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Keeping the Lights On is a 13 page rpg about trying to keep a synagogue running despite financial problems and the overall state of the world. It's got lovely art, easy-to-read layout, and it's extremely well-worded. Its writing always feels completely focused and present, never ungrounded.

It's also very direct with its thematic ties to Hanukkah, and it takes place during Hanukkah 2019. This can be heavy, and the game uses a goals section instead of a safety section to keep players pointed towards good practices, rather than simply away from bad ones.

Equipment-wise, Keeping the Lights On is played with matches and a dreidel (which you could swap for a d4,) and it has an almost ritual feel in places. The matches represent how close your character is to burnout, and the dreidel determines whether you lose matches to a collective pot, or gain matches from the pot.

Mechanically, though, the danger of burnout isn't particularly strong. Even though matches do sometimes get consumed during play, because the game is played over the course of eight days or scenes, one player would have to spin very badly *and* set the scene at least four times in order to lose all of their matches. This is sort of unfortunate, because the game has a mechanic for helping out players who have run out of matches, and it makes for a really strong narrative beat.

Lights On isn't short on cool design, though, and one particular standout is character creation, which among other things has you describe what your character's hands look like. I don't think I've seen "show, don't tell" applied so well to character creation before, and this little beat hits hard.

Overall, this is kind of a beautiful game. It has an extremely realistic tone, and that's not usually something I look for, but it surprised me. If you like games about community, religion, cooperation, or if you like games that are just made really, really well, check this one out.


Minor Notes:

-An optional modification might be to have the person setting a scene contribute a match to the pot *before* spinning the dreidel. This way there's stronger odds that matches will build up in the pot, and burnout is a more present danger.

-If you roll to collect half the matches in the pot, do you round up or down on odd numbers?