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My entry to +David Schirduan's 200 Word game challenge. 
Inspired by and an add-on for +Ben Lehman's A better person.
https://plus.google.com/u/0/117301572585814320386/posts

Budget

A live action, close-to-home game that can be played in public.

Play solo or with two players.

Sit down, alone or with a friend over tea or beverage of your choice. And talk about where you've been putting your energy lately--projects, worries, work, hopes, loves, etc. Use colored paper to represent each, or jot down notes about the balance between them. 

Put that aside, then set down how much energy/time you'd ideally like to devote your time to. If you could adjust where you're putting your energy, what would you spend it on? You may set aside categories, or add new ones. 

Drink your tea, and talk about other things. Take the notes home and take a look at them when you feel like you're out of balance, or in moments when you feel centered and in a good groove.

Campaign: 
Every so often, with your friend or alone, take some time to do this again. Compare it with your past answers. 

Keep doing this periodically, so long as it helps you feel closer to finding balance. If it becomes a burden stop. When you feel in balance, let it go.

**
With thanks to +Meguey Baker for her Wishing Games, +Jackson Tegu for Temper, +J. Walton for Do-Over, Ben for A better person and +Matthijs Holter for Deal.
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This is great.
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+Bundle of Holding: *Indie Spring Festival, * Spione & the Power of Tabletop Freeform Design
As the deadline looms, the final game I'll spotlight as part of the Indie Spring Festival (https://bundleofholding.com/presents/SpringFestival) is +Ron Edwards' Spione (http://adept-press.com/story-now-series/spione/).  _Spione_ is one of the earliest written of the games in the bundle and in many ways was a precursor of the others and the movement in game design they represent. This game is a capstone to the collection and embodies recurring themes seen in the whole group. These games exemplify the structures that can make tabletop freeform a powerful and elegant form of design. 

*_The goal is for the reader to arrive at his or her fictional Berlin, in
two ways: (1) using it to create spy-stories of one’s own (the Story
Now part, described in the final part of this book) and (2) arriving at
perhaps new or at least reflective thoughts about the Cold War and
its relationship to our lives today.*_
--From Spione, Ch. 1: Introduction

Spione is a game of cold-war spies and intrigue written by the creator of influential indie classics such as Sorcerer and Trollbabe. Spione uses a rules-lite, structured system to bring you to confront the personal price and ethical cost of spying, that caps off our collection. The first and largest portion of Spione the book is an engrossing summary of the key organizations and important players of the Cold War, as well as discussion of the English language fiction surrounding the era.

The choices made, of material and presentation are all focused on creating an era that the players can embrace--to make "his or her own fictional Berlin." There are multiple maps of Berlin during the different decades, and one of the steps of setup is to determine what era the game will take place in. Agencies active during that time, examples of historical events, different pressures on the nations during that time inform the characters created, and the missions they are assigned through Dossiers. 

*What happens fictionally, and what it means, evolves through the
activity itself. It’s not like a screenplay or stage-play; it cannot be preset. Everyone involved simultaneously acts as authors and audience for a story that gets created right there: Story Now.*

The in depth research Edwards devoted to Spione supports a deceptively simple game of cat and mouse espionage, embedded in a tale of personal sacrifice, betrayal and loss that comes from the deception involved in 20th century spycraft. He calls his system Story Now--emphasizing the shared nature of the storytelling and world portrayal. All come to the table with the same ability and empowerment to craft the tale.

Each player champions a character and may narrate for or play another--one or more is a spy, and others are civilians in their life, people they spy upon or answer to. The characters lives are frames in brief passages of play, called Maneuvers: dialogue, description, an action taken, a scene set. Until the characters come to a Flashpoint: a moment of crisis or climax where perhaps desperate actions must be taken to determine how the course of the spying falls out. Will the spy betray himself to his wife to reveal that she's been followed home by an enemy? Will a foreign spy handler turn a spy to betray their country, out of hope of relieving some secret debt, shame or failure?  Cards are dealt out representing the characters, and may be moved by the players in certain ways. Once the final constellation is arrived at, this structures the types of narration the players may make to resolve the outcomes of the Flashpoint. Then back to Maneuvers, to see how this fallout ripples outward in their lives.

Themes in Spione and the structured freeform of the Indie Spring Bundle:

PLACE
Spione uses Place as an organizing principle. Edwards dissects a time and place and grounds it in a fictionalized version of  the city of Berlin. This is a powerful tool that supports the collaborative nature of these games. I creates a central fictional motif that can be understood, changed and used by all equally. My Misericord(e) and +Ole Peder Giæver  and +Martin Bull Gudmundsen's _Itras By_ also use this tool--having a shared city that all play groups set their games within. Each making it their own and but having a coherent politcal entity to place their characters within. +Matthijs Holter and +Jason Morningstar's  Love in the Time of Seið and +Anna Kreider's  Thou Art But a Warrior similiarly use a very specific moment in time and place the events of play. In their cases, its not a single city, but a kingdom with coherent issues and themes that the characters' lives embody and exemplify. 

CHARACTERS IN MORAL QUANDRY
Spione uses Characters in a Moral Quandry as the basis for story In Spione, players place pressure on the characters through the requirements of spying versus the normal needs of living. +Ross Cowman's  Serpent's Tooth, +Per Fischer's  Crossroads, _Love in the Time of Seið_ and Thou Art But a Warrior all use this tool to drive play. In Serpent's Tooth the malaise of the old Hero calls in the main cast to take action. Cowman intertwines this fictional theme with the mechanics of the game: as they characters take action, the players are empowered to steer the game play as well. Crossroads' stories hinge on a morally dubious situation, a temptation the characters are offered. The GM uses the magic lamp of fictional play to allow the players to see what a person will do to relieve themselves of their troubles. This mirrors the choices spies make in Spione--is my safety worth destroying my family's belief in me? Is my country's interest worth betraying someone who trusts me? Perhaps ruining their life? The characters in _Seið_ and Warrior are caught in their own predicaments. Bound by their personal hopes and the crises of their kingdoms. 

