Right now, Swords Without Master by Epidiah Ravachol is my favorite roleplaying game and it’s not particularly close. This is super interesting to me, as I think there are those people who wouldn’t even describe Sw/oM as a roleplaying game (more on that later… maybe).
Given my fondness for it (and the fact that I am hacking it left and right) I thought it would be interesting and instructive to see why it works.
So what’s so great about Sw/oM?
The question arises: why “Human Hand and Brain?”
My wife grew up in Wilkes-Barre, PA. There is a bridge there that she would talk about. One part of its dedication stuck in my head:
in the INDUSTRY builded by human hand and brain, on our mineral resources, we owe growth, influence and welfare.
It never really left me and I think it has a certain resonance to all creative endeavors – gaming included.
I’ve had the idea for a Weird West/Western Horror rpg bouncing around in my head for several years. Recently that idea bounced up against a whole passel of ideas brought up by the excellent Swords Without Master. The result is what I am currently calling Six Guns Without Master (clever, right? Well, cleverish). I got a chance to run it last week and was amazed at the story we created. Check it out for yourself below.
I went through a serious Hunter S. Thompson phase. Around the same time I wanted to try my hand at writing a Fiasco playset.
For what it’s worth*, this playset gave me my favorite Fiasco experience. Your milage may vary, especially if you’re driving through bat country.
*it’s worth about 10 grams of black tar heroin, give or take.
I’ve been told enough times that I need to have a place for the things that I create and that I need to be identifiable.
So, Human Hand & Brain.