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Author Topic: Son of Iron Game Chef!  (Read 162737 times)
Darcy Burgess

Posts: 476

« Reply #180 on: April 18, 2004, 07:05:56 PM »

ISOL part two
(part one Here)

The Toybox
Although little creative preparation is necessary to enjoy a session of ISOL, you will need to round up a few things.

Table - Chairs are optional, but a decent-sized table that everyone can fit around is an absolute must for a game of ISOL.  This just isn't one of those games that you can comfortably play in the back of a car on your way to Moose Jaw.

Adult Content - Your character record.  A plain piece of paper will do nicely.  Alternatively, feel free to print out this one.  Always print in large letters when filling out this sheet!

Dice - ISOL makes use of tried and true six-sided dice.  However, to help aid game play, dice are classified by colour.  Below are the categories of dice, along with their suggested colour (the actual colour doesn't matter, so long as each category has a discrete colour.)

Boon Dice (White) - The higher your boon dice result, the better things go for your character.  Each player will need one Boon Die, and one or two spares wouldn't hurt.

Bane Dice (Black) - These nasty little devils counteract your Boon Dice.  Just like their lighter cousins, each player will need one Bane Die, ibid on the spares.

The Stranger (Green) - There's only one in the game, and everyone's going to be squabbling over it.  The Stranger, the Sun and the Crystal (see below) are collectively referred to as Story Dice.  The Stranger is tied to themes of isolation.  Story dice can be used to help or hamper a character, depending on who is rolling them.

The Sun (Red) - Works just like the Stranger, except that it's tied to themes of strong emotion.

The Crystal (Blue) - No big surprise, the Crystal is tied to another thematic group - childishness.

The Island - An index-card sized piece of paper.  Preferably colour-coded to match the Stranger (I like to use construction paper).  The Stranger begins the game on the Island, and the Island begins the game in the middle of the table, where everyone can reach it.  The Island, Horizon, and Glacier are collectively referred to as the Planes.

The Horizon - Same trick as the Island, but colour-coded to match the Sun.

The Glacier - I believe I detect a trend.  Colour-code this slab of dead tree to match the Crystal.

Sprite/Gremlin Tokens - Any two-sided token will do, so long as you can tell at a glance which is the "good" and which is the "bad" side.  There also needs to be room to mark who this token belongs to, as every player will need one.  Othello (tm) chips work really well, if you have some white grease pencil for marking the black side.  White poker chips scribbled on with black marker work too!

Story Tokens - If you aren't drowning in glass stones by now, you soon will be.  Make a trip to your local flower shop and get a big old bunch of these pretty coloured stones.  Any colour will do, even mixed.  Every player will need a dozen.

The Quill - There's only one writing instrument allowed at the table during ISOL.  That way, everyone will be forced to focus on the story at hand.  Try to pick a good, dark felt marker that writes with a nice, sharp point.  Also, make sure that it will be legible when used on the Planes
(more on that later).  Since everyone shares the same Quill, don't stick it in your mouth...

Character Generation
or, taking a tour of the Adult Content

All players think of a character concept.  There are two requirements that must be met:
    - the character must be an adult
    - the character must not have a “proper” name

As an example, something along the lines of “humourous old fellow who needs a cane to walk around” would be fine, whereas “my grumpy uncle Frank” wouldn’t be.

Next, each player must sum up their character concept in five words or less (“little words” don’t count).  Make sure to include the following in your summary:
    - a physical descriptor
    - a mental or personality descriptor
    - a prop that the character carries (this can also be a particular article of clothing, such as Indiana Jones’ signature fedora)

To follow up on our previous example, a good summary would be “Wacky old man with cane”.  This summary becomes your character’s “name” and is what all players will refer to him as throughout the game.  Short forms may develop over time (such as “Wacky old guy”.)

Write your character’s name in large letters across the top of the Adult Content.  Print as legibly as possible, as all players need to be able to read what you’ve written!

Next, fabricate a “Naughtiness” for your character.  This is the slight that they have committed against the children – what has brought them into the Eidolon.  Remember, this isn’t meant to be a dark, horror-ridden game.  Try to keep things light.  Write your Naughtiness across the bottom
of your Adult Content.  Once again, print clearly for the sake of the other players.

The final step in character creation is strictly mechanical.  Gather up your Story Tokens, place ten of them in the spaces provided.  The remaining two tokens go on the “Ice” and “Dawn” tracks at the end nearest the base of the arrow – the Dawn track is nine spaces long, and the Ice track is
seven spaces.

Black Cadillacs - Your soapbox about War.  Use it.
Darcy Burgess

Posts: 476

« Reply #181 on: April 18, 2004, 07:32:19 PM »

ISOL part three
(part two Here)

The Rest of the Pre-Game
Character generation is the most critical portion of setting up for a game of ISOL.  However, there are a couple of other steps as well.

Generate Themes
These three themes will be intertwined with all aspects of a game of ISOL – they are what makes your game even more unique from the last game played.  If you find the suggestions provided overly limiting, feel free to add to or replace the suggested themes (there are well over 200
possibilities as presented, however!)

Roll the story dice (put them back on the Planes when you're done!) and consult the following tables:

Stranger (Alone)
1 - Confusion
2 - Darkness
3 - Fear
4 - Helplessness
5 - Insignificance
6 - Silence

Sun (Emotion)
1 - Frustration
2 - Glee
3 - Jealousy
4 - Melancholy
5 - Mischievousness
6 - Obsession

Crystal (Child)
1 - Bravery
2 - Capriciousness
3 - Contrariness
4 - Curiosity
5 - Hedonism
6 - Sweetness

Using the Quill, write each theme on the appropriate Plane.  Once game play begins, the appropriate Story Die will may only be used (for good or ill) if its theme can be worked into the story.

At this point, players should examine all of the Adult Content (paying careful attention to the players' chosen Naughtinesses), to get a feel for the competition.  Now, each player concocts a "Secret Naughtiness" for each of their fellow players, keeping in mind the themes of the game presented.  These Secret Naughtinesses should be kept just that – secret.  Get a hold of the Quill and scribble them down on a sheet of paper, and keep it hidden.  Just like when generating your own character’s Naughtiness, try to remember that what we as adults think of as a “crime” is very different from what children perceive as a Naughtiness.

Pass your Sprite/Gremlin token to the player to your left.  At this point, all tokens should have the “Sprite Side Up!”  Once the game has started, Sprite/Gremlin tokens will move from player to player.  However, they “skip” over their owner.

That’s it.  You’re now ready to get the story rolling.

Game play
The game begins with the player who suggested playing ISOL.  Game play progresses to the right once a player’s turn is done (the opposite direction that the Sprite/Gremlin tokens go).  During your turn, a new element of your character’s story will be created.  When play proceeds to the next player, their character’s story will become the focus, and so on.  Remember that although you’re telling multiple concurrent stories, the characters can not interact with each other – they are all alone in the Eidolon.

Keep in mind that as a group, you are trying to improve creative flow.  Do not engage in “blocking” another player’s ideas.  If you don’t like where a given story is going, don’t simply say “no”, but redirect it by adding to it in a new and creative manner.

Each player’s turn follows a series of steps, two of which are optional.  Along with the rules, an example of Game play is included – following the adventures of The Tired Chef in a Pouffy Hat.  Unless noted, assume that it’s the character’s player who is speaking.

1a) Waking Up (turn one only)
Narrate how your character finds herself in the Eidolon (use the Third Person, using the character’s Name as much as possible, instead of pronouns).  Make sure to include how she finds out about the rules – that she has to become like a child to escape.  Once this is established, start
your character on her journey.  End your description with a “cliffhanger” that will open up interesting possibilities for your first encounter in the Eidolon.

The Tired Chef rubbed his eyes.  He rubbed them twice.  He rubbed them thrice!  He couldn’t believe his eyes – there was a little fairy dancing on his belly!  She wagged her wand at him, a look of sadness on her face.  In a tinny voice she said, “I hope you make it home.  You’re stinky!”  With that, she flew up into the sky, a cloud of fairy dust drifting down from above.  It tickled the Tired Chef’s nose.  He knew that he had to sneeze – he held it in once.  He held it in twice!  But, he could not hold it in thrice!  With a massive snort, the Tired Chef sneezed!  The Chef’s eyes watered from the force of the sneeze, and when they cleared he was surprised to see that the fairy dust had all been blown away, except for a few specks that spelled out a message:


“I must be dreaming” said the Chef.  Adjusting his pouffy hat, he stumbled off through the underbrush, when much to his surprise...

1b) The lead-in (all turns after turn one)
Quickly summarize where your character’s story had gotten to on your last turn for the sake of the other players.  Ideally, you should also make reference to the cliffhanger at the end of the previous scene.

2) Scene Creation
One or more of your opponents now have an opportunity to offer up a conflict for your character to overcome.  For the duration of the turn, this player is known as the Narrator.  There are a few guidelines that every potential Narrator should consider when creating a scene:
    - it is considered good form to work one (or more) of the game’s themes into your scene
    - a successful resolution of the scene should bring the character closer to either discovering, overcoming, or facing his naughtiness (either his public naughtiness or the secret naughtiness you have for the character).
    - in the initial presentation of the scene, some indication should be given as to a possible solution

[narrator] The Chef’s hat, now properly perched on his little head, was nearly knocked to the ground by a very large, quickly moving...something.  The Tired Chef stopped short, and rubbed his eyes again – before him was a clearing full of large, twirling trees.  He had to crouch very low to the ground so that their bottom branches did not hurt him.  The Tired Chef, shaking his head in disbelief looked even harder at the trees – how would he make it past such an obstacle?  Maybe the answer lay in the little red earmuffs that adorned the top of each tree, which he caught a glimpse of every so often when one of the trees seemed to slow down for a brief breather.

