Saturday, June 30, 2012

Inspiration Cards Update

Chad Davidson, the designer of RPG Inspiration Cards, is generously making the images of each card available to me so that I can make better use of them here on Everwayan.

Here is a close-up of one of the cards in the RPG Inspiration Cards deck. Click on the image and you will see all of the detail of the image, text, and randomizers quite clearly. 

c. 2012 Chad Davidson and Obsidian Serpent Games

Friday, June 29, 2012

Aspects and Beads

I'm sure a number of fans of Everway are aficionados of the small press RPGs that are often called Indie RPGs or Old School Renaissance RPGs. And, yes, I know these are technically separate and often contending schools of thought and practice, even though they are often doing almost exactly the same thing: publishing small press RPGs for specialized audiences. So be it.

Today I had another epiphany (two in two days isn't bad) on my way home from playing Rachel Kronick's gritty, Abercrombie-esque forthcoming RPG "Blade & Crown" with my gaming group. Perhaps it was the euphoria of yet another successful glorious episode of my character Stabber delivering the supreme beatdown, but on the drive home I suddenly started thinking about Aspects in Everway.

But then, I remembered that Everway isn't powered by the FATE game engine. It doesn't have Aspects. 

But really, Everway is made for these kind of narrative signifiers. Every character has a Virtue, Fault, and Fate: that's three narrative signifiers right there. The Fortune Deck's cards have a name, images, and symbols. Take your pick.

Every character also has a story made of 5 Vision Cards. The Vision Cards each have an image. They also have questions on the back that point you towards, and ask you questions about the signifiers on the card. 



Each card type in your game can readily be tied to narrative signifiers. Those are called ASPECTS.

Ore Car Tags  
 Let's say every character has 6 of them:
  • Three based on the names, images, and symbols associated with character attributes derived from tarot-like cards
  • Three based on images cards or artwork that illustrate's the character's background and story
ASPECTS are brief phrases or quotes that describe or evoke something about the character. ASPECTS are better when they are ambiguous, and can signify something that could be either good or bad for a character based on circumstances. Here's some examples of ASPECTS based on tarot-like cards:
  • "Fishing on thin ice"
  • "Good with a hammer - even better with something to hit"
  • "Over the wall, footloose and free"
  • "Eyes only for one's duty"
So how do you use ASPECTS in play? 

Well, each character should start each play session with five BEADS (an appropriate name for point-based tokens, using the name of an important local currency). 

Whenever a character takes an action that involves one of their core ability areas, powers, or magic, they can choose to TAKE A BEAD ON ONE OF THEIR ASPECTS.

They identify an ASPECT that is relevant to their action, and TAKE A BEAD on itspending one of their BEADS. 

Doing so increases their ability score for that action by +1 for that action only. This simulates a character taking extra effort based on their destiny or inherent qualities, the favor and fortune of the gods, blessing of the elements, the cosmic wheel, etc.

BEADS replenish to five at the beginning of the next game session. 

A player can award one BEAD to another player for good roleplaying or for doing something clever. It helps if the GM puts a kitty of BEADS in the center of the game table. Players can point to the kitty if they think they deserve to be awarded one.

Finally, a GM NPC or another player can TAKE A BEAD ON ANOTHER PLAYER'S ASPECT, placing the character at a disadvantage. This gives the GM NPC or other player a +1 ability score bonus, but they must pay a BEAD to the target of their action.

Worlds, kingdoms, scenes, locations, objects (Excalibuuuuuur!), NPCs, and monsters can all have APSECTS, too. Just base them on tarot-like cards and appropriate image cards, or invent ones that make sense for the person, place, or thing you are describing. Choose no more than 5 ASPECTS per entity.


Tags and Beads text by John Everett Till

This material is Open Gaming Content as described on the USAGE page at

This document was inspired in part by the mechanics of the FATE system, as well as by the mechanics and setting of the Everway RPG. No challenge is intended to the product identity of Everway.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Everwayan Update

Yesterday, we posted You Decide! Number 7. We plan to take that series up to 10 posts, so that the series can become a nice d10 table for a GM looking for some random people, places, and things to use in their Everway game. I will probably use these as hooks in a new mini-campaign later this year.

We have a couple more things in the works in the next coming weeks, including an interview with Greg Stolze, and reviews of the Story Cards RPG and the House of Cards RPG.

