One week on from CottageCon and my gaming group is picking the bones out of the various experiences we had there. For me, there were two direct revelations. The first was that Duty and Honour worked as a system and is worth pursuing into further development. Thats the minor one. The second however, is more wide-ranging and that was the experience of playing Spirit of the Century.
In Ian's Blog he's been talking about the game and the various things that it revealed at the table, as well as the coming of fruition of one of his gaming journeys. In some ways, I feel that it was the same for me too, in a less stated fashion, because SotC pulled together a lot of the styles, theories and practices that I have been reading about, talking about and blogging about over the last year. In my reply to Ian's post today, I said that it acted as an ink and paper lens that focused some of the things we have done as a group since we formed in 2001. It was a great game.
Since then however, I have got my hands on the pdf version of the SRD and printed and bound myself a copy. In a plain format without the 'flavour' I actually find the system far easier to absorb and appreciate. It was during this appreciation that I realised the most damnable thing - this game is echoing so much of my own desires about games, it's actually annoying. For example, it's long been a source of curiosity that I like to use the system of chargen to form the character that I play rather than the other way around. I see a STR 16 on my Pendragon character sheet and I think 'OK, I wanted him strong, but what else does that strength say about the knight? What about his attitude? What about his relationships etc.' Oh look at SotC and it's wholly character developing character generation system, all sat there, on paper, in front of me! Its great and yet it's distressing. And the ability to form that strength into an Aspect and then impose that strength on the game in a special manner, unique to your character is just so correct in my eyes. I could go on, but that SRD is really quite an inspirational read for me.
So why the hate? Well, three things. Firstly, I can think of about a dozen games I could run NOW based on those rules (or a very quick and easy mod) but I know we just don't have the time in the gaming schedule to do it nor are we likely to soon. The freeflowing combat and open minded character generation system just scream 'fantasy' game to me - pulpy fantasy heroes and dastardly sorcerous villains. Ah, happy days.
The second thing is that I spent the afternoon dissecting Pirates of the Caribeean III through the bloody lens of Aspects, Invokes, Compels and 'Escalate! Escalate! Escalate!'. Pleasant but distracting fun.
Sadly the final thing is that I am rapidly coming to an unfortunate conclusion regarding my own Omniverse system. I think it might be superfluous and in some ways rather accidentally derivative. This came up when we first did SotC chargen and Aspects came up. My system uses virtually the same thing, albeit in a slightly more abstract manner. And my Flux is a less elegant version of Fate points (especially seeing some of the more mundane uses for Fate points from the SRD). Barring the stress track and the inbuilt 'progression' my game uses, the two are pretty damned close. Moreover - and I take some cold comfort in being big enough to admit it - that game is written really well, in a way that I wish I could actually put the words down on the paper. It's become apparent to me that there is a great difference between being able to think up a system, writing the crunch and actually transcribing that crunch onto paper in a way that is understandable by someone who isn't called Neil and doesn't have Neil at the table!
I hate being a fanboy and I know that in some circles SotC is seen as the newest fad, the next so-called big thing and something that is just having it's time in the spotlight. However I am genuinely entranced by the bloody thing and thats not something that I have been used to from game systems. How can I put it? Where some games are great despite the system and some are great and the system facilitates this by not being crap, SotC is the second game I have ever found that really powers a great game through the system itself. Pendragon is the other one but I am a self-confessed Pendragon fanatic, so thats a given.
Hey, and I'm playing Pendragon and SotC at the moment. Woot!
So yes, love SotC because it has pushed all of my buttons. Hate it for coming at an unfortunate time and possibly deep sixing my own game. Well, one of them. Duty and Honour ftw!