If more than one player has a scene to offer up, the player with the most Story Points left gets to Narrate.  If there is still a tie, the player whose character is facing the challenge chooses.

3) Quick Q&A
The character’s player may have some questions about the scene.  Questions may be asked, but should be phrased as musings that the character would have, and be presented as such.

Hmmm...I wonder if I could go around this twirly wood, thought the Tired Chef.
[Narrator’s reply] No, that would be quite impossible – I’m far too tired, and I want to get home to bed.  I’ll have to find a way through this wood, although I don’t think that I could while the trees are twirling.  It’s far too dangerous!

4) Course of Action and Conflict Resolution
The character will decide on a solution to the puzzle and present it to the other players.  So long as it is feasible within the constraints already presented, the character should be allowed to proceed.  If the course of action is not permissible, the player should come up with an alternate

Now, simply coming up with a good plan is not enough to get a character through a tough scrape – the character has to be up to the task.  In ISOL, all conflicts are resolved by rolling one Boon and one Bane die.  If the Boon die comes up higher than the Bane die, the scene goes in the character’s favour.  The reverse is true if the Bane die comes up high.  Ties are a special case, and are discussed below.

The question now is, how does this mechanic differ from flipping a coin?
The answer: both players involved scrutinize the character’s Name, probing for elements that may be applicable to the conflict.  For every element that could help the character, roll an extra Boon die (and add an extra Bane die for each element that could hamper the character).

Only the highest die of each type is considered.  If they are tied, the tie is broken by pool size (if you have more Boon dice, ties are resolved in favour of the character).  If the pools are of equal size, ties are broken by your Sprite/Gremlin token – Sprite side up favours the Boon pool, and
Gremlin side up favours the Bane pool.

“I have it!” cried the Tired Chef.  I’ll crouch very low, and run very quickly.  That way I’ll be unlikely to be hurt.  Then I can get home to my bed.

[the players confer and agree that this is at least possible.  The Chef’s player grabs his Bane and Boon dice, but before he can roll them, the Narrator stops him short – “he is the Tired Chef after all, doesn’t seem very athletic to me – sounds like an extra Bane die”.  The other players concur.  The Chef’s player scrutinizes his character’s Name, and can’t find any way to leverage an extra Boon die.]

I’m not sure this will work, but it’s the best shot I have.  I hope my bed is as comfy as I remember it!

[The player rolls, and gets Boon 3 and Bane 1 and 5 – oh no!  Something has gone wrong for the Chef!]

5) Narration of the Results
Either you or one of your fellow players will take over the Narrator’s role once the dice have been cast.  Locate your Sprite/Gremlin token.  The player currently holding it may be the one narrating the result of your roll.  Sprites narrate success, and Gremlins narrate failure.  If the inappropriate side of the token is currently showing, then you narrate the result.  For instance, in the Tired Chef example, the player holding the Sprite/Gremlin token would only narrate the failed scene if the token was “Gremlin side up!”.

Guidelines for Narrating Results
    - results, whether successful or not, should include a description of what happens after the character makes their gambit
    - there is no “trying again” in the case of failure – the character must be redirected to another challenge
    - the character can not be seriously harmed or killed as a result of failure – find another way to redirect the character
    - make sure to end the narration with another “cliffhanger” to open up possibilities for the next scene

The Tired Chef loped off across the clearing, ducking and weaving below the twirling trees branches.  “I’m almost through” puffed the Chef.  Just as it looked like the Chef would make it to the other side, he got too close to a shorter tree that was spinning particularly quickly.  With a loud WHOOSH, the tree’s branches knocked the Chef’s hat off of his head, into the thick brambles on the border of the clearing.  “Oh no!  My pouffy hat!  I can’t bake without it!”  With that, the Tired Chef charged off into the underbrush to retrieve his pouffy hat.  Suddenly...

6) Bookkeeping
    - At the end of a turn, the active player moves the token on the Dawn track – bringing it one turn closer to the end of the game.
    - If the character successfully dealt with the challenge in a way that confronted his Naughtiness (don’t forget this may also be a secret naughtiness), move the token down the Ice track one step.
    - It is the Narrator’s responsibility to reveal a Secret Naughtiness if she thinks that it has been successfully overcome.
    - The Narrator removes one Story Token from her sheet to take credit for a job well done.
    - The holder of the Sprite/Gremlin token passes it to their left.  If the token was “satisfied”, then it is also flipped over.  A token is “satisfied” when its holder gets to enact the appropriate Narrative duties.
    - Jot down a quick summary of the scene just presented on the Adult Content, to act as a refresher when play returns to that character.

7) Victory (optional)
Once all characters have moved the Dawn token to its last spot, the game is over.  The winner of the game is the player whose character managed to thaw his own heart (reduced his Ice track to the bottom).  If more than one player managed to guide their character to this end, the player with
the fewest Story Tokens remaining is declared the victor.  If there is still a tie, all players vote on the winner.  It is entirely possible that no one wins a game of ISOL, and all characters remain trapped in the Eidolon.

Characters that do not manage to escape the Eidolon are now permanently trapped in the dreamworld.  Players may use them as re-occurring non-player characters in future games of ISOL.  Characters who did escape will never appear in the game again, having learned their

Black Cadillacs - Your soapbox about War.  Use it.
Darcy Burgess

Posts: 476

« Reply #182 on: April 18, 2004, 07:39:37 PM »

ISOL part four
(part three Here)

Regarding Story Dice
These are powerful “wild card” tools used in conflict resolution.  They can be used by a character’s player to help his character, or by a player’s opponent to hinder his character.  If a player currently holds a Story Die, he can use it as an extra Boon die so long as he can convince the other players that the Story Die’s theme (as printed on the appropriate Plane) bears on the scene or its resolution.  Likewise, any opponent can use a Story Die as an extra Bane Die if the same conditions can be met.

So, why would a player Narrate a scene which would allow his opponent to use a Story Die to his advantage?  Simple – if an opponent uses a Story Die in a scene you narrate, the Story Die passes to you.  Likewise, if an opponent uses a Story Die against your character, you get the Die after conflict resolution has concluded.

So, How do you get the Story Dice off the Planes?
Again, this is simplicity itself.  The first three players to offer up a scene take a Story Die as their reward.  They choose from the remaining Story Dice still displayed on the Planes.

Naughty, Naughty
Naughtinesses are the reasons that characters are trapped in the Eidolon.  Scenes should always deal with these slights, and characters should be given a real opportunity to correct their mistakes.  Use allegory, metaphor, and simile to bring these sins to light.  Often, reversing the roles and making the character a victim of the particular Naughtiness is an effective device.  When players seek to reduce their character’s Ice score, they can only do so for their public Naughtiness every other scene.  Narrators must consider this, and are strongly encouraged to include Secret Naughtinesses in their scenes as much as possible.  Failure to present a viable Naughtiness means that the Narrator does not get to remove a Story Token from her Adult Content – they did not present a viable scene for the character to overcome.

A Shorter Game with More Players
If you have a large group of players who want to play a Game of ISOL, it could make for a very long session.  To remedy this situation, merely reduce the length of the Ice and Dawn tracks, making sure that the Dawn track is two steps longer than the Ice track.

Wrapping Up
It's been a slice.  Sweet dreams!

Black Cadillacs - Your soapbox about War.  Use it.
Christopher Weeks

Posts: 683

« Reply #183 on: April 18, 2004, 08:03:42 PM »

I started thinking about this immediately after Mike opened this thread.  I jotted notes here and there over the week, not really expecting to get it done, but I find that I've finally typed it in.  I've never written a whole game before, but what the hell.  I was using the working title "Diamonds Are Forever." It's not nearly so cool now that someone else was thinking the same thing.  I guess I'll call this simply,



Before time started counting, there was only blackness and the place of the angels.  For the eternity that was before our time, the angels were creatures of perfection -- occupied only with imagining wonders.  Somehow, a great and terrible illness struck and the angels were grievously wounded.  One by one, they withered and fell.  As the last angel stood dying, she unlocked the mysteries of their immortal imaginings and, with the sweep of her arms the universe was born.

The world of land and ocean, of fire and rain, of creatures and men, came forth from nothing and the flow of time began.  The souls of the angels were gone -- passing to some other world or out of existence entirely.  But their bodies remained.  Perfect crystalline forms among the chaotic new world.  The material of their remains: harder than stone or metal, as clear as any solid can be, always cool to the touch, and fairly dripping with power, came in time to be called Ice among the men of the world.  The bodies of Ice, over time and time, met the limits of their strengths.  Cracks and breaks caused the form of the angelic bodies to vanish, replaced by rough, sharp chunks.  These, in yet more time, were reduced to many, many small pieces.  Relics of the dawn of time.

And men did covet the Ice.  For with Ice -- with the tiniest sliver of angelic power, men could accomplish great things.  But the Ice is too perfect for man to long behold.  Too bright is this light from the dawn of time to gaze into without going blind.  Those who too long sought to harness the power of the Ice forgot their connections to other men.  Men whose great works benefited all others lost track of themselves, withdrawing inside, unable to connect or to care for others.  They became islands among men, lost and alone in a sea of humanity.  Many went mad, simply stopped eating, and wasted away.  Some, as it is told, turned to stone and their remains can still be found in this or that secret place.

In time, a caste of men arose to protect humanity from the blinding light of the dawn.  Men who had a gift were born -- able to sense the use of Ice from great distances, to sense one another, they banded together to form The Guild.  To collect and destroy the Ice.  To protect people from themselves.  The early members of The Guild rounded up vast collections of Ice and did what they could to make it inaccessible.  It is said that much was dropped into the deepest seas while some was buried in the magma of active volcanoes.  There is no record of actual destruction of Ice.  And there are those -- the naysayers, who claim that The Guild has merely stolen these relics from honest people trying to get ahead in order to maintain power.  Many Guild members have met with untimely death at the hands of an angry mob, but each has sworn an oath of life to honor their destiny.