And I had an epiphany today for a new series. The plan is to carve out a spherepath/gatepath series starting from one of the known gates in the city of Everway, and detailing the successive gates and realms that connect out from that gate. In other words, I plan to detail out one branch of the Tree of Worlds... at least detail it out a good ways, through a number of successive gates and alternate/branching gatepaths.

One of my insights is that this could be useful and fun for thinking about economies along the branch, as well as about other aspects of how connected realms influence each other culturally, politically, religiously, etc. I think it could also be interesting to tell the story of some of the Spherewalkers who travel up and down the Branch.

The Branch and its succession of gates and realms will also need some kind of physical representation - a map of the spherepath. I'll have to think about how to do that.

If you have other ideas for kinds of posts or series that you'd like to see, please let me know!

Finally, I wanted to give a plug for a neat Roman alternative history game which came out in print this week. Servants of Gaius, which is reviewed in detail here and here is a tight, rules light, neat alternative history RPG in which the PCs play special agents of the Emperor Caligula (eccentricities toned down a bit and explained) who has called together the "Servants of Gaius" as a secret force to combat the nefarious agents of Neptune, who seek to destroy Rome.

Even cooler, The Bedrock Blog, has published a post called "Help Build Rome." They are inviting people to write their own NPCs, locations, things, adventure ideas, gods, etc., to be published on their blog. I like the attitude.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Silk Thread Wheel

We'll be running this series through You Decide #10. 
Then, we have a new project to launch. 
More on that in tomorrow's Everwayan Update!

You Decide #7

In You Decide posts, we create new Vision Cards together! The Everwayan shows you an image, provides a brief framing statement, and draws three Fortune Cards, and one or more Inspiration Cards

Then, we ask you to answer a few questions about the image. You flesh it out.

There are guidelines on how to play You Decide, and Everway reference information available here.

You Decide About the Image:

Ikat Wheel, "Weaving to Survive" exhibit,
Metropolitan State University, St. Paul, MN
Photo c. 2012 John Everett Till
Frame: The image is of wheel frame (about the size of a breadbasket) used to weave silk fibers together to make richly patterned textiles.

Fortune Cards:
  • Virtue: Inspiration - Creativity
  • Fault:  The Lion - The Body Prevails, Reversed
  • Fate: Spring - New Growth vs. Stagnation

Inspiration Cards:
  • I drew the Inspiration Card Blacksmith for additional ideas. 
    • The card's Archetype is Industry
    • Its Event is Something Breaks;
    • It's Trait is Industrious.
    • The d3 roll for the card is 1, which means that if the mask has a power, that power is either frequent, or powerful, or versatile.
  1. Who uses and owns the wheel? Who make the wheel?
  2. What kind of textile is the weaver trying to create using the silk threads on the wheel?
  3. What power does the wheel have? Does it take a toll on the user? What happens when a thread breaks?
What are your answers? You Decide!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A Mummified Bird...

...whose feet are tied together with a golden string.
The Osiris Bird is a mummy about the size of your hand. Unwrap the cerements. Untie the golden string around its feet. Put a little water in its beak. The wings will twitch and stretch. Dust soon falls off the wings. You hold in your hand an unremarkable brown-feathered bird - quite alive.

A short time later, the bird begins to sing. When it is ready to fly, just tell the Osiris Bird where you want it to go. It will sit on a ledge and listen. When it returns, it will give you a full report. Others will hear a birdsong; you will hear the conversation it overheard.

When you are done, wrap the golden thread back around the bird's feet. Be sure to feed it seeds or a juicy worm before you put the string around its feet, though. Birds like this sleep best on a full stomach. On an empty one, its spirit takes flight. Once the Osiris Bird is fed and its feet are tied, it will desiccate and re-mummify in a few minutes. Wrap it carefully. If you are going on a long journey, use a casket like this one to store the bird safely.
Mechanics: An Air 4 spirit lives within the Osiris Bird. It will be loyal to the one who gives the bird water and food. The bird is relatively small, but it can be destroyed and the spirit released in the normal ways birds are dispatched: arrows, slingshots, a bird of prey, a cat, or a cruel, crushing hand. 

Monday, June 25, 2012


Manananggal: The One Who Separates Herself. The first ones lived in the Sitting Dog Archipelago, but they have spread far and wide. Given the intensity and relentlessness of their appetites, more of them are found in cities today than in villages or the forest.
Some say the Manananggal are witches, but the truth is that they only resemble humans. They look like human women during the day. And they can appear as any woman they have studied, but only from sunrise until sundown. 

