The Lonesome Phase had it’s second playtest a few weeks back. Looking over my notes and letting things tumble over and over in my brain gave me some more insight into what’s going on and what I want to be going on.
Part of the brilliance of Swords Without Master is how simple and elegant it is. These qualities lead people to think that hacking it is as simple as changing the tones of the game. While this may be a necessary step, it is not sufficient. One must look at all the moving pieces of the game.
Having spent time doing so, I saw a void in the Phases that I felt needed to be filled in order to hit all the moods of a proper Western game. I wanted to create a new Phase to juxtapose the smallness of the characters against the grandeur of nature/the works of humanity/the unknown. This might be considered a sort of “Anti-Rogues” phase; instead of showing off against the background of the story, you are the background that the story shows off upon. For now I decided to call this the Lonesome Phase.
I will be playtesting two games at Metatopia this year, Six Guns Without Master and Ill Counsel (which is severely under-represented on this site i.e. not at all).
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:
PROSPERITY 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.