Ice is a game of story telling, role playing, decision making, and resource management.  When you play Ice, no matter your role in the game, your job is to entertain your fellows.  Remember this.  It will improve your gaming experience.  In a game of Ice, one player is the referee and has a number of special duties.  The other players are each primarily concerned with operating their character in the shared game world.  Both the referee and the other players will sometimes: act "in character" when portraying the behavior of their characters, generate outcome statements during conflict resolution that will guide narration, describe scenes in which one or more player-character appear, provide input to any and all other players about each of these aspects of play or anything else -- typically in the form of "it would be cool if this happened" statements, and manage character resources primarily (but not solely) during conflict resolution.  The eferee's additional duties include: managing narration, adjudicating statement generation during conflict resolution, interpreting conflict outcomes, and awarding resources to the other players.

The player characters in Ice are Guild members.  The defining characteristic of Guild members is The Sense.  Each member has two special sensory powers that the common people of the world do not.  Foremost, they can sense the use of Ice, sometimes from great distances.  These characters know the exact direction to the sensed phenomena, approximate distance to the user (to be described by the referee in vague terms that indicate distance accurately within an order of magnitude), and the number of relics used during the event.  The number of Ice crystals used also determines the range out from the locus of use that such detection can take place.  One crystal will disturb the aura for about fifty feet, two for about a mile, three for fifty miles, and four or more will alert all sensitives in the world.  The other ability is that anyone with The Sense can detect their peers.  If one person with The Sense sees another, she will know it.  Children who are born with The Sense are either: recruited, murdered, or hidden very well.

A traditional icon of role playing games is the character sheet.  In Ice, you almost don't need one.  Mechanically, Ice characters consist primarily of a sack of six-sided dice.  Writing the Character's name and history is easier on a sheet of paper, so you should go ahead and do that.  It also gives you a good place to record the key to your dice.  Ice characters are described with a number of characteristics, each of which must be represented by a die color.  You will choose what the characteristics are, how many there are and what weight each is given.  Characteristics can be: personal abilities, vices, virtues, personality traits, skills, possessions, or anything else you can think of.  The only real limitation is that each must be indicated with a single word.  These characteristics represent inner resources that you bring to bear when resolving conflict.  There are advantages to having few and other advantages to having many.  In addition to the colors needed for representing your characteristics, you should also have a number of clear and black dice available to represent your Ice resources and your islandization.  Each character begins the game with one Ice die and one Islandization die.

A conflict occurs when different characters in a scene want different things to happen or when the referee decides that something a player has just stated about her character's actions is difficult.  Conflicts are resolved by drawing an equal number of dice from the bag of each involved party, rolling some or all of those drawn, and following a process to specify statements about the conflict in turn that are ultimately synthesized by the referee (with appropriate player input) into a narrated resolution.  The number of dice drawn for conflict resolution is determined by the complexity of the conflict.  A simple static challenge is a three-die event.  The vast majority of opposed conflicts will be five die events.  The players and referee may choose an alternate number of dice for a conflict when it seems appropriate.  

The first step to resolving a conflict that your character is involved in is to draw the appropriate number of dice, unseen from your bag.  Before rolling any of these dice, you have the option of putting any number of them back in your bag -- reducing the number that you have available for your roll.  (Ice Dice cannot be put back and islandization dice must be.)  Once everyone has made their decisions about dice placement, the remaining dice are rolled.  Whomever has rolled the most of the lowest roll made (typically ones) is designated first conflictee (ties for most ones are settled by most twos, etc. and finally to the player closest to the left of the player who initiated the conflict) and will begin specifying outcome statements.  There are three kinds of constraints on the outcome statements: scope, consist, and order and number, but the following rule always applies: the statement should be as brief as possible with only one actual effect.  

These outcome statements will be made by the involved players in six rounds -- one for each possible die result.  Starting with the first conflictee, everyone with at least one 'one' showing on a die will make an appropriate statement.  The trick to this is making the statement fit the constraints while still steering the story in the direction you want.  Also note, each statement is constrained by the statements that came before.  If another character swings a sword at yours, your next statement may address a response to that swing, but may not undo it.  

The scope available to a player is dependent on the largest number of her dice rolled in a color-number combination.  In most cases, there will be only one die of a given color-number combination, but occasionally there will be more.  When a player has at most one die of a color-number, the scope of all of that player's statements for the current conflict is personal.  Her statements may only regard her character's behavior (e.g. "Alex swings at Barb" or "Christine try to kiss Dalton" -- where the acting PCs are Alex and Christine).  If a player rolls two of a color-number, her statements may include multiple characters involved in the current conflict (e.g. "we decide that fighting about it is senseless and retire to a pub to discuss" or "the smith and his boys get the upper hand").  If a player rolls three in a set, the scope expands to include people local to, but outside, the conflict (e.g. "a squad of the town guard rushes around the corner").  And finally, in the event that a player rolls four or more in a set, that player's scope is essentially unlimited (e.g. "a lightening storm blows in" or "The city these traders just left is plague-infested -- the disease is just starting to express on their lead man").  

The second, and most difficult of the constraints to work with, is the consist of the dice in question.  During the first round (in which rolls of 'one' are being statementized) your statement must pay homage to the characteristics for all dice resulting in a 'one,' by including some aspect of that characteristic.  This inclusion of the rolled characteristics is repeated for each round of statement making.  Routine contact with Ice channels power from the dawn of time.  Acting as this conduit erodes the psychological filters that normal humans have that help in deciding how to react to varied situations.  Ice users often have extra personal resources to draw upon, but are only able to do so somewhat chaotically.  This is part of the challenge of the game and should be considered: during character creation, and when deciding which dice to put back in the sack after you draw.  Consider, if your character is smooth-talking the palace guards and you have to make a statement encompassing "sword" and "acrophobic" you may find it challenging, though hopefully fun.

Finally, it is worth understanding the number of and order in which the outcome statements are made.  The first conflictee will start, making an appropriate statement.  The player to her left who also has at least one die with the starting number will produce an outcome statement appropriate for her scope and dice.  Once everyone who rolled at least one of the starting number has included their statement, increment the die value and repeat, once again starting with the first conflictee if she has one or more of that die number showing.  (Frequently, the starting conflictee will have had at least one 'one' and you will have a round of statement making for each of the six numbers on the dice.)

After all the statements have been made (and written down as they are stated, for most conflicts and most referees) the referee will narrate the outcome of the conflict.  She too, may not undo or ignore any of the statements.  She should understand the intent behind, as well as the letter of, the statements made and narrate a best-fit resolution.

The role of Ice and Islandization dice have thus far only been alluded to.  The use of Ice by the characters is the only form of magic that exists in the world.  The degree to which a character's actions are magical is the degree to which Ice dice are drawn from the bag (or used intentionally in uncontested behavior).  When generating statements that consist of Ice dice, you should include a degree of fantasy in the statement.  Islandization dice are merely representative of the ineffectuality and self-absorption caused by the use of Ice.  Their role in outcome statement generation is limited to providing reduced statement power.

The flow of the available dice is the real mechanic of character effectiveness.  As dice are used in conflict resolution, they leave the sack of available resources.  This is one reason the ability to put them back is important.  Islandization dice are gained through the use of Ice.  Ice dice are gained through narrated acquisition of Ice crystals.  Islandization dice slowly leave the system.  At the end of each game session, each player should remove one of these black dice before recording what remains for recomposition before the next game session.  Ice dice leave the sack the same way they get there, by narrating the character doing something with their Ice.  It could be as simple as giving the crystal to someone else, but there should be powerful in-game social obligations to rid the world of the Ice rather than just passing it off to some other hapless schmuck.  Finally, regular characteristic dice are gained through award by the referee under three circumstances: Any scene in which a character is an active participant ends with the player adding a die of her choice to her sack.  Whenever a player, through description of her character's behavior, dialog, reaction, etc arouses exceptional response (often a round of "oooh" from her fellows) the referee should feel free to award a bonus die of some appropriate characteristic.  Finally, when a character is played in a way that is particularly evocative of a listed characteristic, the referee can award a die of that type.  These awards can be a bit tricky.  It is a matter for each group to find a satisfying set of criteria to follow so that awards are none of: too frequent, too scare, or imbalanced.  Remember that all the players should always feel free to make suggestions to one another.  This includes "reminding" the referee when such awards are appropriate.


Now you know the constraints on the setting placed by this game -- the rest is up to you.  Dark ages or renaissance, semi-historic or fictitious world, these are matters of aesthetic and left to you.  The ultimate goal of The Guild, if not the player-characters in your game is to return the Ice to the original, pristine, "dawn of time" state in which it was a force of beauty and goodness.  You may choose to incorporate any of a variety of philosophies that deal with the metaphysics of Ice and angels or you may ignore those issues and focus another way.  The game leaves this up to you.

You also know how to generate characters and resolve conflicts.  You may have noted that there is no system in place for damaging characters.  It is appropriate for any character to suffer superficial damage as the outcome of any conflict when appropriate.  It is also appropriate for any player to indicate through statements that their character is available for more serious damage up to and including death.  There is only one circumstance in which the game dictates character death.  If at any time, all the dice in a player's sack are Islandization dice (black), that player's character turns to stone.  The player has full narrative rights to describe the exact circumstance of the transformation -- given that she, again, may not undo any of the conflict that was just narrated.

By default, the game is be about how to use the Ice responsibly without losing yourself.  As your character acquires crystals/shards/pieces of Ice, you should be adding Ice dice to your sack.  Any time to get rid of a piece of Ice, remove one.  As the characters (often, NPCs), engage in mundane (conflict-free) tasks, they have the opportunity to use Ice to aid them.  Because the use of Ice is the point of the game, this use (how and why) and the results should receive some narration.  Each time Ice is used for such a task, roll a die for each piece used.  Whenever a six is rolled, add an Islandization die to that character's sack.

