Three things. Yes, Panty Explosion Perfect is the title of an RPG. Yes, I’m worried about the kind of traffic that title might generate. No, as far as I can tell, the RPG’s title has little to nothing to do with the RPG itself…
That said, despite the title, P.E.P. (by atarashi games) is an intriguing little game. It’s a little digest-style book, about 50 pages, has examples of play in the form of comic strips, and it is about Japanese schoolgirls killing demons (who are also possibly psychic. The schoolgirls, not the demons…)
It’s a game that could be said to fall into the category of “FATE-lite” but I find that the mechanics don’t really bug me the way most FATE-style games do. Characters are made up of a name, 2 Details, a choice of Friend and Rival, and a Goal. In a way, there is also a relation to Fiasco here. In fact, if FATE and Fiasco had a baby, it might be P.E.P. but that starts to get really weird again.
Part of the Fiasco similarity stems from the fact that each game session revolves around a set number of scenes — 2 for each character. And effectively, it’s an almost diceless game. I say almost because most play simply goes on with each PC working through one of their scenes (or being involved in the scene of another PC) and they can simply declare what they are doing until… someone issues a challenge. The GM (called the Superintendent) and PC’s rival can declare challenges and force a player to roll for something. After rolling — and here’s where the narrative control bit comes in — if you succeed, your Friend determines what the outcome is. If you fail, your rival narrates the outcome. Oh, and your roll is harder or easier based on your popularity… go figure.
Play proceeds through the scenes, with challenges being called out, until the girls meet the Demon. At the heart of each session of P.E.P. is a confrontation with the Demon, the ultimate challenge. Players are working to achieve their character’s goal for the session (which can change every session) and to defeat the demon! Also, you can decide at any point to out yourself with a use of your PSYCHIC POWERS!
I’m probably not doing it justice — because the whole psychic schoolgirls genre is pretty lost on me — but from the point of view of admiring the simplicity and yet the completeness and interesting quirkiness of the rules set, I’m very impressed. To cram such an interesting game into such a slim book, to give it an interesting twist, and to marry concepts from two other games I’m not as fond of and have the whole come out as a game I’m actually interested in playing (despite the psychic schoolgirls) is amazing.
Ultimately, if you are a fan of simple but interesting rules, psychic schoolgirls, or panty explosions, this is probably a game you should check out. If you are interested in all three? Then this is exactly the game you have been waiting for. All kidding aside, it’s a very well-written game with cool, super-easy mechanics, an interesting twist on the limited session and narrative control, and it could easily be adapted beyond psychic demon-killing schoolgirls. I give it a 5 out of 5.