Bridgeways: Return of the Phantom Isle
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Appendix 1: World vs. Hero
World vs Hero is a two-player storytelling game written by John Fiore and published by Word Mill Publishing. In this game, a World Player and a Hero Player take turns writing exciting scenes to challenge one another creatively while telling amazing tales of daring heroes in fantastic worlds. The Hero Player creates a cast of daring heroes, while the World Player controls the villains and adversaries of the world, creating dangerous situations and challenges for the heroes to overcome.
Play proceeds by the two players exchanging written (or spoken) scenes. The World Player describes a threat or some challenge that impedes the heroes’ goals, then the Hero Player writes a scene where the heroes either overcome the threat or are impacted by its consequences. This proceeds back and forth so that each player gets 5 turns per rounds, for a total of 8 rounds in the game.
The real kicker is that both the World Player and the Hero Player are limited by the types of scenes they can write, and the impact those scenes can have on the developing story. A random set of playing cards called a Tableau is drawn at the beginning of each round. The cards present in this Tableau limit the types of scenes both players can write, and in fact the types of content they must incorporate into those scenes.
At the beginning of the game, the Hero Player defines several heroes (usually 2-3) to serve as the protagonists for the adventure. These heroes have a number of suit abilities with ranks that total a pre-determined amount (usually 5, but sometimes more). These suit abilities describe what the heroes are capable of and the special powers and abilities they possess.
The suit of the ability should match the general type of the power or maneuver according to the following guidelines:
- Spades – dexterity, speed, nimbleness, talent
- Hearts – wisdom, spirit, insight, often magic
- Diamonds – intelligence, cleverness, ingenuity
- Clubs – strength, beauty, physical alteration
The rank of the ability determines the maximum Impact that ability can be used at. An ability with a rank of 2, for example, cannot be used at higher than Moderate Impact. The particular abilities the Hero Player can use in a given scene is determined by the cards available in the Tableau.
Where the Hero Player has heroic abilities, the World Player has Conflict Lists. The World Player creates a list of potential threats and conflicts for every physical location (or sometimes Round) in the game. There are always 10 entries in a conflict list. Before a round begins, the World Player populates the Conflict List with the types of challenges he or she believes might be present to challenge the heroes in the coming round. The severity of the threats should increase as the number increases, with the most severe threats being assigned the highest numbers in the list.
The tableau is a set of 5 cards that determines the types of narratives the World Player and the Hero Player can create each turn. Each player must use each card exactly once in a round.
For the World Player, the rank of the card determines the subject of the threat (from the Conflict List table or from Mythic) as well as the maximum impact. Higher ranks mean higher possible impact. The World Player may increase the impact by using paired cards.
- A-3: Low Impact
- 4-7: Moderate Impact
- 8-10: High Impact
- Extreme Impact through paired cards
For example, if the World Player uses a card with a rank of 5, the scene must include the subject matter for entry 5 of that round’s Conflict List and will be of Moderate Impact. The player can include other subject matter if he or she chooses, but the scene must center around the topic from the Conflict List.
For the Hero player, the suit of the card determines which hero suit abilities can be used and at what impact. The Hero player may increase the impact of the scene by using cards of the same suit, up to the maximum rank of that hero’s suit ability. Additionally, Aces can be used to bring an Ally into the scene to help the heroes.
- 1 suited: Low Impact
- 2 suited: Moderate Impact
- 3 suited: High Impact
- 4+ suited: Extreme Impact
- Face card of suit: Extreme Impact for FX ability
Normally a new tableau is drawn at the beginning of each round so everyone is surprised, but here I’ve done it all at once since I’m not using a real deck.
Round 1: 9H 6D <u>AS</u> 7H 4C
Round 2: <u>AC</u> 7D 4S 2C 3S
Round 3: KH 5C 5D 8C 4H
Round 4: 9S 5S 2D 8H TH
Round 5: 3H 4D 6C <u>AD</u> 6S
Round 6: JD 2S 9D 3C TC
Round 7: 7C 5H 3D QS 7S
Round 8: 2H 6H TS 8S JC
Mythic GM Emulator
Mythic is a brilliant system for playing solo RPGs. The Mythic RPG and GM Emulator are written by Tom Pigeon and published by Word Mill Publishing. Mythic allows you to play pretty much any tabletop RPG without a GM, or play it completely solo, by providing a set of rules and tables that can answer questions.
In this game log, I play the role of both the World Player and the Hero Player, effectively turning WvH into a single player writing game. The only thing that separates this from just writing a book, is that I as the writer am surprised by what happens next. In order to accomplish this sense of surprise, I make use of Mythic GM Emulator.
From time to time (or perhaps rather frequently, you may see me asking questions in italicized text. Mythic is really good at answering yes/no questions, but it can also answer complex questions if you’re willing to do a bit of interpretation.
In order to keep myself guessing, many of the Challenge List entries that the World Player uses are generated by Mythic. The Mythic system provides a series of words that describes what the scene might focus on, and then it’s up to me to interpret that in the context of the ongoing story. Whenever you see a World Player scene that starts with something like “Locale, Deliberate / Move / Dispute”, this is Mythic providing a random seed to start the scene.
Yes, sometimes it doesn’t make sense and I’m forced to re-roll, but 90% of the time there’s a perfectly reasonable way to interpret the result and it often moves the adventure in a cool new direction.
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