Obsidian Serpent Games is owned by Chad Davidson, the author of the Heirs to the Lost World RPG. That indie RPG is set in an alternate 17th Century Caribbean where the native civilizations of Mesoamerica have not collapsed. While parts of the Caribbean have been colonized by Europeans, the setting has a wealth of PC options including Aztecs, Mayans, Conquistadors, Maroons (escaped African slaves), pirates, members of occult/magical secret societies, and much, much more. The game is backed by unique, stunting and action dice mechanics that open up interesting tactical choices. Thus the game appeals to both gamist and narrativist orientations. I helped edit the manuscript for the game, and have GMed it many times, so I can hardly claim to be an unbiased reviewer of the game or of Chad's Inspiration Cards, which can be used with Heirs to the Lost Word and many other games. (All of which being said, I don't have a financial interest in game or card sales.)
Inspiration Cards are a deck of 60 cards. You can see a sample card by looking at the "Anatomy of Card" section of the RPG Inspiration Cards' free information sheet.
As you can see, each card has an image. Some of these - especially the Mesoamerican images - were photos taken by designer Chad Davidson. The remainder are public domain art that is appropriate for a number of different Classical, Medieval, and Renaissance settings.
As an example, I will use a card with the Title "Plow". It shows two men from ancient Egypt using oxen to pull a plow. Under the card's title is an Archtype (e.g., Agriculture) - a sort of marker for the category/theme of the card, an Event (in this case, "Insects"), a Trait (in this case, "Boring", which reminds me of Marx's quote about the idiocy of rural life!), and a Quirk (in this case, "Complains about work"). So, the card can be used to:
- Evoke a scene (as in the image)
- Evoke an object such as a plow
- Describe an aspect of a person or activity (Character Trait)
- Provide more flavor for an NPC (Character Quirk)
Each card also provides you with:
- An element (the four classical elements plus void)
- A terrain type
- A body hit location
- A weather condition
- A phase of the moon
- A grid and hex facing
- A random syllable (which will be useful for non-Everway settings where the GM needs to invent a nonsense fantasy name on the spot
- One of six character stat characteristics
Significantly, each card also has an outcome for each of the following die roll types: d2, d3, d4, d5, d6, d8, d10, d12, d20, and d60. It also gives you an outcome for a FATE die roll. So, a total of 11 die types. While I own one of Gamescience's D-Total dice, which also provides 11 die types in one die (although they are not all the same dice as in the Inspiration Cards), I find the Inspiration Cards much easier to use as randomizers, since each die type is coded on the card with a symbol. No funky re-rolls or exclusions required with the cards.
If you have used Fortune Cards, you will find yourself using Inspiration Cards in similar ways. For example, here's how I used the cards in a recent RPG. I was GMing "The Fight Club of Paris", a homebrew convention scenario for the Three Musketeers RPG, All for One: Regime Diabolique. In once scene, a player was trying to seduce someone. I drew "Plow" as the ultimate outcome of their successful seduction roll! That one seemed fairly obvious. In another case, a player was trying to break into an alchemist's house, and wanted to know if he had been seen. I drew the "Owl" card, which has the Archtype "Wisdom" (which didn't seem relevant) but the Owl image itself seemed perfectly evocative of being watched. I also made card draws for weather and crowd reactions during scenes in the city and at the Fight Club. All in all, this added a lot of interest to an already fun game. The players really got a kick out of having Inspiration Cards at the table.
That's enough for today.
Tomorrow, I will share some ideas for how to use the Inspiration Cards in your Everway game. Then, on Thursday, I will share the first of several encounter tables created with help from the Inspiration Cards.