Three maybe-maybe-not heroes, and that is the point

I’ve moved into playtesting for Levied Souls, with the help of friends at Spelens Hus. It’s a long-term project with plans for multiple sessions, and so this first session was for character creation. By player request, it’s also audio only, athough I have set it up as a video for helpful captioning and occasional textual comments.

I will warn you that this was a long session with many rules struggles and occasional missteps. It’s not very exciting in terms of enjoying fiction. However, it did stay on track via maintaining enthusiasm, and did result in three vivid player-characters who are all set to proceed into our scheduled playtesting tonight, and which will be posted to the same playlist. The real question is whether they became invested in the Buy-in (a rules term for the game), and they are.

Some notable thoughts on the system: it is fairly simple and direct regarding literal resolution, confining its complexity to escalating consequences of injury (both physical and spiritual) and also to the interplay between player input into situations vs. character improvement and survival. The variables for the latter are plentiful and, in the current design, potentially overlap in ways that have to be assessed in play.

Characters are built primarily through choosing upbringings, or previous history, and the options go very dark very quickly. Camilla had to keep her eye out to choose a combination that did not turn her free-and-fierce horsewoman into a vicious wreck, whereas Nate blithely strode ahead and picked things he didn’t know about, but was pretty sure that they’d go somewhere interesting – and ended up with, indeed, a vicious wreck who is nevertheless oddly sympathetic. To give you the right idea, not one but two of the three characters gain considerable play-power via eating human body parts …

So, onward to play tonight, and wish me luck. GM: “Hi players, here is a dark and edgy scenario.” Players: “Hold my beer.”


7 responses to “Three maybe-maybe-not heroes, and that is the point”

  1. The audio only solution works

    The audio only solution works nicely, it's very clean.

    The idea of having cultures that don't exactly overlap with geographical regions is a breath of fresh air. 
    The end of the world premise reminds me of Schwalb's Shadow of the Demon Lord, or even Ten Candles (in its "choose your own apocalypse" general mood).

    Is this a zero prep game, or it will require some work from the DM?

    Also, am I being dense or there's only one video for session 1?

    • The YouTube playlists are all

      The YouTube playlists are all suddenly screwed up for this game. I have to revise them and now is not a good time. Please wait and I'll post separate lists for the consults and the two sessions.

      Here is the playlist for session 1, and the session 2 link in the comment should be OK. I have to reorganize the consult sessions with Jeff now. – OK, done: here's the playlist for my first three conversations with him. I'm editing the fourth one even as we speak and will add it to that playlist when I'm done.

    • Sorry Lorenzo, I forgot about

      Sorry Lorenzo, I forgot about your question until just now. As far as I know, the game requires GM prep in terms of location and certain active persons or entities, but includes significant "forks" determined by the players' choices of Paths vs. Concessions. So a fair amount of "encounters" are contingent rather than fixed, or perhaps another way of looking at it is that the timing of specific things that may happen is not pre-set, up to and including perhaps negating some of them (in their current potential form) due to other things happening.

    • It sounds like an interesting

      It sounds like an interesting setup.

      Designing rules that help* the GM prepare whatever material the game needs in a way that is functional and doesn't suffocate emergent storytelling is a major point of interest for me. Many games do it well, but it feels like it's still one of the few fields of design were either we kind of rely on the GM being good at his job, or we remove either them or the need for preparation entirely.

      * pointing a sawed off shotgun at the GM's head and yelling "Do THIS!" is an acceptable definition of "help" in this case.

    • Text for instructing and

      Text for instructing and inspiring the GM – per game, because "the" is specific per game – is an uphill task. I am very familiar with people reading a game text, but their brain says, "yes, yes, I know all this," and then when play flails, coming to me and saying "why didn't you instruct me?" Then I point to the text where it does, and they say, "how did you sneak into my room and replace my book with this one?"

  2. Quite likely my best consult

    … well, I hope not, not in principle, but the point being that I think I really brought it this time. I want that to be true, because this game isn't messing around. But there are so many "oh so dark" fantasy RPGs! Can this actually do it?

    Jeff definitely has his sights set on it, and I think he really means it.

    Anyway, I've added final consult session to the playlist, beginning here. I'd love to know what you think.

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