Friday, August 31, 2012

The Wolves Of Shimmermoon Bay
The Wolves of Shimmermoon Bay are an aphorism, a legend, and a warning to the King of Everway. For people in the city, the aphorism "When you see Wolves in Shimmermoon Bay" means "Be careful what you wish for." 

The aphorism refers to the legend that in ancient times, there was a wicked Emerald King, who while hunting in the Forest became smitten by the beautiful Rabbit Queen. The King demanded her favors. She agreed, on the condition that the King would rid the Forest of her children's greatest fear: the Wolves of the Forest.

The King agreed. He asked the Council for solutions. A number were proposed, from a great hunt, to poison traps, to bringing in an apex predator from another sphere. The King was satisfied with none of these ideas. Finally, the Crookstaff and Snakering Counselors put their heads together and came up with a trick: use magic to bury the moon deep within Shimmermoon Bay. When the wolves come to worship it as they do every night - just drown them.

This plan worked all to well. In fact, when the Rabbit Queen learned of their plans, she whispered them to the Shark King. He and his children were only too happy to gobble up the confused wolves as they struggled to swim away from the moon and fill their lungs with fresh air.

The King had his one night of bliss with the Rabbit Queen. Rabbits are fickle. A day later, the King was found dead in his royal chambers - his throat torn open. His bed linens were covered in muddy paw tracks

The wolves were never again seen in the Forest. Instead, coyotes and hyaenas took their place. No one was happy: not the rabbits and not the hunters seeking out game in the Forest.

Ever since that time, sailors have reported tales of Ghost Wolves walking on the waters of the nighttime Bay. These sightings are almost always an ill omen. They usually foretell misfortune for the current Emerald King.

The Whiteoar family's exploited this legend during their Civil War with the Council. The Whiteoars' pirate allies in the lands surrounding Roundwander were called the Wolves of Shimmermoon Bay.

Still Here

It has been an unusually busy week, so I apologize for the lack of a post yesterday. We'll be getting back up to speed starting tonight!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

OTE 20

Horus stands watch over # 8 of 500
numbered and signed by Jonathan Tweet
This year marks the 20th anniversary of one of Jonathan Tweet's other great creations: the roleplaying game Over the Edge. The 20th Anniversary Edition reprints the second edition of OTE on much nicer paper and with a leather cover. It also has a section at the front of the book with full color pages and retrospective essays by Robin Laws, Keith Baker, Greg Stolze and Jonathan Tweet. I'll post some reflections on these as I read them. The front section also has a beautiful two-page spread with a gorgeous full color map of Al Amarja!

There are some interesting mechanical connections between Everway and OTE especially  both games' lean and narrativist character designs and point-based power systems. And you don't need to buy the book to explore the system. This year, Atlas Games published the WARP system as an OGL system! You can find links to the WARP system OGL SRD here.

I remember a con report back in the day - I believe it was by Tweet and not Stolze but I might be wrong - about a linked series of three convention scenarios featuring Everway's evil schemer dragon Alurax. The first took place in Everway, the second took place in Tweet's Ars Magica setting, and the third took place in OTE. It sounded really fun!

The closest I ever got to running OTE was running an Ars Magica-Vampire: the Dark Ages fusion game that was set on Al Amarja! I placed the island in the Baleric Isles. I decided that in the Middle Ages it was known as Al-Majar. A crazy schemer wizard was building a second Noah's Ark there and planned to flood the world to rid it of vampires! I remember the PCs surprise when the wizard kept on fighting ever after they beheaded him... they don't make evil schemers that way anywhere else than in Al Amarja!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Tekumel Event At Con Of The North 2013

 Temple of Vimuhla as displayed at the Barker Memorial
"A Fire Forever In Motion"*   c. 2012 John Everett Till

I am happy to share details on the Tekumel event I am planning to run on Sunday, February 17, 2013 at Con of the North, from 2-6 PM. 

I will be using the FATE system to run the game.

“Raid on the Temple of Vimulha”   SUN 14-18 slot
There’s a hostage to rescue, a book to “recover”, and untold treasures beneath the temple of the fire god in the city of Katalal! But are YOU brave enough to face the greatest warriors on Tekumel? Come and experience the rich and exotic “Swords and Planet” setting of Tekumel, the Empire of the Petal Throne. No previous Tekumel experience required!

*Vimuhla, Tekumel, and Katalal are intellectual property of Professor M.A.R. Barker. No challenge to this IP is intended. Please do not reproduce or reuse this photo without my permission. John Till

Monday, August 27, 2012

Table 6: Table Of Gates

Do you need to determine the nature of a gate? 

Roll a D30 and consult the table below. If you want to create a Hybrid gate, combining the features of two or more gate types, just roll twice on the table.

Die Result:

1-10: The gate is an Earth gate. This is the conventional type of gate featured in the Everway game. A Spherewalker uses this kind of gate to walk to another realm or sphere.

