Myths and fairy tales

31 October, 2011 at 4:51 pm (game design)

One GM, bunch of players. Players may not get to play the same characters every session.

Characters are, for example: Hunter, Moon, Wolf, Spider, Woman. Those work as both names and descriptions – Moon is exactly and only that, a moon.

(So no, you can’t play Conan the barbarian. You can’t play Conan. You can play [the] Barbarian.)


Player characters have contracts with other characters (player and non-player alike). Contract has value at most +3. Characters may also have oaths, with value -3 or more.

When player character tries to get another character to do something, player rolls 2d6+contract (with that character). E.g. Wolf wants Forest to provide bountiful meat for its young. Man wants Star to guide him home. Spider wants to catch Sun in its web. Soldier wants her Gun to slay her enemies. So, roll this whenever you want to do something to someone or want someone to do something.

  • On 10+: They do it if you promise to do something later; +1 contract when you fulfill that promise, -1 contract if you don’t. You may deny the deal at no cost.
  • On 7-9: They do it if you first do something for them; +1 contract if you do, -1 contract if you cheat. You may deny the deal at no cost.
  • On 6-: They may or may not do it, and make a demand. If you do it, +1 contract; if you don’t do it, -1 contract.

When player character wants to use the power of another character, the player rolls 2d6+contract. This is serious magic – roll to run as Hare, shine as Sun, burn as Flame.

  • On 10+, +1 contract and the power does what you wanted.
  • On 7-9: Select one. A: The power works as desired, but -1 contract. B: The power works mostly or almost as desired, but there are complications. C: The power is of no help at all, but +1 contract.
  • On 6-: -1 contract and the power is of no help at all.

At the end of a session, each player character goes through the other player characters. Tell them to mark +1 contract if they helped you and kept to the spirit of their agreements with you, and -1 contract  if they hurt you or wiggled out of agreements with you. You may tell them both, neither, or only one, according to their play.

If contract has value +3 and it increases, then instead set it to be +1 and get a permanent power. E.g. Flame never hurts you, you can see through darkness as if the Sun always shone, your sense of smell rivals that of Dog.


At any point, any player character may swear an oath. The character can no longer be played by the GM at all, ever. When player select their characters, they must always first select the oathsworn ones. The oath starts at the value +1. Player character can swear several oaths (though make sure they are genuinely different).

If player character breaks an oath, the player takes it off the character sheet and they get -1 to all contracts, current and future. This stacks. The character still needs to be selected first when players pick their characters.

When character accomplishes something major in accordance with their oath (i.e. gets closer to fulfilling it, or acts as a paragon to all who aspire to follow the oath), +1 oath.

At the beginning of each session (where the character is in play), -1 all oaths.

When player character uses their inherent strengths to make their oath true, roll 2d6+oath. E.g. Knight has sworn to rescue Prince and faces Dragon in fair combat.

  • On 10+: Everything goes fine or there’s complications and +1 oath.
  • On 7-9: Choose: There’s complications or -1 oath and everything goes fine.
  • On 6-: Choose: Break your oath or -1 oath and it all goes wrong.

If oath has the value -3 and would decrease, the character instead leaves play, quickly and in a miserable way.

If character ever completes an oath, then they leave play. Check the oath’s value.

  • -3 to -1: They live their life miserably after.
  • 0: And none know what became of them.
  • 1+: And they live happily ever after.
  • Higher than highest thus far: And they live in extreme bliss ever after. The player has serious bragging rights. Keep score.

When character leaves play, that particular character can never be played again by anyone.


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Feeding gamers

21 October, 2011 at 3:14 pm (Amber, roleplaying) (, )

I usually cook something moderately edible and feed everyone before we play Amber. Nothing fancy, as my kitchen barely has room for two people to stand (the joys of living in a student apartment), but generally something edible.

I do this for a few reasons.

First one: Fed gamers are happier than hungry ones, and as we are eating people get to talk about comics, games, daily life and politics.

Second one: I like offering people food to eat.

Third: Amber has player contributions – players get points for their characters by agreeing to write game reports, draw trump cards, etc. I’ve got a GM contribution to balance things a bit. This shows certain commitment to the game, which I think makes it better.

Fourth: I think that everyone benefits from eating with other people once a while. This includes roleplayers living by themselves or in cell apartments.

This habit I highly recommend.

Easy food without recipes

Soup: Take some source of protein and enough cookable vegetables to make the food not too depressing. Add sufficient fat so the food contains enough energy that people won’t get hungry. Add salt and spices.

Omelette/etc.: Take eggs. Take whatever bits and pieces of edible matter you can find. Cook those that need it. Once everything else is ready and on the hot frying pan, add the eggs, salt and spices.

Meat and veggies: Take a lot of vegetables that can be eaten with little preparation. Fry meat or some other source of protein, add spices and salt.

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