Why does this matter for structured freeform tabletop play? As +Chris Chinn, has said, these precarious moral predicaments are like "ammo." Fictional dynamite to kick your story into motion. In his game Sorcerer,+Ron Edwards asks the players to describe a "kicker", an event the destablizes a character and sets them on a narrtive arc. These games embrace this principle to provide the players an immediate direction for play, allowing their collaboration to be sure and not founder on lack of dramatic tension.

MOOD AND TONE
Spione uses Mood and Tone to give the players a shared understanding of their fictional goals. The text evokes a tone of anxiety, paranoia and moral ambiguity both through the expression of story through the narration and by priming players with the exegesis on European/US spy culture in this era. And through a mechanically simple but very structured procedure, navigates collaboration for the players through turning points and choices made about the moments of stress and high drama. +Marc Majcher's Twenty Four Game Poems and Itras By use mood and tone extensively as organizing principles. Each Game Poem is centered around a mood: it may be regret, it may be childhood nostalgia, it may be yearning, but each is a short game that eschews plot and character development over creating a contained experiences that strongly expresses a certain emotional mood. Itras By's surreal setting uses the text, illustrations and priming of the players to embrace the bittersweet tones of a 1920s/30s European city: the optmimism, the decadence, the shock and horror of dealing with the aftermath of industrial production of war. Spione in some ways is a return to the setting of Itras By, but without the comforting veil of fantasy and dream. Instead, it is with the deception and dance of espionage--hard, real, and true, and yet no less traumatized, self-deceived or full of fear. In Miseridord(e), I have sought to create a mood of adventure and community. The Lineage Trees evoke the generationgs of Guildsmembers who carry on their craft traditions. The world is one where magic can enter at will, and themes are shared and understood but the will of Fate rules: as represented by the Tarot Cards. The overall tone (whether Hopeful or Fearful, happy ending or tragic) of the story, too, is set by whether most of the Tarot Cards pulled are upright or reversed. And pulling the Fool switches all, reversing the tone of the tale.

FICTIONALLY RICH, PROCEDURALLY SIMPLE RULES
Spione's Story Now is fast paced and laser focused. Build to climax, sort the fallout and repeat. *Serpent's Tooth_, scenes provide an opportunity for characters to respond to the changs in the King, and Threats to be offered and Harm the Kingdom. Over time, the players wrest control away from the King's player, and become the new focus of hope or fear. In Love in the Time of Seið and Itras By, scenes are played that allow the players to explore the desires of the characters and the texture of the world. Then at turning points, "Yes, and..", "No, but.." and other cards are pulled that give more information about what may happen, and choices for interpretation about how what has occured may develop. In Thou Art But a Warrior, when a Knight comes into conflict--usually with an element of the world played by the player in charge of the Infidel aspects of the world--a ritualized set of negotiation phrases ("But only if...", "You ask far too much...") to craft a set of events that takes a toll on all, and deepens the crisis and tragedy of the world. The Game Poems vary in their structures, wildly: some having simple tokens that are used to keep track of who says what when, some have elements that evoke the story (candy, feathers), some simply structure a conversation or give a certain scene to play. Misericord(e) uses Tarot Cards as a random prompt to create situations filling out story profiles ("The Argument", "The Quest", "The Rescue"), and then to introduce new elements, pace play and show whether the story is tending to Fear or Hope at its end.. With two Question tools used by the players and the Storyteller to share their world and character development: players asking "yes/no" questions of the Storyteller about what might happen, the Storyteller asking a concrete, open-ended question about individual details of the world. 

Crossroads varies from the others in two ways. It uses a fairly standard--if still rules lite--process to resolve when dangerous things are attempted by characters. Roll 2d6, with success/complication/failure similar to games using +Vincent Baker's Apocalypse World engine. But overall the game uses another common structure found in structured freeform games: the set story. Each of the four characters is pregenerated, and the challenges they face and the morally questionable tasks they will be asked to undertake are pre-set. Just who will have to do what, and whether they actually do, is in question.  

Note: I've helped +Allen Varney  curate the collection of games involved, and am participating in the Bundle myself.  I've written one of these pre-views for each of the games as we went through the two weeks. 

https://bundleofholding.com/presents/SpringFestival #BundleofHolding   #IndieRPGs   #charitybundles 
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What Jason said.
I've been meaning to read Spione for years. Now it's next on the list.
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+Bundle of Holding: Indie Spring Festival & Thou Art But A Warrior
The next spotlight game from this bundle (https://bundleofholding.com/presents/SpringFestival) is +Anna Kreider's   game Thou Art But a Warrior(http://browserbeware.com/tabaw/), a hack of +Ben Lehman's game Polaris (http://www.tao-games.com/polaris/). Both games take place during a moment of great change in a society: in Thou Art But a Warrior it is Iberia (Spain) after the sundering of the Islamic Caliphate, in Polaris it is an etherial starlit kingdom in the far north coming to its end with the dawning of the day. These are tragic stories, in worlds of great beauty, and heights of accomplishment. The main characters in Thou Art But a Warrior are Muslim Knights, oath bound to protect the kingdom in the face of Christian incursions and conflict within their own society.