11-13: There is no gate. Instead, a Tidal Pool forms a interstitial zone between adjacent realms or spheres. Slip into a Tidal Pool and you disappear. You may reappear at the same point of departure later, or depart into an entirely different realm or sphere. Tidal pools often combine one or more elements (earth, air, fire, water), or extend the local features of a scene into a much large space (i.e., an infinite library or a colossal Gormenghastian castle-city).
13-17: The gate is a Water gate. These form in rivers, streams, ponds, oases, waterfalls, swamps/marshes, lakes, seas, and oceans. They connect two spheres by water. The Whiteoar family of Everway were masters of such gates.

Fire Masked Djinn by blackskull 8 
18-20: The gate is a Fire gate. The user literally walks through flames to move from one sphere into another. These are often found naturally in volcanoes and lava flows. Temporary fire gates are often formed as a result of a magic ritual involving conflagrations. These gates are difficult for humans to use, although they are favorites of demons and djinn. 

Friedrich Johann Justin Bertuch (1747-1822)
21-23: The gate is an Air gate. These gates connect the skies of different worlds. These can be used by a range of avian creatures, such as the godlike Rukh, Hawk- and Eagle-Men, and shapeshifting Eagle Knights. 
24: The gate is a Floodgate. This is a pluripotent gate that creates a new realm on the other side of the gate the first time it is used.

25: The gate is a Puzzle gate. Most of these gates are portable, and take the form of a clockwork device. They are used to summon fearsome gods and demons from the planes beyond. Sometimes they are used by assassins; more often they are the playthings of foolish hedonists. Their creation and use is prohibited in many realms, including Everway..

26: The gate is a Paradox gate, also known as a Fractal gate. These living, growing gates seethe with magical energies and open into many other spheres simultaneously. Prismatic gates have a prismatic effect:: passage through the gate will split the Spherewalker split into many different copies of him/herself that wander the spheres never to reunite. There is a sect within the Walker's Pyramid Cult that believes this has happened to The Walker.

27: The gate is a Timelike gate, connecting a realm to a different time in either the past or future. The destination may be to the same realm at a different point in time, or to another realm entirely. Many of these gates are one-way. Some connect to realms that have imploded and no longer exist.

28: The gate is a Fleshgate. The gate is part of the body of a dead or living god, and draws the Spherewalker deeper into the god's being and essence. Few Spherewalkers return after traversing such a gate. Those who do are radically changed.

29: The gate is a Caster's gate, created by the potent magic of a mortal wizard. These gates always have a flaw. Some are always open - any person or monster can use it at any time with no need for a Spherewalker to guide them between the realms. Others bleed strange radiations that warp the realms adjacent to the gate.

30: The gate is a Dream gate, allowing the Spherewalker or other persons to enter the realm of dreams. Such gates can be found in unusual, dreamlike locations, such as the lakebottom ruins of dead cities or ancient battlefields where the corpses of the slain haven't rotted. Temporary dream gates can also be created for a price by the potent drugs of the Pipe Dreamers.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Celebrating The Everwayan's 100th Post!

Scenario Seeds For The 
Island With Two Kings

The first order of business is getting to the Island With Two Kings. There are a few different ways that Spherewalkers can get there. One approach is to take a boat from the land of the River Kingdoms to the South. The more southern Land of a Thousand Pyramids has numerous forgotten gates. The more northern Land of the Yellow Pharaoh has three gates in its capital, the City of The Awakened Sphinx. The port city of Lighthouse also has an important gate, and is a major crossroads for traders, scholars, and bookhounds from many different realms and spheres. On the Island itself there is also a long forgotten grove of trees a just short walk from the Royal Palace. That gate is called the Pan Gate because it is guarded by a faun. Finally, there is a Water Gate about half way between Lighthouse and the Island With Two Kings. That Water Gate connects to the ocean sphere known as Shallow Grave.

Once Spherewalkers have arrived at the Island With Two Kings, they will discover several different opportunities for adventure: 
  1. The Sea King is going slowly insane due to the incessant bellows of the Bull King. The beast demands more and more sacrifices, which is further eroding support for the Sea King. The King asks you to solve this problem. He offers to make you as rich as King Midas in return for helping him pacify the Bull King. 
  2. One of the Sea King's young heirs has climbed down the pit into the Labyrinth. No one knows whether the child's disappearance is some new trick of the Bull King, or whether the child  just went exploring down there as a lark. A rope ladder is still anchored to the upper rim of the entrance to the Pit.
  3. Any Spherewalker within the walls of the palace will feel the pull a very powerful gate or network of gates below the palace. Many Spherewalkers will want to explore the the Labyrinth to find the source of this energy. See the Table of Gates on Monday for inspirations on the gate system below the palace.
  4. Uprisings and plots plague the Sea King's empire. His Admirals plot against him. His Queen is unfaithful and rumored to be a poisoner. (The Sea King has many ailments and believes she is behind several of them.) Even the Sea King's children plot against his rule. The Sea King seeks to escape once and for all through the gate complex in the Labyrinth. Will the Spherewalkers help him descend into the Labyrinth, protect him from the Bull King, and help him find another realm to rule?
  5. It is rumored that the Sea King has harnessed great sea monsters such as The Kraken. The mere threat that he would unleash such monsters is sufficient to keep the Tribute Islands from rebelling. Do the Spherewalkers think this is fair? Can they do something about it? Alternatively, they may be asked to rescue a rebellious Tribute Island that is about to be attacked by The Kraken or another of the Sea King's monsters.
  6. The Sea King has announced an ambitious new project to increase land in cultivation by building dams that will lower the level of the Middle Sea. Great magical energies are being unleashed in the Far West to raise the sea floor in the Great Ocean which lies just outside the Pillars. This has caused vast mud flats to appear inside and outside the Pillars. Many lost artifacts and treasures can be found there.
  7. A mighty earthquake in the seabeds beyond the Pillars is sending vast tidal waves ripping across the Middle Sea. Is Lord Poseidon taking revenge on the Sea King and his Admirals for impiety? Can the Spherewalkers save the Island With Two Kings from the devastation to come?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Bull King