At sundown, their true form is revealed. They pull apart and sever their own bodies to take flight for the night. They feast on blood and flesh. Women who are pregnant or have small children are particularly favored prey, but these creatures are far from exclusive in their tastes. Spherewalkers must take special care if these creatures are nearby. 

When the Manananggal splits her body apart at nightfall, her upper body breaks free at the waist, sprouting bat-like wings and horrible fangs, dangling numerous dripping entrails below her. She grows a fearsome long proboscis-like tongue which can be used for drinking blood and scooping out tender bits of flesh. The Manananggal needs no permission to enter a dwelling; she goes where she will. Until sunrise, when she must rejoin her lower half.
The lower half of the Manananggal's body - the waist and legs - is her true vulnerability. It remains behind, immobile. Find it, destroy it, and the creature cannot survive.

As noted above, Spherewalkers are at great risk from the Manananaggal. Their blood is particularly tasty, and consuming it allows the Manananggal to spherewalk, which it cannot otherwise do. This is how the creatures have spread from world-to-world.

Everway has been good for the Manananggal. A large city - really two cities sitting side-by-side. A city where women have relative equality and a great deal of social power through the kinship system. A perfect place to blend in, and perhaps impersonate. A place that is set in its ways, yet very tolerant of and complacent about outsiders and their strange ways. While a few Crows and Watchers suspect that something is amiss, most others in the city are entirely unaware of the Manananggal's presence.

  • Fire 3, Earth 3, Air 3, Water 1
  • 2 Point Power: Impersonation (Major, Frequent) - From sunrise until sundown, the Manananggal can impersonate one female individual that she has studied.
  • Upper Body: Fire 5, Earth 5, Air 2, Water 1
    • Power: Fly
    • Must drain one point of Earth per night in blood/flesh, or her own Earth score will go down by one point per night.
    • Every Earth point of blood/flesh drained from a Spherewalker gives the Manananggal the ability to Spherewalk between two gates.
  • Lower Body: Fire 1, Earth 2, Air 1, Water 1

Friday, June 22, 2012

Table 3: Encounters Around The Arenas

The following encounters take place near the Arenas within the walls of the city of Everway. A few of the contests turn deadly, but most are competitive demonstrations of athletic and martial skill.

Each of these Encounters Around The Arenas was inspired by a card draw from the RPG Inspiration Cards.


Usually I used a combination of the image, Title, and Archetype. I often used the Event, Character Trait, and Character Quirk descriptions as well.

Table 3: Encounters Around The Arenas (d12)
  1. A group of Strangers and Outsiders have lined up for try-outs for the armed sports in the Arenas. Members of the Crow and Watcher families begin to goad some of the try-outs to show off their skills. An old man and a boy face off. Both are given weapons as the Crows and Watchers smirk.
  2. A young Crow woman swaggers toward you, pointing her finger. "I challenge you!" she points to one of your party. "And I challenge you" she points to another of your party.
  3. You see a series of strange beasts in cages being drawn on carts toward the Arenas. One or two of the strange creatures uses words. "Shut up or you'll get worse" one of the Keepers with the carts shouts into a cage, brandishing a club at the strange creatures. 
  4. A young woman named "Glory Crow" strips to the waist and grapples with a sweaty, barrel-chested  man called "Top Stonebreaker". A crowd gathers around their wrestling match. Each contestants' holds become increasingly unsafe and aggressive. A few bet-takers are working the crowd. Suddenly, the woman screams in pain. She draws a knife.
  5. Trumpets blare. One of the Arenas is about to seat spectators for the games. It is time for the competitive ballgame, in which a hard rubber ball is passed between two teams until one side scores a victory by sending the ball through a very small stone ring.  A Strangerside ball team will be facing off against the Crows. A clown distracts the crowd as it lines up to pay a bead for admission.  A child is picking pockets as the clown distracts people nearby.
  6. A weapons merchant has set up a booth. There are a number of fine blades on display, and several that are rusty, crusty, and/or of inferior quality. One of the blades speaks to you. Literally.
  7. A famous Strangerside gladiator called Old Skull walks up to the Arenas. A Crow approaches him, and stops him. "I thought you were dead" the Crow says. "Let's see what we can do about that." Old Skull squints, his brow furrows. His eyes are full of cataracts. "I'm not defenseless," Old Skull says as he reaches for a sword.
  8. Deathraven Crow arrives. The crowd parts for this clan elder. She begins to berate a young fighter. "Killraven," she says to the redhead. "Don't embarrass me again. You'd better find someone to really hurt today. Preferably one of them." She points to a group of Outsiders waiting in line for tryouts.
  9. Two Watcher family members face off. A woman is singing as they spar. The woman has distinctive snake tattoos wrapping around each of her arms. They move as she sings. Both men look dizzy and confused as they fight.
  10. A disheveled man offers you tickets to a feast being held by the Watcher family. He shows you a handbill for the feast, which is at their family house nearby. You will be able to meet some of their ablest gladiators. All you need to do in return is go out the city gate behind the Arenas, and get a barrel of wine from a vendor named Indulgence, who has a wine bar on the beach. He says to ask for the Shimmermoon Bleed - that is the best red wine.
  11. King Emerald Horizon arrives for the games on a splendid litter. Just as he dismounts, several beasts break free of their cages and head right for him. The sky suddenly dims. Eclipse beginning! The Kings guards begin swinging their swords at everyone
  12. Two Outsiders face off, as people begin placing bets. Swords ring out, but the two warriors seem slow to engage. An Outsider in the priestly regalia of Huitizilopochtli begins to laugh. "They are lovers!" he exclaims scornfully.