The system used is a gmless (or distributed gm) system. Early and innovative, it is still one of the most solid of the alternates to having a single game master. For those not familiar, it takes four players in a Bridgelike manner--each with a position and role that rotates. (There are alternate rules for different numbers of players as well.) In  standard play, each person plays a lead character, a Knight, and the others around them has a particular role: the player opposite playing the adversarial forces in the world, and those to either side playing characters with a hierarchical relationship, and those with more personal relationships. With each turn, the story follows the characters through their struggle with the forces, internal and external, pulling their world apart.

This edition of Anna's game is a gorgeous rendition of a powerful game experience. The setting is compelling, the illustrations by herself and talented  convey a world often overlooked in history books in US history, or portrayed from the side of Christianity driving out intruding Muslims, instead of the fall of the multicultural
civilization of Al-Andalus--home to Jews, Christians and Berber, Arab
and muwallad, or Iberian, Muslims--and the Islamic city states or
taifas which remained once the Iberian Caliphate fell.

While the  first edition of Thou Art But a Warrior required a copy of Polaris for all the rules his version includes all of the rules to play the game making it a stand-alone game. 

Note: I've helped +Allen Varney curate the collection of games involved, and am participating in the Bundle myself. I'll write one of these pre-views for each of the games as we go through the two weeks.

https://bundleofholding.com/presents/SpringFestival #BundleofHolding #IndieRPGs #charitybundles 
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+Bundle of Holding: Indie Spring Festival & Misericord(e)
This weekend, my game Misericord(e) (http://www.blackgreengames.com/shop/misericorde-pdf) was added to the Indie Spring Festival Bundle. 

Misericord(e) is a mod of +Meguey Baker's game of lush storytelling, 1001 Nights (http://nightskygames.com/welcome/game/1001Nights). It  jumps off from the story-within-a-story dynamic in 1001 Nights, where one person takes the role of the storyteller and casts other players in the role of characters within the tale. I've added Tarot cards to the system for Misericord(e), used to create a starting situation, and to prompt tilts and surprises along the way.

Misericord(e) is named after the town where the events of play take place. The setting is an eastern European town in the European high middle ages (@1000-1300 CE). It's intended to spotlight the cosmopolitan and cross-continental trade and travel that happened during that time. With citizens and visitors from as far west as Ireland and as far east as China. The Guildspeople have a custom of gathering for a feast at Midwinter and telling tales. The Guild of the person who tells the best tale carries that honor through the rest of the year. So, the Guildspeople have some call to get involved in matters political, magical or full of adventure. 

The game came out of +Mendel Schmiedekamp's "Shortest Month, Longest Night" game writing contest two years ago. Misericord(e) is intended to be played in bite-size pieces Literally, I imagine people inviting friends over for dinner, making characters and the scenario over food, and then playing for an hour or three to round out the evening. You write down the characters and some story notes in the book itself, and then put it away for another night. The world develops over time, with certain characters becoming recurrent visitors.

I use a single copy whenever I run the game at a convention, so there is this lovely semi-shared world that many people I've gotten to play with have contributed to.  Erzebet the Thronegrinder is a go-to threat to the Town of Misericord(e), and King Julian the Vengeful has figured in several stories. 

Note: I've helped +Allen Varney  curate the collection of games involved, and am participating in the Bundle myself. I'll write one of these pre-views for each of the games as we go through the two weeks. 

https://bundleofholding.com/presents/SpringFestival #BundleofHolding   #IndieRPGs   #charitybundles 
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+Bundle of Holding: *Indie Spring Festival &* Crossroads 
Another of the core starter collection (https://bundleofholding.com/presents/SpringFestival) is +Per Fischer's Crossroads (http://perfischer.tumblr.com/).  A scenario inspired by the tv series The Booth at the End (by veteran rpg designer and novelist Christopher Kubasik).

Crossroads puts you in the place of four characters who are up against the wall, and gives you the chance to see what you might do in their shoes if you could get a one-time ticket out of all of your problems. But...for a cost. 

Per wrote Crossroads as a submission to Fastaval, the annual Danish game conference with a contest where designers are dared to enter a brand new game scenario, playable by volunteer GMs. As a result, Crossroads is a soup to nuts complete scenario, with four pre-set characters and meant to be playable in just two hours. Perfect for a convention or game day, and honed to deliver a knockout punch of hard choices and emotional inquiry. 

Note: I've helped +Allen Varney  curate the collection of games involved, and am participating in the Bundle myself. (There is more to come!) I'll write one of these pre-views for each of the games as we go through the two weeks. 

https://bundleofholding.com/presents/SpringFestival #BundleofHolding   #IndieRPGs   #charitybundles 
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Great company to be in - thx!
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The Scoundrel and the Deep, from +Epidiah Ravachol's Worlds without Master very cleverly uses the draw of playing with fire and our natural fear of the dark to bring you into the world of a rogue (the Scoundrel, in this case) trapped in the dark underground of a dungeon or catacombs. You play each passage in the time it takes real match to burn! It is perhaps a bit of a cousin to +Thor Olavsrud's Torchbearer. Both of which bring to mind, Tolkien's classic chapter of The Hobbit, "Riddles in the Dark" where Bilbo steals the One Ring from Gollum, or from Fellowship of the Ring, "Journey in the Dark" where the fellowship travels through the Mines of Moria toward the doom of the Balrog. 