The selection of characteristics is a bit funny.  Considering the extremes, a character with one die each of twenty types will have a more difficult time narrating conflict outcome statements, is certain to have a limited scope in conflict, and has a much easier time gaining dice through play, while a character with twenty dice of one characteristic always knows what to be planning for, has the best chance of broadly scoped outcome statements, and the hardest time keeping her sack of dice fed.

In the first paragraph of the "Set" section above, you read that all players set scenes up.  Here's how that works.  The non-referee players should each request (or be prompted for!) descriptions of scenes in roughly (or exactly) equal amounts.  Interspersed through these scenes are scenes framed by the referee.  All the players will be expressing their agenda through the scenes they choose.  The referee will also be weaving the stories of the players together and providing entertaining adversity.

Ben Lehman

Posts: 2094


« Reply #184 on: April 18, 2004, 08:51:33 PM »

So now that I've gotten a chance to actually read the other entries--


To pick out a few:  Snow From Korea, Seadog Tuxedo, ISOL, Dweomnerpunk, and Assault on Fort Joey strike me as not only brilliant pieces of game design (they all have amazingly cool little ideas in them that I don't think have ever been done before) but also as imminently playable in their present state.  Like I would love to just sit down and play them, right now, and I probably wouldn't even need to make a rules call.



p.s.  The entire text of Polaris as it stands right now is posted at http://www.livejournal.com/users/benlehman/28225.html .  This is mostly for the convenience of Chairman Holmes (the game text is, with the exception of one word, exactly identical to what appears in this thread) and anyone else who wants to read the game in one place, because i refuse to post 10,000 words of repeat on the Forge.

p.p.s.  The one word is that King Polaris, in the backstory, is now called Polaris I, in keeping with naming traditions amongst the people.

p.p.p.s. whether the people are insects, elfin snow sprites or, in fact, Europeans is left to the discover of the explorers.

John Harper

Posts: 1054

flip you for real

« Reply #185 on: April 18, 2004, 09:19:39 PM »

Well, I've made good progress on my game only to realize the awful truth: it's not fantasy. Not even with the very generous interpretation of that term for this contest. It's just... not. I'm gonna move development over to a new thread in Indie Game Design under the game's proper name: SPECOPS.

Domo arigato gozaimashita, Chariman-san! The experience in Game Design Stadium was truly an honor.

Agon: An ancient Greek RPG. Prove the glory of your name!

Posts: 102

« Reply #186 on: April 18, 2004, 09:29:17 PM »

These games are begging to be put into an anthology; maybe you call it the Iron Game Chef Fantasy Cookbook.

I'd certainly be willing to buy it; trebly so if it were a print volume...


Hans Christian Andersen V.
Yes, that's my name.  No relation.

Posts: 432

« Reply #187 on: April 18, 2004, 09:58:18 PM »


Will the games of IGC be placed in a thread that allows them to be more easily viewed (ie, without the smack talk and such)?  Or, are we doomed to witness creation from this measly vantage?

Acts of Evil Playtesters

Posts: 669

« Reply #188 on: April 18, 2004, 11:02:04 PM »

Days and Nights
Onna Oa


Well, here’s my entry.  I wish I had had more time to polish it, but it's late, and time has been short this past week.  

Forgive any historical inaccuracies.  

- Scott

The Situation

It’s 1943.  You’re a marine stationed on the island of Onna Oa, a tiny locale in the Pacific theater.  You and your fellow marines – about fifty in total – have been charged with keeping it out of the Japs’ hands.  It should’ve been a simple task; Onna Oa’s not large enough to be useful as an airbase, not close enough to anything to be strategically significant.  Apart from the bugs, it should’ve been a few months of light duty and sunshine in an island paradise.

Instead, none of you are coming home alive.  Some crazed Japanese general or admiral – whatever it is they have – has decided to make Onna Oa his priority.  Every day at the crack of dawn you’re greeted with a fresh assault – footsoldiers supported by a few bombers in the air.  Yeah, the Japs are sitting ducks wading ashore like that, but they’re crazy, and they have numbers.  It’s a war of attrition that you’re losing badly.

When you first arrived on Onna Oa, it struck you as being queer.  It wasn’t just the weird statues that littered the hillsides with their smiling, moss covered faces.  It wasn’t just the strange little shrines hidden throughout the jungles, like tiny homes for who-knows-what.  It wasn’t just the one cyclopean shrine either, palatial above the jungle canopy, carved from the perimeter of the long dead volcano that in some past epoch gave rise to the island itself.  It wasn’t any one of those things, but something else…something you never quite shook.

On the night following the first assault you figured it out.  You figured it out the moment the ogre – the ogre with the flaring tusks and onyx mask – came out of the jungle and took you to play baseball.  Of course, you had to use the limbs of dead Japs as bats, and their heads for balls.

What The Hell is Going On?

Onna Oa is a magical place, home to spirits of bygone ages seeking refuge from the mortal masses.  During the day they rest, but at night they emerge from their hiding places.  They’re not overjoyed to find their home besieged by humans, but they’re sympathetic to the plight of the unfortunate Marines.  These are men doomed to die lonely and meaningless deaths far from home.  Overcome with sadness, the spirits take it upon themselves to bring some joy into these mortals’ last days.

The problem:  These spirits can see into the souls of men, but they only barely comprehend what they find there.  They offer solace in the form of wishes fulfilled, but misunderstanding can turn a simple act of charity into one of perversion.  As a suffering Marine facing inevitable death, trapped in a place equal parts heaven and hell, can you seek refuge in your heart while protecting it from corruption at the same time?

Set Up

To play, you’re going to need a few things.

Pencils and paper, of course.

Dice, six-siders.

A Dawn Counter.  You could use a quarter, with heads representing daytime and tails representing nighttime, but a cooler counter would be a plain coaster with a picture of the sun painted on one side and the moon on the other.  Or you could do something with the Japanese flag…that would be kinda’ cool.

Some tokens.  Pennies or poker chips will work fine.  I’d buy a box of ammo and use the individual rounds as tokens, but that’s just me.


Every player character is a Marine of the rank of Private.  The only other information you need to know about your character to play TDaNoOO is:

His Name.
A Nickname.
His Appearance.
A Personal Detail that all the rest of the characters know about him.

Overview: How The Game Works

The Days and Nights of Onna Oa is divided into two “phases”:  the Assualt phase and the Dream phase.

The Assault phase is unlike the rest of the game, in that it’s almost entirely random, and is pretty much always the same.  The dice are rolled, first to determine if any Casualties are inflicted, then to determine if any of those Casualties are player characters, and finally to determine whether the Casualty is actually a Fatality or not.  Frequently, as a result of the Assault phase, players are required to reveal details about their character’s personal lives – their hopes, wishes, fondest memories, etc. – and that information is used in the Dream phase by the GM.

In the Dream phase, the GM creates scenes for the characters in which they meet and deal with the strange spirit residents of Onna Oa.  The spirits are trying to be hospitable, trying to comfort the men in their last days on Earth, but their attempts are sometimes pretty bizarre.  It’s the GM’s job to take what the players have given him in terms of personal information about their characters and create corrupted, compelling visions of the characters’ inner desires.

The Dawn Counter

The Dawn Counter has two sides – one representing Daytime and one representing Nighttime.  When the Daytime side is showing, the Assault phase is in effect.  When the Nighttime side is showing, well, you know…it’s the Dream phase.

At the end of the Assault phase, the Dawn Counter automatically gets flipped from Daytime to Nighttime.  The Dawn Counter can be flipped from Nighttime to Daytime with the consensus of any two players.

The Assault Phase

Every morning at dawn the Japanese army launches another raid on the shores of Onna Oa.  They land their troops, put their planes in the air, and shell the coastline, doing their best to kill a few Marines.  In the end, more Japs die than Americans, but not enough to deter their effort.

At the beginning of the Assault phase, each player decides how many Tokens they want for the upcoming Dream phase.  They then roll that many six-sided dice.  Each six-sided die that comes up “odd” (i.e., 1, 3, or 5) is considered a Casualty.  Take only those dice and roll them again.  If any of those dice come up “1”, the player’s character was one of those Casualties.  All other results indicate an NPC Casualty.

The GM should frame scenes depicting the deaths of NPC Casualties and how they impact the player characters.  For each Casualty rolled by a player, that player must reveal one personal fact about their character – a reason for living, brought out by the death of friends and companions.

If the Casualty is the character himself, that character dies, unless the player reveals one personal fact about their character and sacrifices all Tokens in the upcoming Dream phase.  If the player does this, their character is wounded, but not fatally.

At the conclusion of the Assault phase, the Dawn Counter gets flipped.

The Dream Phase

The Dream phase is the part of the game people will recognize as “role-playing”.  The GM will present situations to the players, to which they will respond.  The central conflicts stemming from these situations should always involve the spirits of Onna Oa – who can be as weird and as wild as the GM’s imagination will allow – and the personal information revealed about the characters, but filtered through the strange perceptions of the island’s denizens.

This isn’t easy.  This isn’t a dungeon crawl, and it’s not about fighting “hostile” spirits.  The GM would do well to play up the confusion and frustration of being unable to communicate, the inhuman nature of the spirits, and the general weirdness of it all.  Don’t forget, as GM you have NPCs besides the spirits which you can turn to too – other Marines, and even the “faceless” Japanese soldiers.

Conflict resolution is of the Drama variety.  When there’s a question about an outcome where two or more possible results are likely, the GM has final say (although the GM can never choose an outcome that would include the demise of your character), unless a player whose character is involved in the conflict spends a Token, in which case he gets to determine the immediate outcome.  The use of Tokens to earn a desired outcome is especially important when you realize that you can use these when interacting with spirits to make them understand you.

