Aliens in This World

An ordinary Catholic and a science fiction and fantasy fan.

Thursday, August 21, 2003

All Dungeonmasters and No PCs

I really am out of the gaming mainstream. I still can't believe I ended up missing GenCon now that it's in Indianapolis...but I was sorta at Confluence at the time...and I have to say, my little brother should have realized that previewing the Stargate RPG was obviously more important than getting food poisoning. This is a sad comedown for one of the original playtesters for (IIRC the name correctly) the full RPG version of Kung-Fu CB Trucker Mamas vs. the Aztec Motorcycle Wrestling Nuns. (Yes, it is rather silly for someone to make a full RPG of a one-shot joke character sheet, but hey, gamers are silly. Fun game, too.)

Anyway, if I were still in a gaming group, I have to say I'd be pushing to play the year-old Universalis. It's diceless roleplaying for people who like worldbuilding and storytelling and don't want to leave it all up to one gamemaster! But fear not -- it's all conducted in the sound capitalist fashion of giving people points ("Coins") and letting them purchase what they want. Everybody gets to influence the game, but nobody controls it. A true marketplace of ideas.

I suspect this is pretty popular among gamers who know about it. Obviously this format lends itself well to pickup gaming. However, it also sounds like a good idea for playing long campaigns, as it allows everyone to have a stake in all the characters, villains, and plot complications instead of focusing solely on one's own character and goals. Of course, good gamers are always concerned about the big picture and can try to influence it for the better; this system gives them overt power to do so.

The Universalis homepage linked above gives some really good information, but here's a short but sweet review by Lael Hickman, and here's a record of a game played in a techno-fantasy version of ancient Greece.


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