Sunday, June 30, 2019

Gaj'Uth the Three-Headed Elephant

Following up on this post, here's more of Gaj'Uth. Now, this piece is actually part of a larger piece of cover art for the Dead Wizards RPG I am writing (I don't know when I will be finished, but hopefully this year).

This whole project was born out of a desire to make a pulp sword and sorcery game. Not a narrative game in the strictest sense, but one with more narrative sensibilities than OSR games in general. The system started out as a pure riff on OD&D and I ran a playtest or two with that version a few years ago. But it has morphed quite a bit since then. The second iteration used the descending AC to-hit tables as the primary "core" mechanic, which I still believe is a really cool idea... but I ditched that idea for Dead Wizards and am now working toward an original system that bears some OSR artifacts (there is a saving throw, you use d20 rolls vs. a target).

But the whole point was to make a sword and sorcery game in which you "play through a pulp yarn". The basic unit of adventure role-playing is the adventure itself and in DW that unit is called a yarn. It's a story and it emerges from game play. It's really important to take in that sentence and understand what I mean. You would play this game as a game and whatever kind of lucid, weird, disjointed, harmonious, violent, beautiful, dreamy, or fucked up series of events that emerge from it would be the yarn, or story, that you created. I am not saying this is a "storytelling game" in the sense that many people mean that phrase. It is going to be a game with a game master (I use the term "Judge" because it's the best term - fight me if you want) and while the players do have a lot of impact on their world it is not a shared storytelling game in the strong narrative sense that you'd get from most story games. It's an adventure game with strong narrative flair, not a story game... just to be clear.

Once you complete your yarn by dealing with your characters' needs, you could continue playing more yarns with the same characters or not. I'm designing the system so that it isn't zero-to-hero. Like in most heroic fantasy stories, the "heroes" begin as larger-than-life figures. They are already better than most people. So there isn't any need for balancing or a sense of scale, mostly. This is the kind of game you could run fairly quickly with low prep, depending on how comfortable you are with being creative and judging on the fly. I cringe a little at using the term, but it's a fairly "rules lite" game.

I'll post more soon about the setting and the game system.

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