’7 Lucky Gods of japan’ by japan-life on Flickr
A couple weeks ago, I played a game of the upcoming role-playing game Eternity with its designer, Mark Diaz Truman. Even though game is still in beta, the rules work well, and we had a great time.
It’s a game of gods and their chosen people. Each player starts by defining a god’s name and sphere of influence. Then players starts defining specific aspects of the god, and here’s where things start to get really interesting.
One player defines one element of his or her god, such as a priest, a child of the god, or the god’s home realm. Then, each other player offers additional facts or complications to that element (“The priest was initially an initiate of another god’s order,” “The child is beginning to chafe under your direction,” “Your realm is under attack”). One can always decline these, but players bid special points that are in short supply, so there’s strong incentive to accept a deep complication.
There are several rounds of this, and once everyone’s done, everyone should understand each god’s influence, realm, and archons. Indeed, usually each god looks over several chosen individuals by this point.
Then you start role-playing.
The players do not role-play the gods; they role-play the gods’ archons and devotees. All of those characters defined in the earlier phase become fodder for conflict, so you play out confrontations between those characters, as they seek solutions to their problems. And if nothing else, one god can always send an archon on a quest into another god’s realm.
The rules help players build powerful yet flawed characters. That’s the beauty of the system: conflict and tragedy flow naturally from the players’ choices.
Because this occurs between characters who already wield supernatural power, the settings and stakes can be wild. We had one scene set in a miles-high M.C. Escher castle, where a godling faced the ghost of Cortez on a chessboard, surrounded by attacking playing cards from Alice in Wonderland.
Every session must come to an end. And that’s where things get even more interesting: according to the rules, every session begins 50 years after the previous one. All your archons and chosen ones age and die as the game progresses.
I’m deeply impressed with Eternity. I hope you get a chance to play.