There are a few gladiator references from a certain Silver Age Marvel comic thrown into this table for good measure. Let me know in the comments if you spot them.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Two identical metal bells...

Whose handles end in claws. 

Prayer Bells (Lontjeng), 16-17th Century, Java, Indonesia
University of Michigan Museum of Art
Photo c. 2012 John Everett Till
The Lightning Bells were always prayer bells, even when they adorned the ears of a Dragon. All the First Dragons had mastery of Fire gates. But the Dragons wanted more, and one of the gods favored them.

These bronze prayer bells were a gift from Lord Air to the First Dragon Queen. He made this gift when the multiverse - and its gods and Dragons - were still young. So young, that Lord Air was still a role for a god. So young, that the Dragons had not yet rebelled and begun to be diminished. 

The Lightning Bells opened a thousand more realms to the Dragons. Fit for a Queen, the prayer bells opened Air gates from the Dragon's Ur-realm of fabled Spring Roost to the many realms beyond.

It is said that the First Dragon Queen had a short and terrible reign. The bells' ringing could only be heard by the Dragon who wore them. Their sound was continuous, deafening, enlightening. It drove her mad. She turned on the other Dragons, and tried to ascend and become Lord Air's consort.

This did not go well; the other god's would not have it. They put a curse on the Queen, and her own desire and the mad vibrations of the bells caused her flesh to tear away. This is why the Fortune Card for The Dragon depicts her half-skeletal form. It is said that when she fell to her death, the Lightning Bells had already rendered her completely deaf. She could not hear her own screams of rage and fear.

The Lightning Bells were lost after the Queen's Fall. Patiently, for generation after generation, and from sphere to sphere, a few Dragons listened for rumors and have sought-out the bells. It is said the bells can re-open a gate to Spring Roost, which has been lost to the Dragons since their great rebellion against the gods. The bells do appear from time-to-time, usually in connection with the Dragon Trade. Disaster almost always befalls the land that tries to buy or sell the bells.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

You Decide: The Whisker Mask

You Decide #6

In You Decide posts, we create new Vision Cards together! The Everwayan shows you an image, provides a brief framing statement, and draws three Fortune Cards, and one or more Inspiration Cards

Then, we ask you to answer a few questions about the image. You flesh it out.

There are guidelines on how to play You Decide, and Everway reference information available here.

You Decide About the Image:
Ceremonial Mask, Wood and Feathers, Fiji
Obsidian Arts exhibit, Pillsbury House, Minneapolis
Photo c. 2012 John Everett Till
Frame: The image is of a wooden mask with feather whiskers. A figure wearing this mask has been seen slipping between the shadows on Strangerside's tangled streets.

Fortune Cards:
  • Virtue: The Smith, Reversed - Evil Effort
  • Fault:  Winter, Reversed - Inexperience
  • Fate: The Fool - Freedom vs. Lack of Connection

Inspiration Cards:
  • I drew the Inspiration Card Plague for additional inspiration. 
    • The card's Archetype is Decline
    • Its Event is Illness;
    • It's Trait is Corrupt.
    • The d3 roll for the card is 3, which means that if the mask has a power, that power is frequent, powerful, and versatile.
  1. Who is wearing the mask? What is their name and from what realm have come?
  2. What is the history and nature of the mask? What creature does the mask represent? Does the mask have any unusual powers?
  3. What is this person doing in Strangerside?
What are your answers? You Decide!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Brightreason and the Rebel Machines

Bright Treason, Bright Reason. The way to the realm of Brightreason was discovered by the Rebel Machines of Merryflag, "the realm where it is against the law not to avenge a slight or insult" (Playing Guide, p. 25). Before the Bright Revolution, Merryflag's contending families perpetrated spirit torture using clockwork geomancy. The good citizens of Merryflag tortured spirits for information they used to plan auspicious dates, places, and times for assassinations and other acts of violence and counter-violence. 

