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Thursday, March 15, 2012

How I Run Games-

I don't claim to understand the Old School v. New School war's central division, and when I read posts about The Forge v. DIY OSR v. Indie, or Prog Rock v. Improv Jazz v. Garage Rock, I just wonder where my games fall along the spectrum.

If any of you have played an orthodox game of The Morrow Project, I think that will go a long way to describe where Urutsk is coming from. It is about military, scientific, and back-woodsy folk joining together to work towards pulling society back from the post-apocalyptic world that Ed Marrow foresaw as an inescapable inevitability of the future. These folks weren't paid oodles and gobs of money; why would they be? The cash would be worthless. Instead, they all followed the dream that putting together what good was fallen and broken was more important than fame or fortune. That's not the picaresque ideal of Adventurers. It may not even be Old School. Furthermore, these folks have no mechanical skill set as part of the game system. No list of d% chances to fix a bicycle or build an engine. All of that comes from the Player. That is Old School. The rest of the time one is standing around in their combat overalls not shooting giant wolverines, deadly flies, or radiant blue undead, one is expected to be chatting-up the locals -- descendants of the PCs and the era from whence they came. That sounds kinda New School to me.

If you've played a game of Skyrealms of Jorune, you feel where I'm coming from. You're not from here, but your people have been here for so long that the place you came from is just a myth, and if you were to make the trip there, it'd be a lifeless ball of slag. So, you live among the genetically engineered animals of that other place, among the world-altered fellow humans who now see and can weave the Chi of the planet Jorune due to their ability to conduct it masterfully, or others who can dull its effects through their sheer grounding ability. Aliens, too, have long been stranded on this crazy world, and haven't had as fine a time of it because they don't savvy teamwork and diplomacy; instead, they have slaver empires, are murderers who hide their blood madness with dyed forehead nodes, or are capitulators working only to save their twin-eye-stalked heads. The place will kill you dead in no time flat. Tech is super scarce. The few remaining indigenous Humanoids rightly fear your kind and sequester themselves away in mountaintop monasteries or deep jungle temples, gazing at the many colourful moons that dictate which Chi powers are in ascendancy. Going forward means making a go of it here, using native means, with non-Humans as allies and the occasional Human as a political enemy. OId School? New School?

If you've played Metamorphosis Alpha or Gamma World, you feel the burn of the past in your bones and blood. The changes that have been wrought are irrevocable, but not incapable of being overcome. New civilisations have arisen. Ruins may be abandoned and scavenged through, but new trade towns are growing in population behind walls. Merchants ply the trackless wastes to make contact with distant population centres, and dumb-ass adventurers are hired by barons to scout out distant dangers and bring back Ancient loot. Alignment Factions live their crazy creeds and kill to protect their secret languages and codes, either despising the former world or the new civilisations; the blight come upon humanity and the animals/plants, or embracing the chaotic radiance; hearing the voice of mad computer gods, or recognising the superiority of the android, the cyborg, the robot. Scavenging like cockroaches, or building something new; demolishing or wandering. New School or Old School?

I am a Simulationist GM with Narrativist sensibilities. Folks talk about their dreams and regrets, and then get their leg blown off. Everything is too real and surreal. The long term goals versus the immediate goals of survival. The diplomatic bungles and the limited ammo count. The utterly depraved, and the commonalities of intelligent aliens. Life and death.

This is how I define my games, and Urutsk in particular.