Here’s a confession for ya: When I’ve got a really tough problem, I talk to myself. So late last week I turned off the radio on my drive home and thought I’d talk about what wasn’t working in By The Stars. As last week’s entry indicated, I figured I would be discussing “Big Board” solutions to the lack-of-a-central-story problem. What came out of my mouth surprised me (this happens quite a bit–it’s the reason I talk to myself about these things to begin with).
“Why isn’t By The Stars working the way you want it to?” I asked.
“Because the Oaths are just sitting there. They don’t drive play (at least not very hard) and rewriting them is lame in practice,” I answered.
through further discussion, I figured out that Oaths were about three simple things, and that these things together had the potential to both form an arc for each individual character AND touch on the monomyth stuff that I had set aside. The simple things are:
- What your character is. The Prince begins the game as a naive youth
- What your character wants to become The Prince wants to end the game as a respected leader.
- What your character wants another character to become. The Prince wants the Overlord to end the game as a deposed tyrant.
That’s it. The Oaths need to be that clear. Your first Oath focuses on getting from your opening state to your desired final state. Your second Oath focuses on dictating someone else’s final state. I know more complexity will reveal itself in play.
Speaking of play, the next playtest is on Sunday and I’ve already got nine players committed to being here. It will be a grand adventure as they uncover “The Mystery of Planet Earth.” I leave you with a snippet of the event description:
Everyone knows the saying, but what if it were true? What if all civilized worlds in the universe started from one tiny blue planet called Earth? What if Earth really exists and is as real as the star map in an android’s data bank? What would you do to get a hold of it? What would they do to destroy it?