|Today's game is a little different|
Let's start with the last game of our one-off season as ran by Matthew: Everway.
|A very early Wizards of the Coast product|
Designed by a then up and coming game studio called Wizards of the Coast, the first thing that strikes you about Everway is how beautiful it is: the cards and the character sheets are something to behold compared to the functional but drab design of most games.
|A beautiful, minimalist character sheet - the character I played in the one-off. The back lists some extra rules but most key data is up front.|
The game itself is a fairly high fantasy universe-hopping escapade. The pre-gens that come with the gmae mostly avoid being "man with sword #5" and included shamans, wizards, shadowy assassins and my own were-raven. (Well, more of a were-person since I was born a Raven.) The end result is something which feels less like Conan and more like Planescape.
|Not a huge Planescape fan, but I do love Modrons. They made a couple of appearances in my Phratil campaign and the above event was teased.|
The game comes with a custom tarot like deck called the Fortune Deck. Those big numbers on the character sheet are your rating in key areas and each shift is notable - someone with Fire 4 is a notably better fighter than one with Fire 3. Any time you need to do something with an element of risk, however, the Fortune Deck is drawn from.
|One of the many Fortune deck cards.|
At the simplest level, it can simply generate a good or bad result. Draw the positive interpretation and the GM reads the best possible interpretation of your action; the negative draw means they do the inverse. On a more specific level the cards can give more specific pointers: so if I win a fight by drawing The Lion that suggests I win out by endurance, whereas a card like Winter (which represents Maturity) would suggest I won through experience.
We had some slightly bad luck with the cards - no matter how often we shuffled, re-oriented and changed how we drew the cards we didn't seem to be able to get terribly many positive results. That can happen in any game - I recall Raj was completely sold off the wrestling RPG Piledrivers and Powerbombs because he had the worst luck with the decks you could imagine, while Matthew breezed his way through every hand of cards. Sometimes, The Lady isn't with you!
|Art by Kendom-Art|
Aaron really liked the adventure, but I was a little cold to it and I think Raj was as well. It wasn't a terrible idea, by any means - Matthew was inspired by a Minecraft mod and that's far from the worst inspiration. I mean, I've ran D&D adventures based on David Bowie songs. I ran D&D adventures based on Kylie Minogue songs. (With a good dash of Grant Morrison's New X-Men.) Minecraft is a perfectly reasonable starting place!
The problem I had was that we were just told to expect some sort of generic fantasy-ish setting, and all the characters and setting info at the start of the night tended us towards a Planescape kind of idea. Instead we got something closer to Ravenloft, something in which our high fantasy beautifully illustrated characters had to run around Night of the Living Dead.
|I actually like Ravenloft a lot more than Planescape, but it wasn't what I was expecting.|
With more warning I might have enjoyed this more, but in the end it felt a bit bait-and-switch for my liking- Standing around a blacksmith's house with a house full of screaming children while zombies swarm around wasn't exactly on the job description! Matthew probably felt it would have ruined the surprise but I think at least telling us to expect a horror-tinged fantasy would have given us some warning.
Other factors didn't help. The previously mentioned terrible luck we endured meant that we couldn't do a damn thing useful, and that horror movie "helpelessness" feeling was ramped up to 11 even when we had better ideas. We had a bit of a slow start as we had to all be introduced to each other, work out our random arrival location and get to the adventure. Raj and Aaron in particular spent a lot of time ambling about and nattering to each other which was maybe good for character building but, in a one-off, ate up a fair bit of time and meant we didn't actually get to the meat of the zombie hunt until the back section of the night. In order to wrap up as we hit 23:00 hour Matthew had to quickly give us a denouement that felt particularly unheroic - after falling from one disaster to another we hid in a forest, which didn't exactly leave a huge appetite to play again.
|Some of the many Visions Deck cards, a second set of cards designed to help inspire adventure creation|
Would I play Everway again? Yeah, definitely. It's got a reputation as a difficult game to understand: the joke goes that the only way to play it is to get the designer to come to your house and explain all the weirdness going on. Despite some issues, though, the system seemed to work and Matthew fairly quickly interpreted any card draw into the game in a reasonable way.