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General Forge Forums => Actual Play => Topic started by: Lord Goon on November 23, 2008, 11:21:43 AM

Title: Pantheon and Universalis (split)
Post by: Lord Goon on November 23, 2008, 11:21:43 AM
Have you ever tried PANTHEON?

Title: Pantheon and Universalis (split)
Post by: Ron Edwards on November 23, 2008, 01:07:04 PM
The above post was split from Universalis-like game mechanic (, a thread well over a year old. Please start new threads rather than resurrecting old ones; it's perfectly all right to follow up on old topics and link to them like I did for you here.

I've played Pantheon, and I think you're bringing up a very relevant comparison. Yes, there's a big difference between making stuff happen to characters and having your character do something, which as I recall, was actually a problem for us with that game. At least for our group, the mechanics became mainly about fighting over story-control and less about rolling the story-in-progress down the road.

I'll definitely say that I didn't try every scenario nor did I try to see, through play, whether a better experience might be had, so my aim here isn't to pan the game. So it'd be very interesting, as well as a strong basis to compare with Universalis, to know about your experience with it.

Best, Ron

Title: Re: Pantheon and Universalis (split)
Post by: Lord Goon on November 24, 2008, 12:03:51 AM
Your point about PANTHEON is well-taken. I anticipated this problem when I introduced it to some non-gamers; What I told them was that part of the point of play was to get the biggest "collective"score as well as a better score for your PC relative to other participants in a given session. This seemed to help a bit.

I think Pantheon is maybe unique amongst RPGs in that this very small tweak in the mechanics makes it best suited for "tournament"-style play. I've been angling for a gig teaching an interactive writing course in an MFA program, and I think it's be ideally suited for this sort of environment. It'd be a good exercise to have students come up with score sheets for their own original scenarios.

Like the website, by the way! A terrific resource - just discovered it recently.

Title: Re: Pantheon and Universalis (split)
Post by: Ron Edwards on November 24, 2008, 08:45:25 AM
That's an interesting tweak. Um, bear with me, because I know I've already split your post, and now I'm going to suggest another forum shift. I think we ought to move this thread to Actual Play, and really dig into what happened with that Pantheon game. I still have my book, and it'd be great to learn more about how to make the game fly after basically setting it aside with little hope.

OK with you? To move the thread and focus on that topic? The alternative is to let this thread stop (it's not really a First Thoughts topic) and you can pick up with posting something else any way you like.

Best, Ron

Title: Re: Pantheon and Universalis (split)
Post by: Lord Goon on November 27, 2008, 12:42:19 PM
Ron - shift away! I don't know how much insight I really have to offer, though, since the game was with non-gamers and I made up the rules tweak on the fly. But I have been thinking abut using Pantheon again in a teaching context, so I'd love to chat more about it.


Title: Re: Pantheon and Universalis (split)
Post by: Ron Edwards on November 29, 2008, 09:56:52 PM
Whom did you play with? Was it a class of some kind, and if so, what age group?

And also, which of the five starter-sets did you use, and what happened in the story? One of my concerns about the first four is that they may tend to produce the same thing (emulating a genre) over and over again.

Best, Ron

Title: Re: Pantheon and Universalis (split)
Post by: Lord Goon on February 15, 2009, 02:41:49 PM
Ron: Hello again, and apologies for the long layoff. Private life issues messed me around for the past two months and I had to suspend virtually all hobby-ish activities for a while.

In answer to your questions about PANTHEON, though, I played the submarine scenario with a bunch of colleagues (two fellow college professors and their highly precocious kid) during a long car ride. The whole thng did actually descend pretty quickly into an exercise in tongue-in-cheek genre parody, but in spite of this nobody got too silly, and by the end of the session (it took a little under two hours) we all agreed that we'd actually put together a pretty nicely-constructed narrative about shifting allegiances and tests of character as a fearsome, never-fully-described monster chased our characters around the sub.

It was actually just this fact about PANTHEON that led me to think that it might work in the classroom. I've been hinting to the folks who run the MFA in Creative Writing at my school that I'd be interested in teaching a course in Interactive Storytelling for them. I think Pantheon might be a fun, rules-lite way to introduce the class to the whole idea of interactive storytelling while at the same time allowing them to experiment with various ways of pushing the constraints of genre to the breaking point. If I do get the gig, I might even have them write "modules" for the game in their own favorite genres as a class assignment.

Sorry again about the time lag - please feel free to shuffle this discussion around the board as needed.