Where’s My Preview?
I’ve got about 85% of it written, roughly. I have no idea what that comes out to in terms of pages, because I’m a little adrift in the graphic design department. But it does mean progress is being made and this 85% includes the Great Pronoun Shift of 2011, a necessary and laborious task.
How Do You Suggest I Spend My Time Waiting For This?
Adventuring! Get thee to the Unstore and check out Simon Carryer’s sword & sorcery game: On Mighty Thews. And then check out the Pulpy Primer he put up for free over here. Actually, it doesn’t matter the order, just buy the game and play it.
Okay, Fine, We’ll Be Off Adventuring While You Toil Away; But Throw Us a Sword Without Master Bone Here.
Okay, but seriously, just a bone. While whittling away at the text, I’ve also had the opportunity to play some Sw/oM with fellow game designers Emily Care Boss, Robert Bohl, and Joshua A.C. Newman. We’ve been testing out the novella rules.
Swords very specifically focuses on short-form fiction, both because most of its inspiration comes from a tradition of short stories and because the short story is unequivocally the pinnacle of fiction. To that end, every Sw/oM game should take only a few hours and contain a complete story arc, thus allowing you to complete your fiction in one sitting. But not every short story is short.
The novella dips into a slightly longer form that, conceivably, could be finished in a single sitting, but not without the threat of exhaustion. Especially in the case of a game like Sw/oM. So to accommodate those without the stamina, without the iron fortitude required to game for 6 to 12 hours–those lesser gamers among us–Sw/oM needs rules that let us carry the themes and threads of part of the story through our day-to-day reality and back into the world of Swords unbroken for the next part of the story. These rules are called the Campaigns.
Campaigns belong to a category of rule that also includes Styles and Rituals. These are agreements made by all the players to apply the rest of the rules a certain way or to ensure specific elements make it into the fiction. How they differ from one another is largely a function of scale.
- A Ritual is something that takes place in the heat of the moment, during the game. It’s a way of informing your fellow players that you’re looking to handle something a certain way and giving them the tools to support that. For example, if I say I’m invoking the Ritual of the Long Spell, I’m telling my fellow players that my rogue is working on something that will deal with our current foe, but it’ll take some time. The Overplayer should focus our enemy on my rogue, my fellow Rogue Players should focus on keeping that enemy away from me, and when we’re ready to end this, hand me the dice.
- A Style involves an entire game session, which often invoke a series of Rituals. Tonight, we’ll be playing with the Intrigue Style, which means that whenever we have a Discovery Phase, that phase cannot end unless we’ve revealed a hidden agenda or introduced someone with one.
- A Campaign is a specific series of Styles (and Rituals) that are laid out for each session in the Campaign. Do not let the name fool you. They’re meant to be short compared to what we’d traditionally think of as a roleplaying game campaign. Two or three sessions worth, mostly. By way of example, on Monday night we played the second session of a trilogy which we all agreed should be a bit of a downbeat. So before we started playing we agreed that at some point before the story ended one of them had to be maim, lose something they love, or otherwise be permanently altered. A downbeat was had, as our drive towards this goal broke most of our rogues and left them imprisoned and worse.