Posts: 675

« Reply #189 on: April 18, 2004, 11:07:36 PM »

IceRunner: a dweomerpunk fantasy setting

(this pretty much wraps it up for IceRunner. there's probably little setting things I forgot, like the Fae, and probably a ton of typos, too; but this is enough to present as a complete game, a dish for the Chairman.)

part 5 (part 1 located here; part 2 located here; part 3 located here; part 4 located here)

Gameplay: styles of play

playing IceRunner is simple: figure out your goals as a group and the goals of each character, then "run with it", with the GM responding to the players' decisions and filling in missing background details. the GM doesn't need to overprepare for the game: just a list of some important NPCs and their needs and desires can be enough to wing it, as long as the GM knows what the players want, for themselves and for their characters. group goals are best defined as one of three general play styles for IceRunner: Punk, Noire and Righteous.

Punk style focuses on the rebelliousness and the antisocial aspects of the sorcerous subculture. in a punk IceRunner game, the characters can be antiheros, mostly on the bad side but with an occasional glimmer of goodness. characters will mostly be outright outlaws and hermits instead of moles; players won't make much effort to keep their characters integrated with the mainstream. for more experienced groups, even an occasional Cursed PC (vampire or werewolf) might be acceptable. the questions being asked are "is `honor among thieves' enough? can you trust all sorcerors, just because you are all in the same boat? should you ever treat a non-sorceror as anything other than an enemy?"

Noire style focuses on the paradoxes of this dual-stream society. officially, the Bobility and Clergy are on the side of good, defending against threats both worldly and otherworldly; the violent rampaging armies and the subversive corrupting sorcerors. yet, the sorcerors work together as a large support group that crosses political and cultural boundaries, while decent society is oppressive and fractious; the upright nobles secretly hire sorcerors to further their own dastardly schemes, and priests impose their unbending morality, punishing tiny infractions of the letter of the law while ignoring major breaches of the spirit. PCs will include one or more moles and will tend to maintain tenuous contact with the society that rejects them. the questions being asked here are "which is more important: integrity or community? do you hate society because it is oppressive, or hate oppresssion because it corrupts society? how deep is the taint?"

Righteous style focuses on the ideals espoused by the clergy. in a righteous IceRunner game, the PCs are all Holy, with perhaps just one or two sorcerors attempting to reconcile themselves with the Church. players will send their characters on missions to defeat pockets of sorcerous evil, or will investigate hints of corruption within their parish or even within the Church or the Nobility itself. the questions being asked here are "how fine is the line between good and evil? and who draws it? is redemption possible for those who have abandoned normal society? how much leeway should you allow?"

Gameplay: player goals

once the overall style has been decided, as well as any color elements the players would like to see within that style, the players can set needs, desires and goals for their characters. needs and desires should form a part of the character concept mentioned on the character sheet. what is this character's immediate need? some sorcerors may have just fled persecution in their home village and may need a new identity; others may have a cursed family member who needs help, or may need to distract a suspicious neighbor. needs are short-term and demand an instant solution. desires, in contrast, can be a little vaguer and more of a long-term goal; sorcerors may desire redemption, reconcilliation with family, revenge against an enemy, justice, transformation of society, or many other things. the point of play for each player, then, is to explore what specifically might meet those desires.

in play, many needs will show up as a series of short-term goals in scenes. the object of the scene would be to do 5 points of "damage" to the Obstacle blocking that goal. if the goal is to get past the duke's guards watching the bridge for a suspected warlock, that warlock might make a series of stealth rolls to try to build up 5 points of "sneak past bridge" damage... and if the guards are accidentally alerted during this attempt, the warlock may be making evasion rolls to build up 5 points of "escape guards" damage. the GM might also break up a large goal like "escape the dungeon" into a series of smaller goals, like "get out of the cell", "get past the warden", and "get through the gaol door", each with a 5-point "damage" goal to overcome.

fulfilling desires will almost certainly involve character improvement. IceRunner does not include formal "experience points"; instead, all improvements are made through play, by seeking out the appropriate circumstances where such improvements can be made and working under those circumstances to make the improvement. there is even a semi-formal method for doing this in play, for each variety of improvement. it is based on the example above of breaking a large goal into smaller goals, but there are a few points that will be similar for many different kinds of improvements.

ordinary advantages can be added by addressing three goals in play: find someone who can help you gain that advantage, negotiate with that character for assistance, then work to add that advantage. the middle goal may itself wind up being elaborated by sidequests or complications. for example, if a player wants a character to become an alchemist (to add rerolls when making potions,) the character would need to find someone who is already an alchemist (5 points of "search damage",) persuade that alchemist to part with the secrets of the art (5 points,) perhaps retrieve something of value as payment for training (another goal, or perhaps even a series of subgoals...) and then actually do the work to learn alchemy (5 points of "learning" damage.)

unnatural advantages are gained in much the same way, except that you can't just study an unnatural advantage like "become invisible" the way you would study arts and sciences; the "5 points of learning damage" must be accompanied by 5 magic points invested by enchantment into the body and soul of the character who wants to gain that advantage. thus, there might be an additional goal to accomplish before beginning the final stage: find an area with the right kind of bonus magic dice, to boost the improvement rolls.

a character's Estate and Class are both really kinds of advantages: Estate counts as an ordinary advantage, while Class counts as an unnatural advantage. so a player may want to improve a character's station in life by adding an additional Estate background, such as rising to the Nobility: seeking out a king willing to ennoble the character, persuading the king through noble deeds to proceed with the ennoblement, and finally being trained in the manners of the court (how to *act* like a noble.) ranks within the nobility and the clergy exist as well, and a character may wind up with other goals, trying to build up a minor fief into a powerful duchy. and if a player wants to add an additional bonus Magic Die used in different circumstances (becoming gifted in Witchcraft in addition to Enchantment, for example,) that would be the same process as for adding an unnatural advantage, with the final stage requiring an investment of magic points.

Gameplay: general flow of play

here is a summary of some of the issues you will see arising through play during a game of IceRunner, from both an ordinary player's viewpoint as well as from the GM's viewpoint. first, a word about control and authority: the GM does not really control the story, but does have final authority on the story. what this means is that the players, when they select their character concepts and the playstyle desired, are letting the GM know what kind of challenges they would like to see and where in general they would like the story to go. the GM doesn't create a plot to match these desires, but rather creates details that could facillitate that story, as well as potential challenges that could make the story more complicated. the players respond to these details and challenges, and their response indicates where they want the story to go next: more violent? more cautious? more idealistic?

some of the player's responses will need validation: can that warlock completely control the bishop as if he were a mere puppet? other players may object to how reasonable an action may be; if the player doesn't want to modify that action, it is the GM's duty to act as final authority, using the feel of the playstyle (Punk, Noire, or Righteous) and the general "gritty, realistic, lowtech, low magic" setting feel of IceRunner as a guideline for what should and should not be allowed. the GM also has the final authority over whether a particular goal should have one stage, three stages or many more stages. in any authority case, the GM can follow suggestions, but it is the GM's job to make the decision.

with all these complications and challenges the GM is tossing into the story to make it more interesting, and given that characters in IceRunner have flexible but low-powered abilities, players are going to want a general plan on how to achieve goals. remember the general format of resolving conflicts: the GM describes the scene, including any obstacles; the players state their general intentions; they choose which of their advantages they want to use to boost damage and which to save for potential rerolls; the players and GM compare advantages on both sides to determine what the total basic damage will be, then decide on what the backfire effect might be; the players roll in initiative order (highest total basic damage first; effects are described, and rerolls are taken if desired. players may find that their odds of winning a quick victory are low; it's best if they plan ahead by using other rolls to build up temporary situational modifiers. results on dice rolls can be carried over: characters can perform simple preparations as individual rolls first, to earn a point or two, then carry these over into advantages or rerolls on the main action. and if the important roll doesn't seem good enough, players may opt to carry the meager points earned over as temporary situational advantages instead of as a point or two of damage: it's all up to how they feel like approaching the challenge.

and now, a word to the GM about how to set challenges: do not focus on killing characters, or stopping them from "shortcircuiting the adventure". there *is* no adventure, remember? it's all what the characters decide to do. the GM's duty again is to provide interesting events for the characters to be involved in. these are going to be of two types: minor challenges, which may sometimes be difficult and sometimes simple, but should never be dull or completely frustrating; and major challenges, which are "major" in terms of importance. what makes a challenge major is the temptation to use magic in a situation where Curse Dice may be invoked; it's a major challenge *because* there's a greater risk. this does not mean that the players will actually choose the magical way out, or won't figure out a way to use magic without invoking the Curse Dice; it's the decision that's important, not the roll. there should only be a small number of major challenges, so that they stand out as important events.

what kinds of major challenges to use depends on the playstyle chosen. if you are playing Punk, and if the players seem to be shooting for revenge against opressors, you would want one of the major decisions to be a chance for revenge at the risk of a curse. if the characters become robbers, put a tempting treasure in an enchanter's tower with a Curse embedded in the door. if you are playing Noire, have a wicked count order a major pogrom against innocent foreign-born merchants -- with the execution in broad daylight, or on holy ground. you can save the merchants, but you may get Cursed. is it worth it?

Righteous playstyle may focus more on major challenges that aren't on holy ground, but are under favorable circumstances to sorcery. if you use magic to capture the warlock at the crossroads, is it pure faith, or is it sorcery?

all three playstyles will also have "semi-major challenges": important decisions that are simple to achieve, do not necessarily invoke a Curse, but directly address the issues raised in play. you're hunting the friar who accused you of sorcery publicly and sent you on the run... and then you find him, but he doesn't seem to recognize you and protests he has never been to your home village. does he speak the truth? if you kill him and find out he wasn't to blame, that there was an imposter, does that matter?

in summary: the GM will keep tossing out potential challenges in scenes, which players may accept or reject, which requires a response from the GM, who must keep the game flowing. the players, for their part, must provide motivation for their characters, responding to the GM's challenges as they see fit. all of this happens within a framework of a gritty pseudomedieval world where power is scarce, but the characters must use what little they have to get what they want.

it's dweomerpunk, and it's an IceRunner's world.