This issue and all back issues are 25% off when you join the Patreon, as part of Epidiah's  #PatronDrive  in anticipation of going monthly! http://www.worldswithoutmaster.com/about/
 
As part of my ongoing #PatronDrive, I’m showcasing the roleplaying games that can already be found in back issues of Worlds Without Master. You can get all these back issues at 25% off and ensure you will get future issues by joining the Patron Horde at www.Patreon.com/Epidiah before the end of April 8th.

Now, let’s play with fire.

Fuck your dice. Fuck your minis. Fuck your battle mats. Fuck your Jenga.A Scoundrel in the Deep is a two-player roleplaying game that is played with lit matches. And not just for atmosphere. You light it, you hold, you narrate, and you pass it before you suffer the consequences.

One of you is the Scoundrel who has plundered a legendary treasure from the Tomb of the Deep. Lost in the darkness with only a handful of matches to light the way, you try to describe how the Scoundrel evades death and pass the match before you drop it, the light is extinguished or you are burned.

One of you is the Deep and is trying to reclaim the Ruby see that the Scoundrel never makes it back to the surface. You describe the horrors the Scoundrel sees every time one of those matches is lit. You must do so and pass the match before you drop it, the light is extinguished or you are burned.

A Scoundrel in the Deep is created by +Renato Ramonda and +Flavio Mortarino and illustrated by +Ed Heil and can be found in issue 6 of Worlds Without Master.
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Emily Care Boss

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Last day for the +Bundle of Holding Indie Spring Festival Bundle! I talk about Spione and some design themes throughout the games here. 

Thanks so much to everyone who has already contributed!!!! We hope you enjoy the games, and are very glad for your help to raise money for the Mines Advisory Group.
 
+Bundle of Holding: *Indie Spring Festival, * Spione & the Power of Tabletop Freeform Design
As the deadline looms, the final game I'll spotlight as part of the Indie Spring Festival (https://bundleofholding.com/presents/SpringFestival) is +Ron Edwards' Spione (http://adept-press.com/story-now-series/spione/).  _Spione_ is one of the earliest written of the games in the bundle and in many ways was a precursor of the others and the movement in game design they represent. This game is a capstone to the collection and embodies recurring themes seen in the whole group. These games exemplify the structures that can make tabletop freeform a powerful and elegant form of design. 

*_The goal is for the reader to arrive at his or her fictional Berlin, in
two ways: (1) using it to create spy-stories of one’s own (the Story
Now part, described in the final part of this book) and (2) arriving at
perhaps new or at least reflective thoughts about the Cold War and
its relationship to our lives today.*_
--From Spione, Ch. 1: Introduction

Spione is a game of cold-war spies and intrigue written by the creator of influential indie classics such as Sorcerer and Trollbabe. Spione uses a rules-lite, structured system to bring you to confront the personal price and ethical cost of spying, that caps off our collection. The first and largest portion of Spione the book is an engrossing summary of the key organizations and important players of the Cold War, as well as discussion of the English language fiction surrounding the era.

The choices made, of material and presentation are all focused on creating an era that the players can embrace--to make "his or her own fictional Berlin." There are multiple maps of Berlin during the different decades, and one of the steps of setup is to determine what era the game will take place in. Agencies active during that time, examples of historical events, different pressures on the nations during that time inform the characters created, and the missions they are assigned through Dossiers. 

*What happens fictionally, and what it means, evolves through the
activity itself. It’s not like a screenplay or stage-play; it cannot be preset. Everyone involved simultaneously acts as authors and audience for a story that gets created right there: Story Now.*

The in depth research Edwards devoted to Spione supports a deceptively simple game of cat and mouse espionage, embedded in a tale of personal sacrifice, betrayal and loss that comes from the deception involved in 20th century spycraft. He calls his system Story Now--emphasizing the shared nature of the storytelling and world portrayal. All come to the table with the same ability and empowerment to craft the tale.

Each player champions a character and may narrate for or play another--one or more is a spy, and others are civilians in their life, people they spy upon or answer to. The characters lives are frames in brief passages of play, called Maneuvers: dialogue, description, an action taken, a scene set. Until the characters come to a Flashpoint: a moment of crisis or climax where perhaps desperate actions must be taken to determine how the course of the spying falls out. Will the spy betray himself to his wife to reveal that she's been followed home by an enemy? Will a foreign spy handler turn a spy to betray their country, out of hope of relieving some secret debt, shame or failure?  Cards are dealt out representing the characters, and may be moved by the players in certain ways. Once the final constellation is arrived at, this structures the types of narration the players may make to resolve the outcomes of the Flashpoint. Then back to Maneuvers, to see how this fallout ripples outward in their lives.

Themes in Spione and the structured freeform of the Indie Spring Bundle:

PLACE
Spione uses Place as an organizing principle. Edwards dissects a time and place and grounds it in a fictionalized version of  the city of Berlin. This is a powerful tool that supports the collaborative nature of these games. I creates a central fictional motif that can be understood, changed and used by all equally. My Misericord(e) and +Ole Peder Giæver  and +Martin Bull Gudmundsen's _Itras By_ also use this tool--having a shared city that all play groups set their games within. Each making it their own and but having a coherent politcal entity to place their characters within. +Matthijs Holter and +Jason Morningstar's  Love in the Time of Seið and +Anna Kreider's  Thou Art But a Warrior similiarly use a very specific moment in time and place the events of play. In their cases, its not a single city, but a kingdom with coherent issues and themes that the characters' lives embody and exemplify. 

