Archive for July 3rd, 2008

Roll Up for the Mystery Tour

2008 Jul 3

I forgot one important point of this sage game, which keeps it from being a ‘mystery tour’ where players try to guess the right way to be railroaded.

Everything that the players do is somehow part of solving the problem. It’s up to the problem’s player and the sage to figure out exactly how. This is Gandalf saying, “Gollum will have some part to play, for good or ill, before the end.” Which means that he’s still trying to figure out how to make sense of all this weird stuff the hobbits are doing.

EDIT: And if you combine these past three posts with Otherkind Dice, then you have a full game. Enjoy!

Gandalf & Sauron’s Plot

2008 Jul 3

So here’s the structure in my mind, though the rules I have no clue about.

One player plays the problem. The dark lord Sauron is going to take over all of Middle Earth. The Machines are imprisoning human beings within The Matrix. England is without a king. That kind of thing.

Another player plays the sage. Gandalf. Morpheus. Merlin.

There is a secret plot between the problem’s player and the sage’s player, who determine how the world can be set right again. They determine this between themselves and don’t tell any of the other players. Their shared goal in the game is to work together to trick the other players’ characters into unknowingly setting the world right.

So imagine this conversation between Gandalf and Sauron.

GANDALF: Okay, so we need to get the hobbits to take the One Ring all the way to Mordor and throw it into the fires of Mount Doom.

SAURON: Agreed, but how the hell do we do that?

GANDALF: Okay, well. Let’s say I recruited one of the hobbit’s uncles into a ridiculous escapade in which I happened to more or less ensure that the One Ring came into his possession, and he passed it down to his nephew.

SAURON: That’s cool, but we need to make sure the hobbits carry it to Mordor and don’t just give it to someone much more competent. Hmm, how about we make the different factions in the world all vying for control of the One Ring, so the hobbits are the only neutral ones that can be trusted with the task? So we can trick them into volunteering for the job.

GANDALF: Splendid. And then one of their traveling companions can try to take the Ring from them, so the hobbits are forced to go it alone!

So, after every X number of scenes, Sauron & Gandalf would sneak off to plan a bit, figuring out how to respond to what the players did. And, during that time, the players would talk together and try to figure out what the hell they were supposed to be doing to fix the world.

In the end, everybody wins when the characters finally stumble into glory, when it would have been so much easier if the sage had simply told them what to do in the first place or done it themselves. But, of course, that’s not what being a sage is about. That’s not any fun at all.

Go to the Ant, You Lazybones

2008 Jul 3

Shreyas just called me to ask why there isn’t a roleplaying game for Onmyoji-style stories, because he occasionally does random things like that.

It reminded me of this thing that my brother did at Baptist Youth Camp, our heretical summer camp for gay-loving southern Baptists. His group was given Proverbs 6:6 and asked to make a skit to use in our daily worship service. The only problem was that Proverbs 6:6 is (in the translation they used), “Go to the ant, you lazybones; heed his ways and be wise.” Leigh, of course, chose to play the Great and All-Knowing Ant, a kind of guru-take on the Wizard of Oz, seated on a pile of chairs or maybe the shoulders of youth leaders. I just remember him being high up in the air. And the other character in the skit came to seek his advice.

The point of this is that there’s a niche for a game in which one player plays the sage and the other players play people coming to seek help, just like the role of the spiritualist in Onmyoji or Merlin in The Sword in the Stone or even Achilles after he’s retired from fighting at Troy and the Greeks start losing. The point would be that only the sage knows how to do whatever needs to be done, but they can’t actually accomplish it themselves without the assistance of the people coming to seek them out. That could be a very cool dynamic for a game, I suspect, as long as the sage had a very clear non-GM role.