Wish it had more ideas for GMs, that it had more varied ideas about magic, and that it was still in print. I do love that the system is so elegant and simple, but some might see it as intimidating to run stories with such an almost free form style. The setting is described in enough detail to provide inspiration and give common ground to player characters, but by its nature is ambiguous as to details of individual settings. It does, it should also be noted, provide lots of terminology for GMs to have a common language of exchange, so sharing notes on spheres, realms, heroes and quests is easy.
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Wish it had more ideas for GMs, that it had more varied ideas about magic, and that it was still in print. I do love that the system is so elegant and simple, but some might see it as intimidating to run stories with such an almost free form style. The setting is described in enough detail to provide inspiration and give common ground to player characters, but by its nature is ambiguous as to details of individual settings.
It does, it should also be noted, provide lots of terminology for GMs to have a common language of exchange, so sharing notes on spheres, realms, heroes and quests is easy. This is a classic, and I plan on snagging a second copy some day. I knew going into it that the game used a Fortune Deck and a set of Vision Cards in some way, and I knew that Tweet, at some point in the text, makes the distinction between 3 approaches to resolution: karma, drama, and fortune.
Thats the sum total of what I knew when I dove in. The game box includes three 7 x 8. The vision cards are regularly-sized cards with images of characters, situations, locations, scenes, and mythical creatures. They are beautiful and mysterious, working to suggest things but leaving a lot unanswered and only hinted at.
The game comes with 90 of these cards, and there were two expansion sets of 90 more cards each produced before the game line was canceled. You spread out these cards on the table, and the players pick five cards to serve as inspiration for their characters.
The cards might represent the character herself, someone important to her, where she comes from, the scene of some pivotal moment in her life — whatever the cards inspire. And because all the cards are thematically appropriate to the tone and subject matter of the game, every character derived from the pictures will be well suited to the same universe.
I also appreciate that the designers were thoughtful in their representations so the cards have people of every skin color represented, and most cultural depictions are non-Eurocentric. After selecting 5 cards as the inspiration for your character, the players share the cards and explain what they have drawn from them.
Then players are invited to ask each other questions about the cards and the character being developed from them. This is the first game I know of although my pool of knowledge is admittedly shallow that has questions from other players as an explicit part of character creation.
It feels like very modern tech, and I love it. The Fortune Deck is a deck of 36 cards, modeled on the major arcana of tarot decks. I put meaning in quotes because the printed meaning is hardly definitive. Like everything else in the game, the cards are suggestive and up for interpretation. For the Virtue and Fault, you pick one meaning from the card, but for the Fate, you consider both meanings to create a set of poles for your character, the two possible paths you see before the character.
That could mean whatever you want, or you might not know exactly what that means at all but it feels right. Your character is forging her own path but runs the risk of isolating herself as she does so.
Who they are, what motivates them, where they are going, and where they have been. That alone sounds clever but uninspired, but the execution of the stats is really well done. The real accomplishment is the presentation of the stats on the character sheet. You can see that each element is presented as a quarter slice of the pie. At the point of the slice is a one word summary of the element: Action, Might, Feeling, and Thought. Then each slice is joined to its neighbor by a commonality.
Air and fire are both about energy, but air is a focused energy and fire is a forceful energy. Both fire and earth are about power, but fire is an active power and earth is a passive power. Earth and water are both about integrity, but earth is a resistant integrity and water is a receptive integrity.
Finally, both water and air are about wisdom, but water is about silent wisdom while air is about spoken wisdom. This map defines all the corners of each element and does a great job of defining at a glance what each element covers during play. The problem with abstract concepts for stats is that they are work for players to remember during play, but the character sheet allows the designers to keep the flavor of the elemental division while removing the burden of memory from the players.
For me, the visual design of the character sheet is as important as the conceptual design of the statistics. Everything the players need to play the game is there on their character sheet, and a great deal of what the GM needs to run the game is there on the character sheet as well.
The system of play for Everway is entirely reliant upon the GM. The players say what their characters do and the GM determines the results of that reaction.
That is the entirety of play in a single sentence. So what the remaining 80 or so pages of text are about teaching the GM how to make those decisions fairly, dramatically, and creatively. What Tweet does in the text is effectively attempt to breakdown what GMs do when answering the question what happens next? Sometimes the GM just decides that the action is a failure or a success. After evaluating the measurable facts of the situation, the GM declares success or failure.
Sometimes the GM decides that it would be dramatically exciting if a character fails or succeeds or that things go sideways instead. The dramatic ruling is based entirely on matters of the story and has nothing to do with what is likely or what a character is capable of. Finally, the GM sometime leaves the results of an action up to fate and employs some kind of randomizer, dice, cards or whatnot.
The rules are very explicit that all of these ways of making decisions will overlap and occur concurrently. There is also a matter of taste, some GMs preferring to decide things by karma, others preferring to leave things to fortune, and still others constantly thinking of the dramatic impact of the actions on the story.
But whatever your leaning as a GM, you draw on all three methods constantly. I found the analysis compelling and the breakdown impressive. The text is really an extensive guide to how to make decisions as a GM with a particular focus of how to GM this game.
I of course had problems with plenty of the particulars. There are no mechanics to propel play or story, nothing other than a set of resolution tactics, so I imagine that play is exactly as interesting as the skill of the players involved. With an inspired GM and lively players, I can see some very fun games coming from play, but there is nothing to keep the game from being ho-hum or even downright dull if the players and GM are unsure of themselves because there is nothing mechanical within the game to catch them and support them.
The closest the game comes to providing a means to keep things lively is the Fortune Deck as a surprising tool for resolutions, and I do love the possibilities it holds.
EVERWAY RPG PDF
Edit The official setting for Everway revolves around heroes with the power of "spherewalking," traveling between worlds called "spheres. Roundwander is the only realm in Fourcorner that is described. Several dozen other spheres are described as one-sentence blurbs, a few as page-long summaries, and one in detail as the setting for a sample adventure, "Journey to Stonekeep. The authors gave significant thought to anthropology by describing how the people of various spheres live, including many similarities across cultures. Nearly all spheres are inhabited by humans, with mostly realistic physics.
A very early Wizards of the Coast product Everway is a diceless roleplaying game whose randomisers are not numbered cubes but, essentially tarot cards. Designed by a then up and coming game studio called Wizards of the Coast, the first thing that strikes you about Everway is how beautiful it is: the cards and the character sheets are something to behold compared to the functional but drab design of most games. A beautiful, minimalist character sheet - the character I played in the one-off. The back lists some extra rules but most key data is up front. The game itself?
They made it into a boxed set and marketed it in toy stores alongside Monopoly and Risk. Big mistake. Cards themselves are interpreted by the GM based on their orientation, the illustration and a few bits of prose on each side of the card. Different interpretations might depend on how the situation is going at that given moment.