Just as the Sea King is bound to his Royal Palace and cannot escape it, so too the Bull King is bound to his Labyrinth. Sea Kings come and go, but the Bull King has never died. He was born from the magical workings, pain, and rage of the last Sorcerer-Priest, who was hurled into the Labyrinth by the Sea King. From the Sorcerer-King's rage was born an avatar of the God of Might and Storms: the Bull King.

The King who rules below lives within the Labyrinth-gate. He can feel it growing in extent and power. The Bull King feels the Labyrinth-gate's connections to other realities. But for all his rage and cunning he cannot truly see or use the Labyrinth as a gate. Instead, he endlessly wanders the Labyrinth looking for a way out. He looks up from the pit and bellows to the Sea King and his court, demanding sacrifices. Indeed, it is said that his bellows drive the Sea King and his courtiers half-mad.

This avatar of the God of Might and Storms embodies male psychic and physical aggression against other males. He sows confusion, fear, and domination. First one is lowered into the Labyrinth. Then one wanders in fear. Then one becomes lost. Fear mounts further. Then comes the confrontation between the hapless sacrifices and the god. The Bull King shows no mercy toward those who are lowered into the pit as sacrifices.

It is said that only a Spherewalker can set him free.

Antoine-Louis Barye

The Bull King
  • Fire: 8
  • Earth: 9
  • Air: 3
  • Water 1: 

  • Terrifying Bellow: The Bull King can strike fear in any hero depriving them of one action as a conflict begins. Prolonged exposure to this power over weeks or months invariably leads to madness.  (3 point Earth power - frequent, very powerful, but not versatile).
  • Make the Walls Move: The Bull King confuses and frightens his victims by stalking them for hours or days before beginning the final confrontation. He can make walls move and branch, or a corridor suddenly end in a wall (2 point Earth power: frequent, powerful).
  • See in Absolute Darkness: The Bull King sees perfectly in total darkness (1 point power: frequent).

  • The Bull King knows many secrets of the court. 
    • He retains the memories of the male flesh he devours. 
    • Feed him male flesh and he may be disposed to share his secrets. 
    • Feed him female flesh and he will tell you lies. 
    • Consume his brains and you will learn his secrets directly. You will also be unable to find your way out of the Labyrinth.Your Water Score will also drop permanently to 1, and you will no longer be able to Spherewalk.
  • If the Bull King is slain:
    • His right horn can be fashioned into a musical instrument capable of playing his Terrifying Bellow once per day.
    • His left horn can be worn as a fetish which will provide a +2 Element Score for any attempt at seduction.
    • His heart, if devoured, will grant an increase in one's Fire and Earth Score of +2.
  • If the Bull King is slain, numerous personal articles will suddenly become visible throughout the Labyrinth. These include: 
    • Perfectly preserved costumes and jewelry of the Bull Dancers; 
    • Swords, knives, and shields of sacrifices who were afforded the dignity of being able to die with a weapon in their hands.
    • Personal mementos and talismans of protection worn by sacrificial victims.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Labyrinth Beneath The Palace

Beneath the Royal Palace on the Island With Two Kings there is a vast Labyrinth. The first Sea King ordered the Labyrinth built a place to offer sacrifice to the God of Might and Storms.

One guise of The God of Might and Storms 
Its architecture was devised by Sorcerer-Priest hostages that the first Sea King brought to the island from the River Kingdoms to the South.
The Labyrinth that the captive Sorcerer-Priests devised was to play a cruel joke upon the Sea King. When  built, the Labyrinth bound the Sea King forever within his Royal Palace; he could walk no further East, West, North or South than the furthest extents of the Labyrinth below. No wonder that successive Sea Kings built more and more additions onto the Royal Palace.
But the Sorcerer-Priests' revenge extended further. When the King realized he was trapped in his palace, he executed all but two of the Sorcerer-Priests. The Sea King demanded that the two remaining ones build a gate into the Labyrinth: one that the King could use to escape the palace as a last resort.

They replied "This has already been done; we anticipated your request. But you will only be able to use the gate one time." The King, enraged slew one of the Sorcerer-Priests with his double-headed axe. The other he had hurled down into the Labryinth.

