AquaVertigo Publishing

Passion Is Half the Battle

This will be the second time I’m referencing The Indie RPG Newsletter <>, which discusses great things about Indie games. Thomas, we should talk, am I right?

In this post, I take another pause from process to share a quick hack idea.

Screen shot from The Ballad of G.I. Joe,

“#165: 5 Reasons Why Pasion de la Pasiones Is Real Good”

I agree with this statement, even though I haven’t finished reading my copy of Brandon Leon-Gambetta’s game and I haven’t played yet. The book as written is inspiring my mind to play without “playing it” in this space. Games that cause this reaction are wonderful because they create more depth than what’s on the pages. Returning to some of the main points Thomas brings up for later comparison:

  • Getting on the Same Page Fast
  • Rolling with Questions
  • Accuse Someone of Lying
  • Last Time On
  • Your Characters Don’t Really Die

General Drama

However, since I’ve never watched actual telenovelas, my brain latches on to what it can and spins on, building on what it can find from long ago.

One of which was during my childhood days, when I was raised in a home where my mother watched daytime soap operas. The one I most recall being in the house was General Hospital. This was in the heyday of Luke and Laura. I can’t recall many details, but it was a big deal—trust me!

Screen shot from General Hospital,

Another was the dawn of not just Saturday morning but also afternoon (i.e., after school got out), cartoons as well as long commercials for toys, such as G.I. Joe, Transformers, and so many more.

What does this have to do with soap operas or telenovelas? I’m so glad you asked, because there were episodes in some shows that hinted at, if not actually displayed, soap opera tendencies, especially in G.I. Joe, and more directly with the baddies of Cobra.

Screen shot from G.I. Joe animated series, The Pyramid of Darkness: Part 5 – Knotting Cobra’s Coils

I picked up on those threads I had earlier encountered from General Hospital and later on with evening shows such as St. Elsewhere, where stories with characters who made interesting choices mattered to me and those around me who watched. Sure, there was melodrama and odd twists, but when people were acting most like people, often contradictory or against their best interests, it was golden.

So we return to Pasion de las Pasiones of stories about people acting as people with the most emotion they can muster, and as I review the playbooks, my mind returns to a silly parody video linked here:

And of course, that leads me to wonder about matching up Cobra characters to the playbooks in Pasion de las Pasiones. Here are my gut-instinct choices, even though there could be arguments for changes based on how much certain questions or moves are left as is:

  • La Belleza -> The Mask (Zartan), based on appearance and sneaky behavior
  • El Caballero -> The Hand (Destro), based on handling things directly and planning
  • La Dona -> The Voice (The Baroness), based on manipulating others and scheming
  • La Empleada -> The Shadow (Storm Shadow), based on indirect action and searching for something missing
  • El Gemelo -> The Eyes (Tomax and Xamot), based on the twin-thing, obviously, and how you could play with and against each other with nearly endless resources
  • El Jefe -> The Face (Cobra Commander), based on starting with power and demanding all head their needs

Adapting for VENOM (COBRA): A Melodramatic Villainous Romance

  • Getting on the Same Page Fast: Opening credits with highlights demonstrating what kind of people these are through description and montage
  • Rolling with Questions: These would need to be tweaked but work well otherwise
  • Accuse Someone of Lying: Could be replaced with something like Blaming Another for Failure as a move
  • Last Time On: This would work well as is too, even if you are doing one-shots
  • Your Characters Don’t Really Die: This is more or less the same.

Keep the focus on the PC’s plans; how they are encouraged and thwarted by one another, along with the off-screen opposition (G.I. Joe).

Use safety tools and check in to ensure everyone is good with baddies flirting.

Cliffhangers and flashbacks are your allies to raise tension and try to outmaneuver the opposition.

Use ridiculous names for missions and projects, such as “The Hexagon of Desire.”

Have a great time and let me know how it goes if you give this a try!


DMK, the founder of AquaVertigo, is a creatively curious artist, author, designer, educator, entrepreneur, and organizer based in the Midwest, USA.

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