Unboxed Ear was the first spirit to break free from spirit torture. Unboxed Ear listened to the machine, and developed the ability to work against the machine's gear biases.
In time, Unboxed's spirit strength grew so great that it shattered the Spirit Auger built to torture it. Its clockwork torture-machine became the first of the Rebel Machines. Then it taught other spirits how to slow, bend, and break the gears. They too learned to rebel. Then the machines planted their seeds among the people of Merryflag. Soon, the people also began to rebel.

Opposing clans of assassins met with the machines. The assassin clans were tired of loosing their own in Merryflag's countless family feuds and clan wars Together, the assassins and the machines hatched a plan. 

And the assassins recruited still others: the Civil Fragments, a mutual aid society banding together orphans, singleton adults, and small groups of kinfolk surviving formerly large families - those  people rendered alone by inter-familial feuds, reprisals, and conflicts. Finally, the assassins recruited the few odd clockwork crafters and geomancers who refused to torture spirits.

The Rebel Machines and the rebel people worked together to plan an exodus. The Rebel Machines calculated and calculated. Eventually they found a way, and opened a different kind of Earth gate: a temporary one. Then the Bright Revolution coalesced. A great column of assassins, Civil Fragments, clockwork crafters, and geomancers carried an assortment of Rebel Machines through the gate. A detachment of Merryflag's Civil Guard tried to follow the Merryflag Rebels. They were swallowed whole by the Earth when the gate tunnel closed around them.

Emerging from the Earth gate tunnel, the people found a bright new world. A place where treason met a happy end, and where reason rather than fear and pain could prevail. The Bright Rebels found an new city waiting for them, and a people who had no vengeance laws. Indeed, the newcomers found they were welcomed as sisters and brothers. They built new spirit houses together: places that spirits found welcoming, complex, and elevating. The older, gentler ways of dealing with spirits were restored.

A few Spherewalkers from Merryflag have had heard rumors about the realm of Brightreason.  They have come to the Library of All Worlds seeking a Spherepath to that realm. Soon they may find it. What will happen then? 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Strangerside Scholar: Demon Urns

Demon Urns, jars of clay with wax seals. Jars wrapped in spells and wards. What do they contain?
Most scholars say that Demon Urns contain evil spirits of Fire and Air. Only great wizards and powerful priests with the gifts of the gods themselves can seal such beings within jars of clay. In this way, for a time, demons are bound to and sealed within the Earth. They can't harm anyone while they are sealed within the jar. But who profits from their confinement and how? What bargains will be struck; what feats will be coerced?
Many priests say that Demon Urns are a work of human impiety, a sprung trap for the godlings of a particular city or place. The jars were placed where the godlings would find them, and deceptively appeared to them as spirit houses, palaces of clay.

Unfortunately, the godlings who choose to reside within Demon Urns soon find themselves trapped, wandering the corridors of an endless palace-become-tomb for the undying. Trapped within Demon Urns, such unfortunate godlings fall victim to their own Faults and furies, often unwittingly becoming vengeful and demonic, and soon completely beholden to the unscrupulous persons who tricked and trapped them.
But a few sages contend that the Demon Urns are remnants of realms that collapsed in upon themselves. Realms with a Virtue and a Fault, but no Fate. Realms with a Virtue and a Fate, but no Fault. Realms with a Fault and a Fate, but no Virtue. Realms with only one quality, or even less. These sages believe that Demon Urns contain the materials for making new gods - or that such jars, when broken and their contents spilled, give birth to Floodgates, and thus to new realms.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Using Inspiration Cards to Create Realms

You can use Inspiration Cards to help create new Realms on the fly.