CHARACTERS IN MORAL QUANDRY
Spione uses Characters in a Moral Quandry as the basis for story In Spione, players place pressure on the characters through the requirements of spying versus the normal needs of living. +Ross Cowman's  Serpent's Tooth, +Per Fischer's  Crossroads, _Love in the Time of Seið_ and Thou Art But a Warrior all use this tool to drive play. In Serpent's Tooth the malaise of the old Hero calls in the main cast to take action. Cowman intertwines this fictional theme with the mechanics of the game: as they characters take action, the players are empowered to steer the game play as well. Crossroads' stories hinge on a morally dubious situation, a temptation the characters are offered. The GM uses the magic lamp of fictional play to allow the players to see what a person will do to relieve themselves of their troubles. This mirrors the choices spies make in Spione--is my safety worth destroying my family's belief in me? Is my country's interest worth betraying someone who trusts me? Perhaps ruining their life? The characters in _Seið_ and Warrior are caught in their own predicaments. Bound by their personal hopes and the crises of their kingdoms. 

Why does this matter for structured freeform tabletop play? As +Chris Chinn, has said, these precarious moral predicaments are like "ammo." Fictional dynamite to kick your story into motion. In his game Sorcerer,+Ron Edwards asks the players to describe a "kicker", an event the destablizes a character and sets them on a narrtive arc. These games embrace this principle to provide the players an immediate direction for play, allowing their collaboration to be sure and not founder on lack of dramatic tension.

MOOD AND TONE
Spione uses Mood and Tone to give the players a shared understanding of their fictional goals. The text evokes a tone of anxiety, paranoia and moral ambiguity both through the expression of story through the narration and by priming players with the exegesis on European/US spy culture in this era. And through a mechanically simple but very structured procedure, navigates collaboration for the players through turning points and choices made about the moments of stress and high drama. +Marc Majcher's Twenty Four Game Poems and Itras By use mood and tone extensively as organizing principles. Each Game Poem is centered around a mood: it may be regret, it may be childhood nostalgia, it may be yearning, but each is a short game that eschews plot and character development over creating a contained experiences that strongly expresses a certain emotional mood. Itras By's surreal setting uses the text, illustrations and priming of the players to embrace the bittersweet tones of a 1920s/30s European city: the optmimism, the decadence, the shock and horror of dealing with the aftermath of industrial production of war. Spione in some ways is a return to the setting of Itras By, but without the comforting veil of fantasy and dream. Instead, it is with the deception and dance of espionage--hard, real, and true, and yet no less traumatized, self-deceived or full of fear. In Miseridord(e), I have sought to create a mood of adventure and community. The Lineage Trees evoke the generationgs of Guildsmembers who carry on their craft traditions. The world is one where magic can enter at will, and themes are shared and understood but the will of Fate rules: as represented by the Tarot Cards. The overall tone (whether Hopeful or Fearful, happy ending or tragic) of the story, too, is set by whether most of the Tarot Cards pulled are upright or reversed. And pulling the Fool switches all, reversing the tone of the tale.

FICTIONALLY RICH, PROCEDURALLY SIMPLE RULES
Spione's Story Now is fast paced and laser focused. Build to climax, sort the fallout and repeat. *Serpent's Tooth_, scenes provide an opportunity for characters to respond to the changs in the King, and Threats to be offered and Harm the Kingdom. Over time, the players wrest control away from the King's player, and become the new focus of hope or fear. In Love in the Time of Seið and Itras By, scenes are played that allow the players to explore the desires of the characters and the texture of the world. Then at turning points, "Yes, and..", "No, but.." and other cards are pulled that give more information about what may happen, and choices for interpretation about how what has occured may develop. In Thou Art But a Warrior, when a Knight comes into conflict--usually with an element of the world played by the player in charge of the Infidel aspects of the world--a ritualized set of negotiation phrases ("But only if...", "You ask far too much...") to craft a set of events that takes a toll on all, and deepens the crisis and tragedy of the world. The Game Poems vary in their structures, wildly: some having simple tokens that are used to keep track of who says what when, some have elements that evoke the story (candy, feathers), some simply structure a conversation or give a certain scene to play. Misericord(e) uses Tarot Cards as a random prompt to create situations filling out story profiles ("The Argument", "The Quest", "The Rescue"), and then to introduce new elements, pace play and show whether the story is tending to Fear or Hope at its end.. With two Question tools used by the players and the Storyteller to share their world and character development: players asking "yes/no" questions of the Storyteller about what might happen, the Storyteller asking a concrete, open-ended question about individual details of the world. 

Crossroads varies from the others in two ways. It uses a fairly standard--if still rules lite--process to resolve when dangerous things are attempted by characters. Roll 2d6, with success/complication/failure similar to games using +Vincent Baker's Apocalypse World engine. But overall the game uses another common structure found in structured freeform games: the set story. Each of the four characters is pregenerated, and the challenges they face and the morally questionable tasks they will be asked to undertake are pre-set. Just who will have to do what, and whether they actually do, is in question.  

Note: I've helped +Allen Varney  curate the collection of games involved, and am participating in the Bundle myself.  I've written one of these pre-views for each of the games as we went through the two weeks. 

https://bundleofholding.com/presents/SpringFestival #BundleofHolding   #IndieRPGs   #charitybundles 
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jan w's profile photoAnna Kreider's profile photoOle Peder Giæver's profile photoEpidiah Ravachol's profile photo
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All your overviews of these games have been super informative as well as interesting reads. You've also sold me completely on the bundle. 
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+Bundle of HoldingIndie Spring Festival & Itras By  
Just three days left to get the Indie Spring Festival Bundle!
The second to last game I'll be writing about is the +Ole Peder Giæver and +Martin Bull Gudmundsen's _Itras By_. (http://itrasby.com/about/).  It's a sumptuous, generous game that brings seemingly contradictory elements into one harmonious, grounded yet dreamlike whole. 