The Sorcerer-Priest's curses and howls of pain and rage were heard for days. Then, one day they stopped. Instead, the King and courtiers above heard the snorts and bellows of a beast, the clop-clop of hooves on stone, and the sound of horns scraping the walls and pillars in the Labyrinth below. They heard the voice and sounds of the God of Might and Storms, demanding sacrifices. Thereafter, whenever a youthful acrobat stumbled or fell while performing the Bull Leaping Games, they were lowered into the Labyrinth as a sacrifice to the Bull King, the King Who Reigns Below.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Island With Two Kings

The Island With Two Kings:
  • Virtue: Fertility - Growth
  • Fault: The King, Reversed - Tyranny
  • Fate: War - Great Effort vs. Misspent Effort

The Island With Two Kings was founded by the Axe Folk, the enigmatic invaders who were the scourge of the River Kingdoms to the South. The invaders sailed northwards from the River Kingdoms until they saw a long, thin beautiful island before them. When the Axe Folk came ashore discovered great forests, volcanic hills, and rich fertile plains. 
The island was already inhabited by graceful, athletic farmers and fishermen. The Axe Folk quickly conquered them, established their cult of the God of Might and Storms, and built a vast sea fleet of warships and trading vessels. Within a few centuries, the Island With Two Kings became a great sea power of fearsome seaborne warriors and mighty traders. The Kingdom's double headed axe became the feared symbol of its power in the numerous Tribute Islands in the Middle Sea.
Bronze Axe from Messara, Crete
The island's power and wealth has grown with each generation. Each successive Sea King has built onto the kingdom's Royal Palace. The complex sprawls over many acres now, and hides an enormous labyrinth below. Every year, many beautiful young men and women are lowered into this labyrinth as sacrifices to the Bull King who rules the great labyrinth below the palace. The King Below is said to guard a gate to another world, a gate which only the King Above can open.
And that Day of Opening may come soon. Whispers among the courtiers in the Royal Palace say this gate was created as an escape route for the first Sea King, should his subjects rebel. The current Sea King for his part acts as if he suspects a rebellion is imminent. And it may be. There is discontent among the Admiralty with the ceaseless wars of conquest, which are unpopular with the masses and a hindrance to the accumulation of private wealth.

And the King's drive for wealth to fund his war efforts is relentless. Ever-increasing taxes on trade and the peasantry have led parents to sell their children into slavery to settle debts to the state. Large slave agriculture estates new compete with peasant producers, creating ever more economic pressure on the peasant folk. And in more distant lands, Tribute Islands that fail to make their annual sacrificial tribute of youthful servitors and gold are dealt with ruthlessly. The King's spies are everywhere, and more and more people find themselves accused of disloyalty and hurled down into the labyrinth of the Bull King.

Meanwhile the Sea King has announced an ambitious new project to increase land in cultivation by building dams that will lower the level of the Middle Sea. Still more slaves from the Rimlands to the Far West have been harnessed for this great project. Is the Sea King insane? Many wonder, and the Sea King's Admirals are debating the merits of a coup...

Monday, August 20, 2012

Special Week, Special Series

Friday will be our 100th post on Everwayan, so to celebrate we're doing a special miniseries this week. We'll create a new realm, a creature in that realm, an item associated with that realm, and some plot hooks for that realm.

We're beginning today with the card draws for the realm.

Virtue: Fertility - Growth
Fault: The King, Reversed - Tyranny
Fate: War - Great Effort vs. Misspent Effort

We will also draw four RPG Inspiration Cards for four specific locations in the realm:

Location 1: Trickster - Deceit (Terrain type: Plains)

C. 2012 Obsidian Serpent Games
Location 2: Skull - Finality (Terrain type: Forest)

C. 2012 Obsidian Serpent Games
Location 3: Blind Man - Justice (Terrain type: Forest)

C. 2012 Obsidian Serpent Games
Location 4: Magician - Unnatural (Terrain type: Plains)

C. 2012 Obsidian Serpent Games
We'll post the Realm description tomorrow!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Lost Days Of Memories And Madness

Imagine you are an immortal, decadent elf, living in a vast communal palace with numerous others of your kind. You vie for the favor of your King or Queen, or wait for the chance to oust and replace them. Your armies have conquered the entire known world, but they remain on the move. All of your kind are dependent on the memories of others. You are a group of memory voyeurs stealing the memories and experiences of conquered subjects - as well as the memories held by other elves.

Here's a sample memory:
Memory created by Rachel Kronick
Sounds pretty Everwayan with that "Emerald Dome" reference, no?

For the elves, madness is always on the horizon, but madness itself just becomes a part of play.

If all this sounds a bit New Weird + Melinbone + Gormenghast + Clark Ashton Smith + Jack Vance, your're pretty much on-track.

But it's a roleplaying game.

Last night, my gaming group tried a new narrativist indie RPG: Andrew Kenrick's "Lost Days of Memories and Madness", published by Steampower Publishing. The game is distributed by Cubicle 7.