John Laviolette
(aka Talysman the Ur-Beatle)
rpg projects: http://www.globalsurrealism.com/rpg

Posts: 675

« Reply #190 on: April 18, 2004, 11:25:16 PM »

Iron Chef Laviolette collapses into a chair, sweating heavily from slaving over a hot stove for an entire week and completely exhausted. but the dish has been served! and he notes gratefully that he has received notice from some of the other chefs. ah, good! he stands to make a speech:

Quote from: Iron Chef Laviolette

with so many fine dish ideas simmering in their saucepans, from snowball fights to pirate penguins to cultural extravaganzas in Korean and Inuit legend, it's nice to feel like a respected colleague! congratulations are in order for all, you've done a prodigious job. and now I will have the time to taste the other chef's dishes more carefully, to savor the details. mmmm! bon appetit!

he moves to sit once more, pauses as he remembers something, then addresses the Game Culinary Academy once again:

Quote from: Iron Chef Laviolette

oh, and also, I would like to note that I wrote the entire dweomerpunk game without once saying "he say you IceRunnah".

he smiles and collapses again.

John Laviolette
(aka Talysman the Ur-Beatle)
rpg projects: http://www.globalsurrealism.com/rpg
Shreyas Sampat

Posts: 970

« Reply #191 on: April 18, 2004, 11:36:19 PM »

I couldn't resist.
Whispers in the Door
A Snow From Korea variation

In Nihon, the summer is long, and dry, and hot, and all the men are abroad, seeking snow to cool the brows of their wives. But the courts are not silent; the halls are not still. The samurai ladies and the retainers of the daimyos are still about, weaving secrets.

The characters in Whispers in the Door are samurai ladies whose husbands and lords are abroad; in the absence of the men it falls to the wives to hold together the power of a clan, through deft manipulation of people, even men.

It is your job as a player to make sure your samurai retains the family's honour and assets, and to gather Secrets, which are the strongest avenue to power in the courts of Nihon.

One player, the Glorious Emperor of Nihon, may he live a thousand years (or referee, for a less grandiose title), does not play a samurai; he (I will always refer to the GEN as "he" and the other players as "she") has the job of describing the samurais' encounters to the players. He makes decisions about the things that happen to them as time passes, and narrates those things external to the players' characters. It's his job to make the season difficult.

How To Play:
Getting Started:
First, decide how eventful the summer will be; this determines the length of the game. I suggest that you play at least ten turn cycles worth of encounters (With particularly large groups, you might with to play less.) It is essential that you decide the length of the game beforehand.

Then, each player (except the GEN) should describe her samurai; she should write a haiku giving some idea of her character. A classical Japanese haiku is an unrhymed poem three lines long; the first and third line are five syllables and the second seven. If you're not Japanese speakers, you may want to write English haiku; don't fret too much about their length. After writing a descriptive haiku, each player should name her samurai, and her samurai's husband.

The next step is to assign numbers to your samurais' Facets. All the players should agree on a number and divide that amount of points among the Facets as they choose, putting at least 1 in each. Each Facet describes a skill that's important in samurai society; there are three, Awaré, Houjutsu, and Tanka. Awaré is the samurai's sensitivity, her feeling of the sadness of impermanence. It describes any deep emotion evoked by an external object or person. Houjutsu measures your samurai's method and artfulness, her ability to use subtle Shinto and Taoist magic. Tanka measures her spiritual discipline, skill at poetry, and so forth. With the exception of Houjutsu, these are identical to the Facets in Snow From Korea. If you are using the optional Fighting School, Inheritance, and Culture rules, here is when you should refer to them. Record these initial Facet scores.

For keeping track of characters in play, I suggest that you obtain a large pile of change, and use piles of coins to represent Facet and Secrets scores. These fluctuate rapidly in play, so it's less complicated than writing numbers down.

The GEN goes around in a circle, describing a scene with each player where the samurai realizes that she needs to take responsibility for the well-being of her house. In this scene, the names of those two characters should be revealed. Once each samurai has been introduced in this way, the players take turns describing the adventures of their samurai, with the help of the GEN. One full round of the samurai players is a "turn cycle". The "introduction" round and the closing round at the end don't count for the purposes of the predetermined game length.

Order of a turn:
    [*]Challenges: Describe and resolve all challenges that have been issued to the samurai, in the order they were issued. The challengers each decide which Facet to challenge with.
    [*]Encounter: The GEN chooses a type of encounter for the samurai to face, and it is described and resolved. Just like a challenger, he may choose which Facet the encounter concerns.
    [*]Issue a challenge: The samurai may choose to issue a challenge to any other samurai. She only gets one challenge per turn.
    [*]Resume business: The samurai's player describes what she does, now that this particular tide of inconveniences has been stemmed.[/list:u]Finally, once all the encounters are played out, the players take turns playing out a scene with the GEN where the travelling lords return from their journeys. Once all these have been played, you can determine who has won the game.[/list]Confrontations:
    Encounters and challenges are collectively called confrontations. A samurai may never participate in two successive confrontations of the same type. This restricts the options that challenging samurai and the GEN have when opposing a samurai.
    An encounter is a point in time where a samurai comes across something unexpected which tests her abilities and affects her disposition. Any encounter has the potential to change the samurai's Facets. In every case, the Facet being tested is the one at risk; it may be increased or decreased by the encounter. In most cases, another Facet may be affected by the encounter as well, its force being transferred into the tested Facet. We call this Facet the "source." There are three types of engagement:
      [*]Letter Writing! A samurai with a responsible husband will have many letters to reply to, and will often need to perform feats of paperwork, organization, and arbitration. She tests her Awaré in doing so, and the satisfaction of writing a good letter brightens her heart but its strain tires her mind and critical faculties; its source Facet is Tanka.
      [*]Magical Shenanigans! There are many strange beasts, monsters, and ghosts wandering the countryside, and in the courts there are unscrupulous courtiers with bound kami, and demon-possessed courtesans, and worse things. Magical Shenanigans are all about the samurai's dealings with the supernatural; they test Houjutsu. When a samurai wins such a confrontation, it hones her art and her methodical ability, but hardens her heart; the source Facet is Awaré.
      [*]Cutting Words! There is nothing more dangerous in the Summer Court than a sharp look from the Dowager Empress or the boy-Emperor. Cutting Words confrontations are generally those where an emotionally-charged conflict is cleverly concealed under seemingly innocuous remarks; this requires great self-restraint and a facility with words. Mundane feats of cleverness generally fall under this Facet as well. This lateral thinking undermines the structural thinking required for Houjutsu, its source facet.[/list:u]There are three modes of engagement with confrontations, which the Nihonjin call kamae (these are identical to those presented in the previous game):
        [*]Ariake no kamae:In the ariake, or "dawn" kamae, the samurai is suffused with the ki of the world; while she risks little in this mode, being guided by the perfumed hands of fate, she recieves only a minor benefit.
        Win: Transfer a point of the source Facet to the tested Facet.
        Lose: Lose a point of the tested Facet.
        [*]Kagai no kamae: In the kagai, or "assault" kamae, the samurai throws all her resources at a confrontation, laying herself bare to the consequences. She recieves a +2 bonus to the tested Facet when engaging in this kamae.
        Win: Transfer two points of the source Facet to the tested Facet. Lose a point of any Facet of the player's choice.
        Lose: Lose two points of the tested Facet.
        [*]Mujintou no kamae: In the mujintou, or "uninhabited island" kamae, the samurai seals herself off from the rhythms of the universe. She can avoid feeling the negative repercussions of her action, in this way, but it is more difficult for her to act effectively. She recieves a -2 penalty to the tested Facet while engaging in this kamae.
        Win: Gain 2 points of the tested Facet.
        Lose: Nothing happens.[/list:u]To find the result of an encounter, you need a number of 6-sided dice. The samurai rolls as many as her tested Facet, modified by her kamae, while the GEN rolls as many dice as the Facet, unmodified. Count all 1s and 6s as successes for each side. If the samurai has at least as many successes as the GEN does, then she wins the encounter. Otherwise, she loses.

        If a samurai has been challenged, that means that she meets one of the other samurai in the court, and the two engage in a contest of skills. This occurs on the defender's turn, before she has any encounters. The challenger chooses a Facet to test; the source Facet is the same as when an encounter tests that Facet. Then each samurai chooses a kamae and the dice are rolled as usual; the challenger wins if she has at least as many successes as the defender.

        Example of a challenge:
        Toyotomi Megumi is preparing to hold a costume ball, to which she invites Izumo no Emiko. Emiko sees from the wording of the invitation that Megumi is challenging her to bring the more impressive costume, so she calls her weavers and they make a trip to the silkworm-kami's shrine, seeking its advice on how to create the most nearly impossible gown.
        This is a challenge of Houjutsu.

        Megumi has a Houjutsu of 6; she is comfortable with her skills, but neither reckless nor overly cautious, so she chooses ariake no kamae to leave her Facet unaffected. Emiko has a Houjutsu of 8, but she wishes to widen that gap further, in hopes that it will unbalance Megumi to be shown up at her own ball; she isn't intensely worried that the (unlikely) consequence of her failure will significantly disadvantage her in the future. She assumes kagai no kamae for the +2 bonus to her Facet. Megumi will roll 6 dice, Emiko 10.