The title of this Norwegian game translates to "Itra's City," which forms the setting and central organizing principle of the game itself. The otherworldly illustrations by Thore Hansen and Kathy Schad perfectly evoke this timeless early modern and eerily fantastic setting. +Jonathan Tweet and +Robin Laws worked with some of the same territory in Over the Edge, set later and with a bit more acid, a bit less opium.

Smoke climbs from the factory chimneys, paperboys sell the Morning Post. In the darkness of the cinematographer, silent movies flicker in black and white. Electricity is making its appearance in people’s homes, but still, many live without....

But right beneath this everyday atmosphere, there is another side to the city. In the middle of town, the Moon Tower looms. In a park in the most refined neighborhood, there is a society consisting of talking apes. Downtown you’ll find, or not, a street which only exists on Fridays...

The city is an invitation to a world set in our pasts, as well as in the sideways corners of our imagination. Inspired by the historical Europe between the World Wars--a time of modernity and raging optimism as well as reaction and revulsion from the horrors of war--as well as the fantastical images of that time that live in our art and popular culture. Surrealism is the by word, with the fantastic peeping out of this place which was our past like the Tower of the Moon standing silent over the sooty, gaslit metropolis of Itras By. The works of Kafka, Fritz Lang, Lewis Carroll and Lovecraft all come to mind, as well as Sinclair Lewis, Ann Petry, Dziga Vertov and Dostoevsky.

Yes, and…
The character succeeds, and achieves more than she expected. Perhaps even a bit too much…

Yes, but…
The character succeeds, but something unrelated goes wrong, for the character or someone she cares about.

The game system itself is another juxtaposition. A traditional tabletop rpg in many senses of the word: the book is setting rich, a Game Master prepares adventures, plays the city and its denizens, the players are responsible just for their characters actions, words and decisions. The way the book immediately conjurs the setting impels the reader directly into the world brings +Mark Rein-Hagen's Vampire: The Masquerade or +Vincent Baker's Apocalypse World to mind.  And yet....the engine of the game is the litest of the lite and although actions taken do come to a "does it happen" crux, the means for resolving conflicts is evocative and open ended in a very collaborative way.

"Yes, And.." and "Yes, But..." are two of the cards one can pull for resolution. The system is reminiscent of +Matthijs Holter's Archipelago (https://norwegianstyle.wordpress.com/2012/09/20/archipelago-iii/  Matthijs talks about the relationship between the games here: http://story-games.com/forums/discussion/comment/406703)  Each card answers the question posed by the crossroads reached by the character, but also adds a twist. Adds something to build on. These are interpreted by the GM. The players are given principles to call upon, to orient them towards both accepting and adding to what the GM offers, and to help each other create something interwoven by the play group out of this strange land we all visit together.

The principles create a shared approach to play. "Getting to Know the Character," an invitation to follow and learn to know more about the character one plays over time invites the players to have an openness about what their conception of their character is and can be. An openness to letting it be changed by the world, and simply to focus on the character and its changes as one of the frames of the story, instead of having an external focus on the events of play. This calls to mind the psychological arc of characters in +Sandy Petersen's  Call of Cthulhu, and the fall into abasement and madness suffered by characters in such classic films of the era as M. and The Blue Angel.  And such improvisational foundations as "Build," "Don't Block," and "Reincorporate" provide a basis for a flowing dynamic of play. And the authors devote a chapter to discussing surrealism and how to incorporate it into play.  

Note: I've helped +Allen Varney  curate the collection of games involved, and am participating in the Bundle myself.  I've written one of these pre-views for each of the games as we've gone through the two weeks. 

https://bundleofholding.com/presents/SpringFestival #BundleofHolding   #IndieRPGs   #charitybundles 
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Judd Goswick's profile photoOle Peder Giæver's profile photoGeorge Austin's profile photoAntoine Boegli's profile photo
 
Itras By is a cool game, but it is also a gorgeous book!
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+Bundle of Holding: Indie Spring Festival & Twenty Four Game Poems 
The third of the core starter collection (https://bundleofholding.com/presents/SpringFestival) is +Marc Majcher's  _Twenty Four Game Poems_ (http://www.lulu.com/us/en/shop/marc-majcher/twenty-four-game-poems/paperback/product-12919742.html),  a collection of short, lyrical games that make you think twice about just what a role playing game can be. 

 But what the heck is a Game Poem?

"A 'game poem', or 'role-playing poem' is a little game that you can pick up and play in fifteen minutes or so." (From the description of the game by Marc) 

All of the games are briefly written, taking just a few pages. They range in length from The Next Round, a game where you play a group of drunk friends arguing over who gets the privilege of paying for the next round (complete with loud music and everyone wearing earplugs) which  is just the length of a page, to games like First Impressions, a speed-dating game for dungeon questing adventurers, which spans three full pages. 

"There's no preparation time, nothing to get between you and immediate fun." 

The games need minimal materials, usually there is no character sheet to fill out, just a short idea of the role to embody. Behind their Backs, uses playing cards selected to match up the players with their mate--one other person who has the same number card--and one or more secret lovers, people who have the same suit as them. Drama ensues. Many of the games use ordinary objects to focus and provide tone to the game:  _Feather and Stone_ in which players play birds, and pass along the point of view using the feather; and Monsieur Praslin's Candy Shop where real penny candies are parceled out to players whose child characters please M. Praslin. To some games where nothing is required--like Three Old Men, which is simply full of recriminations between the men who secretly hate each other, and it may end in death for one, or sinking back into crochety but innocent sullenness at the end. 