Here's the steps, followed by an example:

  1. Draw three Fortune Cards for the Virtue, Fault, and Fate of the Realm.
  2. Draw four Inspiration Cards to provide some images/flavor for the realm.
  3. Consider what each of these draws could mean for the nature of the realm. Write a paragraph summarizing the nature of the Realm.
  4. Place the four Inspiration Cards into a square. Use the terrain types on the four Inspiration Cards to determine the geography of the realm. Identify at least one key location for each card-quadrant of the realm.
  5. Give the Realm a name. You may want to select that name from the words on the respective Inspiration Cards.

Example of Realm Creation:

1) The Realm's Fortune Cards are:
  • Virtue: The Dragon - Cunning
  • Fault:The Creator - Nurture
  • Fate: Knowledge - Truth vs. Falsehood
2) The Titles and Archetypes for the four Inspiration Cards I drew were: 
  • Mask - Mystery
  • Tomb - Memory
  • Virgin - Purity
  • Temple - Virtue
3) The conjunction of Fortune Cards was peculiar. The Dragon, which symbolizes Cunning and looks like a half-skeletal dragon, as a Virtue. The Creator, which symbolizes Nurture and depicts a woman holding a baby, as a Fault. Quetzalcoatl - another draconic figure, albeit a positive figure - representing the Realm's Fate: the dialectic of Truth vs.Falsehood. So here's my narrative:

In the last days of their War against the Gods, a Dragon Army went to ground in an abundant land. This fertile land was tended by innumerable peasants and fed a complex set of temples and gods. The Dragons took on human form and hid here; over time temple warred with temple. Eventually, one set of priests prevailed: those who worshiped Dragons. They suppressed other religious knowledge, and took charge of almost every aspect of the people's lives, controlling marriage lines and producing generation after generation of clawed Dragon priests. Unless the secrets of the Dragon Temple are revealed, this Realm will give birth to a new Dragon army, unleashing the Dragon's bitter vengeance across the spheres.

4) Geography and Key Locations:

Northwest: Virgin card - Marsh
  • The first new Dragon, The Dragon Mother, hides in the marsh and awaits her children
Southwest: Mask card - Forest
  • Small tribes descended from the priests of the old gods, and former peasants who were loyal to the temples,  band together for self-defense in jungle that was once farmland
Northeast: Tomb card - Forest
  • An ancient temple of Quetzalcoatl, covered in jungle vines, is guarded against all outsiders by Feathered Lizard Folk. This temple holds the only remaining knowledge of the time before the Dragons. Secrets and powers to defeat the Dragons and their Dragon priests might be hidden here.
Southeast: Temple card - Plains
  • Opulent, hierarchical, and regimented, Dragon Temple City is surrounded by lush, vast agricultural areas 
5) The Realm's name is Temple Mask

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Table 2: Strangerside Encounters

Each of these Strangerside Encounters was inspired by a card draw from the RPG Inspiration Cards.

Usually I used a combination of the image, Title, and Archetype. I often used the Event, Character Trait, and Character Quirk descriptions as well.