The game starts with each player crafting four memories on index cards or pieces of paper. Each memory is written, like the one depicted above, as an "I remember..." statement. Then players use tokens (glass beads in our case) to take turns bidding on the memories created. So your character can end up with memories created by other players and by yourself. Some memories are marked by a "K" which indicates a memory of Kingship.

Here's how the table ends up looking:

The Notorious Eric Gilbertson played
the King, Aura Foam
The small squares of paper are memories. The beads on them represent the bids that were made to win those memories. The beads give you dice to use in play, when you take action by evoking a memory. There are a total of three characters on the table.

The player who has the "K" memory card with the most bid tokens on it (and there can be multiple K cards on the table, becomes the King. The King opens up the scenario being played, setting the stage and the initial challenge for the players.

I won't get into all of the action and mechanics, but the game is fun. People who have experienced and like Fiasco will already have a sense of how the game plays.It feels like it is most suited for long, single session table play rather than a campaign. Play can become somewhat PVP, as players may opt to take each others' memories. I hope we get to play this one some more!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Consequences And Concessions In Inter-Organizational Conflicts

Yersterday, we shared the turn by turn sequence of exchanges which make up and inter-organizational conflict in the Everway setting. Today we talk about the ways that conflicts end through the accumulation of Consequences or by means of a Concession.


Consequences are always chosen by the organization whose Stress Track is affected by the shifts resulting from the loss of an exchange in an inter-organizational conflict. An organization may only take three Consequences (Mild, Medium, and Severe in any combination) before it is Taken Out and removed from play, losing the conflict on the winners' terms (subject to GM modification).  

There are three kinds of Consequences:
  • A Mild Consequence reduces one of the affected organization's Skill scores by 1 point temporarily; mild consequences go away as soon as a conflict is over. The organization taking the Consequence selects the Skill score to be temporarily reduced. Each Mild Consequence also imposes a temporary and negative Aspect upon the organization - one upon which an opponent may Take A Bead for the remainder of the conflict. This temporary and negative Aspect may be determined by the player whose organization takes the Consequence, subject to GM approval.
  • A Moderate Consequence reduces TWO of the affected organization's Skill cores by 1 point, or ONE Skill score by 2 points. The organization taking the consequence selects the Skill score to be temporarily reduced. The organization taking the Consequence selects the Skill score(s) to be reduced. The GM determines the duration of the reduced score; it lasts for at least the entirety of the conflict and perhaps for some time thereafter. Each Moderate Consequence also imposes a temporary and negative Aspect upon the organization - one upon which an opponent may Take A Bead for the remainder of the conflict, and perhaps for some time thereafter.  This temporary and negative Aspect may be determined by the player whose organization takes the Consequence, subject to GM approval.
  • A Severe Consequence reduces THREE of the affected organization's skills permanently by 1 point, or ONE Skill score permanently by  2 points and another permanently by 1 point, or reduces ONE Skill score permanently by 3 points. The organization taking the consequence selects the Skill score(s) to be reduced.  Each Moderate Consequence also imposes a lasting and negative Aspect upon the organization - one upon which an opponent may Take A Bead for the remainder of the conflict, and for some time thereafter.  This lasting and negative Aspect may be determined by the player whose organization takes the Consequence, subject to GM approval.
An organization may offer a Concession at any point in an exchange (up to the point of being Taken Out) in order to end the conflict. In doing so, the player of the organization offering the Concession negotiates the terms under which the conflict is ending with the player of the opposing organization. Both parties must agree to the terms of the Concession.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Steps In An Exchange

Today, we will explore the blow-by-blow rules for playing out each exchange (or turn/round) in an inter-organizational conflict in the Everway setting.


Conflicts progress through a series of exchanges in which the following steps are repeated until one party is Taken Out or offers a Concession to the other::

  1. Each party rolls 1d6-1d6. It is desirable to use differently colored dice within each 1d6-1d6 pair, so that one d6 can represent negatives (-1 to -6) and the other die can represent positives (+1 to +6). Rolling the two dice and adding their results together produces a range from -5 to +5.
  2. Both parties choose a Skill score to add to their 1d6-1d6 roll for a final numerical result.
  3. Either party may Take a Bead on one of their own Aspects for +1 to their own result.
  4. Either party may Take a Bead on one of their opponent's Aspects for +1 to their own result, while transferring a Bead to their opponent. The opponent must agree to this exchange for this action to go into effect.
  5. Results are compared. The difference between the two contending organizations' results is called shifts. Shifts are applied to one of the two Stress Tracks of the organization losing that particular exchange. Common sense and the intent of each side in the exchange should be used by the GM to determine which Stress Track is effected. 
  6. Once a Stress Track has received up to its rating in shifts, any additional shifts create Consequences.
  7. The action sequence above repeats itself until one party accumulates 3 Consequences or Makes a Concession to end the conflict.
Next post, we will describe Consequences and Concessions.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Strategy In Inter-Organizational Conflicts

Yesterday, we shared an overall framework for playing organizations and initiating inter-organizational conflicts in the Everway setting. Today, we take a look at the strategy behind opening moves in these conflicts.


