Have you ever wanted to be the star of your own television show? To find true love in the most unlikely of places? To prove yourself worthy of adoration and respect? To be the most beautiful girl (or boy, or anything else) at the ball? If so, Bradon Leon-Gambetta’s tabletop roleplaying game Pasion de las Pasiones might just be the game for you.
The Story of Pasion de las Pasiones
Pasion de las Pasiones is a storytelling rpg wherein you wrap yourself in glamour, don a dramatic persona, and take on the life of a character in a telenovela. These iconic Latin soap operas are known for their attractive stars, dramatic twists, and intense plot lines. Usually, they revolve around family, romance, and identity, although sometimes more combative or dangerous forces do come into play.
Since Pasion doesn’t have a specific setting, you can explore the world of your favorite telenovelas, create your own, or follow one of the pre-written modules that the book provides. Whichever you go with, strap your players in for a wild ride as they attempt to find true love, battle each other for social dominance, and unravel the convoluted secrets that hide behind nearly every social interaction.
The Gameplay of Pasion de las Pasiones
The actual gameplay of Pasion is fairly quick to learn. It’s also relatively short. A typical “campaign” is expected to go for 8-12 sessions, each an ‘episode’ of the ‘season’. This makes for a streamlined game with relatively few side quests and an enclosed world. After all, this is a game about relationships. An intimate close up is far more suitable for these characters than a massive, sprawling world would be.
Once they’ve made their characters, your players will each have a unique goal to pursue – to find true love, to come out on top of a family dispute, to find their real parentage, or some other kind of personal fulfillment. Sometimes they’ll want to work together with other players to achieve these goals, and sometimes they’ll fight against each other. Usually this won’t come down to violence, though a well-placed threat won’t be entirely out of the picture.
Character creation is super quick. All you’ll need to do is select a Playbook, pin down your character description, and choose which Playbook Moves (special abilities that only your character will have) you want. Descriptions and Playbook Moves are dependent upon which Playbook you choose, so pick wisely – each is a different telenovela archetype.
- La Belleza, the romantic heroine who draws everyone’s attention.
- El Caballero, the male lead who takes action and solves problems.
- La Dona, the powerful matriarch who handles problems behind the scenes.
- La Empleada, the innocent dreamer who longs for a happy ending.
- El Gemelo, the evil twin who desires the benefits of their sibling’s life.
- El Jefe, the domineering patriarch who demands and commands authority.
Gameplay and Mechanics
The game uses the Powered by the Apocalypse (PbtA) system of gameplay. Whenever you attempt a Move (either a Basic Move, Peripheral Move, or a special Playbook Move), you roll 2d6. On a 6- you miss, and fail the roll. On a 7-9, you get a weak hit, and succeed with caveats (such as complications that might impact the story down the line). On a 10+ you get a strong hit, and succeed without caveats.
Sometimes you’ll use your Playbook Moves, of course, but most of the time you’ll be using the Basic Moves, as listed below:
- Act with Desperation
- Accuse Someone of Lying
- Demand What You Deserve
- Express Your Love Passionately
- Manipulate a Superior
- Process Your Feelings Out Loud
- Spot Something Out of Place
- Strike Out With Voice or Violence
You might even, in cases of extreme drama, need to use Peripheral Moves:
- Flashback to Preparations
- Reveal a Shocking Truth
- Face Certain Death
The Atmosphere of Pasion de las Pasiones
As you can tell from the types of Moves that the game allows you to take, the atmosphere of Pasion de las Pasiones is one of heightened emotion, over the top theatrics, and elaborate drama. This means that the game can take a couple of different tones.
For some people, it can take a very serious, dramatic turn. Self-serious players can put their all into the connections of their characters to craft a story that really touches on human emotion and circumstance. Romance, personal fulfillment, and interpersonal connections can really be explored with the game’s emphasis on the down-to-earth tropes of the genre.
For others, though, it can be extremely silly. Players who want something more lighthearted can easily make this a parody of the genre, and lean into the overacting, scene-chewing stereotypes that make telenovelas infamous. The dramatic turns can be not just unexpected, but wildly unbelievable, and the characters as over-the-top as you can possibly make them.
Pasion de las Pasiones’ History and Availability
Pasion was funded through Kickstarter in February of 2020, and was fully published by Magpie Games in July 2023. You can currently buy it in PDF, hardcover, or softcover from DriveThruRPG or Magpie Games’ website. While you’re there, you can also pick up a deck of NPC cards and custom dice!
An expansion, titled Tormentas del Corazon, has been announced via both the Kickstarter and Magpie website, but has no ETA yet.
Our Thoughts on Pasion de las Pasiones
Pasion is a perfect game for the dramatic, theatrical group of friends. If you live for gossip, thrive on social intrigue, and long to express yourself as passionately as you possibly can, it gives you the chance to live out those dreams, and be the star of your own show (with your friends, of course, starring equally beside you).
However, if you err on the side of introversion and calculation in your roleplaying, you might want to give it a miss. While I thoroughly enjoyed GMing it for a group who did not take it too seriously, I would have found it overwhelming to play. Personal conflict, dramatic roleplay, and deep immersion are all features of the game – which are great for those who like them, but big turn offs for those who don’t, or who find social conflict difficult and exhausting.
If you love telenovelas, give this game a go! But if you want something a little more sedate, don’t feel bad about skipping it.
Have you ever played Pasion de las Pasiones? How did it go? What story did you wind up telling? Let us know in the comments below!