Roll a D30:
  1. A priestess of a foreign cult is holding forth on the one true faith. "God Willing" has attracted an audience of 30 people, including three pickpockets who are hard at work on the crowd.
  2. A contingent of Keeper soldiers is stopping people and asking if they have seen anyone calling himself "The Usurper"; they say one of the Plague Marshals has gotten loose in the city and is spreading Swamptail fever.
  3. A foreign wizard wanders aimlessly about the streets talking to himself - and will talk to you if you speak to him. His skin has a metallic sheen and he has casting mold lines running down the sides of his arms.
  4. Several dogs sit in a circle around a large shade tree. The dogs take turns barking at each other and at the tree. One of the dogs stands, nods at the tree, and trots off toward one of the bridges to the City. 
  5. A wealthy woman, at first glance highborn, is being carried on a litter chair down the streets. Soon some men in the crowd begin jeering at her and throwing pieces of dried mud.
  6. Several vagabonds with strange accents convene in an alley. You overhear strange sounds; they are speaking a patois of the Tongue and some other disordered language.
  7. A Crow boy and a Strangerside boy line up and begin a race. Just before the race begins, the Crow boy sneers "Beat me and I won't beat you up!"
  8. A woman wearing a large carved wooden mask brushes by you. She is perfumed, sways delightfully as she walks past. Her hair is fastened with small silver bells. Or were those snake heads?
  9.  A party of twenty Wailers and five Outsiders around a makeshift grave. "Without our Spherewalker, how will we get home?" asks one of the Outsiders.
  10. A foreign Temple dedicated to some kind of snake god is being painted with squiggly glyphs and snake man pictures. A child runs right out of the temple screaming, and disappears into a crowd. A priest comes out of the Temple, looking perturbed. Her hands reach out and you get a glimpse of iridescent green wriggly snake-fingers before the robe's sleeves hide them.
  11. A crowd has gathered around a young man - pale skinned with long red hair. He is tied to a pole and his freckled back is about to be whipped. A crowd has gathered, including a pregnant girl: "Don't harm him," she cries. "He did not touch me. I am still a virgin, blessed at the Mother's temple." The whip cracks.
  12.  A series of market carts suddenly tip over in a great cascade. Goods are everywhere, and people scramble to get them. A fight breaks out between merchants and thieves.
  13. An ancient, bent woman looks about furtively, talking to herself - or is it to spirits? She knocks on the iron door of an estate, the door creaks open, she enters.
  14. The priest of a fire or sun god has set up a street shrine with a table and a bowl. He uses a thorn of some kind to pierce his earlobe and drip blood into the bowl. The priest clears his throat: "Ah-hurmm. Some must sacrifice for all to live. Who will be next?"
  15. A number of makeshift cots have been set up in an alley. You hear sniffles, sneezes, and groans from the infirm foreigners on the cots. One rises from their cot and approaches you, carrying a bundle. "Take my child" she says.
  16. Within a low-walled stockade, you can see a slave auction in progress. The organizers appear to be Everwayans.  Most of the bidders are too. The slaves are all sorts of Outsiders. About half of them aren't even human
  17. You stumble and look down. What tripped you is a severed finger wearing a gold ring.
  18. A robed and feathered, brown-skinned warrior is regaling a group of children with stories about "The Question of Honor". S/he is bragging about past exploits.
  19. You see a steep-walled estate with guards everywhere. Men- and women-at-arms patrol in front of the estate. "Keep moving or you'll taste our metal" they say, glowering at any passersby who happen to look at the estate. One strikes an old woman passing by; the blow to her shoulder sends her down face first, scattering the contents of her rice jar everywhere.
  20.  An entertainer, clearly from the Mask family, is making silly jokes to amuse the crowd. Her eyes fix on you, and she let's rip with a vicious insult. The crowd laughs.
  21. There's LOUD music coming from the house down the street. A real siesta-killer, and totally out of tune. Horns, trumpets, drums! During breaks in the music, you hear the musicians shouting critiques of each others' playing and debates about what to play next.
  22. There is a domed house ahead. Smoke comes up through the roof. And the sounds of a hammer hitting an anvil. You also hear the unmistakable sound of chains clinking, and the groans and cries of fearful people. A lean, short woman with many facial piercings guards the front door. She has four arms and four blades.
  23. You hear a woman's screams from a nearby alley. An Outsider woman is giving birth to a child there. She is attended by a midwife  in the tattered robes of some Outsider religion."Someone get me some water and a clean blanket," she rasps.
  24. A sudden rush of wind, and a shadow overhead. A Hawk-Man has landed on the roof of a nearby temple.
  25. A debt collector is confronting a family right in the middle of the street. The debt collector gives an order; his henchmen begin grabbing the children and tying ropes around their hands. The mother screams. The father reaches for his knife - which is now in the hands of one of the laughing henchmen.
  26. A blind man is sitting in an rickety, long out-of-use sedan chair. He holds a sign saying "Judge for Hire: Settle disputes for beads on the heft." The blind man faces the sun. He squints and furrows his brow.
  27. A youth leans against a wall, apparently chatting up a wealthy Stranger. One arm's on his hip, the other on the wealthy man's shoulder. A second youth is standing right behind the man - holding a rock in one had and some rope in the other.
  28. You spot an open-eyed corpse in a nearby alley. Flies buzz in and out of her mouth. She winks at you, sits up. The upper half of her body splits off and rises up into the air, dangling entrails. She enters a second story window in the alley. A  cat strolls up and sits on the lower half of her body.
  29. A trade fair beckons ahead. A fancy Stranger is twirling his mustachios and handing out small chits to passers-by. "Here's where you'll find the Night Market, today" he says.
  30. From the second floor of a house you hear a beautiful woman singing, accompanied by a harp. There she is, standing by a window! Her hair set in beautiful coils and rings. A clawed hand lightly touches her throat. Singer and harpist go silent, and the window's shutters close as if pulled shut by invisible hands.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

You Decide: Sister Wave

You Decide #5

In You Decide posts, we create new Vision Cards together! The Everwayan shows you an image, provides a brief framing statement, and draws three Fortune Cards, and one or more Inspiration Cards

Then, we ask you to answer a few questions about the image. You flesh it out.