        Megumi rolls 1, 1, 2, 2, 5, 6 so she has three successes.
        Emiko rolls 1, 1, 2, 2, 3, 4, 4, 4, 5, 6, so she has three successes also.
        Emiko just barely defeats Megumi (because the challenger wins ties). As a result, Megumi is embarrassed at the ball and loses a point of Houjutsu, so her score becomes 5; Emiko transfers two points of Awaré to Houjutsu and decides to direct her point of Facet loss there as well, so that her Houjutsu becomes 9.

        Learning a Secret:
        After a challence where a player rolls the maximum possible successes, she learns something useful about one of the other samurai, a Secret. During her next turn, instead of describing any confrontations, she and the GEN should describe together a scene where the samurai reveals to someone that she knows this Secret. The samurai gains Secret points equal to her highest-rated Facet. Whenever a samurai would lose points of a Facet, the player may decide that the samurai uses her shadowy influence to prevent this loss, redirecting the whole point loss to Secrets.

        Autumn Descends:
        Once the season has ended, find the total difference between each samurai's initial and current Facets and subtract this number from the score of her Secrets. The higher this number is, the better she has maintained the house's well-being; the samurai with the highest score wins the game.

        Optional Rules:

        The Combat Schools rules from Snow From Korea may be directly imported into this game. It should be simple to translate the mahoutsukai rules as well.

        Culture and Inheritance:
        Just like one's knowledge of poetry and strategy can come from many places, one's upbringing can affect one's skills as well. When creating your samurai, you may exchange one point of Facet for a Culture trait or an Inheritance trait. No Facet may be affected by more than one of each type of trait. Every possible Culture and three example Inheritances follow.

          [*]Mirror of Amaterasu-Omi-Kami: You have a magical artifact - most often a mirror - made with a little piece of the Sun herself. This artifact's light beats in time with your heart, and whispers secrets into your mind. Anytime you would raise your Houjutsu, you may redirect the raise to Awaré or Secrets instead.
          [*]Lotus Sutra Armour: Your knowledge of abstract Buddhist lore befuddles the court. When challenged, you may flip a coin, and if it lands heads, you may change the challenge to one of Tanka. This is a specific exception to the rule that a samurai may not participate in two successive confrontations of the same type. Anytime you would raise your Tanka, you may redirect the raise to Secrets.
          [*]Wind-Carried Sakura Heart: You have a deep, intuitive understanding of the beauty of falling blossoms and melting snow. You can reroll your School die once whenever testing your Awaré. When an encounter would raise your Awaré, you add a point to that raise.[/list:u]Culture: Any Culture Trait adds 1 to one Trait for encounters and to a different Trait for challenges.
            [*]Earth and Sky Priestess: The kami of your home province have given you a deep respect for nature and its fragility. +1 challenge Awaré, +1 encounter Houjutsu.
            [*]Bureaucratic Prodigy: You were a star at your provincial college, and your family is at least slightly upset that you are married to a slob who is barely worthy of your talents. +1 challenge Awaré, +1 encounter Tanka.
            [*]Black Scroll: You carry an ancient spell, which strikes fear into rivals' hearts and gives you a deep sense of the weaknesses of things. +1 challenge Houjutsu, +1 encounter Awaré.
            [*]Cinnabar and Fire Lore: You have studied the magics of Shinto and Tao. +1 challenge Houjutsu, +1 encounter Tanka.
            [*]Buson's Haiku School: You know fashionable literature and are well-versed in the spontaneous composition of poetry. +1 challenge Tanka, +1 encounter Awaré.
            [*]Temple Guardian Training: You have spent time as a sohei, one of the legendary holy berserker-nuns of Buddhist temples. +1 challenge Tanka, +1 encounter Houjutsu.[/list:u]Interfacing:
            With two games so closely related, it seems almost silly to play them in complete separation, so here are some rules to play them together.

            Players: One player takes on the role of HEK and GEN; for simplicity we'll call this player the Emperor. The other players each make two samurai together, a married couple. (We'll call the Emperor "she" and the samurai players "he", in line with Snow From Korea usage. Yes, I know, this is confusing.)

            Turn Order: When a samurai player's turn comes about, he should decide which character's experiences to play out first, and play out all of them. He may sacrifice both his samurais' challenges for the turn to commune; this represents the two samurai meditating upon their place in the world, and it allows any amount of Snow or Secrets (they mystically convert) to be transferred from one character to another. This is a weird, abstract metagame mechanic that is hard to explain in the game world. A samurai questing for Snow may only challenge another samurai man; similarly, a samurai lady collecting Secrets may only challenge other samurai ladies.

            Autumn and Returning: Scoring proceeds as usual. The player with the highest total score from both characters wins the game.

            Mahoutsukai and Interfacing: Mahoutsukai may challenge any character they wish freely, unlike samurai. However, the Emperor only gets one mahoutsukai per two players (four samurai), not per three samurai.


            Posts: 675

            « Reply #192 on: April 19, 2004, 12:30:56 AM »

            Quote from: Dav

            Will the games of IGC be placed in a thread that allows them to be more easily viewed (ie, without the smack talk and such)?  Or, are we doomed to witness creation from this measly vantage?


            not to speak for the Chairman, but I would recommend that the competing  chefs make one short post identify the name(s) of their game(s) and links to each post made in this thread that is part of the final product. for example:

            Quote from: Iron Chef Laviolette

            IceRunner: a dweomerpunk fantasy setting

              [*]Part 1 (Intro)
              [*]Part 2 (chargen and ordinary conflict resolution)
              [*]Part 3 (magical conflict resolution)
              [*]Part 4 (setting details and NPC classes)
              [*]Part 5 (tying it all together and GM handling)

              here is exactly what you need to do (on Windows, but other OSes should be similar) to get that list of parts:

                [*]open two web browsers, one to this thread, the other to post a reply to this thread;
                [*]type Alt+L or click the List button in the Forge's composition window to start the list;
                [*]begin each list item with an asterisk in brackets:

                [*]type Alt+W or click the URL button in the compostion window to start out your hyperlink, then move back one character so your cursor is immediately after the "l" and before the last bracket, then type an "= "sign;
                [*]Alt-Tab back to the thread window and look for the first part of your game in the thread.  see the first line of your post, where it says the date and time you posted? notice the little icon in front of that line (it looks like a page of a document)? if you right-click that and copy the shortcut, it puts the url of the first part of your game into the clipboard.
                [*]Alt-Tab back to the composition window and paste that url right after the "url=";
                [*]move to the end of the line (after the right-bracket) and type "Part 1", then Alt+W to end the hyperlink;
                [*]start your next line with an asterisk in brackets and do your next link, then the rest in the same manner;
                [*]end the list of parts with Alt+L.
                there, not too bad at all. the one tricky part is that you need two browser windows, because the topic review area at the bottom of the "Post a reply" screen shows those little document icons, but they aren't hyperlinks on that screen; they are only hyperlinks when viewing the thread.

                if we end the thread with a bunch of short posts like this, it will make it easier for everyone (even the Chairman!) to locate all the parts of every game.

                John Laviolette
                (aka Talysman the Ur-Beatle)
                rpg projects: http://www.globalsurrealism.com/rpg
                Jack Aidley

                Posts: 488

                « Reply #193 on: April 19, 2004, 12:32:24 AM »

                If we're going to do that, might it be an idea to post the link-backs on the tuesday after all the entries are in - otherwise the collection posts will be as difficult to find as the pieces of the game are?

                - Jack Aidley, Great Ork Gods, Iron Game Chef (Fantasy): Chanter

                Posts: 576

                « Reply #194 on: April 19, 2004, 12:36:35 AM »

                Whew. I couldn't help but post all at once - the watching of excess Utena got to me (so now you know my influences). I hope y'all like it. And kudos to participating - there's some frightfully good stuff out there! Happy Monday.

                EDIT: Apolgies if the poetry/language sounds a bit flowery in the morning, but, y'know, genre! This is as finalized as I'll like this entry to be, for now.
                The Dance and the Dawn
                A shoujo-fantasy fable of romantic tragedy at the Islands of Ash and Ice, and a Thousand-Stepped Midnight Waltz for Love and Dreams at the Ice Queen's Eternal Court of Infinity.

                It tell thee, lovely, of an island far
                A darkened gale, a night, an alien shore
                And islands split of kingdoms most bedamned
                An Ashen cragg, her old Duke's ailing hand
                An Ice Redoubt, immortal Queens within
                A lonely boat, a lonely bridge, of ice, of age, of rope, of sin.
                Old memories left to curse, and frost to stain
                Shall feed the scourging maidens' lost refrain
                Of Ashes, and of exile borne of stone
                Three Ladies, lusting for the passage home,
                Who waited for the Queens most cruel invite
                And played upon the Dance and Dawn and waltzed the Cruelest Waltz of Midnight

                For such were the stories they held in the heart
                For such were the fables
                The whispers and winds
                That would tear your ears and eyes apart

                Once, Three Ladies Lived Upon an Island of Ash...
                This game tells a fable of three Ladies who came upon the Ice Queen's court, and danced with four Lords, all in the pursuit of the One True Love that could yield her happiness. The conclusion of that fable lies entirely in your hands.

                For this game, you will need:
                  [*] One dedicated player to be the Narrator (both maximal storytelling and moderating duties), and three players for the three Ladies.
                  [*] Paper and pens.
                  [*] Chessboard and chess pieces. This will represent the Midnight Court and its guests.
                  [*] Black and white colored tokens to represnt Ash Tokens and Ice Tokens. (The extra pawns will also do.)
                  [*] A large and easily reset clock. (You can also draw one on paper.)
                  [*] A stereo and a CD of waltz music, or otherwise danceable classical. (This is optional, but ideal.)[/list:u]
                  The Narrator should read the rules before hand, and could explain the rules as the story progresses. The goal of the game should be made immediately clear.

