19 February 2009

Time For The Morpheus Act

So I was online today listening to the various RPG podcasts I enjoy and more specifically the stream at Warpig Radio and I was lead hence to Talisman Studios where I picked up a PDF of the basic rules for their Suzerain RPG for the grand price of nothing.

What attracted me to have a look at the site in the first place was the fact that the systems advertised therein use playing cards like a certain other RPG that is coming out in June *ahem*.

It never hurts to check out the competition.

And looking through this PDF it came to me that in many ways people have already seen the potential of the playing card. Hell, I now know of three RPGs that are entirely based around using playing cards as randomisers. As a whole section of the Core Book will explain cards are monumentally better at randomising than dice ever have been or ever will be. Cards rule.

Talisman haven't pushed this. Their site is not plastered with hyperbole about the effectiveness of cards as randomisers. The other systems I've seen didn't make much fuss about it either. It's almost like they're trying to shrug off their rejection of dice. They certainly don't describe themselves as "diceless" and yet they are, dice are not mentioned.

I even like the essential Suzerain mechanic.

But is Suzerain No Dice?

No way.

Which leads to the Morpheus bit.

If No Dice is not playing cards what is it? What is No Dice?

It occurred to me that the No Dice core book is like The Prince, or Hagakure or The Art of War. It's a treatise on dead ends that role-playing has ended up in, and how to get out of them. It's a plea for the hobby to broaden, deepen, to become something more, something new.

That's, in essence, why we're giving the Core Book away as a PDF. How the hell are we going to sell another product if we can't tell people how we feel about the way these games should be played?

The Suzerain rule book had some gorgeous art and a super keen playing card system, which rather shamefacedly takes up a single page of double column print, as if it's ashamed to be accessible. Furthermore the rest of the book is filled with skill charts and vague instructions on building characters with skills to take part in something, something I guess one would learn about in the other Suzerain books.

Suzerain is not No Dice.

No Dice would not do this. And by "this" I mean turn casual drive by readers off by having one neat idea surrounded by a bunch of dry and obscure ones. I also mean hint at some glorious campaign setting through teaser artwork and odd quasi-phlosophical mumblings and then not solidify any of it.

No Dice is more than the sum of its parts, to be sure. Because when I see parts of it in what has gone before I don't recognise any of what I'm so excited about in those places.

That's reassurance of a very real sort.

So what is No Dice?

No Dice cannot be explained, one has to experience it for oneself.

And the Morpheus act ends.

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