"A 'role-playing poem' is a very short game, where the idea is to investigate a mood or scene or something else of limited scope."
-- +Tomas HV Mørkrid, "Role Playing Poems", Norwegian Style blog.
https://norwegianstyle.wordpress.com/2007/12/07/role-playing-poems/

This genre of games was coined by Tomas, a poet who saw the space for games that evoked certain atmospheres which may not fit in the heroic tropes of most role playing games. Simple daily life, anxiety, despair. Or emotions more evanescent and subtle. Like a poem, the focus is on evoking feelings rather than plot or character--though in the course of pursuing this, you get strong doses of both: just in surprising ways. 

For example, one of the first games in the book is All the Color has Gone, in which you tell memories, but they are washed out and stripped of color at the flip of a coin, creating an atmosphere of nostalgia and melancholy. Or, The Calais Bunker a brief and tightly timed WWII German battlefront scenario, where one of you is a traitor to the Reich. On through light and silly scenarios like M. Praslin's Candy Shop and Buster where you play with a ball, and have only three words to communicate your joy, anger or loneliness: Arf! Grrrrrr! and Awooooooo!!!!

More games these days break the adventure mold and include a wider range of moods, but Game Poems like those of Marc and Tomas, continue to offer a different kind  of game experience, and provide a rich field of writing and design for others to learn from and explore.

Note: I've helped +Allen Varney  curate this collection of games and am participating in the Bundle myself. I'll write one of these pre-views for each of the games as we go through the two weeks. 

(sorry for the brief double post of this message today. the original thread had some errors I had to fix by starting again)

https://bundleofholding.com/presents/SpringFestival #BundleofHolding   #IndieRPGs   #charitybundles 
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+Bundle of Holding: Indie Spring Festival & Love in the Time of Seið
The next game I'll spotlight as part of the Indie Spring Festival is  _Love in the Time of Seið_ (https://norwegianstyle.wordpress.com/2010/06/04/love-in-the-time-of-sei%C3%B0/) by a pair of remarkable designers: +Matthijs Holter and +Jason Morningstar.

From the text of Love in the Time of Seið:
You try to be an obedient daughter - but your will is strong, and often at odds with the rest of the world. You love the Knight passionately. You are getting lessons in magic from the Seiðkona, in hopes of becoming a seiðkona yourself one day - you have The Gift. Your power is strong but capricious and highly unpredictable.

Love in the Time of Seið is based on the game, Archipelago (https://norwegianstyle.wordpress.com/2012/09/20/archipelago-iii/) by +Matthijs Holter. Archipelago (in its third iteration now) took for inspiration Ursula LeGuin's books--a land of magics, deep and wild, a society with divisions geographical, class-based, gendered--and  created a system that moved the players through making a universe along these lines with ease of collaboration. The world building is shared. The players use "Phrases"--questions and exhortations for your fellow players--to ask for more details, to place potential barriers, to test and temper the mettle of the imagined world. 

What do you want out of life? 
In Love in the Time of Seið, Matthijs and Jason took this system and settled it in a certain time and place: a norse-themed fantasy kingdom on the brink of ruin. With set characters, and Themes to drive the characters and play, it's a tight scenario. Ready for pick up and play. Each character has questions to ponder and play towards. This set of three are from the Princess.

What is your true Gift? 
Jason brings all his expertise in writing authentic and respectful historical games: his most recent Night Witches is a tour de force of these talents. Jason's work with  Bully Pulpit Games' +Steve Segedy  (also a guiding light of the juggernaut that is Indie Games on Demand (http://www.indiegamesexplosion.org/) brought us Fiasco, the breakout indie tabletop hit. Using light, mostly freeform mechanics Fiasco captured the imagination of a huge swath of traditional players, and even folks brand new to rpgs.  

Matthijs brings an innovative and insightful vision to  push the boundaries of what rpgs can be. From his Archipelago, which elegantly provided an intuitive scaffold for freeform tabletop play, to the  _Before and After Silence_ (https://jonnyggarcia.wordpress.com/2015/03/09/before-and-after-slience/) by Matthijs and +Fredrik Hossmann, which uses silent play and parallel but unrevealed fiction to create a powerful and emotional physical experience. I was lucky enough to work with Matthijs on Play with Intent (https://playwithintent.wordpress.com/), which throws out the idea of a fixed set of rules--each time you play it is with a custom tool kit the play group chooses.   Love in the Time of Seið harkens back to one of Matthijs' early games, Draug (http://boardgamegeek.com/rpgitem/46153/draug), a more modern take on Norse history and mythology. 

What will you do with it?
Enjoy the fruits of their labor. :)

(https://bundleofholding.com/presents/SpringFestival)

Note: I've helped +Allen Varney   curate the collection of games involved, and am participating in the Bundle myself. (There is more to come!) I'll write one of these pre-views for each of the games as we go through the two weeks. 

https://bundleofholding.com/presents/SpringFestival #BundleofHolding   #IndieRPGs   #charitybundles  

[edited for clarity and corrections]
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John Willson's profile photoEpidiah Ravachol's profile photoBundle of Holding's profile photoDaniele Di Rubbo's profile photo
 
Thanks for these synopses +Emily Care Boss​, they helped me to decide that I had to have this Bundle. :)
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+Epidiah Ravachol rounds out his #PatronDrive  week for Worlds without Master, by talking about the start of it all: his sword & sorcery game Swords without Master

IMO, Swords is 100% unique. It takes the idea of writing and honing a story, and marries it so firmly to improvisational role play, that they skip along to the unearthly worlds they create, hand in hand together.