Once it is clear that an organization is initiating a conflict with another organization, the next step is for the GM to determine the time scale for each exchange between adversarial organizations engaged in conflcit. The time scale might be hours, days, weeks, or months. The larger the scale of conflict the more likely it is that the conflict will have a greater time scale.

Conflicts pit an organization's Skill scores against another organization's Skill scores over a series of exchanges. In the first exchange, the specific Skill scores involved (i.e., one on each side) relate to the Skill used by an organization to initiate the conflict. This Skill can be countered by the other organization with whatever Skill score makes the most sense in terms of the organization's initial response to the organization initiating the conflict.

So for example, a mercenary company could initiate a conflict with a merchant league by trying to use Fire (Force) to disrupt the league's trade routes. The merchant league could choose to respond by using its Earth (Resources) Skill to hire its own mercenary force, or use Water (Influence) to appeal to the government for protection.

In subsequent exchanges, each organization uses whatever Skills make sense for pursuing victory in the conflict. This may involve actions that involve any of the four organizational skills: Fire (Force), Earth (Resources), Air (Knowledge), and Water (Influence).

More on the series of steps involved in resolving each exchange in a conflict in the next post.

Domain-Level Play Rules for Everway

Last week, I shared a simple stat block and some examples of companies/organizations/guilds in for use in Everway. Today, I am sharing a very simple framework for using these organizations in your Everway campaign. Inspirations include the Everway mechanics themselves, as well as the rules for companies in REIGN and the organization rules in Starblazer Adventures/Legends of Anglerre (FATE).

The overall architecture below is FATE. I will use the term Beads in place of Fate Points, as in my earlier Aspects and Beads posts.

Please keep in mind that what follows is just an outline at this point.


An organization may be played by one or more players/PCs, or by NPCs and the GM.

Conflicts between organizations occur whenever an organization engages in an activity designed to harm another organization or its interests. This harm may occur through:

  • Physical/military means
  • Economic means 
  • Interventions in the realm of thought, ideology, and knowledge
  • Interfering with another organization's political/social influence and influence

These conflicts occur through the use of four organizational Skills. Organizational skills are coded by the four Western elements:

  • Fire (Force) - physical/military force and magical might
  • Earth (Resources) - economic wealth (including agricultural, mineral, and human capital) and wealth
  • Air (Knowledge) - intellectual capital, abstract or theoretical knowledge, and practical knowledge, know-how, and expertise
  • Water (Influence) - soft power, prestige, and influence

The first step before an organization takes an action opening up a conflict is for the player to determining what the organization intends to do. Is it making war, expanding trade routes, introducing new ideas, or engaging in character assassination doing something else?

Each layer and the GM must each decide for each organization they control. Once the first organization to declare an intent has done so, a conflict between two or more organizations is initiated.

The first to declare an intent is normally the first to act. Of course, disputes between organizations about which should act first can be resolved by having the organization with the higher Fire (Force) Skill score - regardless of the nature of the conflict engendered (military, economic, ideological, social) - act first in the conflict.

Organizations can Take A Bead on one of their own Aspects for a +1 Fire Skill score increase for the purpose of acting first. They player of one organization may also Take A Bead on a rival organization's Aspect to take one away from the Fire score of the other organization. Of course, in this situation, the player of the rival organization must agree to taking this disadvantage, and the player offering to Take A Bead must pay a Bead to the rival organization's player.

Next time, we'll elaborate the conflict sequence.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Question Of The Day

One dear friend (who in the past played the Spherewalkers Immanuel and Pepper) inquired recently about the ultimate purpose of the blog.

The conversation turned toward the question of whether there would be any interest among some readers in being part of a play-by-post Everway game in the near future.

I have had good experiences with these in the past, and quite frankly, I feel my time with The Everwayan has helped me cultivate the discipline required to sustain such a venture.

Please do let me know if there is interest.

Send me a message at tallgeese dawt wing AT gmail dawt com.

I am also interested in knowing if anyone has had success in doing this on a blog, as opposed to an email listserv. Feel free to add comments below!

We'll be back on Monday with some organizational mechanics. In the meantime, posting at 12 noon CT today, I'd encourage readers to check out part one of the interview I just completed with RPG designer Sarah Newton, the author of Chaosium's Chronicles of the Future Earth.

If you are interested in RuneQuest, I think you'll find part one interesting.

And if you are interested in the transhumane, you will really want to read this!

Part two of the interview goes live on Monday.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Stat Block For The Salt Trading Company

Organization: The Salt Trading Company

The Salt Trading Company is a very modest Merchant House whose members ply the salt and spice trade in small caravans across several spheres. They are a chartered company of the Salt family of the realm of Roundwander. The family lives in a few seaside villages just beyond Shimmermoon Bay. These villages extract salt from the sea for sale in other realms. This salt is highly valued in other spheres where it is believed to bestow favor on those who use it to preserve and flavor their food. The Salt Trading Company also purchases spices unique to the realms it visits and imports those into Everway. The Salt family has not grown rich from the trade, but their kin-villages are content and well-fed.

