It is a dry season for me as far as gaming is concerned. Work has eased up a little bit but promises to come down in a raging torrent by the beginning of next month, what with the news that I’m being handed another department to run. This has its respective pros and cons- and I am reminded of the age old adage which says that crisis lends its share of opportunities. Far from complaining, I continually thank my lucky stars. At the very least I have a job and this counts for very much in these curious times we live in.
That said, I foresee no further sessions of Mutant Future (or any gaming, for that matter!) perhaps until the first week of April at the earliest. I thank the Pancreator that the inhabitants of this third world paradise I am constrained to call home have an apparent collective fixation with Holy Week. This means, amongst others, that work tends to stop as early as the day after Palm Sunday. Maybe (just maybe), I can wangle some seriously fun gaming time on that week.
In the meantime, I’ve taken the opportunity to catch up on my reading (both gaming-related and otherwise). Amongst the items I am presently going through include Urutsk, World of Mystery (‘UWoM’). These are two downloadable PDF documents written by Kyrinn S. Eis (who also maintains a blog here). These documents appear to be beta versions of a players’ book and a referees’ guide.
It is a fact that I don’t post on my blog now as much as I would want to – I’ve learned to accept this as part of my present circumstances. The same is true with my attempts to follow the posts on many blogs I have grown to love. I’ve followed Timeshadows blog for some time but only recently had I managed to find the breathing space to go over UWoM. I must confess that I have not had the chance to go over this as completely as I want to (and I’m still going through it as I write this) but so far, it’s beginning to fire me up as inspiration for future games.
Briefly, my take on UWoM is that it is a science-fantasy RPG background and system. It’s got the elements I automatically look for in such a setting: galactic-scale cataclysms, weird and wonderful flora and fauna, aliens, humanoids, a liberal mix of tech levels, swords wielded alongside blasters, guilds, religious wars, the rise and fall of empires- just to name a few.
The writing style in the opening of the players’ book grabs your attention. It puts you right there with a minimum use of words-
“I want you to imagine or remember the wilderness in or around your area. If you live in a city, think of the area with the most trees, parks and open fields. Now imagine all that twice as vibrant and close and dense.
If you live by the coast, imagine the worst storms you can remember. Anywhere else you may live, jungle, desert, etc. imagine or remember the same intensities but keyed to those locales you know best.
Now raise the sea-level three feet (roughly a metre). As the planet is generally flatlands not much higher than sea level, most Trees have developed long torpedo-like seed pods, similar to mangroves which allow them to grow from under the water. Cedar and cypress, sequoia, everything simply adapted to the added three feet of water.”
In three starting paragraphs, I found myself in Urutsk already. This is something I have not seen in a long time in gaming material, and I find this very refreshing.
The fluff associated with UWoM spans centuries and concerns events which can be very convoluted and often-times violent. My impression here was something very akin to the political-military machinations in Frank Herbert’s Dune. This provides the players a lot of leeway as regards the kind of games they want: whether these are dungeon crawls, stand-up fights or a lot of skullduggery and covert ops.
Speaking of stand-up fights, I can’t help but agree with the spirit of the writer’s advice at the beginning of the combat section in the UWoM players’ book:
“Also my understanding of combat is heroic by virtue of its terribleness, and the amazing fact that some fighters survive at all, and not by dint of cinematic illusions or desires for wish-fulfillment.
While certain more forgiving elements have been included, in general these rules are justifiably lethal at all levels of play, and even heavily armored foes are capable of being instantly slain by exceptional strikes.
My overarching advice is for player-characters to avoid combat under all but the most favorable conditions, and even then, to be prepared for the loss of said characters, as healing in the early Autumn era is in no way as common or miraculously effective as in many other games.”
This resonates positively with me. This is how I see combats being played in my games as well.
I know I’ll be re-reading UWoM after I finish my first reading. Even as I’m going through it, I’m finally convinced to run that science fantasy game of a rather different sort from my current Mutant Future one. Along with this, I’ve this hankering to revisit Dune, Book of the New Sun, and Tales of the Dying Earth in the next few weeks.
If I can’t game for now, I’ll at least put the time to good use.
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