It's one of my favorite rpgs, bar none, and a wonderful secret/non-secret of Worlds Without Master, is that Eppy will be writing more games like Invisible Empire, which is an elaboration of parts of the Swords system. Signing up to become part of the Patron Horde means being there when the further chapters of Swords are revealed. 

Should be an amazing  year! 

#IndieRPGs   #Sword &Sorcery #Fiction #Awesomness
#WorldsWithoutMaster  
worldswithoutmaster.com
patreon.com/epidiah/
 
Today is the final day of Worlds Without Master's #PatronDrive . If you join the Patron Horde at www.Patreon.com/Epidiah there will be a coupon code waiting for you that will grant you 25% off of all back issues. But you must be fleet of foot, because sometime tomorrow morning the code is coming down. (It'll still be active for the rest of the month, you just won't automatically get it by joining the Patron Horde.)

Thus far in the #PatronDrive  I've talked about:
•   Enter the Avenger: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+EpidiahRavachol/posts/Jv9pxwsb9dd
•   Wolfspell: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+EpidiahRavachol/posts/igyeAJdr6vN
•   Sorceress Bloody Sorceress: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+EpidiahRavachol/posts/cgRCTLf722a
•   A Scoundrel in the Deep: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+EpidiahRavachol/posts/ArnQMwLU5mz
•   And Invisible Empire: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+EpidiahRavachol/posts/Ks86XFaXUzJ

And now I will talk about the aleph, the nexus of crisis, the origin of storms, Swords Without Master.

Swords is a game I've been promising since the release of Time & Temp back in 2009. But one that I could never find a comfortable format for. I'd write it and rewrite it and rewrite it, chasing that wretched herald of failure, the siren known as Perfection.

In the process, I rekindled an old flame with the help of used bookstores and folks like Fritz Leiber, Robert E. Howard, Tanith Lee, Michael Moorcock, Leigh Brackett, C.J. Cherryh, Jack Vance, Clark Ashton Smith and Charles R. Saunders.

It was trying to create Swords that set me on the path to creating Worlds. And like the worm Ouroboros, Worlds circled around and set me on the path to creating Swords.

Since it's release in issue 3, a little over a year ago, Swords has spawned a community whose numbers rival those of the Patron Horde itself: https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/104194230537983273846 This community has given rise to a number of Swords hacks, mods, and descendants. We hold regular Sunday morning games online. And we have amassed quite a collection of rogues, eidolons, and simulacra for your pleasure.

I have said a lot about this game over the years, so I'm just going to shut up now and let others do the talk.

"Swords Without Masters recreates the sword & sorcery stories I read growing up. One of my favourite games ever." – +Eric Nieudan 

"Swords Without Master never fails to produce a tale dripping with adventure, mystery, and fantastic imagery." – +Aaron Feild 

"Right now, Swords Without Master by Epidiah Ravachol is my favorite roleplaying game and it’s not particularly close." – +Keith Stetson 

And a quick shout out to my Swords Without Master illustrators, +Storn Cook, +Ed Heil, and +Christopher Kimball, who all made this game gorgeous.   
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OMG - check out our mission (http://ourmanygames.blogspot.com/p/about.html)

Here's the game Wish List so far. What games can be added? Are there quick-prep materials already online somewhere? 

Abeo
Another Fine Mess
Awesome Adventures
Blade & Crown
Chaos U
Chuubo's Marvelous Wish-Granting Engine
Cogs, Cakes & Swordsticks 
Cyberpunk 2013
Dog Eat Dog
Encryptopedia: Live & Let Dye Adventure
Escape from Tentacle City
Firefly RPG
Growing Up
Grunting: the Race for Fire
Larps from the Factory
Mindjammer
Mist-Robed Gate
New Gods of Mankind
Nobilis
Our Last Best Hope
Princess Drive
Project Ninja Panda Taco
Questlandia
Rise and Fall
Rookvale
Run them Again
SERVICE
SexyTime Aventures
Shooting the Moon
Slasher Fick
Souls of Steel
Steal Away Jordan
Tales  of the Fisherman's Wife
The Dance and the Dawn
The Dreaming Crucible
The Dying Earth: Fields of Silver adventure
The Last Seder
The Play's the Thing
The Quiet Year
The Secret Lives  of Gingerbread Men
The Tavern
The Way of the Witch
They Became Flesh
Tragedy in Five Acts
Weapons of the Gods
When the Dark is Gone
Wild Strawberries
Witch

#RPGs   #WeNeedDiverseRPGs
Our Many Games is an initiative to get games played. Browse this site to find quick-start rules, cheat sheets and links for games by people of color, women of all ethnicities, queer folk, trans designers and people with disab...
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Jerry Sköld's profile photoMikael Andersson's profile photoRichard Leon's profile photoJoe Greathead's profile photo
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Very nice projects... I think you can add all my rpg...

This talk about diversity (and quickstart):
Trapped wryted to exorcise coma
http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/127051/Trapped?manufacturers_id=5492
(very strong emotion, not for all...)

New Identies (also quickstart)
http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/119751/Witness-Protection-Program-%28English-Edition%29
(people in Witness protection program)

I think you can add all my rpg in english all perfect for a CON, Ghost "The road to light" (tragedy RPG Quickstart), Cartooner (family oriented game Quickstart), Suspect (party game + rpg Quickstart), Truel (party game + rpg Quickstart) and also My Fantasy RPG is designed for no preparation (run in four hour):
http://www.drivethrurpg.com/browse.php?filters=0_0_0_0_45208&keywords=vas%20quas%20editrice
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