As I continue developing my diceless RPG I hit a snag… one that is a personal hobgoblin of mine. So I went looking for inspiration.
The Snag: PC Gear.*
*This post takes a sudden sharp turn below… skip down near the bottom for some bigger questions if you aren’t interested in my discussion of the Everway RPG… otherwise.
Looking about: I took my copy of Everway down off the shelf and wandered through it again. This, other than Amber, was my primary source for learning to love diceless play. And my rereading of the game was not disappointing. Everway is a crazy game stuck somewhere between Magic: the Gathering (I’m talking about setting here), Amber, and Planescape. Everything is mythic — it almost feels like Dreamtime when you read through the books.
Reading Everway again reminded me of how profound an influence it had on my thinking at one time — both leading me to some ideas and turning me off to others. The most stunning thing I rediscovered as I worked through the books was that the writing in Everway is as much a “primer to running a story-based-game” as it is a game in its own right. The book has tips and play advice on every page — with lots of examples and suggestions and gentle prodding that “maybe this works best.” The game also presents some interesting relativistic attitudes about gaming… it even discusses the three methods it provides for resolving actions in terms of what a gamemaster might say when discussing why they use or don’t use certain choices.
But like so many of these type of discussions it rarely comes down in the middle — representing the two extremes as if that’s what you should expect at a gaming table.
You know what Everway doesn’t really discuss though? The place of gear in action resolution in a diceless story-type game. Everway pretty much skirts the idea of Gear altogether. Just to be clear, what I mean by Gear is weapons, armor, tools of the trade — not bedrolls and ten-foot poles. And reading the action examples don’t really go very far in helping to inspire me — apparently no one wears armor (though shields do pop up), weapons aren’t really important, etc. And since I’m working on a more traditional fantasy game (in the sense that Combat — while not always the best option — is an option and needs to be treated well in game terms) I feel that I have to give weapons and armor a fair shake at least.
But I’ve been really bummed lately about the whole gaming thing. I mean, I’m running 1.5 games (one is just a playtest group) and I’m in a game again — which is really nice — but I’m bummed out by the “argument” I’ve been reading about the Quantum Ogre and this whole question of agency in games Some relevant links here and here. I’m still in debate about diving into this argument myself. I feel really strongly about it, on several levels, but I don’t know that I have the right things to offer when it comes to the question at hand…
So I’m going to leave you with this tidbit from Everway and I’m curious what readers might have to say about it…
Here’s a sample bit of the BBG from the sample adventure in Everway — what reaction do you have to this:
Description: The Awakener embodies death, but he is not evil. He regards the death of others to be a trivial matter, but he does not kill needlessly. To characters who treat him with respect, he is honorable and tolerant. Those who attack him or try his patience though, are met with a few snaps of his fingers. He may snap his fingers only once in order to weaken all those around him and to demonstrate his power. Play him as a reasonable but extremely powerful entity, someone the heroes can deal with but not defeat or ignore.
–Everway Gamemastering Guide, 32
Think about that description… would you include this guy in your games? Is he “fair” to the players? Is the GM on a power trip when using this guy? What good does it do to put things in the game PCs are completely gonna get stomped by? And other questions…
Maybe I’ll pick up with that thought tomorrow. Check back.
And as always, thanks for reading.