  • Strength: The Peasant - Simple Strength Hard work is always rewarded
  • Weakness: The Unicorn, Reversed - Temptation Travel can make you want to leave forever
  • Opportunity:  Overlooking the Diamond - Failing to See Opportunity vs. Recognizing Opportunity  Sometimes, it's good to diversify
  • Association = One Additional Aspect:
    • We sell good luck!

  • Fire (Force) 1
  • Earth (Resources) 3
  • Air (Knowledge) 2
  • Water (Influence) 2

  • Order 5
  • Treasury 5


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Stat Block For The Red Beaks

Organization: The Red Beaks

The Red Beaks are a small mercenary company run by Stabber Crow, one of the numerous bad seeds of the Crow family. The company specializes in contracts that no one else wants. The Red Beaks have several Spherewalkers and mages, and their contacts typically involve work in other spheres. This is critical, since Stabber Crow is a persona non grata in the city of Everway. The Red Beaks have a keep  in the realm of "Ashland, a land of smoky volcanoes , deadly cockatrices, and devious goblins" (Playing Guide, p. 23). This is the springboard for most of their operations, which take place several gates away from Everway.  The Red Beaks always maintain one or two factors in Strangerside. Ask the rougher sorts on the street, and they can point you towards them.

  • Strength: The Griffin - Valor We never run
  • Weakness: The Smith, Reversed - Evil Effort They'll think twice next time
  • Opportunity:  The Satyr - Indulgence vs. Moderation  Barely under control
  • Association = One Additional Aspect:
    • We get the job done - so do we have a deal?

  • Fire (Force) 3
  • Earth (Resources) 2
  • Air (Knowledge) 1
  • Water (Influence) 2

  • Order 5
  • Treasury 5


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Stat Block For The Library Of All Worlds

I will be posting organizational stat blocks for a few days, followed by some simple mechanics for inter-organizational conflict.

Organization: The Library of All Worlds

  • Strength: Knowledge - Truth The Library embodies knowledge
  • Weakness: Summer, Reversed - Exhaustion Many projects here are never completed
  • Opportunity:  The Priestess - Understanding Mysteries vs. Impracticality  Driven to discovery or driven to distraction?
  • Guild = Two Additional Aspects:
    • The Chamber Platinum are our eyes and ears
    • Acquisitions are our hands

  • Fire (Force) 2
  • Earth (Resources) 3
  • Air (Knowledge) 8
  • Water (Influence) 3

  • Order 5
  • Treasury 5


Monday, August 6, 2012

Organizations For Domain-level Play in Everway

Below is a draft of a format for domains/organizations/companies such as Merchant Houses, temples, mercenary companies - even families - in Everway. The format I am proposing combines Everway-style elemental skills with FATE-like Aspects.

I'll use this format to stat out a couple of organizations tomorrow.


Organization name:________________________

  • Strength  (chose a tarot-like symbol):
  • Weakness  (chose a tarot-like symbol):
  • Opportunity (chose a tarot-like symbol with upright vs. reversed meanings)
  • Additional Aspects:
    • Associations will have one additional Aspect
    • Guilds will have two additional Aspects
    • Orders will have three additional Aspects

  • Fire (Force)
  • Earth (Resources)
  • Air (Knowledge)
  • Water (Influence) 

Skills are rated 1-10. 

Associations are organizations involving one or more villages, or a town. They will generally have skills in the 1-3 range. Assign up to 4-8 points to the four skills for these organizations, assigning no less than one point per skill. 

Guilds are organizations involving one or more cities or a realm. They will generally have skills in the 4-6 range.   Assign 8-16 points to the four skills for these organizations, assigning no less than two points per skill.

Corporations are organizations involving several realms or an entire sphere; they can also span realms on different spheres that are connected by a gate. Assign 12-24 points to the four skills for these organizations, assigning no less than three points per skill.

Organizations have two stress tracks: one for Order and one for Treasury. Each stress track has a default of 5 blocks.
  • The Order stress track takes stress from the shifts inflicted by Force-related conflicts, as well as from conflicts that seek to divide or otherwise disorganize the organization's structure and systems. 
  • The Treasury stress track takes stress from the shifts inflicted by conflicts targeting Resources.
  • Either track may be effected by shifts resulting from attacks on an organization's Knowledge or Influences. The attacker selects the most appropriate track to target, with GM approval.

  • 3 for an organization whose Skills are in the 1-3 range
  • 4 for an organization whose Skills are in the 4-6 range
  • 5 for an organization whose Skills are in the 7-10 range

Friday, August 3, 2012

Domain Level Play For Everway

I had an epiphany yesterday on how to create rules for Merchant Houses and other organizations in the Everwayan multiverse. Rules already exist for companies, organizations in RPGs such as REIGN, Starblazer Adventures, and certain editions of D&D, respectively.

There are ways to do this for Everway, using elements and Aspects to parallel the FATE fractal in which characters, vehicles, and organizations can have essentially similar stats and mechanics, differing only in scale.