                  The Ladies Revealed
                  Each player is one of the three Ladies of Ash.  Their character is someone who - for some reason - has lost their heart and soul. The only hope they have left is that the machinations of the Midnight Waltz may bring them their One True Love. For the Ladies of Ash, it seems that only in union with their promised Lord can they find redemption.

                  First, each Lady shall select a black chess piece to represent her, and no two Ladies shall have the same piece. (The Narrator may decide in case of disagreement.) Each piece has its own connotations which will reflect upon the character:
                    [*] Bishop: pious yet self-interested
                    [*] Knight: wordly yet arrogant
                    [*] Rook: stoic yet hard-hearted
                    [*] Queen: social yet domineering
                    [*] Pawn: humble yet passive[/list:u]
                    Having selected a piece, each Lady has her own piece of paper, upon which she should complete the following sentences, as they relate to her character:
                    [list=1][*] I once was ...
                    [*] I loved ...
                    [*] I feared ...
                    [*] I lost ...
                    [*] I wish ...[/list:o]
                    This final one is most important, as this reflects the goal of your Lady, and the key to finding her One True Love.

                    Once everyone has derived these, these should be read out loud. (The Narrator should take note of all of these, especially the "wish".) Then, while the Narrator secretly creates the Lords, each Lady should atempt to write two couplets describing herself, one describing her past life and one describing her gown and appearance. Remember, the Midnight Waltz is one of glamour above all; make sure to describe as stunning an outfit as possible. Finally, give each Lady her name.

                    The Lords Revealed
                    The Lords are the reborne souls of four former adventurers who had died in the pursuit of whatever wordly goals they once had. They are saved from the oblivion of Hell itself only by the indulgence of the Ice Queen, and so they are kept endlessly frozen until the time of the Dane. The Lords awaken from the ice only upon the stroke of midnight, and return to their icy sleep immediately as dawn breaks.

                    The Narrator's task is very important, as he will create the four Lords. Firstly, pick one white chess piece to represent each of the four Lords. Each piece has its own connotations, reflecting the Lord's past life and inner nature:
                      [*] Bishop: a cleric, devout yet naive
                      [*] Knight: a paladdin, noble yet tyrannical
                      [*] Rook: a warrior, resolute yet coarse
                      [*] King: a wizard, learned yet arrogant
                      [*] Pawn: a rouge, resourceful yet conniving[/list:u]
                      Each of three Lord is described by five phrases, which correspond to those of the Ladies:
                      [list=1][*] I once was ...
                      [*] I loved ...
                      [*] I feared ...
                      [*] I lost ...
                      [*] I will ...[/list:o]The fifth is most important, and must be defined first. For three Lords, each Statement of "I will" corresponds precisely to one of the Wishes of the Ladies, so that each of these Lords is that Lady's One True Love and hope of redemption. For the fourth Lord, however, his statement is simply "I will... never be yours." This Fourth Lord is a man entirely damned; his embrace can provide no redemption, only eternal entrapment in the Ice Queen's court.

                      Once this basic statement is defined, define the other four statements so that they provide some clue - but not too much - as to the fith. Finally, name the  four Lords, and his identity is complete. Hopefully, the other players have finished their couplets by now.

                      The Court Assembled
                      The Narrator will sit behind one corner of the chessboard. The three players will be arranged around him clockwise, in order of the ranks of their chess pieces. (Chess ranks: Queen > Rook > Bishop > Knight > Pawn.) The Ice Queen (White Queen) and Duke of Ash (Black King) will share the Narrator's square, as they oversee the Waltz. Each player shall begin with her piece in her square; the four Lords will begin each night in the very center of the floor.

                      The Narrator may want to begin by reading the story's opening sonnet aloud, and then describing the Ice Queen's Court in lush detail. Then, in clockwise order from the Narrator, each player will read her two couplets. Once all are read, the Narrator may reward and Ash Token to the best couplet describing a Lady's past, and an Ice Token to the most extravagant dress. These rewards should reflect the subjective feelings of the Duke of Ash and the Ice Queen. respectively, and may instil some jealousy among the Ladies themselves.

                      Aside from chessboard, there should be some sort of clock to keep track of the time at the Court. Each night's waltz begins at midnight (12) , and ends at dawn (6).

                      Play will proceed in accord with the Laws of the Dance.

                      The Classical Laws of the Dance[list=1][*] A Lightness of Step: Each movement across the chessboard is in the form of a knight-move, as per standard chess. Both pieces are kept to a single square, and are moved together.
                      [*] A Rule of Rhythm: Just as a waltz is of a 3-beat rhythm, similarly each Lady's turn consists of 3 moves around the board.
                      [*] A Social Occaision: A waltz is a social opportunity, and an opportunity to learn intimitately about your partner. In between dance steps (moves), a Lady may socialize in ONE of the folling ways:
                        [*] ask your partner a question (which a Lord may avoid, but never directly lie)
                        [*] compliment your partner
                        [*] compliment a nearby Lord or Lady (and optionally, request an exchange of partners)
                        [*] compliment the Ice Queen or Duke of Ash (and optionally request a favor)[/list:u]Thus, on a Lady's turn, she is expected to: move; action; move; action; move; and then end her turn.[/list:o]
                        The Lesser Laws of the Dance[list=1][*] A Respect for Rank: demur to one's betters. Each night, play begins with the highest-ranked piece on the board; turns proceed clockwise until the dance is complete.
                        [*] A Direction of Time: The waltz must proceed clockwise, and only clockwise, around  the center of the board. Indeed, all events should be handled clockwise if possible.
                        [*] A Respect for Time: When ever one crosses the gaze of her hostess (the line between the Narrator and the center of the board), then the clock shall advance by one half-hour.
                        [*] A Partner Selected: When the dance begins, each Lady (in order of rank) shall select one Lord from the center of the floor, and move it to her own square to begin.
                        [*] A Spirit of Sharing: When a lady is adjacent to another Lord, she may always request an exchange of partners. Even if the Lord is already dancing with another Lady, this request must always be obliged.
                        [*] A Sharing of Song: When the music changes in the background, the partners shall rotate. The Ladies' markers shall remain still, but each shall pass her partner along to another Lady to a clockwise direction.
                        [*] A Law of Courtesy: When your step places you next to a fellow Lady, it is obligatory that you spend your action to compliment her. Similarly, when one is near the Ice Queen it is obligatory to compliment her still more graciously. A duty to one's hostess naturally supercedes an obligation to one's fellows.
                        [*] A Polite Exit: The Ice Queen's court is reclaimed in ice at the stroke of Dawn, and so it is improper to remain there so long. Each Lady must leave the Ice Queen's island by Dawn (by returning to her home square). If she has not returned by Dawn, then her tardiness will have earned her hostesses's displeasure; she will not be permitted to enter to next evening's Waltz until 1 o'clock. (The only exception is the Third and Final Dawn.)
                        [*] A Favor Treasured But Never Hoarded: When passing (and complimenting) the Ice Queen and Duke of Ash, a Lady may also request a favor of either the Duke or the Queen. The Duke will provide the Lady with an Ash Token, while the Queen will provide an Ice Token; a Lady may only request one such Token at a time, and may never carry more
                        An Ash Token presents the Duke's weakened power of memory, regret and nostalgia. A Lady may spend her Ash Token to reveal a personal anecdote or moment of sincerity that would reveal her true character; in doing so, she earns an extra turn.
                        An Ice Token represents the Ice Queen's stronger powers of mischief, ego and jealousy. One may spend an Ice Token to poison a Lady's compliment. The compliment should be dripping with covert malice and sarcasm; the effected player loses her turn in shock (and her chess piece is knocked over). HOWEVER: if the victim has no Ice Tokens of her own, she may choose to keep her attacker's spent Ice Token, for the Ice Queen's taint is a seductive one.[/list:o]
                        Once all players understand the Laws of the Dance, then play may procede.

                        The Three Nights of the Dance
                        And so, for three nights the Ladies shall position themselves, using dance and dialogue to discover which of the Lords holds to the key to their redemption. Each night's dance will persist until all Ladies have gone home, or until the clock has struck 6 and Dawn has broken.

                        The Ever After
                        As Dawn breaks upon the third and final night, it will finally be time for each Lady to choose her Lord. It is here and only here that the Rule of Rank is contravened: players, beginning from lowest ranked chess piece to highest, will each pick their Lord. Once all have selected, their individual fates will be revealed:
                          [*] Lady selects her One True Love: The Lady and her Lord will return to the Homeland to begin life anew. The player will share her Lady's happy ending.
                          [*] Lady selects a Lord, but not her One True Love: The Lady and her Lord are an imperfect match; they shall return as the Dukes and Duchesses of the Island of Ash, and custodians to newly arrived Ladies. The player will share her Lady's bittersweet ending.
                          [*] Lady selects the false Lord, who "will never be yours": this Lady's fate is most merciless and cruel, as she is absorbed as another eternal prisoner of the Ice Queen's court, burning in frost immortal. The player will share her Lady's final words.[/list:u]

                          The End
                          And hopefully, a most happy one.

                          About Gender
                          This text refers to Ladies and Lords in fashions that are genre-appropriate, heteronormative and occaisionally stereotyped fashions. (Bonus points if you can find the mother/maiden/crone symmetry.) Nonetheless, there is no reason that the Lords cannot be female, that the Ladies cannot be male, or that both genders could be mixed. Like any game's rules, the implicit rules of sexuality should also be played, experimented, avoided, mocked or superceded at your leisure.

                          Epilogue: The Most Bitter End
                          This game is intrinsically unfair. Players will act unjustly to each other, and even the most spiteful character may have his happy ending. The gameplay is secondary ot the story, and the story is a remarkably subjective art. And what if the Narrator takes his liberties in designing his Lords? What if all of them "will never be" the key to a Lady's redemption? Where does that place the hopes of our protagonists?

                          Alas, there has at least been some beautiful music.

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