Sunday, 18 August 2013

Stealing a Riff from Philip K. Dick

This Wednesday night, we'll be starting a new game that I can't say anything about. The group is involved in a playtest for a game that I'm bound by NDA not to say anything about, except that it's really cool and you're all going to love it.

Our particular game is going to focus on the events around a wedding, which reunites three characters with a long and bumpy history. A good chunk of the game is going to play out in flashbacks, following in the footsteps of what my friend Rob did with his Cold City game; we've set up connections between the characters, but haven't nailed down a lot of the details specifically so that we can discover them by playing out scenes in the past.

One of the characters is a kind of visionary, someone who is very attuned to the flow of energy around her (despite her being blind, like all good mythic seers), and this got us discussing divination in the setting. That made me remember a discussion I had with Megan about a book she recently read and reviewed on GoodReads, The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick.

Dick's novel uses the I Ching as a story device, and Dick may have used it in writing the novel -- consulting the I Ching at points where the characters did so, then allowing the reading to direct where the story went next. I thought this was a device that might have possibilities in a roleplaying game.

Since we're playing a game that is Fate Core based, I proposed that we consult the I Ching at the end of each session to develop an Aspect which influences the next session. The Aspect should theoretically tie together (or perhaps provide contrast for) scenes in the present and in the past.

This allows us to have a kind of open structure where we all know the basic elements -- the wedding frames the whole story, and we move back and forth in time to fill in gaps in the history between the characters -- but still have an element in the game that is out of the control of everyone at the table.

It's an experiment. It might not work. But I always feel throwing something off-the-wall like this into a game gives it some vitality. Trying something new and unpredictable is always a good idea in gaming.

Thanks Phil!

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