I am going to build that out for Everway, using a variation of the OGL FATE Mechanics.

The details will be presented next week on The Everwayan.

In the meantime, I am participating this weekend in the 20th anniversary celebration for Diversicon, a very readerly Twin Cities, Minnesota convention devoted to diversity and inclusion in the genres of F&SF and horror. Wikipedia has a good entry on the history of Diversicon.

Tananarive Due
This year's Guests of Honor feature the return of power couple of Tananarive Due and Steven Barnes.

Steven Barnes
Our posthumous guests of honor are Charles Dickens and Andre Norton.

I will be running a Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space scenario titled "The Lion's Blood, the Witch, and the Wardrobe: Consider the Alternatives!" It is a tribute romp through the creations of past Diversicon Guests of Honor including Andrea Hairston, Nndei Okorafor, and Eleanor Arnason.

I will also be moderating two panels that may be of interest to readers of The Everwayan:
  • The Politics of Steampunk   
  • The Planetary Romance 100 Years Later

On my other blog,, I will be posting my prep notes for the two panels. Please feel free to stop by and check them out. The first will go up this evening, the second tomorrow morning.

See you Monday with some domain level play for Everway!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Table 6: Inter-Sphere Trade Items

What kinds of items are traded between the spheres? Here is a D30 table to get some ideas flowing.
  1. Luxury goods including: 
    • Books and scrolls
    • Spherepaths, atlases, and maps
    • Fortune Decks (especially variant designs)
    • Items uniquely associated with a specific Sphere or Realm (e.g., you only find Pyramid Cult medallions and rosaries in Everway)
    • Items associated with a historical figure (ruler, folk hero, Spherewalker from a particular realm)
    • Fine rugs and textiles
    • Jewelry and other apparel
    • Cosmetics
    • Musical instruments
    • Paintings
    • Furniture
    • Jade items
  2. Gold and gems
  3. Saffron
  4. Other spices
  5. Religious relics
  6. Sacred articles (e.g., sage, holy water, dragon relics) used in rituals
  7. Demon jars
  8. Magic items
  9. Grains. Magically modified high-yield grains are increasingly popular trade items. Some of high yield grains cannot be used as seed. Trade in these grains makes farmers in one sphere dependent on magi in another to produce new seed corn
  10. Mankines
  11. Human slaves (the sale of which is prohibited in Everway)
  12. Salt
  13. Fruits, especially the transportation of fruits that are in-season in one realm to another where those fruits are not in season (or simply impossible to grow)
  14. Magic fruits
  15. Various alcoholic beverages.
  16. Recreational and ritual drugs
  17. Domesticated animals
  18. Specialized or superior breeds of domesticated animals
  19. Rare or exotic animals
  20. Magical creatures
  21. Creature parts
  22. Small machines, magical or otherwise
  23. Weapons and armor.
  24. Dragon-backed currency and items that were once part of Dragon hoards 
  25. Dragon relics- see the Dragon Trade II.
  26. Debt pawns to collateralize loans between spheres
  27. Pottery, china, glasses, utensils
  28. Labor in the form of skilled workers (masons, smiths, mercenaries, shipwrights)
  29. Medicines
  30. Stimulants including:
    • Tobacco
    • Tea leaves
    • Coffee beans,
    • Chocolate beans
    • Coca leaves
    • Khat

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Strangerside Scholar: Merchant Houses of Everway

The Merchant of Baghdad, The Arabian Nights (1948) by Arthur Szyk
The Everwayans are masters of commerce and trade. You don't get to be the city at the center of the multiverse without developing your capacities in that area. Centuries ago, Everwayan legalists decided that businesses were like people, with specific gifts, rights, and entitlements. One or two Everwayans have even tried to marry one. This isn't surprising or odd at all, since most Merchant Houses are tied to a particular Everwayan family.

Recently, it has been proposed that the Empty Chair set aside in the Council House for the Whiteoar family be given over to the House of Beads - also known as the Little Council - which represents the Merchant Houses of Everway. Why not let them have a seat, the great families ask? There are so many Merchant Houses after all, they need a voice in the governance of the city, and they have so much to offer. "All wealth comes from charters" as the say. At least that's the perspective of those who are already doing well thanks to such businesses.

Most of the great families sponsor one or more Merchant Houses. Each Merchant House has a charter, ratified by the Council and stamped with the seal of the King himself. Getting charters approved costs money. Not official money, as in taxes, but beads to move the wheels as the saying goes.

The charter sets out a Merchant House's purpose, and typically specifies the goods that it is empowered by Council and King to buy and sell. The charter may also specify the spheres or spherepaths in which the Merchant House may operate. Some are quite broad enterprises, trading many different types of items in many different realms; others buy and sell a single commodity, or serve only one or two realms.

One thing is for sure: almost all Merchant Houses require Spherewalkers: as representatives, as porters, as caravan guides between the realms. And here the different levels of ability with Spherewalking really matter. As the saying goes: "Walk for yourself, and you'll do make due. Help others Walk and you'll open the Gate of Riches." 

This opens our series on Merchant Houses of Everway.