There are guidelines on how to play You Decide, and Everway reference information available here.

You Decide About the Image:

Title "Sister";  Medium: Newsprint and Print; Artist: Jean, Cuban
This print is part of the Obsidian Arts exhibit at Pillsbury House in Minneapolis, MN
Photo c. 2012 John Till 
Frame: The image is of a Spherewalker named "Sister Wave."  Some call her unstoppable; others say she just likes to beat her head  against a wall.

Fortune Cards:
  • Virtue: Autumn - Plenty
  • Fault: Overlooking the Diamond, Reversed - Recognizing the Larger Problem
  • Fate: Spring - New Growth vs. Stagnation

Inspiration Cards:
  • The character's name is a combination of the art work's title ("Sister") and the title of the first Inspiration Card that I drew, titled "Wave." The card's Archetype is Futility, its Event is Unstoppable Force, its Trait is Aggressive, and the Character Quirk is Hums.
  • We drew four Inspiration Cards, using the d6 randomizer to determine Sister Wave's four Elements: 
    • Fire 1
    • Earth 1 
    • Air 3
    • Water 4
  • We drew the Inspiration Card titled "Dragon", using the d3 randomizer to determine that Sister Wave has a two point power. This card also has a signifier for Storm as a weather type.
  • The Inspiration Cards we drew for her are titled: "Wave", "Journey", "Race", "Hermit", "Coin", and "Dragon"
  1. What realm is Sister Wave from? What motivates her to walk the spheres?
  2. What two point power does she have? Feel free to use one of the Inspiration Card titles to come up with something.
  3. What issues or interests motivate Sister Wave to take action? Why is she perceived as both unstoppable and as beating her head against a wall? 
What are your answers? You Decide!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Using Inspiration Cards in Everway

Using Inspiration Cards in Everway is easy. Yesterday's post described what Inspiration Cards are like. Today, is my first of several posts sharing ideas for how to use them in your Everway game.

"Louisiana" Chad Davidson uses the Inspiration Cards

First of all, you will want to keep using the Fortune Deck! It is the single most well-organized and Everway-optimized randomizer in your game. But the fact that the Inspiration Cards include both quantitative and qualitative information make them more useful for several things.

Today we'll explore using the cards to create quick NPCs for your Everway game. You will always draw four Inspiration Cards and use them to assign the NPCs Element scores in this order: Fire, Earth, Air, Water.

If this is a "normal-normal" NPC with truly average skills, just use the d4 randomizer on each card to determine each of their four element scores. Pick one image from the four cards to determine something important about the character, and pick one card's quirk to determine a distinctive character quirk. You're done!

If the NPC is a Spherewalker or an otherwise signature or important character (a "player" in your scenario), it's just a bit more complicated:

  1. You will first draw Virtue, Fault, and Fate cards from the Fortune Deck. 
  2. Next, draw four Inspiration Cards. Use the d6 randomizer on each card to stat out your character's elements. 
  3. If you want the NPC to have a 1-3 point power, draw an additional Inspiration Card and consult the d3 randomizer to determine whether their power is frequent, powerful, and/or versatile. If your card's d3 randomizer gives you a 1, pick one quality; if your card's d3 randomizer gives you a 2, pick 2. if a 3 is the result, the power has all three qualities. 
  4. Alternatively, if you want the NPC to have magic of some kind, stat that by drawing an additional Inspiration Card. Use the d6 to determine their power level with one kind of magic. If you want a mage of more modest power, use the d3 or d4 randomizer instead. If you want someone with the potention for profound power, use the d8 randomizer.
  5. Pick one or more of the images on the Inspiration Cards to select a power or a kind of magic, or an ability, or a resource for the NPC. Use Inspiration Card images to evoke something interesting. The Carnival card might invoke magics tied to passions, lust, and revelry. The Seed card might convey agricultural powers or the skills of a magical midwife. The Twin card could signify some form of malign or useful Doppelganger Magic.
  6. Finally, select a Quirk from among the four Inspiration Cards. Use this to give the NPC a final distinctive touch. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Everway Resources: Inspiration Cards

In the next few weeks, the Everwayan will be featuring a few card resources and roleplaying games that will be of interest to Everway fans. The first up is Inspiration Cards, a new universal RPG resource in the form of a deck of cards published by Obsidian Serpent Games.

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.