Bill White's roleplaying game design blog, with emphasis on narrativist or story-heavy games.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Rune Saga: Joe's Turn

There are only two players, me and Joe. I've just taken my turn. Now I'm the Demiurgical Mediator (DM--get it?) and he's the PC (principal character).

Joe needs to create a character. He draws Man of Coins, Tree of Stars, and World of Swords.
  • Man of Coins cadhtaenas King (Escape). One who is contented. Event: Someone evades pursuit.
  • Tree of Stars dinluemas Thought (Counteraction). A church, sect, or cult; a faction committed to a particular means or end. Event: A hero learns of a means to redress an act of villainy.
  • cadh din Arrival The one who acts comes to a stopping-place. This place may not be the end, but a leg of his journey is complete.
  • World of Swords hinsothas War (Death). An evil place; a time of grief. Event: Something long awaited comes to pass; old things pass away; an era closes.
  • din hin Strength The one who acts, by virtue of his strength, achieves a great success.
His character is Bravery 3, Cleverness 3, Virtue 3, Wisdom 2. Joe decides that he wants to play one of the hunters sent out by Melina's father. He names the character Andaman the Bold.
Andaman the Bold leads the chase through the Wild Wood, but Daemien evades the hunters [Man of Coins (Escape)] when the wolf-spirits of the forest harry them through winding and tangled thickets and underbrush [Tree of Stars (Totem-Spirit Maze)]. Winning free of the green labyrinth, Andaman and his companions face the Dark Heart of the Wild Wood [cadh din (Arrival)], an ancient and evil tree spirit that descends upon them in a frenzy of thorns that tear at their flesh and vines that bind their limbs. The other hunters are killed in the fight against the creature [World of Swords (grief)], but Andaman finds the resinous pulsing red crystal at the core of the Dark Heart and crushes it by main strength [Strength (great success)].
Joe discards his cards and draws three new ones (Mount of Coins, Child of Swords, and Tree of Swords). I draw a card to serve as his initial situation, and it's Mount of Coins (ethtaenas Treasure (Receipt of Gift). A secret. Event: A hero receives a helpful gift). I decide that the card represents the Heartshard, a splinter of the Dark Heart of the Wild Wood.
The Heartshard pulses with an evil crimson glow; it is an irregularly shaped globule about the size of a man's fist. A whispering, half-heard voice seems to come from nearby, speaking urgently but just below the threshold of perception.
Joe needs to decide what to do. Playing Sun of Stars gets him Sanctuary, but only a 33% of winning narrative control. Playing either of the Swords gets him a 50% of winning control, with Child of Swords becoming Adversity and Tree of Swords becoming Respite. He decides that the notion of a struggle between Andaman and the Heartshard makes the most sense, so plays Tree of Swords.
The obscene jewel colors Andaman's vision like blood, and the evil whispers become clearer, full of putrid corruption--atavistic desire--seething rage. Andaman claps his hands to his ears to shut out the insane mutterings. "Get out of my head!" he screams.
He rolls a 2 and so wins narrative control. He says,
The effort of will brings him respite, and he wraps the Heartshard in bloody cloth cut from one of his dead companion's cloak.
And there the turn ends; we draw cards to bring our hands back up to three and shuffle our discards into the deck.

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A communication Ph.D., I teach public speaking and media-related courses in the middle of PA. I do research on scholarly/scientific communication, and I write & play roleplaying games.