Monday, April 21, 2014

Myriad Song

Myriad Song has a great premise with a sci-fi setting inspired by 70s pop culture and a rulebook lavishly illustrated with comic book art.

The mysterious Syndics of the Myriad Syndicate have disappeared without warning leaving countless other species that they used to rule over to find their own way. The players take on the role of space adventurers involved in cosmic exploration (in both the sense of mental and real space).

The game fiction promises slightly surreal and alien adventure, one comic strip follows the misadventures of musicians who accidentally discover a lost chord in the Xen-Harmonic scale that allows warring alien races access to lost planets.

However rather like things like Starblazer Adventures and the Fantasy Flight Star Wars games what follows a bold statement of genre fiction is not a rules system for supporting that genre fiction but instead a ridiculously detailed simulation system that realistically can never return on the investment you put into it. Each Gift or merit is detailed individually and the weapons system includes the ability to fit your semi-automatic shotgun with baton rounds. This kind of thing works in something like Traveller but here its depressing mundanity is all more apparent for being juxtaposed with the implication of thrilling action.

There's a lot to like about the imagination at play in Myriad Song but it feels like what should have been a booklet detailing a Fate hack has turned into some crazy coupling of a 90s verbose hard sci-fi roleplaying with a comic book universe with a furry twist. I suspect I am not going to get round to actually playing this.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Serpent's Tooth

I've actually had this for a long time but I've been quite behind on my reading. Serpent's Tooth is concerned with symbolic patricide with one player taking the role of the King, a strong, powerful and mostly likely male character, and the other players characters in the kingdom or court who will usurp the King's power.

The really interesting mechanical aspect is that the King's powers are actually the rights to control parts of the narrative. Initially all the narrative rights are with the King but if the other players successful scheme to steal the in-game emblems of the King's authority then they get to control part of the scene framing.

The game ends when the emblems have all been taken from the King so there is a symmetry between the fiction and the rules structure.

There are various playsets for the game, the first being the obvious literal king while the others are Amazon King (Jeff Bezos or Steve Jobs), Homecoming King (American high school) and more esoterically the Green Man (the heart of the forest) and a superhero version.

It's a short punchy game and one I'm looking forward to giving a go.