Sunday, January 05, 2014

The Seclusium of Orphone of the Three Visions

The Seclusium of Orphone of the Three Visions is a fantastic book with a title that deserves some explanation.

A Seclusium is the sanctuary of a wizard. It is where they research magic, create arcane devices, study the metaverse and relax away from the world. The book deals with the vunerable phase in the lifecycle of the sanctuary of a wizard. The point where the wizard has abandoned or been forced to leave but much of the defenses and occupants of the sanctuary are still present.

Orphone of the Three Visions is a wizard who has become lost in a realm of creation that leaves her in a state of orgasmic ecstasy. In doing so she leaves her creations and failed experiments to wander her laboratories.

Vincent Baker has put together an amazing hardback that consists of a scene-setting essay on the relationship between wizards and their place of study and retirement from the world.This is then followed by three wizards whose have abandoned their Seclusiums.

Brilliantly each wizard consists of custom lists of options that you pick from to create your own unique version of Orphone or any of the other wizards. It brings all the modern storygame techniques of provocative creation to traditional fantasy gaming.

By going back to the original sources though the lists crackle with strange, inspiring and uncomfortable fantasy rather than the now too-easy tropes of Tolkien-homage.

It's incredibly exciting to read and a powerful reminder of what fantasy and imagination can invoke in the reader.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Monster of the Week

Monster of the Week is a game that can I only really think of as being Monsterhearts without the sex and angst. That undersells what it offers and tries to achieve.

Whereas both games have deep roots in the Buffy series, Monsterhearts takes the sexual angst of the TV show and makes it explicit via teen horror films. MotW on the other hand focuses on the action and literal monster-fighting throwing in similar shows ranging from Dr. Who to X-Files. The result is less shocking, enticing and transgressive but perhaps much more flexible and varied to play. It might also be more appealing to people who find Monsterhearts too full on.

For the most part the game has little new to offer, there are playsheets that do a good job of representing the various archetypes of Buffy with enough variety to encapsulate a wide range of TV shows.

The GM Moves, Agenda and Principles are sound but for the most part because they have been thoroughly road-tested in Apocalypse World itself as well as its many children.

The real area of distinction is in the scenarios that shape the narrative of the game. MotW is literally about episodes of monster hunting. If you find and defeat the monster the world is a better place, if the monster find and defeats you then your monster-hunting gang is just going to be names on the victim list.

If you don't know Monsterhearts see these Thee Rapture review notes of Monsterhearts