A Vast & Starlit Paradox

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If you’ve read much of what I’ve written, you probably know that Epidiah Ravachol is one of my favorite game designers and overall people. Furthermore, I am a big fan of the misfit space friends genre of fiction. That’s what makes it strange that it took me so very long to play Vast & Starlit, his microgame of miscreants in space that is so short it will take you less time to read the whole game than it would to read my summary of it. In 2016 I have rectified this oversight to the tune of two plays.

And what wonderful stories we came up with! The kind that you look to shoehorn into any discussion of roleplaying you can. “Oh, that reminds me of the time our spaceship got jealous of the android and human interfacing and refused to play anything but jilted lover laments on the stereo…” Rich, exciting stuff that is the space equivalent of what Brendan Conway talks about as the Swords Without Master effect; when you hear an over-the-top, almost too good to believe story of sword and sorcery roleplaying, you can almost always pinpoint it as a Swords story. And the space version of that is what came out of our two Vast & Starlit sessions.

But…

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Why I love Swords Without Master

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?

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