. From session one, you’ll be gasping in surprise and shouting for joy.
Just like if you were watching a telenovela.
Pasión de las Pasiones is a tabletop roleplaying game for 3-5 players and one Gamemaster. Pasión easily plays in one-shots of high-tension dramatic action, or in campaign long arcs representing a full season of the TV show.
Pasión is a Powered by the Apocalypse game with moves that help us resolve moments of tension. Moves almost always come with a trigger and an effect. When a player character triggers a move by taking the appropriate action, like striking out with voice or violence or demanding what you deserve, then you’ll go to the dice to find out what happens next!
In Pasión de las Pasiones, each player has their own unique playbook for their character. A playbook is a character sheet with mechanical effects and benefits for that character, and a path to a particular archetype of telenovela character.
There are six playbooks in the base game of Pasión de las Pasiones. They are:
One of the main elements to Pasión de las Pasiones is the playset, a special set of options, choices, questions, inspirations, and rules that helps you create the TV show for your table. Every game of Pasión uses one playset as the basis for your game, telling you about the particulars of your particular show. Maybe it’s set in a hotel, and it’s been running for 70 episodes, now entering an arc where the deed to the hotel is up for grabs! Maybe it’s set in a restaurant and it’s a far younger show—one where the head chef has just turned up dead!
Each playset comes with plenty of tools to support the game, including questions to ask the PCs when setting up your particular version of the playset, details and motifs to call attention to during play, locations for setting scenes, and NPCs to populate the playset. What’s more, those NPCs each come with their own hooks and advantages. A PC can “take control” of an NPC by fulfilling their hook, pulling the NPC onto their own side in conflicts—for instance, La Belleza might fulfill the maitre de’s hook by showing them a copy of the hotel deed with La Belleza’s own name upon it! Once a PC has control of an NPC, they get to benefit from that NPC’s advantage—so La Belleza can now ask the maitre de to keep an eye on other characters and give her a call whenever they go into someone else’s hotel room!
Add to this a few extra special moves for each playset, and you’ve got a great recipe for a fantastic game of Pasión de las Pasiones!
Pasión de las Pasiones will definitely support exciting and explosive one-shot games, letting you play through single drama-filled episodes of the telenovela. But the game is also designed to be played for a full season of the same telenovela, allowing the characters to hatch schemes and follow them through, to change, to die and return with amnesia, and more!
Every playbook comes with a set of “Last Time On” options that help you fill in additional episodes and dramatic scenes and moments of the TV show—as if you were watching a “Last Time On” recap at the beginning of a new episode, but the events weren’t always actually shown last time! Once the PCs have used up all their options, then it means the finale of the season is upon the show, and it’s time for the numerous plot lines, plans, and conflicts of the characters to come to a head. The game gives tools and guidance to support you the whole way through the season, including that final climactic episode!
Every playbook in Pasión de las Pasiones comes with its own set of 4 conditions, like Lustful, Obsessed, Zealous, Lovelorn, Defensive, and Raging. No two playbooks have the exact same spread of conditions! Sometimes during the game, things will happen and you’ll have to mark one of your character’s conditions, indicating that you’re now in the throes of that intense emotion. You’ll get a +1 on one move and a -2 on another move as a result of the condition’s effects—so while you’re Raging, you might get +1 to strike out with voice or violence, but -2 to spot something out of place!
What’s more, these conditions stack—so if you have the right combination of conditions, you might wind up particularly good at some moves, and downright dreadful at others! In general, the more conditions you have marked, the more “unbalanced” your character becomes mechanically—the more they are driven to pursue dramatic actions they’re good at, and the more they cause tremendous trouble by taking actions they’re penalized for!
And finally, when all your conditions are filled but some other mechanical effect makes you mark another, you have a meltdown! Each playbook has its own meltdown text, describing exactly what happens when it goes into meltdown, and how that character can come back out of meltdown.
The result? A system that gives characters reason to throw themselves wholeheartedly and emotionally into conflicts, to drive to greater and greater heights of melodrama, until they reach their breaking point and cause all manner of trouble, leading to all new conflicts. A perfect recipe for an endlessly churn of dramatic interpersonal storytelling!