To my knowledge, until recently in role-playing games there was a strict and clear division of powers between players and the Game Master. The player controlled their character, GM – the rest of the world. In exceptional situations, the GM could even control the player’s character, e.g. when the character was possessed / charmed / hypnotized, etc.
For some time (at least since the Apocalypse World), however, a different tendency can be observed, especially in narrative systems. They encourage the GM to delegate some of their competences to players.
The pandemic has largely thwarted my RPG plans for 2020. It doesn’t mean that I didn’t play anything – quite the opposite! In this post, I describe what I played and ran in the past year, and also share my new idea on how to successfully launch a RPG campaign.
Legacy: Life Among the Ruins, the subject of the second part of this cycle, has many followers – games from the Worlds of Legacy series. One of them is Worldfall, a game about building a colony on a planet that is also an intelligent, conscious being. The rulebook is only 66 pages long and is based on the assumption that the players know the Legacy rules. The author, Katherine Cross, points to Star Trek, Eclipse Phase and Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri as sources of inspiration. Personally, I also think of Isaac Asimov’s “Nemesis” and “Cibola Burn“, the fourth volume of the Expanse series.
Legacy: Life Among the Ruins (2nd Edition from 2018) (hereinafter “Legacy”) is a post-apo game by UFO Press. The authors mention as sources of inspiration other role-playing games (of course Apocalypse World, but also Burning Wheel), video games (Fallout, S.T.A.L.K.E.R.), movies (Mad Max) and literature (A Canticle for Leibowitz).
Most of the role-playing games I know are based on the assumption that players take on the role of heroes (adventurers, investigators, etc.) and the gameplay should focus on these heroes. The game settings contain a wide variety of dynasties, guilds, gangs and other organizations, but their roles are usually purely narrative. In this three-part series of posts, I will discuss a few systems in which organizations also play an important role at the level of game mechanics, i.e. the rules of the game. You will find two fantasy games, one post-apo and one sci-fi.
2019 was the third year in a row of my intensive development in the field of role-playing games. Slightly smaller number of sessions than in 2018 was more than compensated for by their (usually) very high quality.
I also took part in RPG contests for the first time. “The Awakening of Malta” did not win the hearts of the Jury of the Quentin contest for best RPG scenario. “Rotunda of Seasonus”, which I created together with Tomasz Misterka, was more lucky and won the third award in the contest for best RPG dungeon. I plan to translate both works into English and publish them here.
Role-playing games (RPGs) are very diverse. Among them, two large groups can be distinguished: simulative and narrative systems. Not every RPG can be easily attributed into one of those groups. In this text I will describe the differences between them.
On June 23, 2019 I played a role-playing game called Dogs in the Vineyard, created by D. Vincent Baker. I recommend this review of the game. In short, players re-enact so-called Dogs, members of the quasi-Mormon quasi-Inquisition in setting inspired by the State of Deseret in the 1840s, with quite subtle fantasy elements.
On April 14, 2019, I played role-playing game called The Sword, the Crown and the Unspeakable Power, abbreviated SCUP. The session entitled “Abandoned” appealed to me so much that I decided to describe it here, although so far I only published reports from sessions when I was a Game Master, not a player.
Interestingly, a significant part of the materials needed for the game, including descriptions of all character classes, is available for free on the authors’ website.